Journal

Memories from Japan

Memories From Japan

It’s been almost a year since Ben and I went to Japan, and I’ve finally looked at the photos I took while we were there. There were a lot of terrible ones, but I managed to take some that I liked enough to post here. We went to Osaka, Hiroshima, Nagoya and Tokyo in the 2 weeks we were there and ony barely scratched the surface of all those places.

We saw a lot of impressive buildings and monuments.

Osaka has Osaka Castle, standing proud and tall with all its golden detailing. There we learned all about the different struggles the different Shoguns had to control Osaka. We had a lot of fun discussing how the different political powers were all as terrible as each other. There was a school group that cheerfully said hello to all the tourists (including us) as they barrelled around the exhibits.

Fushimi Inari has an abundance of fox sculptures, big and small, as the Kitsune is the guarding spirit of the shrines in Fushimi. They all looked different, and I couldn’t help but stop to examine as many as I could.

In Tokyo we saw the statue of Kusunoki Masashige, a samurai who was known for his great leadership skills and for fighting for the Emperor. The statue was very big and imposing, with so many details that I wanted to try and take photos of.

 

Most of my photos focussed on the small details that caught my attention, rather than picturesque views. I’ve always been drawn to seemingly random aspects of places, and I always try and capture this curiosity in photos, but a lot of the time I’m not that successful.

Fushimi Inari was full of these little details. Throughout the walk up the mountain there were small shrines off the main path, with buildings covered in moss and worn from the elements, slowly going back to nature. We also found a number of graves which were incredibly interesting; some were very old and dilapidated, but others were very well kept, with offerings of food and alcohol, and strands of bright origami cranes hanging off them. That area was so quiet and peaceful and I could have just looked at the different graves for ages.

 

I also took seemingly random photos at Osaka Castle when things caught my eye.

The castle was full of gold detailing, from the murals and protective decorations, to gilded caps on the ends of structural parts of the castle. The gardens surrounding the castle were also very impressive, with gorgeous massive trees and orchards full of crows, as well as historical monuments dotted about that made me wish I could read Japanese so I could find out what they were for. There was also a shrine nearby that I ended up taking lots of random photos of. The wooden plaques were something you could buy and write a wish or message on, and there were stands full of them with messages in all different languages.

 

One thing that I often try (and fail) to do is get candid photos of people as I’m walking along. Most of the time they are blurry or someone gets in the way, or just generally bad photos, but I found two (two!) that I liked.

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This kid and his Dad were both ridiculously cute together. The kid didn’t seem very sure about the situation as his Dad got him to stand with the weird ice cream mascot things, but once he worked out what was going on he went all out in posing for the photo.

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This lady was at Fushimi Inari. There was a Japanese couple getting their wedding photos taken in their traditional outfits at the shrine, and I think this lady was with their party. There were a few ladies wearing kimono walking around Fushimi that we saw on the way to the shrine, so she may not have known the couple. All I know is that she looked beautiful with her ridiculously detailed kimono and intricate obi that I felt very shabby in my boring travel outfit.

 

 

Looking at these photos has made me want to go back. The photos of the shrines reminds me of how quiet and peaceful they were, and there is so much we didn’t get to see on our trip that Ben and I both feel that we need to go back. It took us 6 years (at least) to get organised enough to go this time, but it definitely won’t take us that long to go again. Maybe by then I’ll be better at taking photos.

Funtimes with Friends

Funtimes with Friends: Katoomba Visit

After all the clamour of Christmas and New Year a bunch of my friends and I decided to take a long weekend holiday. After some confusion with booking accommodation we all piled into cars and made our way up to Katoomba and stayed at ‘Alta Mira’, or as we liked to refer to it, ‘Casa del Fiesta’ (it means castle of dreams). The house was amazing, with a ridiculous shower that looked like it came out of a steampunk catalogue, so many rooms that I kept worrying I’d get lost, and an impressive garden.

I brought my camera with me, and took photos of… plants, mostly.

(clicking on the photos will bring up bigger versions, by the way)

 

On the Sunday most of us went for a walk to look at the 3 Sisters, and I took photos of… plants, mostly. I feel like there might be a bit of a theme here. It was a gorgeous area, and interesting to explore the bushland rather than just sitting around the house or looking at shops. It also was really sunny and hot, and I was not the only one who got sunburnt that day.

We also had a frequent visitor named Shinto, who seemed pretty interested in the inside of Alta Mira, and getting pats from us, and generally being completely adorable. The other cat visited occasionally and the two of them had a fluff-off; the other cat was obviously older and had no time for Shinto’s attempts at intimidation.

Everyone agreed that it was an awesome weekend, and that we should do it again. Maybe next time I will take photos of something other than plants and cats?

Jacket Style

Upping my Denim Jacket Game

I have owned a denim jacket for a while now and while I quite like it and it is more versatile than I expected, sometimes it feels like something is missing. The best course of action seems to be to get some sweet patches to sew on it and make me even cooler than I already am.

So of course I went onto etsy and had a look at what was there and I found a bunch of patches (and one pin) that I obviously need to buy.

 

It seems that I have 3 main themes when it comes to choosing accessories: skulls, cats, and feminist  messages. At least being predictable when it comes to these things makes it easy to buy presents for?

Now I have problem that I don’t know if all of these would fit on my jacket – and if they do that might be a bit overkill. Time to buy a new jacket?

 

huagl New Year

huagl New Year!

2016 has arrived! I’m not really sure how I feel about 2015 – it wasn’t actively terrible (in fact at times it was great!) but I wouldn’t classify it as a positive year either. I’m definitely conflicted about it and am generally glad it’s over.

I spent basically all year saying how unhappy I was at work and how I needed a new job. When looking through my journal I kept seeing those sentiments popping up in my entries throughout the year every month or so, but never did anything about it. This affected my moods more than I like to admit, so I spent most of the year unhappy, anxious and slightly depressed. This isn’t the best way to live – my friends can all vouch for how much I complained whenever we met up and socialised. Sorry about that, guys!

But 2015 wasn’t all bad. In May Ben and I went on a holiday to Japan, which we have been talking about doing for about 7 years but never managed to get ourselves organised before. I’m so glad I had the work and financial stability to be able to take this trip, it has been on my to do list for so long! Now all I want to do is keep travelling and see more of the world. This was for sure the absolute highlight of 2015 and memories of that trip helped keep my spirits up when feeling down throughout the rest of the year.

2015 was also the year I started seriously focussing on my health – both physical and mental. I went to the gym consistently, working with a personal trainer on strength training, where we managed to get me strong enough to deadlift 70kg! I also started running regularly and felt less likely to die while doing physical exercise. Coupled with that I saw a therapist regularly and worked on my anxiety. I went off my anxiety medication (and didn’t have a breakdown in the process) and started feeling better and more confident about myself. I’m starting to feel more like a responsible adult and less like a child playing dress ups in their parents’ clothes. It’s still a definite work in progress, but I can tell how much I’ve changed over the year.

At the end of November I lost my job, so that was a terrifying way to end the year, but it was also a massive weight off my shoulders. It was the push I needed to actively look for a job at a place where I won’t feel embarrassed when talking about it. Now if only I knew what kind of job I wanted…

 

So 2016 is full of raw, untapped, potential. I’m not making any big grand resolutions that I ultimately don’t end up fulfilling – I am at the point in my life where I know my personality well enough to know that is not the way to go about it. Instead I’m making smaller, achievable, goals that will combine into something bigger. I’m hoping that this year I will make less excuses when it comes to things I have decided were “too hard” last year. I am going to try and be more creative and proactive when it comes to pushing myself and learning new things. I think the main thing is that I’m not going to put so much pressure on myself – I’m going to try things and if they don’t turn out perfect that’s not the end of the world. That’s probably the most important lesson I need to learn.

 

So here’s to 2016, hopefully a more exciting year than 2015, if nothing else!

Boy's Club

Boy’s Club

Part of my job is to go onto Kickstarter to see if there are any that our company would be interested in backing. Most of the time I find things I am interested in rather than the company, which is bad for my wallet but good for Kickstarter I guess. I’ve backed some comics and art books, as well as some super cute Nutella stickers. I’m pretty easily amused when it comes to these things.

While looking through the newest kickstarters I always tend to check out the stationery-related projects. Show me a new type of daily planner or a notebook made from rocks or a hand made wooden pen and I will have to put my self-control to the test and stop myself from backing it. I have enough notebooks that need to be used that I don’t need another one just because it looks pretty. Well I mean, I backed the one made from rocks, but that is more out of curiosity than because it’s pretty, because how do you make paper out of rocks?! Madness!

But then I found this project that made me really quite annoyed. BüroMan is a notebook. But it’s not just any notebook, it’s “The Ultimate Men’s Notebook”. Because apparently all the other notebooks that are out in the world and available for people to buy aren’t manly enough, so this needed to be made. As far as I can tell, the only thing that really makes this any different to the other multitudes of notebooks out there is that it has a cork cover. Because “nothing says ‘manly notebook’ quite like cork fabric!”

Look how manly they are

Now it looks like a good quality notebook, and I’m a big fan of the dot graph print that it uses. The paper quality looks good, and I do like the look of the cork covers. It’s something that I would have backed, especially seeing it’s an Australian project. But instead I get misogynistic bullshit shoved down my throat because this isn’t for me! this is a Man’s Notebook! No Girls Allowed! Go sit over there with your Girl Notebooks and Girl Pens and let the poor hard done by Men have something for themselves for once!

Only men do boxing!

The blog on the BuroMan website has this choice quote:

“Stationery is not a typical men’s product. Go to any stationery shop and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a notebook that isn’t bedazzled with hearts or pink polka dots. Don’t even bother asking for a men’s version of the notebook, you’ll simply be greeted with a blank stare and a look that questions your masculinity. If you manage to persist through this awkward encounter, you’ll probably be directed to a plain-black-overpriced-yet-undervalue notebook, as if that’s the solution to your manly stationery needs.”

You’re probably getting a blank stare and confused looks because there is no such thing as a ‘men’s version’ of a notebook, because gender has literally no affect on stationery. A notebook with flowers and glitter on the cover is exactly the same as one with monster trucks. It is pieces of paper and a cover bound together for you to write or draw in. That’s it.

Are you worried that using a pink notebook will make you not a man? Does that mean I shouldn’t be using my plain black notebooks because that’s not girly enough? How do you think that makes the people who do like pink sparkly notebooks feel? Are you saying that they are less of a man than you because they like shiny things or items that are particular colours? Where do we draw the line; is something that is silver ok, it’s just the glitter that is the problem? Are animals manly enough, or do they fall under the girly category? Are movie or comic book themed notebooks fair for both genders, or am I not allowed to use those?

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Why is one of these notebooks ok for men to use, but the other not allowed?

Why do some people feel like they need to have designated Man Things to prove they are a Man? Are you that scared that someone might think you are not 100% completely heterosexual if you don’t use Man Branded things? You realise that most of these things are exactly the same as the ‘Women’s’ version, except the Men’s version is normally cheaper, right? The candles that smell like whiskey or bacon or leather are still scented candles; chapstick For Men is still chapstick; women’s shampoo and conditioner still clean men’s hair just the same; this Manly Notebook (Rawr, so tuff) is just a notebook. Stop caring what other people think about you and just use whatever product you want. If you like how a notebook feels when you use it then what does it matter what is on the cover? What’s inside is the important part! If it’s not hurting anyone then why do people care so much about what other people like or use?

 

Gendered items are generally bullshit, I agree with this wholeheartedly. But the way to change this is not do add more, different gendered items, it’s to stop trying to convince people to think and act a certain way just because they are a certain gender. Accept that there are men out there that would love to use a notebook covered with pink hearts, just like there are women who use tools (and don’t need ones that are covered in flowers). Breaking down these stereotypes benefits everyone, so why aren’t we doing this already?