Nagoya, JP

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Walking in Osaka.

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Kyoto

was really tiring, but I had a great time. The trip was completely funded by the school, so it was awesome not having to worry about transportation or hotel fees. The bus ride took about 2 and a half hours, not too bad at all, and I slept through most of it. The first thing we did once we arrived was eat a traditional Japanese meal. The food just kept coming out, one dish at a time, but they were small portions, just enough to make you full. Just like everything else here, the amount and variety of food you’re served is so very punctual. 

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The first day we saw three different shrines/temples. They were all beautiful, and very old. One downside of coming from a relatively “new” country (America’s 200 years, in comparison to Japan’s 2,000) is our lack of ancient history. These shrines were very well preserved, and only modified in order to keep them standing. Anyway, I’d go into more detail about some of these temples, but we saw a lot, so I’ll just throw some of the pictures up here that turned out nice.

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Our first day ended with my favorite part of the trip. Sanjusangendo is a Buddhist temple that houses 1,000 life-sized Kannon statues, 1 enormous Kannon, and 28 statues of different dieties. They run along a long, wooden hall, with the deities placed up front, and the golden Kannon statues lined up behind them, row after row. The giant statue appears once you reach the middle of the temple. It’s really interesting to look at the deity statues up close; their eyes are made from crystal, so they look eerily real, and seem to follow you as you walk. 

I can honestly say that Sanjusangendo is one of the most beautiful, breathtaking things I’ve ever seen in my life. That sounds a little dramatic, but looking down that hall for the first time, and seeing hundreds upon hundreds of these figures lined up was completely overwhelming… in a good way. It’s definitely my favorite thing about my trip to Japan so far. And fittingly enough, there are absolutely no pictures allowed inside the temple, so I have nothing to show here other than a few images I stole from Google.

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Sanjusangendo also reaffirmed my draw to religion, despite not actually having one myself. I felt so small and humbled inside the temple, but it wasn’t a bad feeling. It was different than what I sometimes experience inside of Churches, like St. Patrick’s in New York City, for instance. I can only think to describe it as a gratefulness, that something outside of myself, whether it be God or Nature, put me here. And regardless of what it was, I’m so blessed. Worship, to me, can be as small as a feeling of thanks. It’s really disappointing how easy it is to overlook simple gestures like that. Sometimes spectacle is required to evoke those kinds of thoughts.

Anyway, I’m getting off topic. That night I won a stuffed animal out of a claw machine with the help of my friends and the arcade manager, chickened out of going to an onsen because I’m scared of being naked in front of other people, then passed out in my friend’s hotel room and ended up sleeping there instead of in my own.  

DAY TWO. We woke up very early watched Power Rangers, then piled back on the bus. We saw a few more attractions, one of them being Kinkaku-ji, a Zen Buddhist temple built on a lake. It’s three stories, and the second and third levels are covered in solid gold leaf.

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Afterwards we ate lunch in a little shopping district, then attended a Japanese tea ceremony in the same area. Afterwards we headed back to Nagoya.

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Went to my first Matsuri

or Japanese festival last weekend. It was really fun, despite how insanely crowded it got at one point. The food was incredible. Though, isn’t that usually the case? Food sold out of shabby little stands or from vendors is usually the most delicious stuff in the world. There were fireworks at the end of the night, and I was surprised at how long they lasted. Though, they were shot up very slowly, which may have made the show seem longer.

Anyway, here are some pictures.

Me with a melon slushie. Yum!

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Tokyo

was great!

The city is a LOT smaller than I was imagining. Maybe that’s because up until now I had always compared it to Manhattan in my mind, when in reality it’s a lot more like… Portland, I suppose. It’s fairly sized but the buildings are rather small compared to most American cities, and it’s compact rather than spread out. 

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We saw a couple protests while we were there, one I’m not sure the reason for, the other a campaign to save a section of a large park near Shibuya (or at least that’s what I got from it). It was interesting to see the difference between peaceful protests here and in the United States. There were a lot more police in Tokyo.

It started raining around noon the day we were there, and we didn’t have umbrellas. We could’ve bought some at a convenience store, but we opted for hiding in cafe’s and cheese cake shops instead. I had some really great apple tea during one of our drying sessions. 

Harajuku (a weird fashion/shopping district) was easily my favorite part of the trip, even though I only bought one one or two small things.

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Went to a soccer game a couple nights ago!

It was the local team, Nagoya Grampus 8 vs. a Saudi team, Al Ani. Nagoya beat them 4-0!

It was a great game, two goals in each half, the final one scored in last five minutes. There was only about 10 minutes total of silence in the crowd, otherwise we were singing (or trying to sing) the Nagoya team’s various chants. There was a song for each player, as well as several team songs. It was extremely cold out, but we were standing/jumping up and down for nearly the entire game. By the end of the first half we had made a specter of ourselves, being the loudest group of our section in the stands. Whenever the team scored goal, all of the people around us and behind us would run over to give the foreigners high fives. People even wanted pictures with us before we left the stadium. It was really a funny experience.

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Introducing Oisha-san, or “Mr. Doctor”, who’s also come to be known as as Dr. Cat. I won him out of a claw game in a four story arcade. By some miracle, the claw got caught in his jacket and pushed him down into the prize drop. 

Introducing Oisha-san, or “Mr. Doctor”, who’s also come to be known as as Dr. Cat. I won him out of a claw game in a four story arcade. By some miracle, the claw got caught in his jacket and pushed him down into the prize drop. 

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Don’t be afraid to sing!

I went to karaoke for the first time with Jay, Theresa, Mark, Karin, and Tomo yesterday. I was really nervous at first about singing in front of everyone, but by the time I got into the room and realized they had Taylor Swift songs, I was lost. It was REALLY fun! We were in the room for nearly SIX HOURS singing. The club we went to is called “Joy Sound”, and it’s right next to the University. Once you pay for your room, you get free ice cream and soda, as much as you want. There’s all kinds of songs, ranging from Justin Bieber to Disney to classic movie themes. My question is, how has this not migrated to America?! I understand now why it’s so popular here in Japan.

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In the Tucson airport, waiting for my first connection.

I’ll be leaving Tucson and landing in LAX, and after a 5 hour layover will fly out of Los Angeles to Seoul, Korea. After another 4 hours of waiting, I’ll board my last plane to Nagoya, Japan. I’ll be travelling for about 26 hours total.

As far as I know there will be no wireless Internet in the dorm room I will be staying in, but they should have a connection on the main floor. Hopefully that will suffice for keeping in touch with everyone back home.

More later!