This week Miyazaki seems to have burst into bloom. Everywhere you look there's climbing wisteria, irises, some remaining fluffy pink cherry blossom, rapeseed, pansies and wildflowers pushing their way through hedges, pavements and crumbly walls. It's just as well since most of the sakura has faded, and I miss gazing at it out the staffroom window.
It seems like Gabby brought spring to Miyakonojo, as he first week of his visit coincided wonderfully with the cherry blossom. If you're reading this from back home you might be wondering, why this obsession with blossoms?! Well, it's kind of a big deal here. They appear and fade within around a week, moving up the country in a slow wave and prompting special weather forecasts, much like Wimbledon does for the UK. Japanese people hold hanami ('flower viewing') parties, where they enjoy picnics, yakiniku (barbecue) and booze under the trees. At night they string up paper lanterns and continue the fun. The short life of the flowers encapsulates an important part of Japanese cultural tradition concerned with the transitory and fleeting nature of life, beauty and happiness.
It was pure torture sitting at my desk watching sakura drift away on the breeze, but we had several jaunts to Miyakonojo and Mimata parks in the evenings.
I was really happy to be told that this picture made it to the front cover of AJET Magazine!
|Mini hanami for two|
This is the view I had to resist all week at school!
Of course, when the weekend came round it was unrelentingly rainy. My favourite Miyaknojo husband and wife duo suggested a Miyazaki road trip in spite of the weather, so we headed to Udo Shrine up the coast.
It's build into the cliffside and caves near Miyazaki, and the stormy weather was actually rather fitting. The shrine is dedicated to the father of the first Emperor of Japan.
Drinking the water that drips from the cave walls is said to be lucky for couples: perfect location for a double date!
|We did our best to throw these ceramic undama into the target above for good luck (men throw with their left to make it fair!)|
|Something spooky happened to this admittedly inappropriate selfie, taken in the shrine's mirror... what's that on my head?!|
The next day we got up bright and early to meet Carlos sensei and his friend for a private surfing lesson! Luckily for me, and disappointingly for everyone else, the waves at Aoshima were pretty calm. Gabs turned out to be a dark horse and stood up several times, while I made do with basically boogie boarding and splashing round. I really want to try it again though, it was a much warmer and less terrifying morning than I'd anticipated!
Before heading up to Beppu, Carlos took us to the best chicken nanban place in the city for lunch.
I think our faces give the verdict on the food.