Thoughts on Walking

I put on my white Adidas shoes as this is the only pair of sneakers that goes fashionably well with skirts, dresses, and suits.  I hurriedly went down the stairs of my apartment trying to make it to the main street before the school hymn of the nearby school came to an end.  It’s normally my cue to leave the apartment already or else I’d be late for work.

My workplace is a 30-minute walk from my apartment.  I’ve been walking to school for more than a year already, so I usually make it one or two minutes before my log-in time.  And that includes grabbing lunch and snacks in the supermarket next to my workplace.  My apartment is situated uphill and my workplace is located in another uphill ground.  It’s like going from one valley to another valley.  On regular weekdays, I walk a total of almost 5 kilometers.  I’ve walked in different seasons and I’ve realized that the different seasons play a big part on what I feel and what I think while walking.

SUMMER

Summer is unforgiving.  The heat is intense and the wind does not even let its presence be known.  I start to pity myself.  My upper clothing is drenched in sweat.  And because of that, I usually bring a towel and an extra blouse.  There seems to be no point wearing make-up.  By the time I arrive in the workplace, I look as if I’d just completed a morning workout.  My hair is messy, which is enough to be stressed out for the day.  Walking in summer feels like never ending especially if it’s an upward slope.  Every turn I take, I would wish it were the last.  And in every step, I’d repeatedly question why I placed myself in this situation.

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Summer – Shirotori Garden, Aichi Prefecture

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AUTUMN

Autumn is the beginning.  I’d like to think of autumn as the start of good things to come.  It’s much more comfortable walking in autumn.  It is when the feel of the cold temperature seems so much more inviting.  The color of the autumn leaves is striking—- may it be yellow, red, or orange.  There is a gingko tree with dark yellow leaves alongside the street I pass by.  I used to hate that tree not knowing what it was because its fruits would fall all over the ground and smell so bad.  Sometimes I would see its owner cleaning up the ground with a broom and I used to pity her.  It made me wonder why she would go through the hassle of sweeping the ground early in the morning.  Sometimes she’d collect a total of four garbage bags full of rotten fruits.  I didn’t understand then that that tree is like a shining star in the autumn daylight.

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Autumn- Tachikawa, Tokyo Prefecture

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WINTER

Winter is depressing and lonely.  That’s when all the dark thoughts occupy the mind.  It’s five in the afternoon and the light has retired early.  I shiver in cold as I walk my way uphill with nobody in sight.  Sometimes I daydream I am in the setting of M. Night Shyamalan’s chiller movie The Village.  On rare occasions, I see some students on their way home.  It sometimes boggles me how the female high school students can manage the cold in their mini skirt uniform whereas I, completely bundled up in my coat, scarf and gloves, can still feel the biting cold.  But if I’d have to choose, I’d pick winter over summer because I still look exactly the same as when I leave the apartment—- make-up intact and strands of hair still in place.

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Winter- Shirakawago, Gifu Prefecture

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SPRING

Spring is salvation.  The light after the dark.  It’s the season that constantly makes me want to freeze time even just for a minute, so I could appreciate the beauty of cherry blossom trees that line the street.  There are times when the wind would blow and the cherry blossom petals would rain on me.  And in my mind I’d be doing a twirl in my cute dress.  Or sometimes I wish someone would film me in slow motion as I gaze up completely amazed at the falling white pinkish petals.  But, nope.  None of that as I need to hurriedly get to the workplace. But my hopes are still high as I know there are two more blossom trees on the way.  It’s only in spring when I wish that the traffic lights would remain red, so I could enjoy the view of the cherry blossom tree standing near the stop lights.  And as I completely enter the compound of my workplace, another cherry blossom tree lifts my mood up.

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Spring- Kakamigahara, Gifu Prefecture

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Walking throughout the four seasons allows me to think of different things.  It’s not just a routine to reach my destination.  It’s a process that allows me to talk to myself and solve my worries.  Sometimes I’d go home filled with problems that only people living abroad would face.  In the whole 30-minute walk, I’m usually able to analyze the why’s and how’s of my situation.  By the time I reach home, the negative thoughts don’t linger anymore.  Walking is an invisible friend.  It’s solitary, yet, it brings me solace.

Matsumoto Castle

I waved my hand at the Indian man across the street.  He was wearing a huge backpack and his wife and three kids were trailing behind him.  He stopped and crossed the street again to my direction.  “The bus stop that I was referring to is here,” I said pointing to where I was standing.  “We’re actually planning to just walk there,” he uttered.  Seeing that he has children with filled backpacks strapped on each one of them, I managed to make him decide to wait for the bus going to Matsumoto castle. As the bus had not arrived, yet, his family walked to the Mos Burger restaurant which was just a few steps away from the bus stop.

I sat on the bench while waiting for the bus. I felt impatient.  I was already running out of time.  I still needed to go to two museums and it was almost three in the afternoon.  I might not make it before the closing time.  I checked the bus timetable and realized that it was a better idea to walk.  I would even be like ten minutes ahead of the scheduled bus bound for the castle.  I crossed the street heading in the direction where the Indian man was supposed to go before I waved at him.  I walked hurriedly as a skift of snow was already falling.

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This is the facade of the Matsumoto station.
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This is a Yayoi Kusama bus.  Yayoi Kusama is a famous Japanese artist from Matsumoto City known for the polka dot trademark in her artworks.

 

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Matsumoto Castle late in the afternoon

 

 

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The Former Kaichi School Building — the oldest elementary school in Japan
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Within the Kaichi School premises
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Matsumoto castle at night

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Early morning view from my room at Richmond Hotel in Matsumoto
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Resident swans at the castle waters
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Matsumoto Castle early in the morning

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Nabana No Sato – December 2015

I feel like my Christmas isn’t complete without going for a visit to Nabana No Sato in Mie Prefecture.  I went on a rainy day which was what I was hoping for since I wanted to capture the lights reflecting off of the wet pavement.  It just looked alive and dramatic that way.DSC_1069I  was actually surprised that a lot of people came even though the rain was so hard.  It was difficult to take pictures with my camera so I just decided to use my cellphone.  The place was so crowded that you’d have to go through the tunnels maybe thrice (which I did) just to get a shot with few people on it.DSC_1066There were two kinds of light tunnels.  The first tunnel is pictured above.  The second one is the blue tunnel.  The second tunnel changes every year.  Two years ago, the tunnel was pink because of the sakura theme.  DSC_1047DSC_1045I wanted to go here on the 25th of December but I chose the 23rd instead because I didn’t want to be with a lot of couples.  Christmas Day in Japan is  considered a romantic holiday in which you’ll see a lot of couples go out on dates.DSC_1042DSC_1098DSC_1101

The winter illumination in Nabana No Sato is such a beautiful, magical and romantic attraction.  I fell in love with it the first time I saw it.  This is one of the places that I’ll surely keep visiting every year.

How To Go There:

Go to Meitetsu Bus Center just somewhere at the back of Nagoya Station.  You can buy a bus ticket to Nabana No Sato (less than 2,000 yen round trip) on the third floor. Make sure you ask the person behind the counter for the bus schedule so you won’t miss the last bus. Get off at Nabana No Sato bus stop.  The entrance fee costs 2,100 yen. You will be given a ticket with a 1,000 worth of gift certificate which you can use to purchase anything from the stores inside the area.