October 2010 - Vikingess Voyages

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween weekend in Japan!

8:21:00 PM
This has been a really busy week (as usual). It is the Halloween weekend after all, and on Friday there was a Halloween party at Ritsumeikan University. From what I´ve heard Japanese people doesn´t really celebrate Halloween usually, but apparently for the sake of the exchange students there still is quite a lot of Halloween related stuff happening here. I dressed up as a witch. I bought the costume two weeks ago in a shop downtown called Loft, but even though it seems a lot of people bought their costume there it seems I was the only one with this particular dress.
I mean, being a witch at a Halloween-party isn´t really that original so I was lucky.. Haha:)

Me in my Halloween outfit. Thanks to Silke for the makeup! xD

But there were a lot of others who showed up in quite... interesting costumes! One could see everything from aliens, cats and rabbits to guys dressed up as girls. Some were really creative too, and showed up in unexpected costumes they had made themselves. The party itself only lasted for a couple of hours, so after the party most of us went to the Kamogawa river to spend the rest of the evening there.

Group picture taken at the Halloween party.

On Saturday it was time for another party, and this time it was a so-called ○○放題 (xxx houdai) party, which means that you pay a settled amount and then you can either drink or eat as much as you want for a certain period of time. Usually you go to Nomihoudai (飲み放題) if you want to drink alcohol or to a Tabehoudai (食べ放題) if you want to eat. The -houdai we went to on Saturday included both though..!
We weren´t that many exchange students going there, so it was a really interesting experience! The food was really good, and it was a great opportunity to meet new Japanese friends too:)

Group picture of the few of us who was left when the party ended. For some reason the number of exchange students had almost surpassed the number of locals at this point.

Today has been great too. My friend Eki invited me to come with her and her host mother, Fumyo-san, on another type of Tabehoudai on the country side right outside of Kyoto. My dorm neighbor Ra, a friend of Fumyo-san and another Chinese exchange student came along too, and we had a really nice day together.
We went there quite early in the morning (considering me getting home a bit late yesterday), and at that time the weather was really nice. We got to walk around in the big orchard and eat as much persimmon and satsuma as we wanted.
I must say that I´m particularly unfamiliar with persimmon since we don´t have it in Norway.. But it was really good:) Satsuma on the other hand is quite similar to other citrus fruits like mandarin, which we have in Norway as well.

We had a really good time just relaxing and eating fruit..!

The orchard..! Even though it was Sunday there was not that many other people visiting the place while we were there. And as it suddenly started to rain I guess most people left earlier than planned.

Amazingly the flowers in Kyoto are still in blossom even though it´s soon November..!
These flowers are known as Cosmos (コスモス)

Me and Eki with our baskets filled with persimmon!

Other posts about Ritsumeikan

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Festivals in Kyoto: The Fire Festival in Kurama

1:32:00 PM

On Friday the 22. October it was time for the so-called Fire Festival (火祭り) situated in a little town called Kurama (鞍馬) by the mountain side a little north of Kyoto.
Right after school was finished me, Ericka, Silke and Raynor got on our bikes and headed towards Kurama. Before going there we had gotten warnings about the sloping terrain and that the trip would take approximately two hours. None the less, we had also heard rumors about crammed trains going to Kurama at previous fire festivals, so we decided to stick to our plan.

Going there was actually a lot easier then expected. It took us a little over an hour to get there and the terrain was not bad at all. Of course there was some slopes on the way but not nearly as much as predicted. Going out of Kyoto and biking through the wooden landscape on our way to Kurama was worth the trip in itself I think. The road was empty most of the time, and beside the occasionally car passing by the only thing we could hear was the sound of the cricket chirping.

Arriving in Kurama we got to experience the atmosphere of the town getting ready for the festival. People dressed up in traditional outfits, kids in the street carrying torches while shouting Saire-ya Sairyo. At this point there was not many tourists around us cause it seemes that most people going to the festival was traveling by train, and since we arrived from the opposite side of town we managed to avoid the crown in the beginning.

But as we walked towards the core of the town the crowd got bigger an in the end it was so crammed that we almost couldn´t move. We kept going north in an attempt to find somewhere we could eat and after a while we found ourselves situated just outside the Kurama Onsen (Hotspring) where we bumped into some other friends from Ritsumeikan University.
Here we finally found something to eat (Takoyaki!) and we spent the evening by the bonfire there. Since we went to Kurama by bike we had the opportunity to stay even after the tourists had left by the last train back to Kyoto. On our way back to the area we had parked out bikes we had the chance to look more closely at the festival without being pushed around like we did on our way to the Onsen area. At this point we also got to see the locals carrying two golden Mikoshi.


Our trip back to Kyoto went fast since we only were going downhill and we didn´t have any trouble finding the right way to go either since all we had to do was following the street. For people going to visit the Kurama Fire festival from Kyoto I strongly suggest renting a bike instead of taking the train..! ;)

2011 Update: Kyoto Daytrips - Biking to Kurama

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Daytrip to Osaka! Umeda, Osaka Castle and Shinsaibashi

11:42:00 PM
Today me, Silke and Chase went by train to Osaka (大阪). We went by a so-called hankyuu (阪急) train, which took us about an hour and only costed 390 yen. The place we arrived at was called Umeda, which among others has a lot of shopping centers and, if you prefer, connecting trains to other parts of the city. We decided to stay in the area though, and on the top of one of the shopping centers there they have a big ferris wheel which we had to try out. The view over Osaka is quite nice from there, and we had a lot of fun taking pictures.
Silke and Chase taking pictures of the view from Umeda's ferris wheel

We didn´t stay at Umeda too long though. After walking around for a while in the area checking out different shops and a ramen-restaurant we decided to go to Osaka Castle.
We asked a couple of old japanese ladies if they knew the way to get there, and though they said it was best to go there by train we decided to just go by foot. We had Silke´s Lonely Planet guide with us so it really went smooth anyway. It took a while to get there, but it is still nice to walk around since it gives you the opportunity to take a closer look at the city. And the locals were really helpful when we asked them to show us which direction to go.
Me in front of Osaka Castle (大阪城)
Osaka Castle was really nice (even though I might have expected it to be a little bigger). The weather was perfect, and there weren´t that many people there either so we enjoyed the peacefulness there. We decided not to go into the castle itself though, so I guess we might have to go back there another time for the chance to check it out.

After half an hour or so Kengo and Erica met up with us at the Osaka Castle, and we decided to continue or trip to the downtown area of Osaka; Shinsaibashi (心斎橋).
We walked around for a couple of hours, checking out some of the stores and so on. Then we went to a local restaurant where I had some Takoyaki for dinner.
There was a lot to see in the downtown area, but I kinda like Teramachi in Kyoto better. They have many of the same stores as in Kyoto there, and the prices was more or less the same too. I do find Kyoto a lot cozier than Osaka, i guess it´s ok to go to Osaka for a day trip or so but still I´m really glad that Kyoto is the place I´m living in :)

Anyway, it has been a long and interesting day. I can´t help feeling that I´ve studied too little today though; we got up early in the morning and got back home late, so.. The only study I got the chance to do was in the train. Better read a bit before I go to bed then. Good night! :)
The famous neon man in Osaka

Related blogposts

Monday, October 11, 2010

Festivals in Kyoto: Kyoto´s Student Festival (京都学生祭典)

9:16:00 PM

On Sunday it was time for Kyoto´s Student Festival (京都学生祭典) taking place at the Heian Jingu shrine (平安神宮) in the eastern part of Kyoto.
Me and Silke went a bit earlier than the others, and did some sightseeing in the area where the Heian-jinja was located. We found some really nice streets there, which kinda seemed like typical tourist spots though.
Anyway, after our little sightseeing trip we went to the shrine and it was time for my first big japanese festival! We got to see a lot of cool dancing
(actually a competition between different dancing groups), some who played on japanese Taiko-drums, a bit of rock music and not at least the carrying of a japanese Mikoshi (神輿 -> see the picture under).
Some of the other exchange students were actually participating as well, which made it extra cool to come and watch. For those who likes festivals I guess Kyoto is the place to go, in general there are a lot of festivals here.
Friends from SKP!
At the end of the festival they announced the winner of the dance contest too, and it seems the whole thing were going to be broadcasted on TV.
We had to actually join in on a crowd dance as well, though that was easier said than done with all the people around us.
After the festival it was time for dinner, and we found a restaurant which was called VeryBerry. Just the name tells me we should have chosen somewhere else to eat. Oh well.. We got placed on the second floor where there basically no-one else but us five, and the waitress turned on a cd with american children´s songs.. It was.. Bad.. The food was bad too, it reminded me about McDonalds but it was probably thrice the price. Haha..
After the disappointing dinner me and Silke went back by bike and the other three by taxi. We catched up with them at the train station close to our dorm though, even though it took us around 40 minutes to go there.. I must say I really love my bike, haha..
Some of the dance show
..And some drummers
Students carrying a Mikoshi

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

International Exchange Fair @ Ritsumeikan

9:03:00 PM
Hi again 皆さん!
Another little update coming up..!
I can´t believe we are halfway through the week already, the days are passing by really fast somehow.. On Monday I had classes and so on, it´s a pretty long day so when it´s finally finished I only felt like relaxing.. I have class in the first, forth and fifth period, and spent the time between the classes in the library studying.

On Tuesday I finally got the chance to buy a cellphone again. Me and Donato went to Softbank early since we both had classes a bit later that day, but unfortunately they didn´t open until 10..
The thing about getting a Japanese cellphone is that it really takes a long time before you can have it. I had class at 10:40, so I decided to go there after my class instead.
There will be a nice bunch of papers you have to fill in and so on..It actually took around an hour from the time I entered the store till I could leave with my new phone.. In other words: If you´re planning to buy a Japanese phone make sure you have enough time available.!

It does by the way seem like most of the exchange students are buying phones from the Softbank-company. They are apparently the cheapest, and besides they have some kind of free-messaging-to-other-Softbank-phones deal too. Unfortunately Japanese phones doesn´t work outside of Japan, so if you´re planning to stay for a year or less I guess buying the cheapest one they have really is the best offer. I have an iPhone, but I can´t really use it here.. So for me buying a Japanese cellphone really is mottainai (a waste).

Representing Norway at Ritsumeikan´s International Exchange Fair
Today me, Alex and Maho participated in the International Exchange fair for Japanese
students wanting to studying abroad and we were representing the University in Bergen were all three of us have studied.
I think it would have been quite nice if it weren´t for the fact that the Japanese students didn´t show up. At least there weren´t many. We were there for 2 hours, and we only talked to one girl who really considered studying in Norway. But she hadn´t decided yet, the decision stood between Norway and Sweden.
I had even brought with me a book about Norway in Japanese, which I bought in the souvenir shop (Nilssen på Bryggen) I´ve worked in the last three summers in Bergen. But I am going to participate tomorrow as well, so I really hope more people will come then..!!
After the fair me, Chase, Maho and Alex went to a nearby restaurant for dinner. It was close to our university, and pretty cheap too:) Supposedly it´s one of the typical places the Japanese Ritsumeikan students go to eat as well. I´m sure I´ll go back there sometime, the dinner was really good.

Tomorrow my lessons starts early so I better get to bed. Good night:)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Karaoke, ceramics and phone troubles

10:33:00 PM
Another little update from Japan coming up..!
Like I mention in my previous blogpost I went to karaoke on friday! It was my first time actually (unless you count the Singstar-games for Playstation 2)..!
We decided to order two rooms, since we were around 15-20 people going. And so we spent the evening singing.
It was fun, but the next time I´ll be go
ing to karaoke I´ll make sure to do some research

beforehand to make sure I know which song I want to sing and so on.
They have some huge catalogues with songs you can
choose from both in Japanese and English, so it was actually kind of hard to pick a song. But the machine one uses to reserve songs is easier than the catalogue though, you can search by artist names and so on.
Anyway, since I were going to school on Saturday I didn´t join the others who were planning on going downtown but went home instead.

On Saturday I got up early and went by bus to a place called Fujihira Togei Studio where I´ll be taking my ceramics classes. It was kinda far even by bus, but next time I guess I´ll be going by bicycle instead.
The ceramic class was really fun though, it´s by first time making pottery like this.. You can see the pictures of the cups I made here too:)! Yay!
Even when the teacher told us to take lunch break I didn´t really feel like stopping the work. Haha..

After class I went home and slept for a while. Then I met up with some of my dorm-friends and we had a really funny evening playing twister and card games.! It was great:)

Today I´ve just been studying and relaxing. Well, I did actually try to get myself a cellphone though it didn´t really work out that well.
It seems the cellphone-company Softbank aren´t that eager when it comes to selling me a pre-paid phone. They are sold out everywere, and nobody knows when there will be new phones available. I could always get a phone with a contract, but then I need a japanese bank account which I haven´t got yet.. It´s so irritating.. Oh well..

At least I´ve finished all my homework now, so I´m ready for a new and challenging week.
See you later;)

Friday, October 1, 2010


5:34:00 PM
Now it´s finally weekend here!
.. At least for some of us, I have my ceramic class (陶芸) on Saturdays so I guess the coming weekends will be pretty short for me.
Anyway, my week has been good though. A lot of school (when attending university in Norway its usually not that many classes pr. week) but a lot of fun too.
Yesterday I met my friend Mayu and we went to see The Golden Pavilion (金閣寺)
which actually is just up the street from my university! And it is also on
e of the most well-known tourist attractions in Japan by the way. The atmosphere there was really good, with the trees and lake surrounding the pavilion. Of course it isn´t actually tourist season either so I guess it usually isn´t as peaceful as yesterday though..
Me and Mayu in front of the Golden Pavillion (Kinkakuji)
Today I´ve just been to school and so on, but later tonight some of us here at I-House are planning to go out on karaoke or something.
The word "karaoke" is actually quite interesting. Kara means empty and oke comes from orchestra. So in other words; Empty orchestra! :)

Anyway, in the end I have some pictures of my room as well for those who want to see.! (It is not that much to see yet though..)
Bye bye (^_^)v
A typical room at I-House I

The Golden Pavillion again.!
Edit: I don't quite understand how this post remains one of the most frequently read posts on this blog. Anyway, for more and (hopefully) better posts about Ritsumeikan, please check out this link.

About Me

Adventures ofAnette

A modern day shield-maiden who loves to explore the unbeaten paths of the world. From her base in Tokyo, Anette takes on both rural and urban challenges, and goes by the motto "No challenge too big, no adventure too small"!
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