Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Going Home

Recently I have been thinking about going home a lot. I only have about 2 months left here in Japan and that means that the school I am attending has been making sure we know all the procedures for moving out and making our transition back to our homes as smooth as possible. When I think about going back to the US a lot of emotions run through me. The first thing that I always feel is fear. Fear that I have not seen enough or learned enough while I have been here. I have experienced so much while living in Japan these past months, but sometimes it still feels like I just walked off the plane and am fumbling my way through trying to order a sandwich and count out the right amount of money for the cashier. 

Once I get past the immediate fear, I feel denial. Denial that I will have to go back to where I came from. In these few months my small room in Tsunashima has become my home. After a long day in class or travelling around, my small neighborhood and dorm is a welcome sight. Even if my room is incredibly tiny, I will definitely miss it when I leave. It is hard to believe that in just a few short months I will leave and maybe never see some of the people in the dorm and at school again. The biggest denial is that I won't live by Elena and Siobhan anymore. During my time in Japan I have mentioned these 2 a lot in my blogs. They quickly became my best friends in Japan. We talk about everything together and they always listen to me when I need to talk to someone. They were my lifesavers on more than one occasion and I know that we will be friends forever. One of the hardest things about leaving Japan will be not seeing these girls on a daily basis. Siobhan will be back in the UK and Elena will be in Pennsylvania. Even if I can't see them very often, I know that we will stay connected and visit each other as often as we can. 

The final emotion that goes through me is utter excitement. After thinking about all the things I will be losing, I remember all the things that I will be returning to. I will be back with my family, and a few weeks after that I will be with my friends who I have not seen for about 1 year now. I will be back at my home university, living with one of my best friends in the whole world, Amy. I lived with her last year and I absolutely cannot wait to do it again! Additionally, I am excited for the food. Don't get me wrong, I love Japanese food. However, for about a year and a half before coming to Japan I was a pescetarian off and on (I ate fish and animal products, just not meat). When I came to Japan I gave this up in order to be able to try new foods and not limit my experience. However, after eating meat this whole year, I realize how much I enjoyed the pescetarian diet. Living in the US and being able to cook my own meals is going to be such an exciting part of my life. Finally, I can't wait for my life to continue. Being in Japan I have found it extremely difficult to plan my future life. I do not have the most freedom to research my options or talk to people about what I am thinking about doing after graduation, since I have to do everything over email. It will be fantastic to be able to have face-to-face meetings and really figure out what I am going to do when I graduate next spring. Overall, after the immediate fear and sadness of leaving I realize how much I am gaining. Going back home I will have amazing friends and memories to take with me, but I will also be able to return to a more normal state of life. 

Wow, this turned into a very long post! Thank you if you kept reading through the whole thing!

P.S. the tea of the day is strawberry champagne ^_^

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Golden Week Trip: Kawagoe

The next trip I went on during Golden Week was to Kawagoe. During the Edo period Kawagoe was a main military base for the capital, Edo. Today is has retained many aspects of it's strong traditional history. There are many old style buildings and traditional items you can buy, a perfect place to buy souvenirs!

On our way to the main shopping street in Kawagoe we passed this little street performance

Washing our money. Apparently if you do this your money will double. I really hope it comes true!

Siobhan and I tried to throw hoops onto pegs representing things you wanted out of life. Of course we missed every single time...

Here is a small taste of what Kawagoe looks like. The streets were so full it was really hard to even move, much less take pictures!

After attempting to explore the shopping street and absolutely failing due to the amount of people who were there on holiday we went to explore some temples and a castle. This is one of the little gardens in Kawagoe Castle.

Goofing off by the pagoda ^^

Kawagoe was really fun, but I feel like we missed a lot since there were so many people there. I hope to go again and take some more pictures of the cool buildings and buy more souvenirs!

P.S. the tea of the day is lemon tea ^_^

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Golden Week Trip: Kamakura

Last Saturday I went with some friends to Kamakura during Golden Week. I'm still not actually sure what Golden Week is, but I think it is just a bunch of national holidays (like emperor's birthdays and such) all bunched together in about a 2 week span. All I know is that I got school off, so I was happy! So, my friends and I decided to take some short day trips and get out of Tokyo for a while. Our first trip was to Kamakura! 

When we first got to Kamakura we decided to go check out the beach. I have never been to a beach in Japan, so I was pretty excited. When we got there though, I was a little disappointed. It was a bit chilly, gray, and dirty. Maybe that's just because I spent about a week in Thailand a few months ago and I was expecting white sand and teal water. However, we did find some cool shells and rocks, so the trip wasn't a total waste!

Our next stop was up to 長谷寺 (Hasedera Temple). Hasedera enshrines the eleven-headed Kannon. It houses a huge statue of this androgynous Bodhisattva. Sadly, you aren't allowed to take pictures of the statue, but I can assure you it was really cool!

After Hasedera, we went to see one of the main attractions of Kamakura, the 大仏 (Daibutsu)! The Daibutsu is a giant Buddha statue. It is probably one of the coolest things I have seen in Japan so far. You can actually go inside the statue, but we decided to pass on this trip. Since it was Golden Week all the lines were super long, so we decided that if we really wanted to we could go back to Kamakura another time when it was not so busy and go inside the statue. 

Finally, we decided to go on a little hike. There are a bunch of different hiking trails all around Kamakura so we decided to follow one and go see some of the other temples and shrines along the way. It turned out to actually be a really intense hike which involved a bit of rock climbing and about one million stairs. We had so much fun though, walking through the woods, humming the Game of Thrones theme song, and just generally annoying all the Japanese people trying to get away from the noise of the city. 

After our hike we made our way back home, completely exhausted from the exciting day. I definitely want to go back to Kamakura some time to see some of the other sites it has to offer. If anyone is in Japan/coming to Japan in the future, I would definitely recommend Kamakura as place to go!

P.S. the tea of the day is apple tea ^_^