October has arrived and with it far more temperate weather as we inch closer to the spectacular leaf-changes of autumn, one of my favourite seasons. Did you know Japan has four seasons? It may not the first time youâ€™ve been asked this and it certainly wonâ€™t be the last! This question, which can at first bemuse the majority of us who come from countries with four of their own seasons, stems from the ingrained sense of Japanese pride in their four seasons. I think it is possibly because a lot of Asian countries simply have wet and dry seasons, but mainly because, in Japan, each of the four has such clearly defined and beautiful features. Westerners may initially scoff at comments about the seasons, thinking they know what autumn leaves are, but just wait until youâ€™ve experienced a full cycle of the extremes of season Japan has to offer; I dare you not to look forward to the unique qualities of each (yes, even the heat of summer). And if by writing about autumn I inadvertently curse us to an Indian summer, my profuse apologies, please take solace in the fact that my British constitution will seriously suffer from any further prolonging of this darn humidity.
So our first month back has whizzed by in a blur of self-introductions, sports festivals (personal highlight: the Junior Red Cross club carrying a heavily bandaged team member on a stretcher instead of a relay baton) and typhoons. Hopefully we have seen the last of the latter and no one lost too much laundry to the winds. Septemberâ€™s two long weekends were delightful, I spent one of mine in Hong Kong; it was a gourmet dining and shopping bonanza. I couldnâ€™t bring myself to write about the food (including the worldâ€™s cheapest Michelin starred restaurant) without salivating all over the keyboard but I can wholeheartedly recommend the city for the next long weekend you have free.
Not only does October bring us cooler temperatures and fun in the form of Halloween, but also the disruption of mid-term exams, bane to some ALTs, joy to others. So whether, like me, youâ€™re stuck at school marking and planning or taking some well-deserved time off, take a break and enjoy what the Hyogo Times has in store for you this monthâ€¦Kylieâ€™s catching us all up on the very topical Australia vs. Japan Whaling case at the ICJ; Cherieâ€™s preparing us for winter weather with a katsudon recipe, and Iâ€™ve been using you lot as justification for getting nostalgic about my summer holidays in Indonesia, plus much more!