A new post finally. :D
I'm surprised to see so many plants and fruit-bearing trees that have been fairing extraordinarily well so far this winter in the Mie area, and perhaps throughout Japan. In our neighborhood area, people have orange trees, pomegranate trees, and other types of small citrus trees in their yards. Most of the pomegranate trees have already stopped bearing fruit, and are bare. On my way to the "Wonder Goo" electronics store the other day, I road past the HUGE home supply store called "Super Viva Home" which has a outdoor supply of plants in the front of the store. All of the flowers were not dying and turning brown, when I would think for sure, that these delicate flowers couldn't possibly survive the cold blustery winds and low temperatures at night.
These two stores are located at a new shopping center which is still being finished, with new stores. It is located about 5 minutes behind our apartment building. The Super Viva Home store is a gargantuan building, with an all black exterior, with its name plastered on either end of it. The shopping center is located at the edge of a road, and on the other side of that road, is a huge expanse of rice fields, beautiful woods, a very old graveyard, one barely paved road running through it, and beyond the woods, on top of the hill and beyond it, is the area's very large, park. When you're in the park actually, there is a spot on the top of the hill where you can look down to the whole neighborhood, and now, the new shopping center. I swear, you can see the words "SUPER VIVA HOME" from there, which is pretty far away. It's kind of a shame that that shopping center was built right next to such a pretty area of land, untouched by commercialism. But I do understand the Japanese's need for building new things wherever they can find a spot, since they are so crunched for space as it is.
Meanwhile, at the large "Bell City" mall across town in the opposite direction, you can see a bit of nature (the far-off mountains) within a huge area of paved streets, stores, pachinko parlors, and parking lots. Recently I took a picture, from the parking garage of the main mall, of the second, smaller shopping center behind the mall's back parking lot. The two areas are separated only by a small two-lane road. If you are high enough to see the mountains, they are a pretty cool sight.
There is a large bathhouse in the smaller shopping center, and the promotional pictures outside of the place looks so inviting and interesting to visit. Even though I have a shower at home, I always had the goal of going to an onsen and/or bathhouse in Japan, if and when I came here. I still want to try it out (the prices aren't that bad at all) but I would never go by myself, to sit in hot water with other strange Japanese women, who are probably staring at me, the only American girl in the bathhouse with them. It's a dilemma.