The majority of the time I like to keep these posts quite themed; focussing on whatever the most important or exciting thing has happened most recently. But lately I’ve felt it might be nice to just share some of what I’ve been up to lately, and give a little glimpse into my life in Japan. Amazingly, this includes more than just working and travelling! What follows will probably be quite rambling, but hopefully somewhat more relatable.
The other day I went to see the new Studio Ghibli movie with a friend. If that doesn’t ring a bell, then you may have at least heard of Totoro; the most famous film from the studio. If not, then Google is your friend, and I highly recommend you sit down and watch at least one of these movies. They are Japanese animated films of a very high standard; both in animation and storyline. My personal favourite is Spirited Away (Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi), which won several awards and is considered one of the greatest animated films of all time.
The film I saw, Kaguya-hime no Monogatari (in English: The Tale of Princess Kaguya), was very different than any other Ghibli film I’ve seen. It also happened to be the first film I’ve seen entirely in Japanese, without subtitles. It was a daunting experience to be sure. I started off being able to understand quite a bit, and definitely had a firm grasp on the main gist of the story. Not long into the film, however, the location changed, and with it the language. What had been fairly simple country-side language rapidly became very formal (keigo), and a million times more difficult to understand.
The story is based on an old Japanese tale of a princess who was born from a bamboo shoot, but whose real home is the moon. She spends much of her life feeling out of place and eventually returns to her true home. This much I knew going in. The rest of the story wasn’t quite as easy to follow. It was also quite depressing! I’ll try not to spoil it too much, just on the off chance you may see it at some point, but suffice it to say it didn’t leave me with the happy, at peace feeling that Ghibli films usually impart. The animation style was also very different. It was done in an old style, more like a sketch than a crisp cartoon, obviously in keeping with the setting of the story.
Given we had some time in between meeting up with a couple of other girls for dinner, my friend and I made our way to Takashimaya department store to do a little shopping. It is quite an expensive place, and my Japanese friends are always noticeably impressed when I tell them I shop there; but if I’m going to be honest, I only really go there for the makeup, and occasionally to shop in Tokyu Hands, which is located inside the department store. On this particular occasion I was on the hunt for a new lipstick. More specifically I wanted to take advantage of a special offer from Yves Saint Laurent which meant I could claim a free little mirror if I made another purchase there by the end of the year. Obviously I didn’t really need a new lipstick, having recently purchased quite a few; but I was bound to succumb eventually (especially given YSL’s to-die-for formula) so I figured I may as well give in now, while I could get a free litte Christmas gift for myself at the same time. Little incentives like this aren’t the only reason I buy YSL products. Aside from the excellent quality, the service I receive there is impeccable. There is a lovely girl with an outstanding memory for detail who speaks fluent English and is always happy to chat while she helps me overcome my indecisive nature.
After much deliberation I chose a lovely pale pink shade from the Rouge Volupte range, and we met up with the others before heading to The Corner Hamburger and Saloon. They are reputed to have the best burgers in Nagoya, and I am not going to disagree. I chose the same burger I’d had there previously: the Avocado Cheeseburger. I was not disappointed. Despite being nicely full after our meal, we couldn’t resist hunting down some dessert, so we headed to the JR towers to a crepe and cider place. I can’t recall the name right now, but if you find yourself in Nagoya, you should definitely track it down. It was a little expensive, but I say worth it. My crepe had strawberry jam and rhubarb jam, as well as a scoop of vanilla icecream, and it was quite scrumptious. The bowl (yes, bowl!) of cider afterwards was just what was needed to wash it down, and feeling fit to bursting, but very satisfied, we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways.
Quite an enjoyable day indeed.