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And you thought this blog was dead...

Hello my friends, family, and folks of the internet. Once again, こんにちは! I am returning to Japan after two and a half years for the summer through a program called Princeton in Ishikawa. (What is Princeton in Ishikawa, or PII for short? Glad you should ask. Kindly follow this link for more information: http://www.princeton.edu/pii/index.xml ) I'll be learning an academic year of Japanese in eight weeks and hopefully making some new friends. Those of you who know me should find it no surprise that I'm trying to go back to Japan, to the extent that I'd agree to suffer school in the summer. The things I do for love of a language/food/culture/country I tell ya...

This is just a small note to remind you that this blog is ALIVEEEE. Expect more posts as soon as the action begins, so put this on your bookmarks page and be prepared to be amazed...

All the best,
Claire

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Final Touring Excursions

Tomorrow is my last day. It felt strange to write that sentence, knowing that I've been gone six weeks, which feels like both no time at all but also forever. Even though this is my fifth time coming to Japan (and the fourth for an protracted trip), the coming-and-going is something I don't get used to. Just as I start getting over my "ugh, I just want to go home" hump and settling in, well, it actually IS time to go home.

What have I done the past few days?

Well, on Sunday my host family and I took a drive to Yamanashi prefecture (re: near Mount Fuji) to visit the Oshino Hakkai, the Eight Sacred Ponds of Oshino. According to the signage, when people used to hike up Mount Fuji for pilgrimages, they would purify themselves in the ponds before starting their journey. And having stuck my hand in an (acceptable) corner of the main pond, Wakuike, it was FREEZING. Some other ponds have specific purposes, however. One was for people who wanted a good marriage, for instance.

Cat Cafe

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For cat lovers, this is paradise:

This shop had fifteen cats, each with their own names and personality described in a photo book:

This cat's name is Kinta and he's a mix--though most of the cats there were breeds I was unfamiliar with and had fur of various kinks and degrees of fluffiness. 
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Kinta greeted my host brother by literally jumping on his back. 
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Shibuya and Ebisu

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Co…