Friday, July 1, 2011

Finally at the end.

Before I talk about the farewell party, let's recap some events that happened before. One weekend, I went to Tokyo with Claire. We explored Harajuku, Shibuya and Akihabara. I was disappointed that I was disappointed with Akihabara. I always thought it'd be this cool amazing place with tons of cosplay. But apparently its really is just a male otaku's paradise. One I'm not really interested in. On the bright side, I bought tons of clothes from Harajuku. The following Tuesday, the class went to Tokyo for a day trip. :) I explored so many places: Akihabara, Ueno, Asakusa, Shin-Okubo, Shinjuku, Harajuku, Shibuya and Shinagawa. By the end of that day, my feet were so tired. Shin Okubo was pretty interested considering how big the Hallyu wave is in Japan. Every street had Korean celebrities merchandise shops. Claire went crazy looking for Big Bang merchandise.

Anthony, Adrian, Claire and I near Tokyo Sky Tree

Don Quijote building: AKB48 Theater is on the top floor

View of Shinjuku

At Shin-Okubo, Tokyo's Koreatown

Hachiko, we meet again (for the third time this month)
Nagase sensei returned on Wednesday, and came with us and the TAs to izakaya. There was karaoke inside the room. As if 3 hours karaoke prior wasn't enough. Coming to Japan, I've become with two things: karaoke and purikura. Both of which is available in the U.S, but not as fun. Thursday, we took a walk around Kakitagawa River, which was beautiful. The water from Mt. Fuji is delicious! After, we were given shopping time at Sun to Moon, where I bought more clothes :)
I stayed behind at Sun to Moon because my host family and I were going to watch a movie there. It was called Hoshi Mamoru Inu. A movie similar to Hachiko and just as sad. I cried buckets of tears! Good thing there was no one else in the theater.

Onto today, the final day of classes at Nichidai. Class in the morning was the same as usual, except we completely skipped the second half of the class and used it to take pictures with the TAs. I also met a new TA who was a Hong Konger just like me! I was so surprised when she started talking to me in cantonese! and her Japanese is so fluent too. -jealous- For lunch, the TAs, senseis and the class went to Cats Cafe and challenged the huge bucket of parfait. and I'm proud to say we finished it!
It doesn't look like much :P

Let's Dig in!

Holding the empty bucket! success!
After we took tons of purikura in the game center upstairs. It was fun to try and fit like 10 people in one picture.
Everyone returned home to change and prepare for the farewell party. At the party, it was nonstop picture taking, I was so exhausted by the end. At the end, we were told to say a few words of thanks to our host family. I didn't expect to cry, but seeing others start tearing up made me tear it. I'm really going to miss Mishima. I've grown somewhat attached to this place. Also I can't thank my host family: Nishigami-san, enough! They've taken such great care of me and taught me so much. I'm also going to miss all the TAs and friends I met at Nichidai, they're always complimenting me on my Japanese, but their English is more impressive.


I will definitely be back to visit!

P.S Please watch the video blogs another member of the Mishima group made while he was in Japan.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Kyoto Trip

This past weekend, the group went on a 3 day 2 night trip to Kyoto/Nara. We took the Shinkansen from Mishima to Kyoto which took about 2 hours and 45 minutes. It was a rather long train ride, so I just slept most of the way. Once we arrived in Kyoto, it was off the Karasuma Kyoto Hotel to drop off our luggage. I was in heaven when I saw a Starbucks right next to the hotel :) Little did I know how expensive Japanese Starbucks was compared to American Starbucks. We were allowed free time, but in the end Takahashi-sensei went with the whole group to the 1000 Tori Gates. We didn't have the time to count, but I'm pretty sure there's more than 1000.
Start of the 1000 Tori gates path
After we found a place that was famous for their unagi (eel) and start down to eat lunch. I got an unagi don which was delicious :) After lunch, we were given free time, but in the end sensei ended up coming with the whole group to Toei Movie Land. We got lost at first but eventually we found our way there after asking numerous residents who all gave different directions.
Toei Movie Land looks like a scene from the Edo period. Staff are dressed in kimonos and samurai outfits. There was even a Ninja Theater Show.

Toei Movie Land also had a cartoon museum, where I found life size models of all the Power Rangers series. Even a display of all the red rangers lined up.

After we returned to Kyoto Station, we were free to roam around. The group being only 9 members stuck together and all went to eat yakitori, which was pretty expensive. After we roamed to try to find Kamo River. Success after taking the railway two stops from Kyoto Station.
Kyoto Tower right in front of Kyoto Station

After all the walking, we were exhausted and decided to go back to the hotel, where I got some midnight snack at Starbucks and chilled in the room with Claire.

Second Day:
The second day was to Nara. We took the train to Nara and visited Kofukuji, a 5 tier tower. Unfortunately it was raining that day, so visibility in my pictures isn't the best.
Right next door was Nara Park, home to many shika (deers), all hungry for your food. Having gone to Nara Park once before, I had the same fear I had the first time. So I was hesitant to feed any.

we saw baby deers too!

I summoned up the courage to feed one

Senbei, the cracker Nara deers love
We had lunch nearby a souvenir shopping street and I got oyakodon which I am kind of obsessed with right now. I had it 2 times in the past three days already.
After lunch, we visited Kasugataisha and Todaiji.
Inside there is a huge Buddha, I can't even explain the size of that Buddha. Just that my head hurts from looking up at it.

Many of us did souvineir shopping and returned back to Kyoto. It was free time again, so three classmates and I went to eat and shop around Kyoto Station.

very good deal for this set of delicious food
After dinner, we roamed around Kamo River again, and this time walked to the other end and found many Japanese people just standing around and drinking.
Third day:
The last day we had a bus tour which started at 8am. The tour guide amused me because he carried around a pole with a fish flag attached to it. The first stop on the tour was Nishihonganji.

It was the largest wooden Buddhist temple in the world. Inside we saw apprentice monks praying.
Next we went to Nijojo, a flatland castle which didn't permit pictures or video inside. But basically it used to be home to a shogun. Inside we saw displays of the rooms in the shogun's home. The floors of the castle was specifically constructed so that when someone walks on it, the sounds of the nightingale creak. This was used for security purposes.

Finally we arrived at Kinkakuji. The original Kinkakuji was apparently burned down by a monk for unknown reasons. This newly built one isn't as ancient, but still magnificent to look out.
After a lunch buffet at the Kyoto Handicrafts store, where I bought a kimono I plan to wear to the farewell party, we got on another bus to head for the afternoon tour.
The first stop was Heianjingu, having one of the largest Tori gate.

After we went to Sanjusangendo, Buddhist temple with thousand kanon statues inside. It is said that if you find your face among the kanon statues, then you will go to heaven.

The last place of the tour was Kiyomizudera, another Buddhist temple in Kyoto. Before you reach Kiyomizudera, which is on the top of the hill, there are a bunch of souvenir shops down below, which I couldn't resist. I also got a delicious crepe at the crepe shop


We returned to Karasuma Kyoto Hotel to retrieve our luggage and heading to Kyoto Station, where we grabbed dinner before taking the Shinkansen back to Mishima.
The group got back to Mishima around 10:45, my whole host family was there to pick me up, which surprised me since my host brother usually sleeps by 9.
Luckily, sensei was nice enough to post pone class the next day to 10:00am, than the usual 8:30am.
This marks the halfway point of this study abroad program and I'm already dreading going back home. I love it here too much!