Random life updates from rural Japan!

Hello everyone!

DSC_8890Missed a week! Sorry about that, but as you can see I’m alive and kicking! I will blame my slight absence on the fact that I have spent all my free time lately on studying. And as an effect of the studies, obsessive gardening… I’m taking a big exam at the beginning of September to (hopefully) become certified as a Travel Agent Manager. But to be completely honest, It’s quite the challenge…

Well, have a look for yourself…IMG_0414
It’s 700 pages of this that I’m desperately trying to wrap my head around until the end of this month. By doing so I can hopefully spend at least one month plowing through questions from past exams before it’s time for what is bound to be a brutal execution of my self-confidence. And as you might understand, as I try to make sense of this my frustration slowly builds up and when it starts to boil over I throw myself at my garden to release some stress! Rinse and repeat!…

But thanks to that, at least my garden has evolved quite a bit since my previous post! So let me share the fruits of my frustration!
Last time I got to the point of planting a lawn and building 3 quarters of a wooden deck! After that, I have moved on to the original goal of my endeavors, vegetables!

A quick browse through the pictures will show me buying fertilizer for the earth and a bunch of young plants to start my personal veggie paradise. You can plant seeds as well but it takes a lot longer and should be done earlier in the season. And heck, it’s more fun and impactful to plant seedlings anyways! Next, I mix the fertilizer in the earth and build rows where I plant the vegetables. This prevents the plants from being drowned in case of heavy rain!

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Here you can see my sweet little garden with my two rows of vegetables! And for the record, I’m trying to go with the local style and grow chemical-free vegetables so let me share some tips that I’ve been able to pick up! You might see that there are some yellow and orange flowers mixed in with my plants? These are Marigold flowers that emit a fragrance which apparently keeps insects at bay! Another tip I got was to mix rice bran, a by-product from when you turn brown rice into white rice, into the earth. Apparently, the rice bran will go through a fermentation process as the sun comes in contact with the earth, in turn, this will heat the earth to the point that it becomes uninhabitable to many insects! Amazing right?

Oh, and yes that is a parasol… And yes, I bought it in a fit of rage over not understanding a chapter in my textbook… I have a problem, don’t I?

Here is a bonus!

 

A fresh look at my garden, from only a few moments ago! My intense studies haven’t only resulted in me expanding my lawn but also granting my cucumbers possibility to climb and reach for the sky! And as you can see, those sad yellow grass patches that I planted first are slowly starting to get some green sprouts as well! More updates to come!

What more can I share?
Oh, do you remember the super creepy maggots that I brought home a while back without the slightest idea what I had actually bought?? Let me give you a quick reminder! It looked something like this!
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Now they have evolved to a slightly less disgusting, but still fairly disturbing form! Check it out!

And do you know what the creepiest part is? If you happen to touch their little cage, they move! Even though they are in pupa form! Viewer discretion adviced!

 

Apparently, they should pupate while still being burrowed in the earth. The fact that they have crawled out is probably because the earth was too dry. This means that I, as their parent, have to shoulder the responsibility of building an artificial “Pupa room” from where they can enter this world safely. In other words… I will need to touch them… As they squirm around… *Shivering* Stay tuned for updates…

So, is the situation truly so bad that I have no new places to share??? Do not fear, I do have something!

The other day I went to a Japanese sake event in Aso city with a couple of friends!

 

Here you can see my two friends and I taking a break to pose for some nice pics in front of the Aso caldera! Yeah, yeah, what about the event?

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Top-class dinner, more than 250 guests, the chance to win prizes, and of course, an open bar with all the Japanese sake, or any other alcohol, you could imagine! How much did this cost? 6000 yen (about 55 US dollar)! Expensive? I would disagree! The food was both plentiful and truly delicious. At least in Sweden, a course like this alone would have probably cost around 6000 yen or more. Then you add an open bar with fancy brands of alcohol from all around the country and prizes that were given out to at least a third of all the guests! A pretty good deal I think!

Oh, and I even got the best prize of all!!! It wasn’t really a prize but it felt like the jackpot!66047001_700730220370670_8119901943880482816_n They happened to have the limited aged version of my beloved Musha Gaeshi from Jufuku Distillery!!! This might have been an event for Japanese sake but once I found this I kept drinking Shochu all night, I might even have emptied this one myself〜

When the Sake event ended and everyone was fairly red around the cheeks and light on the feet we went to another nice place! A very very nice place! If you are spending a night in Aso city and feel unsure where to go for a drink then this is the place!
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The wooden architecture of the entrance surrounded by carefully planted trees and rocks make for quite an atmospheric and inviting view in the dark night. This is Sozankyo! A traditional Japanese inn, or Ryokan as it’s called in Japanese.

But Sozankyo isn’t only a top-class Ryokan with stellar reviews on TripAdvisor…DSC08040
…since about 2 years back they also host an amazing roof-top bar! Here you can sit outside and enjoy a nice breeze as you sip on a cocktail and gaze out over the nightlights of Aso city.

And if you ask nicely, they are happy to turn off the lights so you can enjoy the starry sky to its fullest!
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Actually, there is a reason why they are so happy to offer this service. When the big Kumamoto earthquake happened in 2016 there was a large scale power outage in the area leaving many parts of Aso and Aso city in the dark. Sozankyo is located in one of the areas affected by the blackout. When the rumbling had stilled and all went quiet, the owner of Sozankyo looked up at the sky and was struck by the overwhelming beauty of the undisturbed starry sky. That is when he decided to build a bar at the roof of Sozankyo. Both as a reminder of the earthquake and to share those beautiful stars that provided hope in a time of struggle with more people. Now electricity is (thankfully!) back which means that you probably won’t be able to see the same sky that the owner saw as he was surrounded by complete darkness that fateful night. But to come as close as possible they are happy to at least turn off all the lights at Sozankyo’s roof bar and let you bask in the beauty for a moment.

Talking about stars! It was a clear night and on our way back home we could even see the milky way!
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Oh and just a reminder, I’m showing off these night sky pictures but remember that they are taken with a small digital camera using no tripod or fancy settings (since that is beyond my knowledge). So whatever you see in the pictures, double it in your mind and you will probably be pretty close to the real thing!

With that said I should probably finish the post for now? Or? Well… I could tell you about that time I did sumo wrestling on sacred ground while dressed in a shirt and overalls…
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…but let’s save that for another time!

And if I’m a bit slow on the updates for a while, remember that I’m either crying over my textbooks or beating my head against a tomato plant out in the garden so send me some love and encouragement! ❤

See you next time!

Sincerely,

Max

4 thoughts on “Random life updates from rural Japan!

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