My Town, Komono

Alright!! So let’s get into where I live! :D

But before that, I want to extend a HUGE thank you to all of the kind words and support I have received so far! :) You are all amazing, and thank you so much for sharing on this journey with me! You reading my blog and keeping up with my shenanigans means so much more, and thank you for letting me know you are reading! It’s really inspiring to know there are eyeballs on the other side of this screen reading my words, and people (hopefully) laughing at the situations I get myself into. :) So thank you THANK YOU! You have no idea how much it means to me, specifically right now, as I’m trying to find my place in a foreign town with a gigantic language barrier, on the other side of the world. It inspires me to keep pushing. :)

So the past week has been both a whirlwind as well as… not a whirlwind. Er, a quicksand pit?! I don’t know. It has definitely been an intense week emotionally, and I find myself feeling either very positive or very negative, so lots of peaks and valleys.

However, I know I do this thing often where I compare to what others have going on, but I have to remind myself that that doesn’t help me any, and that focusing on the positives will help me see them in a brighter light, and… it will train me to more easily focus on positives next time. But easier said than done!

So let’s get into it! This is where I live!

“MY TOWN KOMONO!” I see this on my way to the train station! :D <3
The other side… This says “Welcome to Komono”! And I see this on my way home from the train station!
A cute little sewer-hole cover specific to Komono! The little goat is a Kamoshika, and they run around the mountains!
And this is the Komono mascot, Komoshika!! SO CUTE!

I live in a town of 40k people, called Komono! It’s about an hour or so away from Nagoya by train, and that is my only option as I will not have a car out here.  I MIGHT get a motorcycle if I get crazy enough, and I have a probably too expensive road bike coming my way from the UK right now that I ordered in a burst of insanity.  So I have been doing most of my exploring by walking, which limits me to only a little teeny bit of Komono.

Anyway, FUN tid-bit about Komoshika (the mascot in the last picture), that a fellow Komono ALT named Cara told me! It’s a combination of the local crop “Makomo” (I think, I’m reading the hiragana off the website, so I’m not 100% sure!) and “Kamoshika,” which is this little goat thing that runs around them mountains.  So the goat thing is the mascot, and the little green horns are the crop! Adorable, huh?! They have a little tourism shop where Cara said you can buy pens and other things with him on them. I will definitely be making a stop there soon!

Also, I am going to take this opportunity to post some more mountain pictures… Because my kitchen window has some amazing views of the mountains. I’m on the second level of the apartment building, so it’s a higher vantage point. Here we have some SELECT photos of the mountains (I have like 100 more in my phone, oh my gosh):

 

So yes… As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I’m a little obsessed… Also fear not, a future post will feature a tour of my apartment. Just not yet! :P

My walk to school is also very nice!

View of the fields on my walk to school.
Some farms on either side, as well as some little houses.
Far over… the misty mountains cold… except that it’s sweltering  hot. :P
Neighborhood kitty cat! I tried to make friends but he was shy…

I could take one of two ways to school, the shorter way, that goes along a busy road where I got splashed by a passing car, or the longer road, which winds through farms… much less cars, although it’s only a car with wide and it’s a two way, so I have to be aware of cars and make sure I either step aside, or pull over on my teeny bike.

Now, onto my daily life!First few days at my apartment I was greeted by what I later learned to be a coakroach… You can watch me battle the cockroaches here!! A little after 1min 40sec, one falls on me from the ceiling, which is why you hear that high pitched yelp. I was trying to be quiet because it was around 11 or 12 at night!

 

Got you!!

I freaked out on the facebook page for our program and was informed this was a cockroach, and the next day I went out and bought roach traps and put them all over my kitchen and bathroom. Haven’t seen one since!!

On a more positive note, I have been giving little presents to my neighbors. There is a bakery nearby, where I go and buy little banana, chocolate bread sandwhiches, which I give to my neighbors with a little note about how I live in this apartment. I wrote it in Japanese hiragana, copied from a website I found, so who knows if it’s actually grammatically correct or means anything, but I’m trying! So I have been walking around, trying to give these things to my neighbors, and it’s kind of hard to pin them down. But one of my neighbors, my next door neighbor, came back a few minutes after I visited him and gave me laundry detergent!!! :’) There are moments where I feel really lonely here, especially with the language barrier, and I was having a hard day that day, so when he stopped by, I was so elated! It really made my night. :) Little acts of kindness go a long way!

The sandwhiches I am giving to my neighbors! (Secret: I’ve eaten 5 of them…)
Laundry detergent, wrapped so nicely!! :’)

Speaking of acts of kindness… the other day I went to my local grocery store and wanted to get a points card. I know that I will be shopping there a lot for food, so it wouldn’t hurt, right?! The problem is, I only know a few words in Japanese… So I managed to say the following string of words:

“Sumimasen” – Excuse me
“Pointo kaado” – Point card
“Onegaishimasu” – I would like
“Ikura” – How much

And somehow, after asking me something and me saying, “I’m sorry,” in Japanese, he ran to get an application sheet… which was totally in Japanese. He was able to point out the space for my name, but the rest, I had no idea. I paid for my food and moved to the side and prepared myself for what would have been an hour of translating with google translate… when a kind lady stepped up and asked me if I needed help! In English! This kind soul basically took the pen from my hand, looked at the residence card I was copying my information from, and filled out the application for me, explaining what she was writing as she did it! I told her what my name was in Japanese, that I was really really thankful, and proceeded to say thank you 5 more times. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how I got a point card at my local grocery store! Now, do I know what my point card does? Do I know what the stickers I got with yesterday’s purchase are? No! But we’ll figure that out along the way.

Now, to break it up with some more pictures from Komono. I found these shots on my way from my house to Tom Sawyer, a local restaurant where I met with Cara, the other ALT in my town!

 

So another aspect that has been eye opening this past week is food! For the first week, I survived on buying pre-packaged meals from the grocery store and convenience stores. Now, I know what you’re thinking, WHAT?! You’re in JAPAN and you’re buying prepackaged meals?! What the hell is wrong with you?? Well… these things are amazing! Check it out!

Udon noodles with sushi and sashimi! This was under $2 because I bought it at the end of the day, when  they were trying to get rid of the food made FRESH that same day!
And look how previous!! Soy sauce (I think?) in a little plastic fish!! <3

So that is why I have been eating the prepacked meals! BUT! I started to cook on my own! My first adventure was with my rice cooker, which once again, Cara helped me understand! Cara is a lifesaver and I am excited to be in the same town as her! If you ever read this Cara – thank you for helping me adult!

Rice being kept warm for me, ready to open!
Tah-DAH! Fluffy rice! I put a little too much water, but oh well, really good for the first time!
First homemade meal in Japan! I cooked the chicken myself, AS WELL as the carrots! I packed this for lunch for the next day as well!

The drumsticks here are really really small, so that was a little strange. But I successfully got them to cook! And the secret to making good rice, I heard, is to wash the rice before you put it into the rice-cooker. ALSO! I heard that you can cook all these things in the rice-cooker, like CAKES and other things! Wild!

My next meal was… UDON NOODLES!

 

 Isn’t that magical?! For anybody that wants to recreate, the SUPER easy recipe can be found here: http://www.justonecookbook.com/cold-tanuki-udon/ Happy cooking! It tasted really good and refreshing, since it is a cold dish. I bought everything all on my own, albeit with quite a bit of googling in the grocery store. :) But I did it! And it tasted great!!

And finally, a few sights from walking around Komono, to close off the post with:

My train station! <3
I had lunch by myself at this curry place! You can see the katakana I was practicing in the corner hehe!
“Hair make & design. A pleasant salon. Like a sunny place of a happy spring day.” I think this is where I will get my haircut when it comes time for one… Like a sunny place…!! <3
What town isn’t complete without it’s own pizza delivery?! It would be an abomination for me to get it delivered to my house, since I live about a 1 minute walk from this place… But check out that little delivery scooter!! How cute is that?!

So there you have it, my first experiences at Komono. I will be posting more about my town, about my schools that I’m working at, etc., later! Tomorrow I am going into Yokkaichi with a friend I made on the way to Mie from Tokyo, so that should be fun! I will be sure to take pictures and let you all know how that was!

If there is one thing that I learned from this week, it is that taking changes definitely pays off eventually. Without having awkwardly introduced myself to my neighbors (which was basically me reading from my notebook, and STILL messing it up) I never would have made friends with my neighbor and gotten the detergent. Without having tried to apply for a points card, I wouldn’t have experienced the kindness of a stranger who helped me fill out my paper. These are little fruits of pushing myself, but the big push was coming to Japan in itself. And the scariest part about that is that I won’t get to see the fruits of my labor until much much later, because this goes much deeper than just a points card, or a small present for a stranger.  I have to keep reminding myself that I AM growing, and that by challenging myself, I will grow more, and grow stronger, and that I have the best support I could ask for in all of you. :)

So thank you again for reading (I can’t get over all of your messages, sorry for beating a dead horse!), and I will be reporting back soon!

A

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