A/N Forgot to post this before I left for the land with no wifi 🙂 Enjoy!
It’s not been feeling particularly Christmassy here, especially since this is my first Christmas away from my family! However this Sunday, my church had a ‘Candlelight Service’ – basically a bit like a Christingle service crossed with a carol service. This is one of my favourite parts of Christmas so I was eager to go.
The actual service wasn’t until 6pm, and I have bugger all to do here at the moment, so I decided to go into Akita early. I thought that at 2 in the afternoon, the free shuttle bus might not be too busy….I only managed to get a seat because I was near the front of the queue! You certainly can’t have any personal space issues on Japanese buses (one I was on the other day had upwards of 60 people on it).
It was a rare sunny day, so I got a fabulous view of the mountains (I know I go on about them, but they are beautiful and they remind me of home)!
Anyways….I underestimated how many people would be out shopping, so after braving the crowds I decided to get out of the shops and see if I could find the castle ruins of Akita city. They’re actually why Akita city was build in the first place – to surround the castle! While not much of it was left, there were a couple of temples, the main gate and a fantastic view left for visitors to enjoy. I certainly did!
After taking a load of pictures, I realised I had to run to get the next train to get me to Tsuchizaki (where the church is) so I carefully sped back towards the station over the snow covered streets.
Even though I was early, it was a good job I got to the church when I did – the seat filled up fast! The actual service was a collection of the various worship groups – so it was more like an end of term concert! There was the infamous Gospel Hula Group, the Hallelujah Kids and several members of the congregation. This included a very moving version of ‘You raise me up’ on the saxophone – I was caught off guard when half way through the performance they started to show a slideshow of the damage from the Tohoku Earthquake/Tsunami. I’m guessing I wasn’t the only one who didn’t have dry eyes!
The finale was what made it best. We were all given candles at the beginning of the service and at the end, we passed a flame among the congregation (wishing people ‘Merry Christmas’ as we did). The candles were amazing, the bottoms changed colour! The lights were dimmed and we all sung the Japanese version of Silent Night.
Definitely a nice way to spend an evening!
Next will be New Year’s stuff, so until then – またね！
So after all the fantastic weather last week (i.e. the snow), this week was mostly torrential rain and ridiculously violent thunderstorms. The worst of those was around 5/6am on Thursday morning – I swear it waited until it was the day I had an exam. Said thunder decided to be so loud that it shook not just my cabin bed, but the entire room! It was freaky and cool at the same time!
On Tuesday evening, we also had a bit of an issue with the thunderstorms…..it was about 7.15 in the evening, normal night, when suddenly the lights went off. I was glad at this point I had my torch next to my desk. Not long after they flickered back on again, but within a minute they were off. It wasn’t only our room. It wasn’t even just the campus (even the street lights were off). It was the whole of Akita city as well. We heard a number of announcements about the power outtage (i.e. that they had no idea what had happened and that if we were cold we should go to Komachi hall or the Cafeteria). The most amusing part of this was the fact that, because of the power cut (teiden), none of the toilets would flush. Oh Japan…..
After a while of attempting to do homework by torchlight, I decided (prompted by Callum) to go to Komachi to what was happening. It was fantastic! I thought we were going to be rubbish without the internet (we are of that generation) – even our phone service was out. However people were sitting around tables in candlelight, the foreigners brought beer, someone brought a guitar and started a live session. I went back to my flat and got my Uno cards and played Uno with some friends and their room mates by candlelight!
Eventually some of the staff came in to let us know that basically a lightning strike had hit the power station and set it on fire. We were dancing a little at the fact that if the power didn’t come back on soon, we wouldn’t have classes the next day. However a little under 2 hours later, the lights came back on and everyone returned to being a normal technology-obsessed student. I did have to laugh at a line of people in the cafeteria who were still working on their laptops during the power cut.
On a lighter note, I had a couple of big events this week! I did an open mike on Thursday night – my first 3 songs were a bit rubbish (because of nerves), however my last song (a great reminiscence of home) got the crowd going. I was surprised by how many people knew the words! If you haven’t guessed already, it was 500 miles (by the Proclaimers). Here’s the tail end:
Finally, today I had a speech contest! It didn’t go amazingly well (I never expected it to) but it was a lovely experience! I met lots of new people, I had to work in a team at one point with several lovely old Japanese people – we had to guess which country a picture full of food came from.
Afterwards, when walking back to the bus stop, we saw the lovely Christmas lights along the main road in Akita! It reminded me that it’s only a month until Christmas!! So, on that happy not, til then またね！
Oh, and this is Elena and I eating ice cream…in the middle of November 🙂