Songs inspired by Nara

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We already have plenty of “Western” songs that reference the big cities like Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka either in the title itself or the lyrics, but I was surprised to find songs inspired by our beloved Nara prefecture, the birthplace of Japan! Here’s a small collection of what I’ve found so far, but as for any other obscure songs that happen to mention Nara in the lyrics, I’ll have to keep treasure hunting!

First up is Nara by E.S. Posthumus, recommended to me by one of my best friends, Ethan! I love this band, and had already heard the song back in the States, but somehow didn’t make the Nara connection until he mentioned it to me! I think the sound perfectly captures the surreal feeling I had walking amongst the Temples and Shrines of Nara Park for the first time and imagining what life must have been like for ancient people. If I had to choose one moment to match this song, however, it would be the breath-taking moment I saw the Daibutsu, the World’s Largest Buddha, in Todaiji Temple.

Standing in awe of the World's Largest Buddha!

The World’s Largest Buddha at Todaiji Temple

The boys of Alt-J, bless their hearts, were so impressed with Nara that they dedicated an entire three songs on their album This is All Yours.  While E.S. Posthumus draws from Nara’s ancient past, this particular trio of songs seem to reflect the Nara of here and now- personal reflections of love and existential heartbreak in a city that precariously balances tradition, nature, and modernity.

Last up is Nara Dreamland by Nicole Dollanganger. I’ll go ahead and say that I really don’t care for her baby-doll voice, even if I appreciate the creep-aesthetic she’s shooting for. I remember looking out the window of my job orientation in Nara city and seeing something that conspicuously looked like a fake mountain amidst real mountains. Little did I know at the time that it was a part of Nara Dreamland, Japan’s last abandoned theme park. Despite shutting down in 2006, it was never demolished. Many people say it’s hhhaaaaunteeeddd. Apparently you can still sneak in if you slip through walls of barbed wire, and avoid security guards. That’s not something I plan on doing, so I included a skurry video of the park filmed by a faithful deviant!

*BONUS TRACK*

This isn’t exactly a “Nara” song as much as it is just a “Japan” song, but I didn’t want to leave this post on a disturbing note, haha. Cherry blossom (sakura) season is in full swing here in Japan, and I always find this familiar folk song comforting. Plus, Yoshino (in southern Nara) is the hanami (sakura viewing) capital of Japan!

Babymetal fans will also recognize the spot lifted for Megitsune (another awesome song by the way).

I hope you enjoyed these little gems, and if you happen to find other songs about Nara city or Nara Prefecture, leave me a comment!

桜まつり! Sakura Matsuri!

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I had the most wonderful Easter yesterday. My neighborhood threw a Cherry Blossom Festival, and I wandered over to join the festivities. I am utterly convinced at this point that I have amazing neighbors. I bought some delicious yakisoba, but by the time I sat down to eat I was already gifted with drinks, yakitori sticks, tea, and sushi. It was slightly sprinkling so I asked if I could sit with the others in the tent. We became fast friends, despite our lack of communication ability. A few people from the festival in the fall recognized me! Everyone was asking about ”my darling” (Josh was in Osaka that morning for a computer programming meetup): his age, his hobbies, his level of handsomeness etc. (lol) As soon as I mentioned his birthday would be next month on the 11th, they immediately decided to throw a big birthday party for him on the 10th at the Town Hall complete with cake! I was amazed and touched by their kindness. We continued to talk and snack together next to the cherry blossoms. They asked to see a picture of Josh and said he looked like Johnny Depp, haha! We were soon joined by my friends Bethany, Noah, and Jeff (the latter two were both mistakenly identified as ”my darling” by the group). We also had the pleasure of meeting Noah’s mom!

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(Our city mascot, Sarara Hime-chan! I am a sucker for cute mascots.)

Soon after we joined a high stakes game of Bingo (with great prizes), in which it seemed the entire neighborhood was present. A few of us won prizes- I was lucky to win a nice bath towel!

After the festival we headed out to see my school’s brass band concert at the Culture Hall. On the way we had some fantastic ramen recommended by Noah (the Ramen King) near the train station.

20160327_174240The concert was fantastic, especially the ”Stage March” portions which were arranged like a marching band. My favorite parts were the ”Aladdin” medley and the ”Super Mario Brothers” medley. It was a fantastic event and I was so proud of my students for doing a great job.

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Snapshot Memories

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Here are some happy snapshots (happy snappies? Hah) that I didn’t get a chance to post recently. Enjoy!

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I was so happy to meet our friend Yuta again during the New Year holiday. This was our first time to meet again in Japan! We first met back in Tennessee. I found out we would be moving to Japan the day after his going away party! We all had a surreal feeling as we boarded the train to Nara together.

Deliciously superb okonomiyaki near Nara Station!

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Lighting incense at Todaiji Temple

Standing in awe of the World's Largest Buddha!

Standing in awe of the World’s Largest Buddha!

Looks like Santa made a stop in Tennessee for our cat Ambrosia!

Looks like Santa made a stop in Tennessee for our cat Ambrosia!

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My grandmother sent me this photo of Ambrosia’s Christmas morning and it brought tears to my eyes. They are taking such good care of our baby!

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This past fall, Josh met up with Yuta at the Suzuka Circuit! He said it was an amazing experience.

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Josh took this perfectly timed photo at Nara Park. This is one of my all-time favorite photos now. Even the baby deer is smiling!

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Ringing in the year of the Monkey with my fellow Tennessean friend and JET, Ashley!

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Josh and I celebrating the upcoming year of the Monkey at Kashihara Shrine.

Takoyaki Party!

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I recently attended my first “Takoyaki Party” at my friend Kelly’s house! It was an awesome girls’ night with lots of delicious food. This was my first time making octopus balls- they turned out so tasty! We even tried adding things like yakisoba, crab, and sausage to a few of them.

I also mistakenly assumed that it was Kelly’s birthday and gave her a present, even though we had celebrated her birthday in October together (how did I forget that? I also royally messed up on switching trains to make it to the party, so my brain must have been busted that week after recovering from my flu-esque cold). That was pretty embarrassing, but she was a good sport about her new “hostess” gift.

Little get-togethers like this always make me grateful for this life and the people I get to share it with.
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