Sunday, January 24, 2016

The mighty Usa Shrine

In the last week of Winter Break, Nadya and I went to Usa Shrine. It is one of the most important shrines in Japan based on its history far back then. Nadya and I had been wanting to go there since we knew that our job is in Bungotakada city, so close to Usa!

From Usa Station, take the bus that headed straight to Usa Shrine for 240円 and you will get there in less than 30 minutes. We went there on Sunday and was still in the celebration of New Year so it was packed mostly with families. So happy I got to celebrate New Year in a shrine even though it was not exactly the first day of the year!

We bought おみくじ (omikuji), Japanese fortune-telling. We obviously couldn't understand what they said but I should've googled it earlier and looked at what category I got. It's stated on the paper. If someone gets bad fortune, they should tie it on a tree. If they get good fortune, they should keep it. I didn't know if it was bad or good fortune, I just took picture of it and tied it in a rope. Turned out I got 大吉 (daikichi), the best luck! The highest in luck category :) Hahahah good to know I started my year with a good fortune-telling :)

it said, you'll get cold but it's okay. You'll find someone but try to not to be too excited. Try your best in your love life.

clap your hands two times, put them on the tree, close your eyes and pray

Winter in Beppu

It was the last night of me sleeping in that purple-y room of mine in Minnesota, trying to sort out my things, and feelings. It wasn't that much difficult to decide which things to bring home. With Marijke sitting on my bed, helping me pack, I thought I would just bring things that have sentimental values to me. No need to bring all the paintings I made in painting class, or the beanies and mittens Mom been giving me throughout the year, or the papers from U.S. history class I'd been stacking under my desk. Although believe me, I was haunted by those things I could have brought home, months after I got to Indonesia. Especially my Cougar winter headband and my notes from History class about Native American.

At that time, I was half consciously decided to continue college in Indonesia. Maybe that's why I didn't bring a lot of winter stuffs, thinking that I wouldn't need it anytime soon anyway.

Then Mother Nature has a funny way of turning tables and changing routes I was planning. 

Here I am once again in a freezing winter night, snow crunching under my boots and wind messing my hair. In a long run for four seasons and cultural adventures. For a language I started to understand little by little. For constant Skype sessions with loved ones. For fights that happened and solved through online messaging platform. For delving myself into the culture and developing myself in the process. For current families and soon-to-be families I'll become a part of...

Finding myself here in Japan, a country that was unheard of in my future planning stage back in high school. Now my routine consists of memorizing kanjis and vocabs, watching animes and Japanese dramas, listening to Japanese music played out of my beloved alarm clock that my American family bought me before I got to the States, trying out my just-learned grammar with my Japanese friends...

Celebrating every curves and curbs that life brings :)

the view from my window. Beppu's first thick snow this winter

Yun's first snow!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Winter Break: being a labor in a veggies factory

Never crossed my mind before I'd be a labor in a factory, like the one I watched on TV. I did it though: working as a labor in a veggie factory in Bungotakada, a city one hour away by train from Beppu. Stayed there for about 9 days, all through Christmas Day and New Year, working my back off along with the other two hundreds workers for 8 hours every single day. The college 外角人 (foreigners) are only from Indonesia, about 40 of us. The rest are Japanese senior citizens, adults, middle schoolers and high schoolers. We work side by side, especially during packaging process. There were clashes of course, especially when the young were so loud chatting with each other and obaasan (grandmas) were annoyed by us. Although it was minor because most of the obaasan are SOOOOOO nice! They gave us foods they made or sweets they brought from home. The obaasan that worked at the booth in front of me even gave Dea and Dinda otoshidama, an envelope filled with money which Japanese adults give on New Year day. So nice!

This veggie factory is a seasonal production. They make this for 七草の節句 (nanakusa no sekku), a festival that falls every January 7th when Japanese eat seven kinds of wild herbs. Nana means seven and kusa means grass. So during those 9 days, we worked around those veggies: tabu, daikon, nazuna, tanpopo, hakobe, seri and gogyou. On the first day we cut nazuna, left it to only the middle part of the leaves. It was one of the most boring and monotone activities I've ever done in my life. Nadya literally got sick of cutting leaves after lunch break hahaha. 

Second day was better, we cut the roots and leaves of daikon. This is probably much better than cutting nazuna because we use a tool to cut it? I don't even know why cutting daikon felt better. 

cutting daikon

look at all the stacks we finished
The third day until last day of working, with the exception of New Year day when we only worked for 4 hours, we packaged all the herbs into boxes. We produced at least 50,000 boxes per day. The conveyor moved for hours and we had to pay attention to all the boxes as to not missed any. I got to put tanpopo leaves with Hafiz, Dinda and Dea. You can imagine what kind of conversations we had during those total 48 hours of working side by side. From a classic topic about current boyfriend and girlfriend until deeper topics about our future and discussion about inspiring people. 

On the last day of working, we already got really sick of each other (just kidding). Especially Hafiz who literally could not stand another story about Dimas (this one is true) HAHAHA. I got along with Sakura, a middle schooler worked next to my booth who is really outgoing and open about herself. A pretty rare Japanese girl, I should say. We ate lunch together, Sakura, Sara (Sakura's friend), Nadya and I. Learned a lot about Japanese language and culture through our short encounter!

Hafiz, my partner. We bantered a lot during those days hahaha thank you for tolerating me and my big mouth!!

Tanpopo squad on the last day of work
Dinda and Dea with their otoshidama 
Nadya and Erika who worked next to my booth

Last day of work!! With one of the supervisors who always shouted 'mannaka' which means 'centre'. We had to put the leaves at the centre of the box. When he was around, the key word is 'mannaka' and it automatically quiet us. When he was gone, then we started chatting again hahahah

A fun fact about one of the leaves is, we have those too in Indonesia, usually grow wildly on the road's gutter. Which means, we definitely don't eat that. They grow in gutters. Yikes. Let's hope in Japan they grow in more decent places.

And here comes the best part of the work..... Which is definitely the salary! Hahaha. The work per hour is so high comparing to normal part time jobs in Beppu. My first real salary yay! Gonna use it for my backpacking trip around Japan this Spring Break :)