Thursday, August 29, 2013

Karuizawa Summer Retreat

Waseda Karuizawa zemi house
I didn't know that Waseda University was so rich to purchase a property at Karuizawa, a popular summer retreat that is around 2.5 hours car drive away from Tokyo. Temperatures there were around 16-26 degrees whereas Tokyo was around 28-35 degrees.

The guys who came here last year complained about the dirty shower rooms so they had to go to spa every night. But luckily for us, they just opened two new buildings so everything was clean and new. This was so much better than staying in those youth houses that my scholarship organization had arranged...  The only complain that I had was the shower room's location, which was at the cafeteria building and not in our dorm building (duh?). The guys had 5 shower cubicles but girls only had 2 (duh duh???). My sensei joked that maybe Waseda has a lot of guys...that shower for a long time...

Waseda Karuizawa zemi house
The universities call such facilities "Zemi House". Zemi means research group that one joins under the guidance of one professor until graduation. This Zemi House facility includes 2 tennis courts, a large soccer field and BBQ pits.

Our Japanese friends were busy helping out to set up the BBQ fire, while us, the foreigners, were busy taking photos and posing like One Piece characters:

One Piece pose
Hehe...

Waseda Karuizawa zemi house
We later asked if they needed our help but they kept on saying no. BBQ pits there were clean and sheltered.

Waseda Karuizawa zemi house
The kitchen prepared all the ingredients for us beforehand because they didn't want us to get food poisoning. If someone gets food poisoning, the whole area would have to be shut down for at least 7 days or so for investigation. Trash had to be sorted by cans, pet bottles, combustible (paper and food scraps) and non-combustible (plastics).

Beer Japan
Sensei grabbed whatever he could from the convenient store, mostly alcohol. Japanese loves beer, very very much!

We were lucky that the skies cleared up at night and we could see the stars and almost the milky way! I had never seen so many stars before and saw the big dipper for the first time. It was exactly like what appeared on the textbook. We even saw a shooting star within the first 5 mins! (Too bad for those that came later and missed it) The guys lied down on the grass to gaze at the remarkable sight but we girls are just too concerned about the mud and dirt to follow.

xxx DAY TWO xxx
Karuizawa soba
Karuizawa is famous for soba and this shop seem pretty famous and always have customers lining up at the door.

Karuizawa soba
We waited for a long time for our soba and tempura set (1790yen).

Karuizawa soba tempura
Tempura should be served with salt to enjoy its crispiness and not dipped in sauce!

Karuizawa ginza street
We walked around Karuizawa Ginza street. It is called Ginza because Karuizawa is visited by the rich from Tokyo. I feel rich by walking around here and there, tasting free samples but not buying anything~ XD

Karuizawa ginza street
There were ham stores everywhere... Very declious (and expensive)

Karuizawa ginza street

Cute Japanese dog

Cute Japanese dog
Advertising with a dog...

Karuizawa ginza street
Karuizawa is famous for honey too!

Karuizawa ginza street

Karuizawa ginza street

Karuizawa merlion ginza street
Singapore's Merlion is here too! Ok noted that Singapore is rich too!

Karuizawa ginza street

Karuizawa Onioshidashi Garden
Next we went to "climb" a mountain, which was actually part of a lava formation formed by Mt. Asama, an active volcano. The entire rock garden (Onioshidashi Garden) was formed naturally as the result of the eruption.

Karuizawa Onioshidashi Garden
The water was cooling and safe to drink.

Karuizawa Onioshidashi Garden

Karuizawa Onioshidashi Garden
It is said that the mountains behind is the sleeping Goddess of Mercy or Buddha (they can't make up their mind). The bump on the middle is the tummy.

Karuizawa Onioshidashi Garden
We had to wait for our Taiwanese girl friend to choose her prayer beads for her mum, so we were stuck with a few bees for a long time. While the guys were busy running away and trying to slap them off. I attempted to see if bees will sting if I remained still. So when a bee approached me, I didn't move and hoped that it will fly off. But damn, it landed on my elbow instead and crawled over my fingers (I was folding my arms). Then it flew around to the back of my ears and that was when I decided to move off (hey no face ok). The guys were amazed and thought I didn't notice the bee but I told them I wanted to test the hypothesis if bees will not sting if I remained still. They were amazed about my calmness and I must say, I was pretty darn crazy!

Karuizawa Onioshidashi Garden
Besides rocks and bees, there were also glowing moss! They literally glowed on and off in the dark!

Karuizawa Onioshidashi Garden
This is the oni (demon) that was said to have pushed the rocks, causing the volcanic eruptions to happen...

Karuizawa Onioshidashi Garden
This was where we should hide in case the volcano erupts again. They even left umbrellas there for rainy days, how considerate!
Karuizawa Onioshidashi Garden
To make rock observation more fun, they put this chart for you to identify the formations, such as the "Godzilla Rock", "Dog Rock", etc. Hmm... interesting but I will not take photos of abstract rocks.

We were quite tired after our trip and went for a one-hour onsen (hot spring) that was included in our study camp fee. Karuizawa is nice :)

xxx DAY THREE xxx
Japanese breakfast
This is my breakfast the next day. I still prefer good old bread, bacon, sausage and eggs, and my coffee! Unfortunately, they don't have a fantastic selection... no scrambled eggs/sunny side up and red meat. The Japanese style includes rice, miso soup, vegetables, pickled vegetables, tofu and fish. Sorry, not used to such food in the morning =_=;;

Karuizawa handmade soba experience
Next we went to make soba!!!

Karuizawa handmade soba experience
We had to wash our hands without using soap and wipe clean with paper towels.

Karuizawa handmade soba experience

Karuizawa handmade soba experience
This was our super strict sensei! We were very slow so he blamed us for not listening. Sorry my Japanese is not fantastic and getting old, so memory is failing. I could teach you painting in English to help you understand our difficulties.

Karuizawa handmade soba experience
We gave them our soba in labelled boxes and packaged the rest home. The above is by me and my Japanese partner (and soba sensei). Not bad, but I prefer their yummy tempura.

Japanese toothpicks origami
They have these cute and pretty toothpick origami holders but I didn't take them because I'm already trying very hard to reduce unnecessary luggage back home.

Karuizawa was great fun and wonderful place to escape from the intense heat back in Tokyo. Bye bye Karuizawa, see you again when I become rich... ...someday~

26 comments:

  1. Good one :) Thanks!

    ewww...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Long wasn't it? Thanks for reading as usual :)

      Delete
    2. No, it wasn't long at all, and it was very entertaining.
      I discovered, that the way how japanese people are doing soba is very similar to the way how western/middleasian people are doing pasta ( lapsha ). I wondered how young and pretty Your friends are. How beautifull places around. I like these dogs :) That was great post.

      Have a great day,
      ewww...

      Delete
    3. LOL, yes the girls were all younger and prettier than me XD
      Thanks for your well-wishes! I had a great day shopping and eating out with friends :)

      Have a good weekend!

      Delete
    4. Huh! I did not mean that. I think that You are gorgeous *blush*

      Thanks for wishing me great weekend ... we have labour day here ... he-he-he ...

      ewww...

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    5. Does that mean long weekend?
      My whole family of 6 are going to come tomorrow night for a 4 days 5 nights stay in tokyo so I will be less active for a whole~

      Delete
    6. Yeah, long weekend, but not for me :P Working. Going to Boston tonight for 3-4 days.

      Wow! I bet it should be fun to meet a family, even such big. Hope You will enjoy that, and You won't be abused and tired. Hope that You will not spend the rest of week doing soji and sentaku.

      Please, do not work hard and have time for joy and rest.
      ewww...

      Delete
    7. Haha... I think I will be doing souji and sentaku after I send them off XD
      We're going to stay in a budget hotel, so it's not going to be so bad.
      I'd packed loads of stuff and taking a cab later to drop them off at the hotel, then go to the airport to fetch them.

      Delete
  2. 我也想去。。魚尾獅在那里做什么??

    ReplyDelete
  3. Long but cool post Eva! The picture posing like One Piece hehehe great! I think I might use the idea even if people don't know about One Piece it still looks very cool. So "advertising with dog" how does it work? I mean he looks rather miserable...so what did he do? Just stand there and look cute?
    I find it funny when people who have lived in Japan for a extended time always identify places with "they are famous for..." like really hehehe I bet you are going to say "But I even said that before"...did you? really?

    So the water was safe to drink according to...a sign? Sorry I am just so distrustful that I just would have prefer not to drink it hehehe.

    Hey that Oni looks rather good and a jolly fellow...doesn't strike me as a destroyer and volcano eruption creator :P

    And finally I have too proven your theory and yes it works. The bee seems to find moving objects and animals as a threat, therefore they attack, or at least that is why I think because I once did it and worked and have been repeating it since. Even when it in the hand, if I don't move it won't sting and fly away UNLESS it's sick/crazy near death. Have you seen some bees that are stranded for whatever reasons and seem to walk rather that fly? And walk in a jiffy way? Those are a different story, they wills ting whhatever is near them..I think is because they wan't to die faster, maybe...I don't know...still they don't follow the standing still rule!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey creepo, thanks for reading my lengthy post!

      There was a signboard next to the dog that introduced its name and age, then an ad for selling ice below :P

      LOL, it's interesting how each place brands itself into different specialties then decorate it nicely to spur purchases. Japanese also like to buy those souvenirs (omiyage) back home to give to friends, etc. So it is amazing how much "useless" stuff were generated and sold... amazing!

      Ya the water here is actually quite safe to drink. Though I wouldn't drink from the region further up north near Fukushima...

      As for that Oni, they like to make everything cute because cuteness sells big here! <-but preferably animal!

      And wow, never saw sick bees crawling on the floor...but oh my, thanks for the warning! Have you been stung by them before!? We don't have much bees in Singapore because we're too urbanised. But my friend was stung by one when it went into her room at night and she tried to slap it....

      Delete
    2. I have been stung so many times I can harly rememeber. It is painful but not that terrible. It will make the area red and swelled and itchy. I was told that...not scientifically proven as far as I know...that is you drink a lot of water and pee a lot the effect will wear down quicker. It makes sense that is the best way for the body to eliminate toxins, I have done it and it seems to work, or maybe is a placebo effect, not sure. Anyway, best advise is, take out the sting from the skin ASAP.

      Delete
    3. Stung so many times? Are you keeping bees or harvesting honey? XD

      I am drinking lots of water now... because... I caught a bad cold ><
      Your honey would come in handy for me now :P

      Delete
  4. I've yet to visit Karuizawa, but it looks very interesting - apart from the suzumebachi warning. I HATE THEM!!! ;____; ....

    Oh, and I see they had shoes my size (the pink and blue ones on the floor *lol*).

    I prefer muesli (cereals) with milk or yogurt and fresh fruit. Next comes the Japanese style breakfast with hot rice, raw egg, natto and fish plus some pickles.
    Last comes what you seem to like with white bread etc. I'm not a fan of white bread and it also doesn't give me any energy for the day and I need it for my job and even more when I'm traveling! ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hehe, as long as you don't go to nature up the mountain, it should be good!
      Everyone told me that the outlet there is fantastic but too bad the guys weren't interested.
      Nevertheless, I could save some money!

      I don't fancy white bread unless it comes with other toppings that I can add on like eggs, cheese, jam, peanut butter, etc.

      BTW, are you going to stay in Japan for good? :P

      Delete
    2. This is a question I'm trying to answer for the longest time now.
      I don't want to stay in Japan forever. Never wanted to.
      But I really love my comfortable life here and the longer I stay, the harder it'll be to leave.
      I also don't really want to go back to my home country (Germany) anymore, so I'm currently looking for another country to live in.

      How about you? :)

      Delete
    3. Oh I understand that comfy feeling.
      I had the same feeling when I was at my previous job. It was really hard to leave...

      So any country do you have in mind now? I think teaching English in Japan is one of the most relaxing job and many people have difficulty leaving this job :/

      I'm going to return to Singapore in early Oct, then prepare my new place (not sure if I'd be moving out of the house or not). Then freelance and teach drawing p/t. Well, that's what I think now, things may change.

      Delete
    4. A lot of people seem to hate the job, though.
      It can be very stressful and it's very busy - at least for me. I think JETs and generally ALT jobs are different. They seem to have a lot of free time.
      However, I really enjoy the job itself! ^^

      I've been in Japan for 6 years now although I planned to only stay for one year! (o_o') ....
      It's going to be difficult to leave after such a long time no matter where I'll go next. And the longer I stay, the more difficult it'll get! :(

      I'm researching like crazy right now, but in Europe I have Switzerland, Austria and Norway on my top list. Outside of Europe I'd be interested in Australia and Canada, but it might be difficult to get work visas for those places! ^^;

      Wow, so soon? :(
      I wish you all the best and I really hope that you'll be successful with your comics! ^_____^

      Delete
    5. Hey, zoomie, sorry for intruding.

      I think that Canada is easiest place to go. They have easy immigration procedure, and, I beleive, You may fit here easily. But, that is very cold country :)

      BTW, I do not know how it happen, I know seversl people, who immigrated to NZ, Australia and Canada initially, but all of them did come to USA after. But all they are computer programmers, may be that is why.

      Zoomie, I like Your blog so much, and I always read it with interest. It was very big surprise for me that You want to leave Japan.

      Wishing You greatest luck with Your search.
      ewww...

      Delete
    6. Hi!

      Hm, not for a EU citizen like me. Canada is certainly easier to get into than Australia and NZ, but more difficult than any country in Europe! :/

      Thanks, I'm glad to hear you like my blog.
      You know, I've been in Japan for 6 years now and I've travelled to almost everywhere in Japan.
      I still really love this country and I have enough material to keep the blog running for years to come, but maybe it's time for a change.
      Don't worry, currently I'm only researching. Nothing has been decided yet! ^^

      Delete
  5. Jasmine:

    It's good that you enjoy the job! And I can tell you love to travel around Japan too! :P

    Actually I could have found a job easily in Japan, but I couldn't stand the work culture here and I really want to force myself to put in effort to carve a career out as a comic artist. I want to see if Singapore comics can become well-known, not just within Singapore or Asia. And yes, working for my dream means a trade off in income, which is quite sad for a shopaholic like me...

    I wonder where your next country would be... Zooming Japan will become Zooming Canada or something haha.
    Thank you for your well-wishes!

    ewww:
    I like US a lot actually, maybe because of the freedom there. The only thing I hated were the bed bugs... they were terrible and indestructible! Hope to exhibit at Comic-con one day!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha, Zooming Canada, huh? *g*

      I would keep my blog running even if I don't live in Japan anymore.
      I've been writing about Japan years before I lived in Japan, so of course I also will continue after leaving.

      If I really live in yet another foreign country yet again (and it's interesting enough to write about it), there might be a second blog in the future - if time permits. *g*

      I know it's always hard work to make your dreams come true, but I'm sure you can do it as long as you don't give up! ^__^

      Delete
    2. Or Zooming Switzerland, Zooming Kiwi...hehehehe

      I have some leftover materials too, just that I'm afraid that I'll forget more and more as time goes by, haha. I already forgotten a lot of what happened when I was studying in San Francisco (except the bed bugs). So I'd been trying to write blogs to record my feelings and thoughts before I forget, and taking photos of trivial things XD

      But this time it's easier for me to travel to Japan from Singapore from time to time because its closer~ Singapore is too small so we're bored most of the time and travel often XD

      Thanks zooming for your support, and you know a lot of readers like ewww and me will continue to follow your blog XD (tho I read more on FB, hehe).

      Delete
    3. I know. I wish I started my blog earlier (like in early 2008 or so ...). So many things that were new and fascinating back then, I've already forgotten now. It's hard to write about them nowadays. XD

      Aww, thank you! :3

      Delete
    4. Indeed Japan has so many interesting things to write about!
      But the rigid system and culture is not for me :(

      Delete

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