Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Japan: 浦安の夏 2012 June 23-25th Urayasu Summer

lazy days

     Summer in Japan is a bit different than what I'm acclimated to, to say the least. The cold, dry winters melt into a soggy spring which then slowly turns into a steamy summer with scattered storms. The four seasons make themselves proudly known.

     Summers in Tokyo; humid, damp sweaty…but also lovely.

     Showers mold. This was a new one for me- I knew it happened and had even seen a few minor cases throughout my years carousing around the planet, but I was NOT prepared. Bikes rust, sometimes alarmingly fast. No wonder Southern Nevada is a classic car lover's haven; the environment is far more conducive to maintaining your precious metal toys.

      That all being said, summer is also exceptionally beautiful in Tokyo. Trees are bursting with greenery, families and kids can be spotted out and about having picnics, flying kites, or just enjoying the weather. Festivals are abundant, as are beer gardens, delicious seasonal foods (とろろそば!!冷やし中華!!) like cold noodles (tororo soba and hiyashi chuuka among my favorites).

     I happened to get sick (a combination of work burnout, allergies and genuine cold most likely), so I visited a small neighborhood clinic. While waiting in my green clinic-issue slippers, I perused various magazines to pass the time…Surprisingly, I happened upon a culinary magazine featuring a familiar face from Iron Chef! How fun! Iron Chef was one of the very first forms of media to introduce me to anything even remotely Japanese aside from the 90's dub of Sailor Moon, and the show absolutely fascinated me. With the exotic ingredients, goofy dubbing and delicious looking meals it piqued my curiosity about food in general as well as Japanese cuisine.

     And seriously, look at that happy face up there. That big excited grin just warms the cockles of my heart.

     After getting my meds (which, with the visit to the doctor AND the pharmacist combined was still well under $100), I moped around my apartment for a day or two in a sickly funk. Once I got cabin fever, I summoned what little strength I had and went on a short bike ride around my neighborhood.
Urayasu Library
     Being too exhausted (or lazy) to cook for myself, I took advantage of the small cafe at my local library, as well as their English section. I had a mushroom pasta with butter shoyu sauce. Yummy and reasonable! The library was surprisingly well stocked with everything from Alice Carol to Douglas Adams and beyond. I got quite a lot of enjoyment in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series on my nights in. ;) The library itself was quite nice with a public reading area full of bright natural lighting (shown) and a small private garden as well as outdoor seating.

My neighborhood had several walkway/gardens for the residents to enjoy. Less than a block from my front door was the beginning of one, which I tried to utilize as much as possible. The road was separated by a large median that had been converted into a paved walkway flanked by trees and waterways that collected the rain and provided a pleasant alternative for it to flow through. If I rode my bike 4 or 5 blocks I would reach a small farmer's market where I did most of my shopping for produce…if I went 6-7 blocks I would pass the city hall and across the street would be the library. This particular walkway stretched from my apartment to the river.
     There was a small fountain that on pleasant summer days would become a hub of activity for small children and their mums. The trees flanking either side of the walkway were cherry blossoms, which meant that in the spring the sky would be filled with pretty pink blossoms that would gradually fall from the trees and coat the sidewalks in a soft pastel confetti.

      Sometimes I even dressed like a watermelon.

     Lazy summer vibes~

     What are some of your favorite ways to spend a summer day?

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