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December was such a busy month that I didn’t notice it passing so quickly. Today is the last day and soon a new year will unfold. And I have almost forgotten to post about my enchanting trip to Kobe Luminarie.

Kobe Luminarie is held every December in which illuminations are built in memory of the Great Hanshin Earthquake which struck Hyogo Prefecture on January 1995. I was still young back then so I didn’t know such a disaster happened in Japan. It must have been very hard during that time in Kobe. But now they have largely recovered and that is very good.

There was a huge crowd of people as expected. Saying it ‘huge’ in this post is actually an understatement. Because it’s so huge and large-scale that they have to slowly direct all these people to the illumination site so there were a lot of walking and detours.

It was really a spectacular sight. Though I must be frank, illuminations are still grander in the Philippines.

And so for the reflections of this past year..

I remember back then, I said during last year’s December that I will definitely have a different Christmas next year.  And sure enough it happened. I received many blessings, so many that sometimes I can’t contain my happiness to myself. I am very thankful. I was taking my master’s program from the University of the Philippines during the almost first half of this year, and then I transferred during the second half  at Kyoto University.

It was just dream before, going and studying to Kyoto. I didn’t know it could be possible. It’s all thanks to my sensei, he was so kind to accept me in his lab even though my background is different from their research interests. And the lab members are also kind to me, friendly and helpful. And I should note that I am their first and only international student.

I think the most important lesson I learned this year is to believe and to have courage. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be here today.  I am just so glad. I hope this coming year will also be a blessed one for me. Let’s do our best! 頑張りまあしょう!

Happy New Year! あけましておめでとう

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Since I live in someone else’s house (hence, a boarder), I am limited to use the stove for boiling purposes only. Still, I really wanted to cook and concoct my own dishes. Also, I cannot forget the rich miso ramen broth of Roku Ramen and Sushi we ate just this Friday. So I decided to add some twists in a seemingly cheap taste of  just-add-hot-water instant noodles.

That night, I looked for whatever was available in my food container and decided to use Lucky Me! Supreme Jjampong as the base. In my bowl I added the noodles, soup powder, a little bit of Cowhead lactose-free milk (because I’m lactose intolerant) and Century Tuna Hot & Spicy for some meat ( and for more spicy kick!). Then I poured boiling water onto the bowl and sealed it until the noodle’s done.

Then came the moment of truth – tasting, and I’d say it turned out quite nice! Or was it just me with a weird sense of taste? It may not look like in the picture but it was really good. The spiciness was dampened a bit (might be because of the milk) but it still kicks in because of the Century Tuna oil. The soup was also creamier and had a slight taste of sopas. Overall, 4/5.

The one thing that really bothered me was that I ended up having lactose-intolerant symptoms after eating this. Maybe the hot water denatured the lactase enzymes in the milk? I might not do it again, sadly, because of that.

That would probably be the longest title I’ve thought of in this blog. Does it ring a bell? Right! It’s a part of the translated lyrics of “Pub and Go” character song of England, one of the Allied members of Hetalia series, created by Himaruya, Hidekaz. The Japanese lyrics are the following:

“Kyou no ame.
Kinno no ame.
Kitto ashita no ame dakedo,
Kasa no sasanai, datte ore wa
Eikoku shinshi, shinshi, shinshi…”

The lyrics are very appropriate in this coming rainy season here in the Philippines. But I am no British lady or gentleman. I always have my umbrella in my bag. I should probably buy wedge slippers soon to prevent my feet from getting wet. Gah, I really hate rainy days. I don’t like the hot humid weather it creates before the occasional rainfalls or thunderstorms. Getting wet is also a bother. The grayness of the overcast sky is also depressing. I guess I just have to bear with it for the next six or seven months. Time to tune-in for the PAGASA site and their Project Noah.

These graffiti aren’t very artistic and sophisticated like the one we usually see in urban places. But I still wonder what might they have been thinking at the time they’re painting these words and images.