ok, it did get better today

oh my, I can’t believe it but it got better!


so I didn’t sleep well. Woke up around 10 with the same headache, chilling with me these past three days. I was awake at 6 because of the sunrise and at 7 because of loud roommates. So I didn’t get much sleep and was awake only after half the morning was already gone. I had a lazy start with two chapters of grammar before I decided to take my bike and go to the city center and buy some battery for my dictionary and some eye mask to sleep past 6 a.m.




There was some sort of ‘coffee fair’ in front of the train station with coffee degustation and food trucks!! I never saw that in Japan before and I kind of got hyped up so I had to get something… I went for a green-tea/red beans crepe and I talked a bit with the owner who was definitely really kind.



I had just enough time to bike back to the university, pick up the necessary papers for the courses registration and hop up onto the second registration.



There was very little new information 😬


It took a lot of time, with very few interesting pieces of information in it. Most of the stuff explained should have been explained two weeks ago. It’s a bit too late to tell us now how the trash works, but alright, we’re okay hearing it for the third time. 😬


After the two hours passed, we were invited to a welcome student party, and I have to say that the staff of Nagasaki University tried really hard to make it enjoyable and they succeeded! Even though they are completely stuck in this spiral of bureaucracy (where rules are the rules, and the moment something is not written in the rules, it is complete fucking utter space and no one understands what is going on and you’re left with a « sorry, you can’t do that ») and it is literally killing everyone’s patience and creativity, tonight was a good experience!


Never thought I’d see a piece of light in this tunnel (even though it’s more like a window on the outside until the descent continues).


We were all the international students from all the faculties (including medicine!) and it was a mix of Koreans, Chinese, Taiwanese, Hong Kongese, Malaysians, Brunei (met 2 of them, adorable!), Egyptians (3 super enthusiastic people), Nigeria, Uganda and our little group of Europeans (some British, German, Dutch, French, Belgium, Italian so far). I tried to go out of my way and ended up talking to quite a few nationalities (I am patting my shoulder for having the courage to go around and talk to people I don’t know.)

I also enjoyed the opportunity to stuff myself with all the free chocolate there was to eat. This was basically my dinner.

The welcome party was basically a chance for us to all meet and I was very happy to go out of my circle because inevitably, there was a divide between Asians and Europeans, and most of the people stayed with their own nationalities/people they knew. There’s also the fact that the Europeans all speak English while the Asians speak already quite a bit of Japanese.

Overall, good event and I even met a professor that studied at Leiden University and who, naturalized Japanese, now works at Nagasaki University. He invited us to drink a beer after the event. It’s with 2 Dutch, 1 Belgium, 1 German and 2 Japanese that we went there, and all had more or less a link with the Netherlands, so there was a lot of Dutch involved. The fact that somehow I ended up there makes me smile.




We went to a bar I heard a lot about and the evening was really nice as well. The professor was pretty helpful about our situation and with the help of some of the students, I was able to identify a bit more precisely which courses I could take. It does feel like I’m doing the cold chicken, but I was straight up told that I would fail the courses I would take in Japanese. It was hard and no exception was made for international students.

I, therefore, managed to reduce the amount of courses in Japanese to 2 only. I gave up some interesting subjects for way less interesting ones, but I feel like getting the credits is going to be way more difficult than I thought if they fail you without hesitation here…  The professor let me have one of his classes and this evening ended up easing my panic a little bit. Now, I just need to manage 2 classes in Japanese and validate them! (+ the 6 others ones in English)

Somehow in my head, it feels easier than 4 classes in Japanese. We’ll see… But I was glad to have some guidance on the courses. I was told that the teacher of one the class was pretty bad/not understood by anyone and since his subject is Humanity and Cosmology, I’m not gonna risk that one…





So yeah, things were a bit clearer. Still have to wait for October 13th to be sure, but you know, we’ll get there eventually. At least having one professor supporting us lifted a big big big weight out of my shoulder. I mean, I don’t think much can be done, but just the moral support was tremendous.

I was told that the Japanese teacher I had a meeting with, has quite a reputation and she said to the other Dutch students that our worries were just drama 😬   So maybe this is just her, and I’ll just keep my distance from now on.


After the bar, we parted and I went to the common room of one of the international houses with 2 Dutch, 1 German, 1 Ukrainian, 1 Australian and 1 Japanese to play some card version of the Werewolf with beers and a little bit of food.



We played up to 1 a.m. and damn, if you knew how much it felt good. I have been in such a shit hole lately and getting my mind out of it (even though I kind of turned the whole dinner into a ‘let’s find a solution’ evening…) is like getting wings. I am flying away from my worries and I can look at them from afar.

I just need to get the courses approved, then we’ll be good. Then, I’ll just have to work as best as I can to validate everything.


It can be done. I’ll try at least, you can be sure.

The song She’s A Rainbow of the Rolling Stones suddenly reappeared and I was just strolling around today with this jewel in my ears. It’s not that hot anymore and being outside is doable so I am enjoying the return of my ‘sound-tracked’ life.


Let’s make it last through the weekend before the university nightmare comes back Monday and destroys all of my schedule plans 😬  #cantwait #yes #ruinallofmyplans #loveit #illendupseppukuanyway

it just gets better everyday

Today was honestly another source of despair.

Day started quietly by grammar (ahah…) where I finished the first very beginner book. Now that the really basic bases have been written and reviewed, time to upgrade it.

Made myself some lunch before joining my two German crew at the university in the early afternoon. Angie gave me a booklet that was describing the courses (what we should have been given months ago) and I was able to re-adjust some of the wishes I wanted to make course-wise. I mean, it’s still quite complicated as half of my courses are in Japanese, but at least the other half is in English.


cafeteria meal the girls ate


Then, we had the orientation. I will not describe it. It was a pure joke, lasting two hours. 40 exchange students, and 30 Japanese students tutors.

A guy showed up and was giving the explanations while another lady from the administration was translating. At every step of the course registration procedure or anything university related, she was punctuating the translation with a: « I don’t know why you have to do that but… », or « I know it is useless but… » and even better « I’m sorry, I don’t know why you need to get the approval of 3 people for each course you want to take. »


So yes. I still don’t know my time schedule. Nor the classes I’m allowed to take. The way it works is that you show up to class and you beg the teacher to accept you. That’s the first approval you need. Once you’ve done it with all the classes you need (8 in my case), you need to have your supervisor’s approval. So far, it seems like it’s just another person in the administration. When this is done, you need to get the administration approval. This needs to be done before October 13th.

Mind you, at the same time, I need to make sure my home university accepts these courses.



I swear, if you’re looking for me, I’ll be crying in a corner.


This university is a joke and even Japanese students at the end stood up to say they didn’t understand a word of the class registration process. We were all asked to go out and the orientation was over.


This place is a pit of anxiety, nothing else.


let’s stare at the cats of the university to relax, ok?


I went home at 7:00 p.m., and since there was a plan to make dinner with my roommates, I waited for them to come home. They were actually asleep and it’s only towards 9 that we could eat. I was starving but the homemade-ness of the meal was really worth it. We made some niku-jaga, a mix of beef, potatoes, onions and carrots cooked together, along with some Japanese soup and rice. I felt like I just re-tasted this part of Japanese cuisine that I like so much. The simplicity of a homemade meal.


We stayed awake until 11:30 p.m. to prepare in the common room the birthday of one of the guy from the dormitory. We were around 8 girls, decorating the room and laying out the cakes. Evelien and I got some weird look from girls that never saw us before and the atmosphere was a bit strange at times, but overall everyone was very friendly and it was hard not to feel included!

‘Ken-Chan’ arrived, we sang happy birthday and ate a piece of cake. He turned 19 and he was gifted two bottles of wisky. Thank god the drinking age is 20 in Japan 😉

thank you for friends

The day started with a ring bell, delivering a suitcase for someone I couldn’t hear the name of, and I just signed the paper half-awake.

Thus was my first contact with my future roommates I guess.

It was raining outside and the week is promising to be the same. I spent some time working on my grammar, mostly fuelled by the guilt of yesterday.


Around midday, I received a message from Mitsuki and joined her near the center of the city. Thank god she brought me out of the grammatical boredom I had thrown myself into.

I gotta say that stepping outside was harsh. It had just rained but it wasn’t enough to bring the temperatures down. We could have been in the middle of the jungle, it would have felt the same humidity-wise. Biking kind of help since you go to a certain speed and can feel a bit the wind, but when you stop, this hot humidity strikes you in the head.

I met Mitsuki and she showed me a special landmark of Nagasaki. The remains of a tori gate after the nuclear bomb. Half of it was blown away.


Nearby, two magnificent trees stand. They were standing in front of a temple that got destroyed and the trees were burned too. The inhabitants thought that the remaining trunks would perish as the rest of the city, but surprisingly, the trees grew back and engulfed the burned parts. Mitsuki told me that this ‘rebirth’ sign brought great hope to the people. If nature could find its way back, so could they.

The inside part of the tree, the burned one, needs to have a sort of medicinal paste applied on it because of the radiations. It looks like the application takes some months because the panels were saying that there’d be these metal constructions until December.


A humbling story about how much we can damage and yet, cannot destroy.


Then we met with some of Mitsuki’s friends. Two girls from the same university as I (and one with whom I’m sharing courses!) and a Chinese boy doing his exchange in Yokohama and visiting around Japan. His Japanese and English are flawless and I felt really small.

We visited the ‘peace’ museum of Nagasaki, but unlike the name suggests, it wasn’t done in the usual Japanese narrative of displaying the story of peace. This museum didn’t talk about what was done to Japan during the war but rather what Japan has done to others.


And here, it feels like a very refreshing view. I remember that we studied quite extensively at university the atrocities committed by the Japanese government/army during the war, may it be the dissection experiments on alive people in Manchuria, the occupied Korea and the attempt to destroy their culture or the sexual slaves used by the Japanese army through all Asia.



‘what has japan does to china’ explained to children


This time, I could see it from my own eyes with a lot of pictures displaying the conditions of the Koreans brought to Japan, and the massacres done in China. To be honest, some of the pictures were disturbing as could be and I wonder how the photographers must have felt. Some of the pictures were just naked corpses everywhere in a city. Bodies on top of each other in the street, just thrown there, some harshly wounded. Others were bodies that the Japanese tried to drown in China. They were brought to the shore and pushed for the river to take them away.

The most well-known picture is this Japanese army man holding the cut head of a Chinese. He’s smiling and the whole picture looks surreal.

It was kind of hard to digest, but even more interesting to visit with three Japanese and a Chinese.


this is as far as i want to go with hardcore pictures on this blog


I feel like this museum does participate into the peace narrative, as it’s a way to remember and learn from what should definitely not be done again. And there is no aggressivity in the message conveyed. It is more seen as ‘it was done, it happened, let’s know it and not deny it’ and the conversations we had later went through that same vibe. No ‘hard feelings’ but we all had a serious punch in the stomach. We know, we’ll learn from it.


nagasaki is full of history, may it start from the 15th century to last century…


Later on, Mitsuki and I went to a small cafe and were joined by the rest of the group. Nothing better to escape the heat and talk about lighter subjects.



We parted around 6 and I went back to my dorm with a light heart. It was not planned at all but I am really thankful Mitsuki was there, once more. It may seem dumb to say but I was glad to be hanging around with Japanese and be confronted with challenging subjects. It’s perfect to take my mind out of things!



Once back, I was able to discover two of my new roommates. They just arrived and I think the way back was harsh. But now the apartment isn’t empty anymore and some life is going to go back into it progressively. The fridge was even cleaned from all the forgotten stuff they left some weeks ago (nice discovery…!) so it’s perfect to start on clean bases… 😉

i’m sad and i’ll suck it up

The moral was a bit low lately and after the two busy days in Unzen, it was time to be back and go back to normal affairs. I took the time to send my lens for repair, get the translation of my driving license and arrange the last things I needed at the city hall.

On Monday, we had a Japanese test in order to get our placement and we got the results this morning. I failed pretty harshly and got placed in the beginner course… I was very disappointed and kind of felt like an impostor. I’m living my life pretty nicely here and going around my way. I get the services I need without any help and without the use of any other language than Japanese. I can hold a conversation for a while without struggling.


Yet, if you put me in front of a paper with grammatical questions and kanji recognition quizz, I’ll just be a disaster.


I tried to make myself feel better by picturing what a French grammar test would look like. I think I’d also fail pretty magistrally, yet I still speak French.


So you can imagine that in my stressed state, it just made everything worse and I could not imagine going on with my day without knowing what would become of the Japanese classes. The level I was put in had 5 classes per week (worth no credits at all) and it was clashing with the courses Leiden University approved. I asked and I was allowed to skip some of the classes. I asked again and they suddenly became all mandatory.

I asked to change and go the intermediate level and I was laughed at and put back to my score test; it’s too low, I belong to the beginner class, along with the people who cannot form sentences yet.


I went out, ate a bit with the other students. It was just weighing on my mind.


I came back again to the front desk and asked if I could take a mix. Skip the classes that were clashing with my official classes, and attend some of the higher level. I was met with a firm no, then I had to wait for another supervisor to arrive 30mn later.

I waited.

I was finally told that Japanese classes weren’t mandatory and I could just ignore them if I wanted. For fuck sake, after already 2 years of university without any proper Japanese classes, I thought I could get them in damn Japan.

I try to talk my way out in Japanese, would it be just to show that I can survive in an intermediate class. I’m eventually told the name of the Japanese teacher and led to her desk.


Another story begins and I face the same issue; my test scores are low, I belong to the beginner class.

She decides to take a look at the results and where I failed, and she concludes that since I was close to the limit, I can take intermediate classes.

We went on talking (mind you, in Japanese) and she told me about her teaching experience abroad, and her love for Colombia and how the return to Japan was harsh.

In the end of our long 30-mn talk, she decides that the intermediate class is useless for me while the advanced would be too hard. I’m kind of forced to come up with the conclusion that I should self-study (ahah, I hate this concept so hard now) grammar, since it’s my weak point. She’s not really supportive (thinks I won’t do it) but she’s not offering any other options either… She shows me some books I could buy before leading me to the university book store… I suggest borrowing them from the library and she kind of brushes it off like « oh, you’re not that motivated eh, you’re not even gonna buy them? »


Well, lady, thank you for putting so much faith in me. I also like to believe that I cannot achieve things. This mindset will obviously lead me to do great things, duh.


I kind of left completely washed out. The other exchange students went out to the beach but I didn’t go, my head was too full of dark thoughts.

I went for cake because fuck it, people weren’t going to be supportive here and I needed something sweet. I stayed for a long time in that cafe, thinking about what I should do.


I have 5 courses in Japanese. They’ll need to be validated, good grammar or not.


I can self-study. I am in the country of the language I’m learning and will be able to put it in direct application. And if that’s not good enough of an incentive, I need to pass these classes in Japanese. May it just be to understand what the fuck I’m told, I’m gonna need to know these grammar structures. It’s just stupid straight learning. And it’s fine if no one can hold my hand and guide me through. I got it that they weren’t gonna do that here.


After some wise words from my mom, I moved on and went to buy some vegetables and note book. Once home, I escaped the heat and got right into grammar. Starting from the beginning, to make sure I’m starting on clean bases.


I got a message from Angie and Bettsy, both German, inviting me for an evening walk. It was warm and it had just rained. We went up this long hill, a 2 km hike.

At the top, this night view of Nagasaki. Above the horizon, some summer storms making lightnings pop up there and there.


It was a bit fresher up there. We went down and I invited them over for dinner.


It was good to have new people around, with kinder words than what I’ve been hearing lately.

Suck it up uh? I gotta get a thicker skin and not take to heart too much what I’m told.


It does feel like I’ve put my heart and my mind under pressure. I can feel that my eyes are ready to let a good quantity of tears if I think too much. It’s a tiring state. It’s like if I were ready to burst at any moment. Just waiting for the one drop that will overflow the already full glass.

Shimabara, or the city where Christian rebellions usually don’t end well

We woke up around 9, after a long and restful night. Out by 9:30, we were faced with the looming heat that didn’t wait after the typhoon to return. Shortly after the start of our discovery walk, we stopped by a supermarket to get some food, options lacking for anything else.



We were met with views of the Unzen mountains and a tiny bit of the volcano. The city felt very peaceful, even though we were stared at by incautious drivers for our mere presence here. I almost forgot we were in the middle of nowhere in Japan. On the extreme corner of a tiny, tiny island.



The architecture was surprising as in the skyline, we could see both a catholic church and a Japanese castle. That’s where I understood that Shimabara was an important place for the first Portuguese Christians to arrive and they converted quite a lot of people. The thing is that it didn’t please the shogunate at the time and it broke the kind of harmony they were trying to convey. Persecutions started and being a Christian at this time was harsh. Some were brought to the Unzen hell we’ve seen the day before, and others were heavily taxed.




It all broke out in the Shimabara Rebellion in the 17th century where some of the converted Christians and peasants, led by a 16 year-old Amakusa Shiro took the castle and held a siege for months. They even got help of the Dutch. But eventually, help came from the main island and they were defeated, Amakusa Shiro beheaded as an example and the castle was burned with the rest of the corpses. The foreigners were kicked out of Shimabara and the seclusion laws of the country were hardened the following year.



amakusa shiro




st francois xavier, first christian in japan


We got to see some of the Christian art made at that time and it was a really surprising mix. Stained glass that could belong to a European church is found displaying Japanese believers. We climbed up the castle and I really didn’t expect to be flooded with so much history in a town that I totally underestimated the importance of.




From up there, we could have an exceptional view on the city, the mountains and also the neighbouring city, Kumamoto, across the sea. You may have heard of it because of the sadly well-known earthquake struck the city this year and destroyed a part of the famous castle. Mitsuki’s brother, who is studying there, was telling me that they are expecting the castle to be fully reconstructed in 30 years, because of lack of funds and research.




After that, we went and checked out a little street still conservating Samurai’s houses in a traditional style. I have already seen this type of houses so I wasn’t too impressed or struck by it, even though it was really nice to see them so well conserved and still around actually used houses. I’d say the surprising thing is the fact that houses are really big here in Japan. Of course, they belong to families that pass them onto the next generation, but they are big, old and spacious. Quite a treat if you were to live in Tokyo!





We spent a third meal at the convenience store (…) and continued the visit with the carp streams that roam around the center of the city. You can find these little gutters where the river flows by and these bright carps seem to be coming out of nowhere. On the larger ponds, you seem them all and it was quite a nice experience! It was one more thing I wasn’t expecting too much of but in the end, I was happy to see it.





We were stopped by a couple, that very bravely explained us in broken English, to go check a place. We were welcomed in a small garden by a very kind lady in kimono who served us tea while we were admiring the view above the water. She asked us where we came from and had a kind word for each of us. She told me she was going to Paris once a year for the kimono show that she was holding and that she liked Lyon a lot. It was soothing exchanging with her. It felt like I could finally use some of my Japanese to have meaningful interaction and not be stuck with usual and daily matters.





At some point, we turned back to the train station to start the long way home. The train we took was going along the coast, but this time towards the inside bay. The view was beautiful again and the train stations crossed were old and charming. Some of the stations were right by the sea and I swear, it just felt like the movie Chihiro. I tried to get some snaps but I didn’t manage. I only have this feeling deep inside my heart of seeing these station signs hanging in front of a marvelous sea landscape.





Once we arrived, we parted and I went on with my business, picking up my bike, charging my grocery shopping card and going home as the sun was descending behind the nearby hills.

I think this trip was needed and felt good. I know I have already been here for a week but it was good to escape what I already have started to get used to.





And finally, the pictures that didn’t make it into my nice conceptual post:







An escape to the Unzen hot springs

Friday, we took the bus direction to Unzen. It is one of the most active volcano in Japan and it’s famous for its onsen and crazy hot springs (hot enough to boil some Christians back in the 1600s.)



ice cream seller on the side of the road


We departed at 9 and the bus was flirting with the coast, offering some beautiful views and magnificent puns on the city of Obama, where they took the joke far enough to display a cardboard of the American president.



obama welcoming you into unzen


When we arrived in the hot springs part of Unzen, we were welcome with a strong smell of sulfur and we started the day with visiting the ‘hell’ of Unzen. It seems like a small Yellow Stone version stuck between foresty mountains, except that in this version, it was also the place Christians were tortured and killed during the persecutions orchestrated by the shogunate at the time. Conclusion? Don’t mess with Japanese when trying to spread your faith all over the place. It almost, never ends well.




i can imagine how without the infrastructures it must have looked like a hell…


When we had enough of the sulfur perfume (and the traditional eggs they sell)(they tasted good)(like normal eggs)(just way more expensive)(#marketing) and enough roasted sweet potatoes, we went to look for a place to have lunch.





We went to have a bath in a nearby onsen and enjoyed a rotenburo (outside bath, with the birds and under maple trees) for a few hours. It was peaceful and relaxing (but maybe a bit too hot for summer!)


makes me think to a catholic little buddha




After some last walk, we took the bus to go the city of Shimabara, on the coast facing Kumamoto. We couldn’t find any affordable accommodation for the night in Unzen, so Shimabara it is!





cat t-shirt investment


As we got out of the mountains, we were greeted with a wonderful view on the sea and we went and checked in at our hostel (which had a tatami room for us, yay, internet reservations being unavailable.) Since we were in the area around the ferry boarding for Kumamoto, there wasn’t much to do. We walked around looking for a place to eat but eventually ended up in a giant konbini (convenience store) which had a whole place to eat, sit down and enjoy wifi/tea. I think they knew there was nothing else around so this was just the place to save people from walking at night without finding any food.

We went back to our hostel and it’s surprisingly on the futon and the tatami floor that I had the best sleep I ever had so far. I don’t know if I have to thank the onsen or the whole atmosphere for that, but damn, it was well appreciated!


the volcano wishing us a good evening



good night!


Izakaya solace

I had a lovely, lovely dinner with Mitsuki and her brother and it helped save the day. We went to this amazing izakaya chain, re-creating a Showa period ambiance (pre and post-WW2) and transcribing it through drinks and food. The result is composed of low prices, amazing atmosphere and hearty meals.

Nothing better to mend my little heart who’s been told all day that the lens was good to throw away.




the old advertising flowing
some cabbage as appetizer and a drink with an mandarine inside




fried pieces of cheese with okonomiyaki
staring into your soul






old powdered soda
ok so this dish is called ‘university potato’ (大学芋) and none of us knew why it was named like that. i’ll just say it’s a potato that was able to graduate (卒業した芋か、頭がいいな芋)#ilovedthispun





The morning was spent with Evelien and Betsy (the Dutch and German exchange student) to plan a small trip for tomorrow and saturday. Hopefully, we’ll be hanging out around Unzen and we’ll visit an onsen! (which is perfect to heal my fucking breakdown which caused me to sit at a cafe and cry for half an hour 😀 #pressure #loveit #likearicecooker #sorry)


funny anecdote: a woman stopped me in the middle of a busy downtown street and asked my if I had found a bike. took me a while to understand but she was at the city hall when i asked them if they knew any second-hand bike shops! we spent a good 10mn talking, where she told me she visited leiden and also spoke good french. a random mix that got even more interesting when she told me to visit her at the city hall to have lunch with her. she gave me the time to come (10mn before 12!) and the days she was working. she was really kind but it felt like such a curious encounter. we parted ways and 5mn later i hear someone calling my name. i see her running and she starts presenting me to her husband, a teacher of japanese history at university. we finally said bye and i think i’ll go to the city hall, may it be to just ask her how i can translate my driver licence. she seems like an interesting person for sure!


I’m so parted between calling this day: « bad decisions » or « worthy risks. »


The plan was to go to a beach, said the ‘most beautiful’ of Nagasaki (mind you, a lot of things are called the ‘most beautiful, ‘greatest in the world’ or ‘Obama went there’ when it’s about marketing), in the south of the city. It’s a mere 26 kilometers that result in an hour of bus.


And I bought a bike yesterday 😬


So since I’m so hot headed and enthusiast, I just brush it off (‘me? taking the bus? meh no, i’ll bike there’) and leave in the morning fresh like a flower « see you in two hours! » and I leave.



do not stop here. it’s so narrow, you’re not sure you can start back



And it’s fine. It’s a bit slow in the city center but once I pass the port, it gets a bit better. I pass the Megami Bridge, that I saw from the boat last time. I cross some industrial areas which aren’t really nice but y’a know, the enthusiasm is there and I go, I go. Some of the districts that I see have some strong Dutch influence and it’s really interesting to see these pieces of history scattered beyond the main center of the city.




I arrive to the point where I’m a bit off track and leave the main road. It goes up. Well, it’s fine, I’m still going. It doesn’t stop though so I end up by walking a little bit. The road becomes narrow and it becomes a bit tricky to have two cars and a bike passing comfortably. When I reach the middle of a forest with nothing around, I start looking at the time. 1h30 and 16km done. Not quick but only 10km left! I’m kind of thirsty and of course, we’re in Japan. I’m in the middle of nowhere with abandoned family factories, but there’s a vending machine standing there by the side of the road.




I continue and stumble onto some great views. It feels like the reward of the hard slope and damn, this landscape is so unique. It resonates with such an Asian vibe to me, may it be the climate and geology of the islands that can be seen. It reminds me of when I biked in Okinawa, except that I did only 10km then.




do you start to feel the regret?


So at this point, I was still going strong, thinking that I was doing the harsh hills and I would arrive soon. 10km is close after all, isn’t it?



Ahah, I was so wrong. So wrong.


You can see it through my camera feed because I stopped taking pictures when I had to push the bike up the hill to then climb it down at a scary speed. And you repeat that a good ten times. Under the sun. With no bike/pavement lines, with the cars on these tiny roads. And these 10km just never ended 😬



that’s how i was pretty much feeling



The more hills I was crossing, the more I didn’t want to think about going back. I didn’t even want to give up because it would mean crossing back the fucking mountains that I climbed and I had the tiny tiny hope that I would soon arrive. But it seemed like I was moving like a snail and the distance only shrank 500 meters by 500 meters. 10km then 8.8, then 6.9, then 5.3…




When I arrived at the sea level, I took a small picture break and found a place to put my bike all nicely and all. The place was pretty and the moral going back up. Packing up my stuff onto the basket, I discovered that my lunch box opened itself in the bag. It’s fine! Then one of my camera lens went and embraced the Japanese ground like a leap of faith. It was in its case so it’s fine too, I pick it up and I finish this damn trip.


the island of gunkanjima (battle-ship island, the mine abandoned island etc) in the background!!


Finally, I arrive. I put my bike on the side and go join the two other exchange students who have already been there for two hours. The place is beautiful, and desert. It’s September after all and Japanese aren’t keen about tanning on the beach. I do my things and go around to take pictures. I discover that the aperture blades of my lenses are dancing in the lens itself and I just broke one of my beloved 85mm. I think one of the aperture blade got out of it to stick itself right through my heart.



It’s with sore legs, uneasy heart and uncertainty about how the fuck I’m gonna go back before 6 to meet Mitsuki that I lay under the sun.


The nice thing in all that is that since there were other exchange students, it kind of forced me to tone down what had just happened and I tried to look really okay about it.

« just broke my lens? meeeh, it’s fine, it’s just material, I did not hurt myself or anything 😉 »

*hollow cries inside my chest*


We even went and swam in the sea for a while. The temperature was a perfect mix of warm air and fresh water. So it’s official now, we swam in the East China Sea (or the Sea of Japan, depends how you wanna see it!)


When it became time to go back to the center, the strategy was all planned out. Beg for the bus driver to take me and my bike, or hitch-hike. The thing with the second option is that I didn’t know for how long I’d be staying on the side of the road, even if there were many nice looking old men with pickup trucks (Japanese size though, let’s not dream of big SUV.)

The first option worked after first being told no. I begged and claimed that I had a flat tire and needed to go back to Nagasaki. The driver wasn’t too happy about it but we boarded the bus and I kept my bike to the side while watching all the hills I didn’t have to climb back.


the day i’ll have a picture taken of me not blurry, i’ll call you




Once in the center, I parted with the exchange students and went up to my apartment to quickly shower and run back to Mitsuki. I made it on time in the end!


Some grocery shopping later, we were onto making some dinner and having some lovely conversation. We made some… いり鶏? (Iridori) It’s chicken thighs boiled with sake accompanied with carrots and lotus roots. It didn’t disappoint and it allowed to finish the day with a bit of a lighter heart.




merci mitsuki 🙂



busy day: oh yeah

So today, I did stuff!

i re-did a road because why not, y’a know

The university orientation was mainly to help us fill the papers to give the city hall. We had to write our names 15 times.


15 fucking times.


I have 5 names.


I had to write 5 names 15 times in tiny boxes. And let’s not talk about katakana, where they ended up by telling me « sorry, we cannot put the sound -vé- so we’ll write your name -bé-. » I mean, okay, if that’s what life is gonna be like, then okay.

This fun part aside, I didn’t get to see the others exchange students really. We were assigned Japanese mentors (mine is 18 years old and since I already went through the city hall procedure three years ago, there wasn’t much to do) and I stayed with her for most of the day. We ate lunch together (after 20mn to take a decision on where to eat, whyyyyyyyyy) and she was kind enough to accompany check a bike store 30mn away from the university!






which was closed.


on a tuesday.


after a three day week-end.



why, nagasaki, why.


So we went back and did our little one-hour promenade under a blue sky, the classical after-typhoon weather. I love it. If I could, I would just roll into the atmosphere out of happiness for no rain/okay temperature. She had to take a bus to go home (her family lives in Saga prefecture, below Fukuoka) so we parted, and I made my way downtown to look for a bike.


the megane bridge


look at that blue sky, will you?



Because this became my obsession: get a way to never use any type of transportation ever again. Netherlands, what have you done to me? 🙂


So I walked to a bike store where he had three poor, almost broken bikes too big for me. He told me to check Don Quijote (because OF COURSE they sell bikes, I mean they sell food/free-tax perfume/sex-toys/toys for children, why not bikes?). So yep, they had them but pretty crappy ones. I kept it in a corner of my mind and continued my quest to other big malls where they have sport sections. At the last one, I was told to check a discount store, not ‘far’ from here. I stopped for a Starbucks because I wanted to try the Pumpkin Spice Latte (congrats Simone, I got so curious with your posts about it ahah) but I discovered that they only offered mapple syrup latte 😦  -because nagasaki ain’t taking any of dat spice business-


the barista liked my tee-shirt so I guess I deserved a smiley face


After absorbing the iced latte in one gulp (it was tiny), I walked around the harbour because I needed some vitamin D after yesterday. Damn, it felt so peaceful. And warmer than last year in November.


true to myself, i still take pictures of people and walk away really fast




And then, I walked. I walked. I walked.


yay, naked people in stone
pavement side is for the weak



I was already done with walking when I reached the 10km mark and sore feet but I continued to climb up the hill the discount store was on. The view from up there at that time of the day was pretty awesome and it felt like a great reward. All these hills and the last light of the sun touching the peaks… It’s hard to feel anything else than pure awe (maybe the adrenaline helped, but damn, I loved it.)



tadaaaam tsou!


I reached the discount store and found some interesting bikes. After a compromise (because I wasn’t gonna find a race bike in Japan for a reasonable price, may it be new or used), I went for a light city bike that wasn’t too expensive and benefited from a free-tax purchase.


everyone i met was smiling and happy. maybe the weather, the atmosphere, or drugs, who knows. sorry mom




It’s with a lot of pride that I went down the hill with my bike, hoping that the breaks would work and they did like a charm. Tested and approved. (nothing better than a steep hill at night to try a new bike 😀 #safetyfirst)


And since I was feeling a little euphoric, I decided to take small and little ways. So cute, with nice views and all that.


aw, cute night landscape…
… less cute uh


Ending in stairs, of course. And since I didn’t want to go back up, I just thought « it’s fine, I’ll carry it down these 4 floors of stairs, it’s fine, it’s a workout! ».


Then I tried to lift the bike and all the weight of my decisions came and crushed my enthusiasm. It’s with grunts and a mental face palm that I went down the endless stairs.  Once done, I quickly got back up and biked away as if nothing happened. No one saw, nothing happened.


the peak i’ll one day climb (or take the shuttle to, one shall never know the way)


Got home and went to put my groceries away (because I was also carrying 1kg of groceries on my back during this trip 😀 #travellightly #minimalism). Decided to go to the beach tomorrow and I have some cooking session in the evening with Mitsuki, and I’m def looking forward to that hehe! (my, I got influenced by Ibone’s slang, arg)

See ya peeps’!

typhon day can be over now, i won’t mind

Today was full of rain and boredom. I woke up around 6 and felt like walking outside to celebrate the ‘complete’ night. I mostly went around the neighbourhood, passing by the convenience store to buy some ice (can’t figure out how to refill the ice cube maker of the fridge) and quickly went back inside with wet feet.


let me look real deep with my cacti shirt


Then it felt a bit like a long agony. It was just pure and sad rain, with this hint of heat that really doesn’t make you want to go outside.


So I quarantined myself, cooking food I couldn’t eat much of and started gathering some stress. I looked at the places I wanted to travel to and got kind of hit with the fact that getting out of Nagasaki to go anywhere was costing an arm and a leg. Just to go up to Fukuoka and getting back is minimum 40€ with the cheapest option. And it’s not getting you very far… Car renting isn’t given either and if I ever wanted to fly from Nagasaki Airport, I should be ready to add a good 300€ to the plane ticket, just because. A kind of anguish grew inside of me, and I’m longing the day I’ll get my hands on a bike, just to save some costs at least for travelling inside the prefecture.


There is one thing I can look forward though is the fact that concerning places in Japan, I seem so far to have the luck to have friends and host families coming to visit me in Nagasaki. Nothing set in stone yet since I am stuck with this no-schedule situation for at least a good week and a half, but the idea of having people coming to see me is warming my little stressed heart!

Oh and yeah, enjoy my silly tries as an attempt to occupy myself during this little un-busy day.


Tomorrow, finally some stuff will be happening. Or so I hope!


P.S: I’m seriously toning down the internal drama I had about being so bored today. It feels like I’m not allowing myself to be bored for 3 years now so when there is no option at all like today, it is harsh to bear it, uuuuugh