Tuesday, 15 April 2014

EUIJ - Kyushu: A Taste of Europe

On Sunday, my class had a welcome party for the new students. At the same time, I was eating Dutch food from a Michelin star restaurant (my first time!). I didn't know that it would clash when I signed up, so please don't think I was intentionally running away (although I am not fond of nomikai).

But that did mean that I had every intention of joining them after the dinner, since both events were at Tenjin.

So first, why was I even at an event like this? Well, it was hosted by the EUIJ (European Union In Japan), and I'm technically signed up for the EUIJ-Kyushu Diploma Program (more about that in a later post). I haven't actually been to an event before this, since they're most symposiums, but this looked interesting. And it involved eating.



I was put at a table with.... my first semester English teacher. That was a surprise. I was actually seated next to one of the office workers from the EUIJ-Kyushu Hakozaki Campus office and a French exchange student. So interesting conversations all around.

This is me trying to be sneaky and take a photo of the pretty flower arrangements. 
This event was held to celebrate the one year anniversary of direct Fukuoka - Amsterdam flight by KLM. So they flew in Ingrid from De Karpendonkse Hoeve (also known as Ingrid's place), which holds one Michelin star.

Apart from a lanyard from KLM, we also got the recipes for all the food we ate

And lots of other flyers. 
So, what was on the menu? 

The first dish was Jambon persillee with White Asparagus. Or as the Japanese translation puts it ham jelly with white apsaragus. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of it. It was good, although the dominant taste was salty, which I think was due to the ham. 

The second dish was Asparagus Gratin:


Apparently, the Netherlands are really proud of asparagus (is this true?). But Ingrid doesn't like Asparagus, and her husband doesn't like cheese, so this dish seems unlikely to appear in their home. I liked it though.

The third course was Lame in Brioche, Simmered Lam, Green Pea Cream, Rosemary Sauce.
Yums
 The lamb was really delicious. The simmered lamb was really soft, and the Lamb in Brioche, while hard to cut (wrong knives), was tender.

Dessert was Panna Cotta of Ginger Biscuit, Ginger Bread Crumble, Orange Compote.


Apparently, Panna Cotta is Italian and means "cooked cream". But it was so good and really filling.

Dinner ended with Demi-tasse de cafe, which apparently means half a cup of coffee. But they gave everyone a full cup. I got tea, since I don't drink coffee.

Was this dinner worth it? Well, I'm going to go with yes. The food was good, and I enjoyed listening to Ingrid talk about the dishes. I'd like to try the dishes in the Netherlands though, since these dishes were prepared by Japanese chefs (so there might be some difference).

I realised that I really should attend more EUIJ events. This was fun, and I dare say that others will be too.

For those of you wondering, no, I didn't make it to my class party in the end. I wore heels (after so long), and my feet hurt so much that I decided to go home. Plus, I had school on Monday.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Sakura 2014: Muromi

Here's my last sakura post for this year! And just in time for the new school year too! My last spot would be Muromi, aka, the place where I stay.


I decided to walk around my neighbourhood one day, and I was really surprised to see how many sakura trees there were.

Look, you can even see Fukuoka Tower from here! 
Since the sakura flower only once a year, there were trees that surprised me. For example, I didn't know the two trees outside the convenience store near my house were sakura trees.


And I was definitely not the only one taking pictures of the sakura.


In fact, about five to ten minutes from my place, there's a place called Atago jinja (Atago Shrine). From a distance, all I saw was a line of pink, but when I got closer, I realised this was a sakura tunnel.

The entrance :D 
 I actually struck up a conversation with an old man carrying a camera. I'm definitely not the only one that went there to take photos of the sakura.


Although we both grumbled about the cable lines getting in the way.


But it's still a really great view! I wanted to take a 360 panorama, but there were the same problems I had with the previous one (all those ghosting) that I got a headache and gave up after a while.

a lot of blurry parts ><
So that wraps up my sakura posts for this year! The next few posts will be probably be school related, since I'm starting the new school year tomorrow!


Monday, 7 April 2014

Sakura 2014: Fukuoka Castle (Night)

You know, I just realised that I'll be in Singapore for the entire sakura season next year. Oh well, labeling the post with the year makes things easier for me.

So after I made one trip to Fukuoka Castle to see the sakura, I decided that I should make a second trip to see the Sakura light up. And since I happened to have a 5pm to 6pm tuition session at Akasaka (not the closest station to the castle, but definitely walkable).

And guess what? Using a different entrance means that you can different things. Like this sunset:


There were a lot of people having a hanami party there too:


I would like to attend a hanami at least once, but the SSAJ only holds them in Tokyo :/ 

But yes, wandering around Fukuoka Castle ruins shows that there are a lot of sakura trees. A lot more than I imagined actually. 


In order to see all the sakura from high, I went to this platform-like place (whose name I've embarrassingly forgotten) and paid 300yen to be let in. Well, it was worth seeing the sunset from there. 

Random sunset photo
I even saw this cute little doggie! (two and a half years old, according to her owners)


I actually had plenty of time while waiting for the sun to set. 

Why yes, this is the photo I took with my iPad and shared on Google plus. 
Here's a panorama, since I like them so much: 


You know all those "wish you were here" postcards? Well, this time, I sincerely wished someone was here. It's a pity that my sisters came (and left) a week too early, but the Singapore school system is not to be trifled with. 

And once the sun is set, I took another panorama! 


This is the main lightup, but I did see another row of sakura that were brilliantly lit up. This one was full of people taking photos. 

This is one of them. 
The next picture would be of the row of sakura trees that were lighted up.
Look at the little kids posing!  
If you walk down this row, you'll come to a second paid area, which I didn't go into. Instead, I decided to go home. 

And ended up getting lost. I left by a completely different exit (how many exits and entrances does this place have anyway?) and had no idea where the station was. Luckily, I spotted a family and managed to get directions to them, walking all the way to Ohorikoen station. 

Just before I entered the station, I passed by the front of the castle again and managed to snap this picture. 


I hope you enjoyed these photos! I have one more sakura post to make, so watch out for it! 

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Sakura 2014: Fukuoka Castle (Daytime)

Fukuoka Castle is so pretty that I need to break it up into two posts: daytime and nighttime. On Sunday, Yuka and I went to Fukuoka castle (a first for the both of us) to take Sakura photos.


It's a really pretty place. The castle is basically a ruin, but there are still walls and certain sections standing. So wandering in there was an experience.

The front of the castle
Apparently, this next picture of a well is what you use to wash your hands, like when you enter a shrine. 


I actually like it because there are sakura petals floating on it.


And since it was the Sakura festival (桜まつり)they had stalls set up, leading to a carnival-like atmosphere


I really like the fact that they set up the stalls underneath the sakura trees.


Oh yes, and the big project I mentioned. If you follow me on Google+, then you'd know that I gave the game away when I asked for help with my photosphere. After trial-and-error (this was before Hugin replied and confirmed my worst fears), I realised that I had too many images (40 images, to be exact), resulting in very blurry pictures. I've already tried to cut them down, but the middle section still has the most overlap, which means that it's the blurriest. But here you go, this is my best effort:


Aaaand the photo sphere itself (click on the photo in the post to dive in):



Next up, Fukuoka Castle at night!

Monday, 31 March 2014

Sakura 2014: Hakozaki Campus

It's Sakura season! My favourite time of the year: the temperature is good and Japan turns into a magical land of flowering trees. Yesterday, Yuka and I went Sakura viewing, and one of the places we went to was the Hakozaki Campus.

Yup, we went to school on a Saturday. To take photos of flowers. Two economics students. Somehow that's an odd picture to me, since I normally associate school with studying. To be honest, we'd only heard rumors that there were Sakura flowers there, but since we had the one-day subway pass, we decided to take a chance. 

Luckily, our information source was right.

We did not walk all this way for nothing!
 The school isn't exactly flowering with Sakura trees, but there are a few streets lined with them.

Plus short trees so short people like me can take close up shots. 
 While the Hakozaki campus is old and run-down (the sakura trees were in the more-run down section), it does mean that these trees have had plenty of time to grow.

So in certain places, sakura petals carpeted the floor. 

Outside a random building
And woe be to the cars that were parked underneath.


Although they looked very pretty from a distance, you can tell that the sakura petals are going to be a problem. 

The poor windshield. 
Still, I'd like to imagine that when the driver uses his windshield wipers, the sakura petals fly up like confetti. 

I'm not sure if the Ito campus has sakura trees, but since it's going to be the main campus from now on, I really hope that they do. 

P.s. We also visited another spot, but before I blog about it, I have a related project that I want to finish. This project is also driving me insane. Hint: I'm using a piece of software called Hugin. 

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

My Sisters in Japan (AKA One Week in Fukuoka)

My sisters came to visit me last week, so of course I brought them round my favourite spots (which is to say, Huis Ten Bosch). The difference in this trip is that I had my tripod with me! Well, cause my sisters brought it over.

My adorable sisters and I
It's definitely much easier taking panorama photos/GIFS with a tripod, although carrying it around is much heavier. And since I can't really talk about the trip without either rahashing the same old praise about Huis Ten Bosch or revealing too much personal information, here are some photos!

We bought these macaron pops, but they left before we
could eat it D:
Which are mostly Google+ Auto-Awesome shots

Do you know how long and how hard I've been trying to get this? 
Panorama of Thriller City, where the light show was.


And of course, the Tulip Festival


And Palace Huis Ten Bosch at Night


I must say though, it was really fun having my sisters over. I didn't realise how much I missed my family until they came and then left. The leaving part is always the hardest for me, because living alone (and I mean alone, without any neighbours like in TUFS) isn't always fun. It's mostly lonely.

Since they couldn't stay very long (my youngest sister only had a week's break), their trip was really rushed. Hopefully the next time they come for a free and easy, they can stay longer (like my mom and little bro) and we can spend some time taking it easy (which is actually what my mom and bro did most of the time, while I was at school).

By the way, if any of you are planning a trip to Fukuoka, here's the one-week itinerary, perhaps you'll find it helpful.

DAY 1
Arrive: 2.30pm
Drop luggage off
Marinoa City Outlet Mall for Shopping and Dinner.

DAY 2
Huis Ten Bosch (One 2-way Ticket costs 4900 yen, hotel fees depend on the season)

Day 3
Huis Ten Bosch
(Note: We spent 3 days 2 nights here because Huis Ten Bosch was having it's "Country of Light" event going on and I didn't want to rush through the illumination shows in one night and tire everyone out. If there's nothing going on, you may just want to keep this to a 2 day 1 night stay)

Day 4
Return to Hakata in the morning (we took the earliest train)
Lunch at Hakata Station (Leave your luggage in the locker if your hotel is far)
Shopping at Hakata, Tenjin Underground Shopping Centre (and BookOff Super Bazaar) and Canal City. Dinner at Ramen Stadium in Canal City

Day 5
Spaceworld (Amusement Park. JR sells the tickets there and back + entrance tickets as a set)

Day 6
Bye bye Fukuoka D':

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Quiet Days

If you've been wondering why I haven't been blogging lately, I have a very simple explanation: my life has been boring lately and I really don't want to make inane posts for the sake of making posts. Although if I was an entertaining writer, this wouldn't be a problem.

*Inane post section: Time for lists!*

All I've been doing lately would be:

a. Baito (I'm still considering whether to even blog about this because I want to respect my students' privacy and I don't know how to do that for now). Thanks to +Micha Fire for pointing this out. 'Baito' is short for 'Arubaito' (which is supposed to be a German word) and means part-time work. Basically, I teach English (being unqualified for almost everything else).
b. Sleeping (sleep is good)
c. Sewing (occasionally). And as a PSA, from now all, all posts related to sewing, food and so on will be posted at my new blog This is my Girly Side, making this blog more focused on Japan :D
d. Preparing for my sisters' arrival. Yes, my sisters are coming on Sunday! I'm so excited!

*Slightly more interesting part: Photos!*

And to make this post a not-so-inane one, here are some photos that I took lately:


I think these are plum blossoms. I took this shot while walking home from the supermarket, and after the filters were applied, I thought it looked an awfully lot like a Chinese painting.


Pretty sunset at Tenjin. That reminds me, it's Fukuoka Fashion Week now, and there's a fashion market on Saturday, I should go check it out. 

Isn't the "Thank You" sign adorable? Ok, that's beside the actual point. Yes, I have a point. The point is that today was rather warm (it went above 15 degrees apparently!) so I went to Starbucks in between baito to refuel. I got this Sakura Chocolate Strawberry Frappuccino and it was really really good! If you're in Japan, head over there! I wanted to have it with a chocolate and marshmallow cookie, but it seems like they didn't have it. 

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