So it’s my birthday…again! This time of the year seems to come around faster and faster every year. (It’s freaking me out, but more on that later.) It’s also the third anniversary of this blog, which means it’s time for the annual let’s-stop-and-see-where-my-life-is-at post.
The Big Move. I left my heart behind in my beloved Passau at the start of this year and made the big move back to New Zealand, after being overseas for more than two years. It was a devastating and triumphant homecoming in equal measure. Devastating because I was leaving my other half behind on the other side of the world, and triumphant because I was coming back to do something that I loved, something that I felt was in my very bones.
My bones turned out to be dead on: coming back to study was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and I took to it like a duck to water. The only side effect was that I missed my Passau life so much, much more than I’d ever let on. Passau was where I lived in a place where I didn’t know the language or people and I built up my life there from scratch. I grieved that life for months after coming back, it took a while until I wasn’t crying every other week. But it did get better.
This time last year I was celebrating my birthday in Innsbruck, Austria. What a trip that was! I miss travelling around Europe too, the ease of it, the different countries at your fingertips. But I’m determined to go back very soon! Japan, Taiwan and Australia are on the cards for me this year and I’m especially excited about exploring Taiwan – a new realm for me.
Thank you as always to you, for reading this, for taking an interest and thanks to my family, friends and darling Schnucki for the constant love and support! I am truly blessed to the moon and back to have everyone that I know in my life. Let’s keep striving to be the best that we can be and keep chasing bigger dreams!
Thank you again to everyone that has been following and supporting me so far!
Here’s to another epic year of travels, art and happiness!
Occasion: Seijinshiki (成人式) – Coming of Age Ceremony
Time of year/season: January/Winter
Name meaning: Ageha is a type of butterfly in Japanese and it can also be used as a girl’s name. Ageha has butterflies on her kimono – which could also symbolise the metamorphosis of ‘coming of age’.
Her Story: Ageha is dressed up in her furisode kimono andis ready to head off to the Coming of Age Day celebrations. She knows the formalities at the town hall to receive her certificate might be a little tedious, but she’s excited to get photos and celebrate with friends afterwards. It’s going to be a great night on the town where she can buy drinks herself (finally!) with some good old karaoke. Being an adult never felt so easy!
KIMONO CAT EXPLANATION
1.Furisode (振り袖) – Ageha is wearing a furisode kimono, which is a lined kimono and it literally means ‘swinging sleeves’ because the sleeves are so long. The sleeve length can range from 85cm to 114cm. The furisode is the most formal type of kimono a young, unmarried woman can wear in Japan and it is usually rented or bought by parents for their daughter(s) to wear on the Coming of Age Day.
The Coming of Age Day is a Japanese holiday held every year on the second Monday of January for those that have turned 20 in the past year. The day is to congratulate and celebrate their journey into adulthood and they receive a certificate at their local city office or town hall. The majority of young women get dressed up in furisode for the occasion, while most young men wear suits or sometimes the hakama. Turning 20 in Japan means that you can vote, purchase alcohol and marry without your parents’ permission – so you officially become an adult in the eyes of the law and society.
2.Haneri (半衿) and kasaneeri (重ね衿)- is the type of collar the furisode kimono typically has. The thin green fabric aligning the white collar (haneri) is called the kasaneeri. The green fabric tucked in behind the obi but made to be seen is called the obiage (帯揚).
3. Obijime (帯締め) – The obijime is a thick cord tied around the waist over the obi that helps the obi shape stay together.
4. Ohashori (おはしょり) – When putting on a kimono or yukata, you must always leave a folded portion of fabric hanging out from under the obi.
5. Obi(帯) – The obi is the long sash tied around the waist and is the focal point of womens’ kimono. It is usually a contrasting colour to the kimono and it can be tied into hundreds of different knots for different occasions. Ageha’s obi is tied into a knot known as the fukura suzume (ふくらすずめ) or ‘chubby sparrow’ knot which is used exclusively for furisode and is commonly used for Coming of Age Day festivities.
6. Zōri (草履) – Zōri are the formal sandals worn with kimono, along with the white one-toed tabi (足袋) socks. The zōri are typically a matching colour to the obi or kimono.
The accessories typically worn with the Coming of Age Day festivities include a matching small handbag and the rather iconic fluffy white shawl which looks like a fur scarf.
The furisode kimono and obi is difficult to put on by yourself (although it is possible) and most people don’t know how to do it anymore. A lot of young people rent the kimono at specialised shops where they can get all of the matching accessories, get dressed by professionals and also get their hair and make up done. It is also typical to get professional photos taken at the studio while you are dressed up in your furisode.
Ageha’s kimono was actually inspired by my mum’s furisode kimono which she wore to her seijinshiki when she was 20. It’s an insanely gorgeous kimono which I have also worn on a number of occasions. The obi knot shown here is an even more complex style than the fukura suzume knot.
So, did you like meeting Ageha?
Did you learn something new about Japanese culture?
Watch this space for the next lovable feline in my Kimono Cat Collection!
So it’s my birthday today and it’s also the first anniversary of my blog! Hooray!
A year ago today I sat down and created this space, this virtual home on the internet for my travels and art. I had no idea if this was an idea that I would actually see through or something that I would just get bored of and abandon (like so many other projects of mine) but I’m glad I stuck to this! Even though I still haven’t uploaded nearly as much stuff as I would like to have done by now, looking back on my posts that I have completed makes me feel pretty chuffed, to say the least.
My highlight of the year would have to be moving to Passau, this small Bavarian city that I have fallen in love with. Just a year ago I was still stuck in a dead-end job that I didn’t like in the middle of the busiest city in New Zealand and I knew that I wanted a change – no, needed a change – for myself. So I went ahead and got change…on the other side of the world, no less!
My favourite place that I have travelled to within this year is definitely Vienna, no doubt about it. It was like nothing I’d ever seen before – its magnificence was mind-blowing. I knew then that this was a city I absolutely needed to know more about!
My favourite thing that I have created this year is my Kimono Cat Collection, a project that is still nowhere near complete! Before I started this blog, I had just finished the 100 Days Project and that was the first event that made me prioritise my art over other everyday distractions and actually start taking it seriously. I’m so glad I did.
Since living in the fast lane last year and discovering that it was not what I wanted atall, I’ve been better at choosing things for myself this year, things that have made me truly happy. I’m in the best place and mind set that I’ve ever been in and I love it so much.
Thank you to everyone that has supported me so far and thank you to all of the special people in my life that has made this year and this day so memorable and awesome. An extra special thanks to my one and only amazing Schnuckiputz. Here’s to another fun-filled, creative and inspiring year!
After our exchange year in Japan ended, I had to head back to New Zealand and my Schnucki had to go back to Germany. We both had the last year of our degrees to finish off back at our own universities, so one of us following the other home wasn’t an option at the time. We were apart for more than a year…and I don’t ever want to have to repeat that again.
Here are my tips on how to survive the dreaded Long Distance Relationship and I’m not going to lie – sometimes it was really, really, really hard.
I know that it will feel like there’s a gaping hole in your chest and I know that all you’ll want to do is to curl up into a weeping ball of self-pity, but you HAVE to keep busy! If you don’t, that tsunami wave of loneliness is just going to swallow you up whole…and you really don’t want that.
Luckily, it was my last year of university so I was really busy anyway, and distracting myself also made it feel like the time was going faster. So just go out with friends, try new things and avoid sitting alone at home as much as possible.
Use Skype…A LOT!
This one is a no brainer and I am SO grateful that we live in the age that has Skype. It would have been so much harder if we had lived in the times of no internet and snail mail – heck, I don’t even know if we could have even reunited in that scenario!
Germany and New Zealand are literally on opposite sides of the world, so the time difference was around 12 hours apart. We would usually Skype after he’d got up in the morning and before I headed off to bed. Have a Skype routine and try to stick to it!
Make a Private Blog
This one was a saviour. We had already decided in Japan that we would create a private blog that only we could access and it was the best idea, ever. If we missed each other on Skype, we could always post messages and photos to each other about our day and then we would leave comments to each other about the posts.
I always looked forward to checking the blog (or Schnuckiblog as we called it) to see if he had left me any messages. It was a really good way for the us to keep in touch and if either of us was having a hard time, it was sometimes easier to write things down rather than say them aloud.
Be Better at the Relationship
You know how you’re in a relationship? Yeah, well you have to be EVEN BETTER at being in a relationship while you’re on long distance. People say that communication is the key to any relationship and it really, truly is…especially if you’re on opposite sides of the world. It seems obvious, but you really have to amp up your communication/talking game because you don’t have the physical aspects to fall back on anymore.
You have to be honest about things that are happening and you have to let him know when it’s killing you, because chances are he’s feeling the exact same way. You also have to swallow any jealousy when he talks about people you don’t know and you have to put your pride in the back seat – otherwise it will drive you crazy. You will not survive.
Don’t Ever Leave a Fight Unresolved
This goes for any relationship, but the consequences can be really bad if you leave a fight unresolved when you’re on a long distance relationship. It could even break you up. When you’re both lonely and stressed, you can end up taking it out on each other but DO NOT hang up that Skype call during a fight. Even if one of you does, call them back right away and solve that problem – no matter how long it takes.
Have an End Date
I cannot stress how important it is to have an end date to the long distance because during the time that you’re both apart, that end date is the only thing that keeps you going. I don’t even think I would have survived if we didn’t already know from the start that we would reunite in March the next year. Even if it’s not an actual end date, plan to meet up at some point because no one is built to handle a long distance relationship indefinitely.
Keep in Touch
This may seem like a strange thing to say, but you have to keep in touch especially when times are tough. They are far away from you and they do not know that you’re having a bad day unless you tell them. If I was having a bad day or upset over something, there were times when I would just shut off and not tell him anything and he would get really worried – and this was not the way to do it.
It is so much harder to know if someone is upset over messages or video calls because it’s just not as obvious as it is if you were in the same room as them and could read their body language. So be upfront about your feelings. Even though you know that you can’t get a reassuring hug afterwards, you’ll get some comforting words from your partner and that’s better than nothing.
Don’t Let the Guilt Get to You
I remember I always used to let the Long Distance Relationship Guilt get to me. This was when I would block off my feelings of missing my Schnucki because I felt like I didn’t deserve to feel bad. I had an amazing partner who just happened to be living far away from me for a year, that was all…right? I would tell myself that I couldn’t feel sad over this, I couldn’t feel this devastating heartache. But I did. I really, really did. My heart literally ached.
Even though I tried really hard not to show it, it was really ripping me up inside. I passed it off as no big deal in front of my friends and family, but being so far away from your love for so long is a really big deal. It’s just that no one realises how big until they experience it for themselves. So don’t let the guilt get to you and don’t let yourself, or anyone else, dismiss the pain that you’re feeling. Because the pain is real.
Make Use of the Time Apart
Since circumstances has you apart for the time being, make sure it wasn’t in vain! This is the time to focus on yourself and what you love to do. Keep yourself happy by doing the things that make you happy and make sure you have some projects to work on.
If you feel like you’re running out of things to talk about, take this chance to get to know your partner better. Ask questions you’ve never asked before; about their childhood memories, fears and the like (or just be lazy by looking up questions on Google) and you might just discover something new!
Throughout the year we were apart, I also made a scrapbook full of photos from our adventures in Japan and sent it to my Schnucki for Christmas and he loved it. So keep busy and keep positive! You can survive this!
You Will Know if it is Worth It
Even though we’d only been going out for less than a year when we had to start the long distance relationship, we both knew we were in it to win it. That stubborn determination we both had to beat the odds was the drive that kept us going.
Although there were rough patches, especially in the first half of the year, and there were nights I just cried myself to sleep from missing him so much, we made it through and we came out stronger than ever before. And the reunion was pure bliss.
If you can survive a long distance relationship together, I think you can survive anything. True love conquers any distance!
Have you been in or are you currently in a Long Distance Relationship?