My time in APU is getting close to its’ end. Today was the final report submission deadline (no more school for my bachelor’s degree!), and my check-out is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. After cleaning my room, I will be spending the night on a ferry to Osaka, and from there I will hopefully find my way to Kyoto. This short trip of mine will end on Monday night, when I finally move on to my next destination, Hong Kong.
I have been waiting to go to Hong Kong since coming back from Tokyo – I have had quite enough with this Beppu experience already. The mountain doesn’t quite suit me the way a city does (evidence of this: each time I go downtown, I come back with enormous headache that ruins the rest of the day).
For the next 5 months, I will continue what I already started here: my practical training in Four Sigma Foods . Not bad at all! I highly recommend to check out their video about Hong Kong and other locations; they’re rather inspiring, to say the least. So, I will continue this blog with topics probably more related to health and overall well-being, since I believe I will be getting into more holistic and healthy environment than here. I believe my time in Hong Kong will be at least as unforgettable as my time here in APU – at least it will be completely different. I can’t wait! But before leaving, it’s time to go to izakaya and karaoke one last time, and see the ancient capital of Nippon. But Hong Kong, here I come!
I could make an entirely new blog for mochi, it seems like I have so much to say about it. Maybe this will be my last post about the rice cake, however I cannot promise anything.
As a break from recapping my winter holiday trips, I wanted to share the real, old school mochi making experience I finally got to experience – after so many tryouts and different variations of mochi!
Traditionally mochitsuki (mochi making) is New Years’ event. The mochigome (glutinous rice) is pounded with kine (wooden mallet) in usu (mortar made of stone). I got to try the pounding today, oh man it was fun! Not to mention the taste of the fruit of my labor…way better than any of the other mochi methods or variations I’ve tried before.
As my friend was trying to get rid of her soon-to-expire mochi, I started thinking of different ways to use the cakes. I have earlier mentioned about the usage of mochi. Apparently it is ok to fill mochi with anko (bean paste), kabocha (squash) or satsumaimo (sweet potato). However, it is considered odd to fill it with chocolate. Well, that didn’t stop me – and the Western friend, who usually doesn’t appreciate the bland chewiness of mochi, was rather pleased with the result! Fusion cooking at its’ best. I have not yet found a mochi that I actually like, but the interesting mochi journey continues…
Due to its’ sticky consistency, every year there are a number of unfortunate chocking deaths. Funny enough, since mochi represents several generations. This years’ number of casualties was 14. So, if you ever get to eat mochi, remember to chew!
I have to face it: there will be no Christmas as I know it this year. Even the time waiting for Christmas has been so different from what I am used to – in fact there has been no waiting, besides waiting for tomorrow! Tomorrow I will leave to Tokyo, where I will meet my dad. We will spend the Christmas together in a so far unknown location, after which he leaves back to Thailand and to Finland on the 26th. After that, I am on my own for 10 days, until it’s APU time again, for the last 3 weeks of school. Whoa.
Time does fly, no matter how you look at it. Outside it seems to be fall, but I have already been here for months and the new year is coming faster than I would have imagined.
So, since I will most likely be occupied with other stuff than posting here for the next days (or weeks?), I can only promise to tell stories about my experiences later on. As stated above, since time goes by so fast, the posts will appear sooner than you’d expect!
Few months in the culture, I have had time to adapt to the Japanese up-in-the-mountain way of life. Here are some characteristics I have gotten more or less familiar with.
When you are tired, you sleep. No matter if you’re in a train, in the cafeteria, or in class. The library is open until midnight, and people often stay up until the wee hours of morning. In APU, the classes can last until 7.30 pm. No wonder students doze off – usually sleeping is very obvious and not even tried to hide.
Birthdays are celebrated at midnight, when the birthday is beginning, rather than bringing breakfast in bed like sometimes in Finland.
The word “party” usually making dinner with more than 2 people, rather than going drinking and/or dancing. Parties may also include games, activities etc. This came as a surprise to some of the exchange students in the beginning of the semester.
Other things I’ve noticed in APU:
Unlike in Europe, where perm is equivalent to the hottest of hot 80’s style, in Japan getting a perm is popular. At least in APU, that is.
The Japanese never say no. When they mean no, they can say maybe, a little… or even yes – in a special tone that is supposed to give the hint. Sometimes this can be a bit challenging/frustrating or even annoying. Or maybe I should learn to not say no?
The myth of the healthy Japanese diet has nothing to do with the substances people consume here. And by substances I mean the more or less processes products people fill themselves with throughout the day. Besides the polished rice, pasta is a big hit!
For most people, there is rarely such leisure as free time. If not in lectures, students go to their circles activities, do homework or prepare presentations etc. Also, the AP house residents are not that keen on leaving the house.