Towards the end of February, the community center in Nakajuku displayed their hina dolls in the window, marking the quick approach of the Hina-Matsuri, or Doll Festival. The Hina-Matsuri festival, celebrated on March 3rd, is commonly referred to as “Girl’s Day” because its annual purpose (whether practiced privately at home or publicly at community festivals) is to wish daughters good fortune and health as they continue to grow up. Although March 3rd has passed, I just flipped my desk calendar to March. I tend to be rather absentminded about changing the months on my calendar and when I remember to, I’m usually very happy to be one page closer to summer break. This month, however, was a bit different; before I came to Japan, I read blog posts from past student bloggers and a common revelation among them was how quickly their semesters passed. I understand that now. There are still mornings when I wake up, look at the time and feel my heart tumble right into my stomach because it’s way past the beginning of orientation, a mandatory event for all S.A. Students. I then remember that it’s been nearly sixty days since I had to attend orientation, but among the daily commutes, busy weekdays, and overflowing weekend endeavors it’s easy for sixty days to feel like one week.
Friday wrapped up my mid-term crunch and I spent the weekend celebrating and relaxing with friends. On Saturday, I finally took the train out to to Tokyo Station, which housed many, many restaurants and shops. The station had a lot to offer so I spent the afternoon wandering around, knowing that if I got lost in the maze of hallways, I could look up at the directional signs and find the correct train line.
Sunday evening I battled the gloomy weather alongside my friends in Akihabara. We walked as quickly as possible from store to store in order to lessen the damage that puddles would inflict on our shoes. The rain, however, was easily forgotten and our shoes dried within Akihabara’s Mandarake (a store selling used manga, doujinshi, anime, and memorabilia) as we scoured display cases and bookshelves for our favorite serializations. In these types of stores, I’ve learned, concentration is a necessity. Although there is organization on a macro level, trying to find something on a micro level (such as a specific anime, manga, figure, or film) tends to be a challenge. We braved the rain again in order to jump from Mandarake to Animate, another popular anime-based store in Akihabara. On the fifth floor, Animate has a cosplay store and my friends and I spent our last moments of the evening sorting through cosplay items for the upcoming convention, Anime Japan 2015 (March 21-22, 2015).
In addition to Anime Japan 2015, I will be going to Kyoto, Osaka, Tokyo Disneyland, TUJ’s Gifu overnight trip, and the Shōnen Sunday Festival this month. On top of all of these events is the first blooming of Sakura in Tokyo which has been predicted to happen on the 25th. There is so much to do this month that the last two have seemed like the prequel to my semester. It’s fair to assume that March—the entire month—is going to be like when I packed my suitcases back in America: jam-packed, heavy, but one-hundred percent necessary, and bound for somewhere great.