On A Walk: Utsunomiya

The weather here has turned decidedly towards spring, while back in Michigan winter is still hanging on tight. So on our last weekend in Japan we soaked up the sun and soaked in the sight of ume blossoms as they start to fill the brown branches with pink puffs.IMG_1697

Nikko isn’t a cold climate by any Michigander/Manitoban standards, but it’s always almost 10 degrees warmer in Utsunomiya, a 45 minute drive away. Also, they have Starbucks. Which sounds so boring to people who can buy coffee at any coffee shop in a mug larger than a shot glass. But we are not those people. And so we went.IMG_1698

We found a park in the city that, after 3 years of day trips, we had never noticed before. The flowers were everywhere and we weren’t cleaning or packing or saying goodbye-see-you-maybe-nevers so we were happy. Happy and warm.IMG_1700 IMG_1703 IMG_1706 IMG_1711 IMG_1714 IMG_1715 IMG_1717 IMG_1718

Perhaps one of my favorite things about our girl is how much she loves being outside. Just out. In the air and the dirt on the run. She doesn’t need a plan or a game or a bunch of toys, just someone to play along with her imaginary scenarios. I was happy to oblige.IMG_1720 IMG_1721 IMG_1722 IMG_1724 IMG_1725 IMG_1728 IMG_1730 IMG_1733

I wonder what they sell at titty&Co.? Actually I am fully aware that they sell clothes but like…has no one mentioned to anyone that this name is a little…off? I mean if they sold bras maybe it could work? Sign spotting is absolutely without question my favorite pasttime in Japan. I should get out more?IMG_1737

We went for Thai food for lunch, because nothing says farewell to Japan like Thai. IMG_1738

It’s funny how spring makes you forget how awful winter was. And how being a few days from going home makes the struggles of the season seem so mild. Two months ago I had it up to here with Japan. I was sick of taking off my shoes and bowing 40 times never knowing when I was supposed to walk away and eating things out of fishy broth the consistency of jello and feeling a breeze through my single paned windows. But with the sun shining on my back and the plane waiting to take me home in two days I will miss the friendly smiles and the special slippers and sliding doors and the chopsticks. You know I’m getting slaphappy because even the men’s haircuts are starting to make sense. IMG_1740

We sipped cold drinks at Starbucks and chatted up the Australian man next to us. We are so starved for conversation with new people we would talk to anyone at this point, but soon we will be able to communicate with everyone and won’t feel the need to exchange names with every person we sit next to in Starbucks. But maybe we will. Just out of habit.IMG_1741

My girls and I soaking up the mean streets and the friendly graffiti. As one adventure ends and we point our ship homewards I already find myself asking…where to next?IMG_1743

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One response to “On A Walk: Utsunomiya

  1. lovely! this captures so much of my feelings about leaving Japan. Like, hate hate hate hate…um, gonna miss riding my bike to the coast, and a good bowl of ramen, and parks, and huh, maybe I should have been focusing on the positive all this time?? (Also, a trip to Starbucks was about as major as anything when we lived there, too.)

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