Thursday, March 26, 2009

Dojyo Munzen and Ichi No Saka Gawa

In our continuing "1st week in Japan" series of posts...

One of the other places that we visited our first day was the shopping arcade (Dojyo Munzen) and Ichi No Saka Gawa (Gawa = River). The arcade is rather like a street mall; it's a fancy sidewalk 'street' with shops opening directly onto the walkway - walking and bikes only during the day, but open to cars at night - reminded me a lot of similar streets in Europe, Honduras, and New York.

The arcade is down the street from our main AEG school building, and I have to walk through it to get to some of my classes during the week. Most of Mia's classes are held at the AEG building, but most of my classes are held at community centers in the area. So, I have a bit more travelling to do throughout the week, but for the most part I can get to these other places by foot, bike or car.

After wandering in and out of shops on the arcade, the four of us (Joe, Liz, Mia, Myself) took a stroll to Ichi No Saka River. It was probably in the upper 50s or lower 60s (F) temperature-wise, so quite comfortable, but with a bit of a nip in the air around the water. The cherry trees along the water were beginning to show their buds opening, just like we saw at the 5-story pagoda. Beautiful. We've been back to this particular river walk a few times since our first visit since it's not far from our school, and is one of the most beautiful sights in Yamaguchi especially around this current cherry blossom (Sakura) time.

[while Joe and Liz had a going away lunch with some of their students, Mia and I went back to the big indoor mall in the arcade to warm up since it was getting colder outside, and also to see what we could find in the mall. Similar to America, all of the items in the mall were much more expensive than you would find at non-mall stores and we had no intention of buying anything there. I soon found myself succumbing to my jetlag, feeling extremely tired and rather thirsty. Fortunately, we found a seating area with a water fountain in the bottom level and I nearly fell asleep waiting for Joe and Liz to rejoin us and drive us back to the apartment.]

Yesterday Mia and I went back to the river to see the cherry blossoms again, since this week and next week are the best weeks to see the cherry blossoms. Apparently, it's not always a sunny day when the cherry blossoms are open, so we've been blessed this year with very sunny (if a bit chilly - 40s and 50s) weather during cherry blossom week.

Here are some of the pictures of the arcade and the river walk area

Coming soon: first week of sitting in on English classes, driving in Japan, more cherry blossoms, and more!


  1. Hi Brian and Mia! It's a pleasure to read your blog about life in Japan! Thanks for the updates and the pictures - Japanese gardens are beautiful, indeed! So, what's this cherry blossoms obsession all about? What's the significance of cherry trees in Japan's culture? How was the first week of teaching English - what challenges and ease did you encounter on the job?

    Enjoy your Sunday-Monday weekend! Greetings to both you and Mia from Chi-town :)

  2. The sakura season is very very short, only a couple of weeks. Samurai, who led very violent lifestyles and often had to kill (a violation of Buddhist teachings) would go to meditate on the beauty of the cherry blossoms to "ease the pain of their internal suffering for disobeying Buddha." The sakura are incredibly beautiful, but their reign is fleeting. They give their lives in a burst of beauty and are gone, and we are supposed to strive to live the same way. It also symbolizes a willingness to die for beauty (truth, etc.).

    I think they're also some of the first flowers of spring, so that's a nice welcome too!!

    As for teaching, we haven't started yet. We've only been viewing classes. We were REALLY worried about not speaking Japanese, but of my 28 classes, it will only be difficult in two of them. Our students are very very sweet, and the teachers before us left LOTS of notes, so we should be fine! We'll let you know once we have a real week under our belts.