I got up early (despite going to bed late) on the final day of my Golden Week vacation. After a cereal breakfast (two bowls ^^;;), I did some laundry, checked email etc. and called my parents.
(We finally decided that I'm going back to Mississauga for Christmas. Haven't bought the plane tickets yet, but I'm looking for another Dec 23-Jan 3 stay in Canada. So I'll be in Canada for a little over a week, back in Towada for about two and a half weeks, and then back to Canada for three nights for Grace's wedding. @_@ Totally racking up the Aeroplan miles...)
I had a craving for さつまスティック ("satsuma sticks" aka sweet potato fries) so I headed out once again to Chuo Park. This time, though, I decided to just walk (instead of driving and parking at City Hall). So on the way I stopped by the Taisozuka to check out the Taisosai. Unfortunately I arrived right when there was a (fairly lengthy) break between the various performances and I didn't feel like waiting, so there wasn't much to see. The minor detour wasn't wasted, however: I bought a 肉巻きおにぎり ("nikumaki onigiri" aka meat-wrapped riceballs!) to eat! (I bought "teri-mayo", i.e. teriyaki mayonnaise sauce, but they also had toppings/flavours like cheese, or kimchi. Inside is pretty much just rice.)
The sakura along Kanchogai Dori were already falling from the trees. Since it was slightly wind, at times it was like a gentle rain of cherry blossoms--sooooo pretty! I'm sure cleaning them up is a pain, but the streets really look pretty covered in sakura petals. It was a lot less crowded than previous days, too, so I was better able to enjoy the sight. Taking pictures was also a lot easier. =P
One of the nicest things for me was seeing people picking up a handful of petals and then throwing them up in the air. Seeing their delight/exuberance made me appreciate the beauty of the sakura all the more.
After eating my さつまスティック in Chuo Park, I headed across the street to City Hall where I could go up to the 5th floor for a nice view of the city/Kanchogai Dori. My timing was pretty good since right when I left there was a fairly lengthy line up for the elevator up.
Since it was still early when I got home, I decided to head back out to one of Towada's "secret" hanami spots. As I've said before, Kanchogai Dori is great, but it's a tourist spot so it's quite busy/crowded with people and cars.
The place I went to was, in my opinion, equally pretty. But since it's more a local spot, it was much quieter. (The lack of 屋台 (vendor stalls/booths) probably also helped.) I think it's a good place to go on a picnic with family/a small group of friends/a significant other.
After that I relaxed at home for a bit before getting picked up by Mi-san, a former co-worker from Shidoka. I had helped her to translate a message about her daughter's wedding to be sent to the Canadian family her daughter had stayed with on a homestay several years before. So she invited me for dinner at her place as thanks.
As it turned out, her husband is an amazing cook, so I was really treated to a feast!! (Chicken, fried stuffed mushrooms, pasta salad, paella, pizza (not pictured) and even cake for dessert!) I probably ate three times as much as I normally eat for dinner! @_@ (Again, it's a good thing I spent most of this Golden Week walking...) I even had a little bit of beer!
Apart from the delicious food, I also enjoyed talking with Mi-san, her husband, and her son and daughter-in-law. They're all very friendly so as awkward as I am with making small talk, etc., it was quite natural/easy making conversation with them. ^_^ I hope I can meet with them again sometime...
This Golden Week I was really reminded of how important it is to slow down every once in a while to enjoy such simple pleasures as taking a walk, cooking & eating a good meal and talking with friends. I realized that I spend far too much time rushing from place to place (by car, of course) and sitting in front of my computer alone in my apartment.
Some of that can't be helped, but when I get the chance, I particularly want to make more of an effort to go outside to enjoy nature! And I think walking places (even more than biking) is really important because it enables you to notice little things--like the flowers blooming through the wire fence on the side of the road--that you would otherwise just zip by.
So all in all it was a totally awesome Golden Week! If I can, I think I'm going to plan to stick around Towada for Golden Week next year, too. ^_^