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River Noodles in a Kayak Sandwich

It'll all make sense soon.

This is where the sense of the circle being completed (or at least the first loop of the spiral) really kicks in.

I've just finished my first year of life in Japan and an beginning my second year's contract - part of me is worried that Travellerspoint is going to come knocking on my door soon saying 'Hey, this isn't travel anymore it's turning into your life - you're engaged now and it looks like you're going to be here a long time', and it'd be a fair point.

Anyway, back to going full circle :-) My first day of work in Japan was Kayaking across Lake Biwa with the second year students, which I've just done for the second time.

As before we actually did the trip twice, the first time with a smaller group made up of members of the schools boat club to prepare for the main trip, and then again in a couple of weeks with all the second year students. The weather was wonderful again and skipping over the water, sometimes in one of he support boats and sometimes paddling my kayak, was another reminder of why I love living by the lake so much.

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For me one of the most memorable images from these trips is the birds skimming across the lake; the cormorants that live around the lake shore or on the islands flocking just above the surface.

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Having done this trip before and knowing I'd be doing it again very soon I limited the number of photos I took this time and just enjoyed the journey. So the practice run passed smoothly and pleasently.

However before the main trip there was also a chance for something new. I wanted to do some hiking and Haru suggested going to a nice place in the Kyoto prefecture (which is actually huge) but out of the city. At first it seemed like fairly typical Japanese scenery, with long winding forest trails leading to a shrine at the top of the hill.

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However this shrine is well known for its 'power point' (No not a PC slide show presentation, but an energy convergence spot). There was quite a line to stand in the circle and pray on that spot (including us of course - I quite like praying here as it involves a lot of capping and ringing bells... christianity needs more clapping and bells).

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On the way down the other side of the hill there were some wonderfully twisted trees that looked like left over props from a Tim Burton movie.

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Then there was another shrine, this time dedicated to couples - which Haru really wanted to pray at :-) You can also get your fortune at many temples and shrines in Japan, though each has a different gimmick for how you get it. Here you bought a blank piece of paper, which when floated on the shrine's pool reveals you fortune - magic ink! To be honest I can't recall if mine was good or bad - but I've neither had a terrible accident nor won the lottery since!

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The highlight of this area though was the many restaurants on the river, and I don't mean 'on' as a way of saying 'next to', I mean ON the river. There is a pretty stream cascading down the hill side and all along it there are platforms built over the water for diners to sit on and enjoy the waterfall views whilst eating. Most of these places are very expensive and serve very traditional Japanese food that I'm not very keen on, but we found one very reasonable place that did nice simple noodle dishes so we had dinner on the river.

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I really enjoyed this quite unique dining experience, and it certainly made a good date spot and nicely ended a good day out too.

Summer has been horribly hot this year, worse than last, one of the hottest locals tell me - so all these watery trips are great for keeping cool - which is lucky as it was already time for the main Kayak trip with all the second years.

What distinguishes this from the other trip is that it's a much bigger affair, with more kayaks, support boats and even one of the lake ferries helping shuttle kids, teachers and parents around.

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Again it was another fun two days where I spent a lot of time grinning and thinking 'I'm being paid to do this!'.

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Aaahh - I love my job sometimes :-)

I have a good idea of what's coming next now, I can look back at last year and have an idea of how a year spent working in a Japanese school unfolds. There will be the same key notes (culture festival, speech contest and ski trip all coming soon) but there's still a lot of new and exciting things to do, and I'm sure there are still plenty of surprises in store too!

Older, but not any wiser - here's to year two!!

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Posted by DKJM74 03:17

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