Thursday, March 20, 2014

Blossoms in the Chill

Plum trees bursting with color proudly announce that spring is (slowly) arriving to our fair city.

Right by my station there is a trio of very pink ume, which brighten up the landscape every March. They are so perfectly balanced that they almost look fake, and contrast beautifully with the light green stripes on the Toyoko line trains as they zip by.

I appreciate the ume blooming despite the cold winds, bringing the reminder that plum and sakura flavored goodies will soon crowd shelves and menus across Tokyo.

Not far from my house there is a secret bairin (plum orchard), which I wrote about for Deep Japan. Check it out from here.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Nagoya Women's Marathon

After a several year hiatus from marathon running, 6 months ago I decided to get back into it.... not entirely sure what came over me, but I am so glad I did it!
Nagoya is almost perfectly flat, making it an ideal marathon for first timers or injured runners. The fact that it was women-only was also very nice, as we got to avoid the spitting, cup throwing and elbowing that male runners seem to indulge in so frequently.

The prevalence of the colour pink was a bit overwhelming, however.
It was my first time in Nagoya, so after picking up my race chip, Matcha-kun (who came along as crew) and I went off looking for kishimen (flat noodles in a miso-heavy broth) and a walk around Nagoya Castle. It is surrounded by lovely gardens, and we even got to see the plum trees in bloom.

The race itself was very well organized. I started off running with a couple of ladies introduced by a mutual friend, which helped me keep a steady pace for the first half. Eventually I pulled away, aiming for a quicker pace until the 35km point, where a bemused (as he doesn't quite get the point of running 42km) Matcha-kun awaited with Pocari and chocolate.

Eventually I finished in 5:13:47, and received the Tiffany's necklace (which they give in place of medals) from a adorable tuxedo-suited gentleman, along with a (thankfully!) purple t-shirt, towel, bottle of expensive face lotion and enough drinks and food for three people.

Thank goddess for Matcha-kun, who carried my bags and helped me hobble back to the station! Before leaving we both refueled at Komeda Coffee (a very famous coffee chain in Nagoya), and scarfed down a 'shironoire', a glorious croissant-like pastry topped with ice cream and maple syrup.

I am so proud of myself, as I hoped to finish in 5:30ish, and totally crushed that time. This has really boosted my running confidence, and am now already looking for the next event to sign up for!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Children and the Workplace

My stance on progeny (aka nope!), is pretty well known amongst my friends, but at work I have not discussed it, besides a oblique comment during my interview that quitting work to be a shufu is not one of my life goals.

Also, I know that my direct managers all have or want children. It is a fact that many of those who have kids can get very defensive if someone mentions that they don't want them, and last thing I want to do is antagonize the people I work so closely with. 

Keeping this balance can be very difficult. 
I was at a work dinner, when one of our clients asked: 'What will you do about your vegetarianism when you have kids?'.

I froze. My usual 'uuuhm, nah' is not going to cut it, especially since the gentleman in question is a father. I did my best with 'ohh, I've never thought of it, どうでしょうね' but for some reason they got stuck on it, with me getting progressively uncomfortable. 

Even in my relatively young area of tech, the female = mother monolith is alive and well.

How does one deal with this? I don't want to lie, but the truth is a maaaajor conversation stopper!