KATIASBLOG

七転び八起き – Fall seven times and stand up eight

Monday September 11th, 2017
by Katia
2 Comments

Climbing Mt. Fuji

The title says it all; I climbed Mt. Fuji two days ago. And honestly, words can’t quite sum up my experience, but I’ll still try my best.

I started my journey in Nagoya in the afternoon. I took a Shinkansen to Mishima (90-minute ride, one-way cost: around ¥4000, but the Shinkansen is included in the Japan Rail Pass) and that was already amazing, because I’ve never traveled by Shinkansen before (but I’ve always dreamed of it). The trains are very spacious and comfortable and you hardly feel a thing as you speed through Japans beautiful scenery. From Mishima I took the Fuji Kyuko Bus to Kawaguchiko Station (one-hour ride, one-way cost: ¥2100) and from there I took another bus to Mt. Fuji’s fifth station (55-minute ride, round trip cost: ¥2100). It was in this bus where I found my first new friends. A couple of women who also planned to hike up Mt. Fuji at night. We quickly agreed to leave the fifth station early and hike up the mountain together.

At the fifth station I bought myself the token Mt. Fuji walking stick (middle-size, cost: ¥1300) and I paid the entry prize for Mt. Fuji, which is ¥1000. So why do I keep writing about the costs so much? Because my budget is around ¥2600 a day and this trip fucking blew it. Mt. Fuji is so expensive and I wasn’t prepared for the costs, so I want to write about it, to hopefully prepare some future mountaineers.

And so our trip started at 8pm. Oh boy. We took the Yoshida trail up the mountain, which is said to be the easiest trail and the most manageable. The sun had already set (so be sure to bring a headlight or else you’ll see nothing!) and since there weren’t any trees, we had a beautiful view over Kawaguchiko and Fuji-san City at night. We arrived at the sixth station after an hour and were pretty pleased with ourselves, because it seemed easy and it wasn’t cold. We were such idiots. After the sixth station the trails curves slightly and you’re confronted with the first stairs and that’s when you realize that you’ve made a big mistake. At the sixth station I also got my first stamp for my walking stick, which cost ¥300.

It took us around 80 minutes, I think, to reach the seventh station and that’s when I started freezing. I bought myself some gloves for ¥300 and the others bought themselves something to eat and we sat inside the station for a while to warm up. Problem: I didn’t buy myself something to eat, so they kicked me out of the station (it was really expensive, even drinks cost around ¥600, and I wasn’t even hungry). I told the others that I would wait outside, but I started shivering and freezing and they sure did take their time to eat, so I ditched them (because I’m an asshole) and joined two dudes from Belgium instead. Their names were Abdil and Frédéric and we hit it off instantly.

Abdil, Fred and I steadily climbed up to the eight station, which took us a lot of time and I spent around ¥1000 for more stamps. The trail from the seventh to the eighth station was the worst. It reminded me more of free climbing than of hiking. So if you decide to climb Mt. Fuji, be sure that don’t pack too much stuff, so that you’ll be able to climb as well. I did kind of regret buying my walking stick at that point, but it was manageable.

When we arrived at the eighth station we were exhausted. Fred was the fittest of our group and he went ahead of us, with me closely behind him and Abdil falling behind us. At every mountain hut Fred would wait for Abdil and me before continuing. By this point I realized that it was a good idea to join them, because our pacing fit well together and we had a good chemistry and that’s important when you climb a mountain that’s nearly 4000m tall.

The climb to the ninth station took forever. Abdil fell behind more and more and I didn’t feel my toes anymore because of the cold. At some point we were so exhausted that we decided to spent some money on food (even though we had brought plenty ourselves) to rest inside a hut for a while. We got ourselves some instant corn soup in a plastic cup, which cost around ¥500, and were allowed to sit down inside for 15 minutes (but they didn’t close the door so it was still pretty cold). Abdil took a short 15-minute nap and Fred gave me one of his hoodies, because I had already put on all of my prepared clothes but was still cold. He even gave me one of his spare pants, but I didn’t fit into them because he’s got thin legs like a chicken unlike me.

It was already 4am when our short break ended and the sun would rise at 5am, so we had fight our way up the last part of the trail to make it in time. And boy did we fight. Fred sprinted ahead and I could only concentrate only on the next step. Abdil and I stayed together for a long time, but at some point he just sat down and hugged his backpack and told me to go on without him, which I did (again, because I am an asshole).

I was alone and could already see the summit at this point. People were queuing at this point, because everybody wanted to reach the summit for the sunrise. 200m before reaching the top, there was already staff telling everybody “another 200m! If you continue now without stopping, you’ll reach the summit in time for sunrise! Fight on! It’s just another 30 minutes! You’ll make it!” All I could think about was how wonderful a hot shower would feel like. I was still another 100m away from the summit when the first sunrise lights illuminated the sky in a red color and I thought to myself: “no. I didn’t climb this mountain for nine hours to give up 100m before reaching the top” and so I rushed up the last part of the trail and reached the gate to the summit. I sat down there, took out my camera and that’s exactly when the sunrise began. That’s also when I started crying. After three years I had finally returned to Japan and after half a year of planning and preparing, I, a tiny weak asthmatic nerd, actually climbed Mt. Fuji. It hit me hard and I silently cried as I watched the sunrise.

After the sunrise I looked for Fred at the summit and found him after a couple of minutes. We grinned like to complete idiots and hugged. We made it. We continued to stand at the railing for some time to watch the sky turn blue slowly and after another 20 minutes or so, Abdil joined us as well. We also hugged and laughed and took a lot of pictures. After Abdil the women from my first group arrived as well and we also happily and proudly smiled at each other.

I got myself the special sunrise stamp for my walking stick (¥400) and we looked at the volcano crater. With the first beams of sun, it instantly became warmer, which was such a relief, because my whole body was shaking and my finger tips had already turned blue.

We didn’t stay at the summit for long and we also didn’t walk around the crater (which would take more than an hour), because we were all so drained and exhausted. Abdil, Fred and I returned to the fifth station. The downwards trail is different from the upwards trail and it took us four hours to get down. The way down is a slippery slope and I tripped and fell two times. At 10am we arrived at the fifth station. We quickly bought ourselves some food and took the bus back to Kawaguchiko. The guys fell asleep instantly, but strangely I wasn’t that tired.

Our ways parted in Kawaguchiko, but we agreed to stay in touch and joked about meeting in Japan every year from now on to climb Mt. Fuji. It may have been exhausting, but seeing the sun rise over Japan was worth it. I’ll probably do it again in the future. Because I am an idiot.

Friday September 8th, 2017
by Katia
2 Comments

Three Years Later

Tuesday was a weird day. I woke up early and lazily packed my two suitcases and then I texted with some friends and went grocery shopping with my neighbor. I didn’t feel as though I was flying to Japan later that day. Was I nervous? Was I excited? Not really. I was calm. After three years of working towards this day, I couldn’t really believe that it was finally time to return to Japan.

 The late afternoon came around and I took the train to Frankfurt airport. I arrived, exchanged my suitcases for boarding tickets and still had four hours to go until the actual flight, but time passed quickly and before I knew it, I boarded my Air China flight to Beijing. I spent the eight-hour flight with reading, watching movies and sleeping and suddenly I was in Beijing. Landing in Beijing was phenomenal; our plane circled over the city and the surrounding mountains and since I’ve never in China before, it was really interesting to look at the city.

I spent five hours at Beijing airport and it was great. I’ve never seen a more beautiful airport before! And I think it’s due to the time I spent there, that I didn’t get a jet lag when I arrived at my final destination. Back in Germany I had traded ten Euros into forty-five Yuan and I used that money to buy myself a refreshing drink and a small souvenir bracelet. Time passed quickly and I boarded the plane to Nagoya. Since I was very tired at this point, being awake for nearly twenty-four hours, I fell asleep as soon as I sat down in the plane and when I opened my eyes, we were already in Japan.

When I left the plane, a wide grin spread across my face. I’ve made it. I’ve actually made it! And everything worked out without problems. I exchanged my money and checked into the airports own capsule hotel for the night (I was done with customs and everything at around 10 in the evening). Staying at the capsule hotel was bliss. I locked away my suitcases, took a long shower and huddled away in my comfortable capsule.

The next day I exchanged my exchange order for a JR Rail Pass and took the train to Nagoya central station. I locked my suitcases in coin lockers at the station and went to explore Nagoya a bit. I walked across the city and did an excursion to Nagoya’s castle. I really liked it!

Later, I got my suitcases again and walked to the Sharebase in Nagoya. It’s an interesting place, where various people can work or relax together and up to four people can sleep. I quickly became friends with my hosts and we went to get Okonomiyaki for dinner.

And now I’m in Japan. I still can’t believe it.

Friday July 28th, 2017
by Katia
2 Comments

Back to Japan

Now it’s official: I’ve passed my second semester Japanese exam! And that means, I don’t have to re-do the exam in late September and that means, I don’t have anything to do in September and that means, I can go back to Japan in September! And I get to stay there for a whole month! AAAAAAAAAAAA.

Returning to Japan has always been the plan. But every year this plan was pushed a little further into the future. “I have to concentrate on school”. “I have to move out and also start university”. “I have no money”. “I have no time”. But not anymore! Because I have the money and the time and especially because I have: the plan.

The core of my plan is pretty simple actually, like most good plans. I will fly to Japan on September 5th, arrive on Japan on September 6th and have my base camp in Komagane. Which means I’ll storage my suitcases there and stay there a couple of days at my host families place, but not to long, because I don’t want to exceed their hospitality. When I’m not at my host families place I will travel across the country with a JR Rail Pass and do a lot of couchsurfing (because I’m still kinda broke). I also want to climb Mt. Fuji before the season ends on September 10th. And at the end of the month there is of course Manamis wedding. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.

I know most of this is a child’s dream. But guys, maybe dreams can become reality sometimes.

Saturday July 15th, 2017
by Katia
0 comments

Rotary Orientation – Japan and Korea 2017/2018

Already it’s July again and another Rotary orientation for outbounds, who are going to either Japan or Korea, and future host families, who will host an inbound from Japan or Korea, is taking place in Bonn. I can’t believe how fast the time has passed. Around this time last year, I was in Bonn for the first time and checking out the university here and now my second semester is nearly over already.

So yeah, this weekend is an orientation weekend. For the 2017/2018 Rotary Youth Exchange. The Japan/Korea orientation is a special orientation for all concerned German outbounds and host families. I first went to this orientation around four years ago, right before I left for Japan myself. Now it’s my second year in a row participating a rebound and being hopefully a helpful resource for all outbounds and host families involved.

It’s a strange feeling to be in midst all these exchange students again. They bring a lot of joy and energy into my life. On the one side we have those, who just returned from their exchange. They are still super excited and have not really arrived back in Germany yet. Their feelings, of wanting to return to Japan/Korea are something I can still understand completely. Not a single day passes, on which I don’t think about Japan and wish to return.

On the other hand we have, of course, the outbounds. Some of them are actually flying to Japan or Korea in less than two weeks. This orientation gives them a lot of input of course, which will either excite them even more or maybe frighten them a little bit. They are just beginning their Rotarian journey and I wish them all the very best for their exchange. Hopefully they will make a lot of wonderful memories.

The community, which has been created in these past years between all exchange students, who went to Japan and Korea, is incredible. We’ve become even more than just friends, we’ve turned into a small family, that’s growing year by year. And I’m so thankful, to be surrounded by these amazing people and I hope to contribute a small portion to this community.

Sunday July 2nd, 2017
by Katia
2 Comments

YouTube! JunsKitchen

As you’ve maybe noticed, I spent a lot of my time on YouTube. Whenever I’m doing homework and cooking; YouTube’s just always kind of in the background for me. Cooking brings me right to today’s subject. Unfortunately, I’m unable to do much cooking in my dorm, but thankfully YouTube offers me a bit of solace in that situation. Especially YouTube Japan.

Today I want to introduce you to one Japanese YouTuber who instantly found a place in my heart: Yoshizuki Jun aka JunsKitchen. Initially, he became famous on YouTube together with his American wife Rachel and their channel MyHusbandIsJapanese, but in this blogpost I only want to focus on JunsKitchen for the time being.

JunsKitchen was created in 2012 and as of now has more than 700 000 subscriptions and many of his videos have a view count higher than a million, his most recent video even having as many as eleven million views (02.07.2017). In his videos Jun prepares his favorite dishes, makes his own cat-food or polishes rusty knifes. The idea behind this is simple, but genius. His videos are wonderfully cut and accompanied with fitting music, the shots do not focus on Jun but on his ingredients and his cats (who always watch him with big heart-eyes) and at the end you always get the feeling, that you’d be able to do that as well and maybe you should just go for it and try it out.

Juns videos are always very relaxing, especially after a long day at university and work. Sadly, his channel does not consist of too many videos right, because the making takes a lot of effort (it’s absolutely worth the wait!), so you’ll be able to watch all of them in one afternoon.

Don’t forget to check out Juns videos, like this one:

And can you recommend me any Japanese YouTubers?

Saturday January 14th, 2017
by Katia
0 comments

Postcrossing – 2016 Retrospect

As expected, December wasn’t my most active month when it comes to Postcrossing, but I managed to at least write six postcards and thus contributed 60 ct to the Deutsche Post charity campaign which benefits the Stiftung Lesen. Every small step matters.

stat1

At the same time, my letter box was happy for ten days. After all, there was quite the distance that needed to be caught up, after I had sent quite a couple of cards in November.

stat2

To be honest, I received even more cards in December, but I wasn’t able to check my letter box from the 23rd on and when I came back in January, I had a lot of interesting cards, for example from Brazil. I liked one card especially, which I received from the United States of America. The card was actually sent to me in September, but it did not arrive, however, the sender was kind enough to send me another one and added a festive one too. It was a very touching gesture and I loved both cards.

card

December also brought another surprise: I got my first yearly Postcrossing statistics and it was very cute to look at a bit nostalgic? I mean, I’ve started Postcrossing only in summer, but it feels like an eternity. I mean, in the same time span I’ve moved twice already. It’s been a small eternity. Kinda.

In 2016 I’ve sent 57 postcards and received 56 postcards, so it’s quite the balance and not one card got lost (at least from my end). When it comes to sent card, I’m the 14060th place worldwide and when it comes to received cards I’m on the 12507th place. I think that’s cool. I think that’s really cool! I will continue to write and read loads of cards in 2017 and blog about it of course, because I really cannot continue to bother my friends with it. Actually, some of my friends at university started writing postcards too, thanks to me annoying them and many are happy to see the cards I have in my backpack when I arrive at university.

Wednesday December 7th, 2016
by Katia
0 comments

Postcrossing Update December 2016

My letter box was happy nine days of November, however, I wrote a ton of postcards this past month. I sent sixteen postcards in November and received twelve. The difference will be gone by December, I presume, because I’m not planning on sending many post cards in December. I am already way to busy with Christmas preparations, buying gifts and writing advent cards to my friends and family.

However, I would really like to send a ton of cards in December as well. For every card that is sent from Germany in December and registered until the 28th of February 2017, the Deutsche Post donates 0.10€ to the Stiftung Lesen, which is a foundation that wants to make reading more popular with the youth, which I support a lot. Additionally, one will be entered in a lottery. Writing post cards for a good cause? Count me the fuck in! … As long as I find time for actually writing postcards in December.

In November I received some really amazing post cards, which I’ve wanted to share with you and a lot of them entered my favorites. Like the following cards:
pc1I love this card I got from the United States a lot. It’s a Japanese James Bond movie poster. How cool is that? And I’ve realized that my Japanese does actually get better, which is a nice feeling.pc4I myself am actually not so much of a Star Wars fan, but many of my friends are and so I was very excited to spot this card in my letter box. I will probably gift it to a good friend of mine, who is Star Wars trash number one. pc3

This cute card I got from China and how could I not love it? The bunnies are simply adorable. pc2

And one of my highlights was this card I got from Japan featuring the Japanese bullet train – the Shinkansen. I really want to ride the Shinkansen at least once in my life (I would prefer riding it more that once, of course), so that’s still on my bucket list and I’m working on it. And now I’ve still got some statistics for you!

pc5 pc6

Wednesday November 23rd, 2016
by Katia
0 comments

ZICO Comeback BERMUDA TRIANGLE Teaser

ZICO is back and he is not alone! On November the 28th the time will have finally come for his next solo comeback, featuring DEAN and Crush. It sounds very promising. After the BASTARZ comeback in October, I too finally hopped onto the DEAN train. So now I’m really pumped for this comeback.

The teaser for the upcoming collaboration was published today and it’s name is BERMUDA TRIANGLE. Visually it’s just really nice. I like it a lot, but after the the teaser for the music and ZICO’s voice kicked in, I knew: This comeback is gonna be awesome and the perfect way to end 2016.

Sunday November 20th, 2016
by Katia
0 comments

Book Series: All for the Game

All for the Game is a book series by Nora Sakavic, which was published in 2013 and 2014. The series is a trilogy and consists of the books: The Foxhole Court, The Raven King and The King’s Men. Earlier this year, I read the book series The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, which was a life changing experience, and afterwards I had this kind of vacuum where I needed another series that got to me again – All for the Game managed that.

The protagonist of the series is called Neil Josten. He is a runaway and the only thing he’s passionate about is Exy. Exy is a fictional sport, which is best described as a mixture of rugby and American football. It does sound really brutal from time to time and as if it really triggers the adrenaline. Neil originally escaped his father, who is the boss of a criminal syndicate and known as the Butcher, together with his mother. However, after his mother died, he had to continue on his own and enrolled at a high school in Millport. He also enters the local Exy team and even though the team itself is not very successful, Neils talent and potential does not go unnoticed. He gets an invitation to join the Palmetto State University Foxes and therefore, play Class I Exy. He accepts the invitation, even though it is his death sentence, since he’s supposed to be on the run.

aftg

When I first started reading The Foxhole Court, I wasn’t immediately hooked. The series took a while to grow on me. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve started reading this series after I had finished The Raven Boys and even though, the book series are a bit alike, the writing style is extremely different. The Raven Boys is all about aesthetic writing. Maggie Stiefvater has this genius ability to describe and lengthen seconds into decades and it’s mesmerizing. All for the Game, however, is all about the characters and the dialogues. Only after I got to know the characters and started caring for them and cheering for them, I’ve started to really enjoy this series.

The characters in All for the Game are all wrecks. The Palmetto State University Foxes are famous for enrolling renegades and problematic players and giving them another chance. Alcohol and drug abuse are the least of the problems mentioned in the books, there are other things like extreme homophobia, murder, abuse, rape and the whole story about a branch of the Japanese mafia which is hunting down some of the Foxes. The books are very explicit and if you can’t deal with that, you shouldn’t read the series. Neils father is not called the Butcher for nothing. The first two books are mostly filled with explicit violent content and the third book contains some explicit sexual scenes.

So it was the characters who made me love this series and made me re-read it a second time already. I have this urge to just put blankets around all the foxes and hand them hot chocolate all the day and to fight for them. At the end of the series I had this feeling that I myself had become a Palmetto State Fox. A part of the family. And that’s why I love this series so much, because it gets you hooked and gives you refuge (somehow). And I love how multi-faceted the Foxes and their problems are. Also, Exy is a co-ed sport, which I find extremely fascinating and you don’t even need to like sport to like this book series, because, again, it’s all about the characters.

All in all, I can recommend this book series to whoever has no problem with the explicit scenes. It is definitely worth a shot. The kindle version of the book series is also very cheap, around one to two Euro/Dollar per book. Sometimes they are even free, so why not give the Foxes a chance? In the end, all I want to share with you is this fan trailer for the series from YouTube:

 

Sunday November 13th, 2016
by Katia
0 comments

Second Korea Day Bochum

The second annual Korea-Day took place on the 12th of November at the Ruhr-University in Bochum, which was organized by the Landesspracheninstitut (ain’t German words fun?) and the Korea Foundation, and I went with a couple of friends. It didn’t take us that long to get from Bonn to Bochum, only around two hours by train and another 30 minutes by underground and loads of walking. It was a bit cold though. It was my first time in Bochum and of course, I just have to say: our university is prettier.

The program of the day sounded very promising and I really looked forward to this day. There were mini languages courses, fairy tail tellings, noraebang, taekwondo demonstrations and workshops about the tea ceremony, traditional Korean music, drumming, Dance Dance Revolution, Hanbok (which you could try on), calligraphy and k-pop dancing. In the end, however, it wasn’t as good as it sounded. There were simply to many people and it was all very disorganized. You couldn’t take part in most workshops because there were to many people already and the building itself was just stuffed with people.

Another problem was the sheer number of k-pop fans who were nothing else then k-pop fans and had to tell the whole world. We were run over by people more than once. Often you also had this feeling, that they limited Korean culture only on k-pop and that’s not cool. Really not cool. Esspecially at such an event.  Half the people behaved as if it was a BTS concert or something. Also, singing and dancing to k-pop in the underground sounds like fun, but it’s really annoying for the other people around.

Still, we had fun, because we had each other. And we were still able to try a couple of things. We watched a traditional tea ceremony and tried the tea and the snacks (which were both really delicious), danced a bit Dance Dance Revolution (which was fun, because Orange Caramal Lipstick and G-Dragon Heartbreaker), tried some Korean tongue twisters and won some posters and we also got a lot of information material by the Korean organization of tourism and tried some Korean food. The day was alright. I was in good company.