This past weekend, my friend I went to Tokyo. We don’t have any classes on Friday so we left that morning and stayed until Monday. Sunday was Showa Day so classes were canceled Monday also.
On Friday, we arrived in Tokyo around noon. We checked our luggage in and ate lunch across the street from the hotel. The hotel we stayed in was called Apa Hotel. It was a five-minute walk from the Kiba Station. It is really easy to get around Tokyo on the Subways!
That night, we went to Ginza to browse around before meeting up with my old friend in Roppongi. Roppongi is really interesting! There were many foreigners in Roppongi- especially Africans who pretend to be American were all over the streets trying to draw customers into hostess clubs. Old businessmen accompanied by young girls seemed to quite common also. I really expected to see a lot of Yakuzas in Roppongi but it seems that many of them now stay Shinjuku for the most part. I did however see a foreigner pimp with a white suit and a cane!
The friend we met up with in Roppongi was an exchange student at my high school in South Carolina. It was really great to see him after so many years!! He and his friend took us to Roppongi Hills for dinner and drinks. It was a really nice restaurant with great food. They even had an assortment of wine, which is rare in Japan. It seems that everywhere I go, it’s either red or white wine. It is highly upsetting to wine lovers! I won’t get started on that though. I did however get to drink Pinot Noir that night thanks to my friend! After dinner, we browsed around Roppongi together and went to another bar. The nightlife in Tokyo is really amazing. Too amazing for some people- we saw a guy throwing up on the street but I hear that is pretty common. We drank and stayed out past the last train so we took a taxi back to the hotel. It was a fun night!
The next day, we were very tired. We went to Shibuya to go shopping but we walked to the opposite direction of the malls and stores so we ended up getting a good exercise instead. By the time we found the shopping area, we looked at a few stores and went back to the hotel to take a nap and get ready for another night out.
That night, we went to the Tokyo Station Marunouchi Building 1 to have dinner with family friends. They treated us to a very nice dinner! One of the servers accidently spilled oolong tea on my friend. They felt so bad that the manager took him shopping at a nearby store to buy him nice new pants and shirt that were quite expensive! I thought it was very funny because this would never happen in America!
After dinner, all of us went back to Roppongi to meet up with my friend from the night before. We went to Roppongi Hills again but this time, we went up to the Mado Lounge where there is a great view of the Tokyo Tower and the surroundings. There, we had a few drinks and parted ways. It was a fun night again and I am so glad I got to meet up with old friends and make new friends!
On Sunday, we went shopping in Harajuku. On the way there, we coincidentally ran into my friend from the same university back home! He is an exchange student in Tokyo and we were planning to meet up later that night. He had some errands to run, so my friend and I carried on to Harajuku. There were so many people there! There isn’t much to say about our experience in Harajuku besides good shopping and too many people.
After Harajuku, we went to Shinjuku to meet up with another foreign exchange student from USC and Kansai. With him there were three other girls from Osaka! We also met up with my friend we saw on the densha on the way to Harajuku and a few of his friends. With 11 people, including me, we went to a nearby Izakaya for dinner and drinks.
[more pictures later…]
After the Izakaya, some of us decided to go to a gay bar nearby! There was a whole area in Shinjuku with gay bars and stores. There was no cover charge to get in to the gay bar but one drink purchase was required at the door. There was an upstairs area where people can stand to look down onto the people on the first level for potential new friends. The gay bar was so much fun! We caught the last train back to the hotel and slept.
The next morning we got packed and checked out of our hotel. When we got to the Tokyo JR Shinkansen station, we looked for gifts to buy our friends and went home. It was a great Tokyo trip and I hope to return again soon!
One again, I’m sorry for not updating my blog recently. Although I have internet now, I have been really busy! ごめんなさい〜！
First of all, I want to talk about my internet situation! I finally caved into buying Wifi. I was being really stubborn to start off because I never pay for Wifi in America. My iPhone works anywhere because of 3G, and Wifi is just about anywhere! The Wifi I am paying for is actually cheaper than the one the school was offering and I found it thanks to a new friend! It works great and I can take it anywhere and use it as long as I have somewhere to plug it in.
As far as classes go, it seems that I have a lot more work to do than I had expected! I underestimated the workload. I am taking seven courses this semester:
-Japanese Writing (4-B)
-Japanese Literature II (the Warrior and the Literary Tradition to 1600)
-Japanese History (the History and Culture of Medieval Japan)
-Japanese Popular Culture (JapaneseTV and “Dorama”)
-Seminar in Japanology II (Geisha: Past, Present, Future)
-Japanese Philosophy and Thoughts (Zen Buddhism)
-Communication in Japanese Society (Communication among Working People B)
It is now the second full week into classes with a lot of class activities to come! I know that the professor for the Seminar in Japanology is taking us to Kyoto to see a Geisha performance. I am looking forward to that very much!
Speaking of Kyoto, a small group of us went to Maruyama Koen in Kyoto to do a Hanami this past Sunday. It was a lot of fun and I even got to see an old friend! The Sakura trees are really beautiful. I am sad to say that Sunday was probably the last Hanami I will get to do this year because the petals have started to fall a lot. Here are some Sakura pictures from Kyoto!
The Kyoto Hanami trip was actually my second Hanami ever! Before that, I went to the Osaka Castle Tuesday night for Yozakura- Night Flower viewing.
Even Kansai Daigaku Senriyama campus is scattered with Sakura trees!
I really love the campus life here! College life here is very active and there are always groups of students hanging out. It seems that college students in America go to school just for class and go home as soon as they get out. That’s exactly what I do! But here, I spend a lot of time on campus. Also, the food on and around campus is so cheap and delicious! I can’t speak for all American colleges but I know that University of South Carolina food is very expensive. So all in all, I am having the time of my life in Japan and wish I was staying for more than a semester.
I say this every single time but I hope to be able to update my blog more often!
Thanks for reading! <3
Sorry it has been a while since I’ve written a blog. I still don’t have my own Internet at the dorm. Hopefully I will figure something out soon!
It has been a very busy week for all of the foreign exchange students. We’ve had some sort orientation every day. I took the Japanese placement test on Thursday and scored better than I thought I would! Too good, I would say. They are telling me that I don’t need to take any Japanese language classes and that I should take regular classes with Japanese students instead. However, I’m not that confident in my Japanese reading and writing so I have decided to take the highest level for literacy among other Japan Studies courses offered to other exchange students. Tonight, there is a welcoming party. I’m really excited for it!
Yesterday, the school arranged for us to have a bus tour to Kyoto. Unfortunately, it was raining so I didn’t take too many pictures. I’ll be making a lot more trips to the beautiful city of Kyoto, I’m sure! The bus tour included a big bag full of snacks and a bottle of water. Beer is usually provided instead of water but not everybody was of age to drink (20). Unlike American bus tours though, I feel like Japanese tours are very rushed. Basically, we will have to do our own exploring another time.
Our Lunch was INCREDIBLE! We ate at a traditional Japanese restaurant called Ganko. It is a very upscale restaurant that we would have not been able to afford on our own!
Imagine this times… 60?
After eating, we went to the Manga museum. They were doing a special Cosplay event while we were there also. Some of us, who aren’t really interested in Manga or Anime, did a quick walk-through.
My favorite part of the day was when we went to make Yatsuhashi. Yatsuhashi is a famous confectionary sweet from Kyoto that has a texture like mocha with red bean paste in the center, shaped in a triangle. We made three different flavors: Original, Chocolate, and Strawberry. Mind came out really good! I was so full from eating all day though, that I gave them to my roommate and one of the other girls from my floor at the dorm!
My roommate, some of the other exchange students from USC, and I went to Umeda last night after we got settled into our dorms. It was a lot of fun going to Umeda for the first time! These are pictures from the ferris wheel on top of a mall in Umeda. Although it rained a little, the view was beautiful. We even had seat warmers in there. Apparently, when couples ride the ferris wheel in Japan, they are either proposing or breaking up. Interesting! Personally, I don’t think I would like to break up in a ferris wheel because it moves so slow. After riding the ferris wheel, we walked around Umeda and went to a small curry restaurant. I can’t wait to go back to Umeda!
Yesterday, I moved into the female dormitory at Kansai! My roommate is great. Her name is Reona and she has been really helpful. I think she may be relieved that I can speak Japanese, even though she is studying English. She helped me up make my bed and unpack as soon as I got here. When we were done with that, I got a tour of the rest of the dorm and she took me to campus, which is about a 15-minute walk. She is also letting me use the wifi that her phone is giving off. Reona even got me a welcome gift!
Female dormitories in Japan are very different from America. First, the students have to bring their own slippers. There is a shoe-locker area at the entrance where we can change into our slippers. We get a key for our lockers but the locks are not even used. There is also a big rack in this area, where all of us leave our umbrellas. It’s nice that I don’t have to worry about my stuff getting stolen!
Another difference is that we have to say a greeting every time we see another person in the dorm. More specifically we have to knock when entering or leaving a room and say, “excuse me” and a greeting such as “good morning” or “goodnight” or even “pardon my leaving ahead.” This is something I have to get used to for sure, but I think I have been doing pretty well so far! Other details on the dormitory will be posted later. Today, I have to attend a dorm orientation and a campus tour. I also need to go shopping for a few things.
My uncle’s hobby is to grow and care for Bonsai trees. He has many young Bonsai trees that have wires coiled around them to train them to become the shapes he desires. There are many techniques in caring for Bonsai trees. It is an art form that dates back to thousands of years! They don’t look their best right now because of the cold weather but come fall, I hear they look really great! My uncle takes very good care of his Bonsai trees as if they were his children.
Tomorrow is the day I move into my dorm! I am nervous and excited at the same time. It will probably take me quite some time to unpack but I have already made plans to meet up with the other foreign exchange students from South Carolina! I can’t wait to explore the area and meet my roommate. My blog will be updated as soon as I get Internet access in my room.
I just have to write another blog on food- short and simple, though. Tonight i had Namatamago-Gohan for dinner! It is literally translated, raw egg rice. Do NOT do this in America! I love eating Namatamago so much that my dad snuck a few eggs to America for me when I was little. That’s love right there!!
As you can see, the yolk is a very beautiful orange! These eggs are high quality and safe to eat raw. After pouring soy sauce onto my egg, I like to mix it before pouring it all over the rice.
Some people like to break the yolk and mix everything together after pouring it onto the rice. Because I love Namatamago so much, I had seconds. This time, I mixed it after.
I don’t know when the next time I can eat this will be since I won’t have a rice cooker or a refrigerator in my dorm room! I am very thankful, Obaachan!
It seems that I have become quite the food blogger. However, starting Monday I will be on my own and eating like a true Japanese college student! I have been taking full advantage of being with my grandparents and father this week, eating delicious and pricey favorites.
My dad and I went to Nagoya today and had HITSUMABUSHI. You may have heard of Unagi-don, which is eel rice bowl. Hitsumabushi is similar. We ate at a very small restaurant underground at Sakae.
When eating Hitsumabushi, you divide the eel and rice into four parts.
The first fourth, you are to eat it as it is. 始めはふつうに食べます。
The second part is eaten with YAKUMI, the ingredients provided on the side such as spiced Daikon radish in our case. Other restaurants may provide wasabi, green onion, red peppers, etc. 二番目は、薬味を足して食べます。
The third fourth is eaten as OCHAZUKE. Ochazuke is when hot tea or dashi is poured onto the rice. 三番目は、お茶づけでたべます。
The fourth part is up to the eater! Although the Ochazuke and Yakumi were good, I chose to eat it plain. The eel was very tasty on it’s own!
Thanks for another delicious meal dad! ごちそうさまでした。
I don’t think you have to be a car lover to appreciate a Skyline! These cars were on display at Sakae, an underground mall in Nagoya.
Today’s lunch was Sushi! My cousin has been working at a Kuru Kuru Sushi restaurant for many years. The last time I came to Okazaki, she was serving and hosting. She has upgraded to sushi chef now! Yumika san is on the left :)
One of my favorite things about Kuru Kuru Sushi restaurants is that they typically have hot water spouts and tea bag varieties set out. I love drinking hot tea- especially Genmaicha, which is a combination of green tea and roasted brown rice.
At a Kuru Kuru Sushi restaurant, you can order food besides the sushi that comes out on the conveyer belt. Today for example, we ordered dark miso soup and chicken custard on the side. Sushi-wise, I ate a lot of tuna- my favorite.
I also had some Yaki-Anago too (grilled sea eel), another favorite!
My dad got some raw oysters.
He also had ikezukuri (still alive) of Aji or Japanese Jack Mackerel. This fish was still moving!
I also got to try soy sauce ice cream! It was really good. I honestly wouldn’t have been able to recognize the taste of soy sauce if I didn’t already know.
After eating, the server counts the amount of plates that were used and determines the price by the colors.
These plates were just between my dad and me.
My grandparents seemed to have eaten a lot more than we did! Thank you for yet another great lunch ojiichan&obaachan! ごちそうさまでした。