Day 20: The Final Projects プロジェクト

June 8, 2018, Friday
2018年6月8日 金曜日

Today was the final, final day of classes, and all of our groups presented our final presentations. We had to make half-hour interactive presentations on a topic in Japanese culture.

The first one was about Shinto mythology, and I learned stories about Amaterasu (the sun goddess) and her relatives. Honestly I didn’t retain a lot because there is so much lore that we don’t know about, but it was interesting nonetheless.

The second presentation was about Japanese architecture, modern and traditional, and I loved watching the video about how Japanese people who live in small homes creatively use their space.

Thirdly, we learned about Geishas, which I really didn’t know anything about before. For some reason I had thought maybe they were people who just lived a certain lifestyle, but actually they are performers and being a Geisha is just their job. I could never do it, but they are really gorgeous and some of them genuinely love what they’re doing, so that’s awesome!

Geisha = beauty

The fourth presentation was about haikus, and we all got to write our own haiku. Something that that I didn’t know was that they always have to relate to nature. The one I wrote was:

I came here in May
I’m sad that I could not see
The sakura trees

Finally came our presentation about Japanese New Year’s and all the traditions involved. My favorite thing to talk about was hatsumode, or the first temple visit of the year, because there are a lot of interesting activities going on, like the ringing of the bells, or the release of balloons at Zojoji temple. I would definitely love to be here on New Year’s Day one day!

At the end of the day we went to our last Buddy Meeting and got to watch a demonstration of kimono wearing, and I got to try on a yukata myself.

Finale with the crew

And that’s the end. This weekend I will go to Tokyo Disney, and then I will go home.

What a journey. I don’t even have the words. I’m just glad I got to be here. Thank you for following me for this past month.



Day 19: Last Lecture 最後の授業

June 7, 2018, Thursday
2018年6月7日 木曜日

Today was our last class of the program. We talked about things that Japan has exported into the world (management styles, technology, food, anime, etc. etc.). And also things that Japan has taken from the world. What I found most interesting is that the things that Japan has borrowed from outside, they have put their own spin on it and made it really unique (and sometimes even better). Take anime for example. A lot of the most famous and influential anime were influenced by the works of Walt Disney, and anime filmmakers like Miyazaki Hayao then in turn influenced American animators. Not only that, but anime has recently been growing in popularity in other countries and is known for its unique style of story-telling and art.

Tezuka Osamu was influenced by Disney, and some people have compared Kimba the White Lion to the later-released The Lion King – from Disney!

We also reflected on our experiences on this trip so far and what we have taken away from Japan. For me, the main thing I have learned is how to appreciate everything. Possibly because of the influence of Shinto, I think, Japanese people really appreciate every little thing in life and treat it with respect. Maybe that’s why they’re ahead of us in things like recycling. I have found a new appreciation for life thanks to what I have learned here.

I appreciated my lunch today

Tomorrow I will present my final project with my partner. One more day!


Day 18: Ghibli Museum ジブリ美術館

June 6, 2018, Wednesday
2018年6月6日 水曜日

Today we went to a place that many of us were really looking forward to: the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka. This is a small museum but it has enough in it that a big Studio Ghibli fan could probably spend a while inside. If you don’t know what Studio Ghibli is, it’s basically the biggest animation studio in Japan, and they have released a lot of incredible classic films like My Neighbor Totoro, and Spirited Away. My first anime film was The Secret World of Arrietty, so that one has remained a personal favorite of mine. A lot of these films have been exported to the U.S. through Disney, and I think there are definitely some similarities between Disney and Ghibli films, but Ghibli also has its own distinct, unique style of storytelling and art.

I aspire to be as cute as Arrietty

The first thing we did was watch an adorable short film called Kemushi no Boro (“Boro the Caterpillar”). After that we were able to just look around. Probably my favorite thing in the museum was the big 3D zoetrope downstairs, but unfortunately cameras were not allowed inside so I could not take a video. I love how it shows the process of animation so clearly, and honestly I could watch it for a while! They also had a lot of concept art and storyboard throughout the museum. There was one exhibit that I think was supposed to be Miyazaki’s office, and on the shelf was a Toy Story bottle signed by John Lasseter. If you don’t already know, I am a huge Pixar fan so of course I was excited by this, and it’s great to see how the legendary figures in animation (from Walt Disney himself and onward) have influenced each other.

The still zoetrope (at least Google has my back)

Even though I couldn’t take pictures inside, we were still required to create a photo diary, so here’s what I came up with:

Two more blogs left! See you tomorrow.


Day 17: Tea Ceremony 茶道

June 5, 2018, Tuesday
2018年6月5日 火曜日


Today we are finally back at the university and are resuming our normal schedule. We spent the first half of the day traveling back (navigating the trains with a wide suitcase is a pain by the way), and the second half we had a lecture. Our lecture was about leisure activities, and in particular we talked about Japanese TV, cinema, and music. The music part was, of course, my favorite, and I was really into all of what we listened to in the class. My professor mentioned later that she saw me enjoying it and commented that it must be my “passion”. This was really interesting because I’ve always kind of considered listening to Japanese music as my biggest hobby, but I thought it was too minor to really be worth of “passion”. But actually I am passionate about it and want more people to know about it, and maybe that’s not a bad thing!

Below is one song we listened to that I had forgotten how good it is!

Following our lecture we had a class in another part of campus where we learned Japanese tea ceremony, or chadou. Even though I was initially excited for this, it was actually kind of uncomfortable for me knowing that I was being watched the whole time. There’s a lot of small things that you have to do, such as how you hold the cup, and I didn’t want to be rude, but the instructor seemed pretty patient so I guess it was okay. I still enjoyed learning! At first we were the guests, eating sweets and drinking the thin tea (green tea, of course), and  after that we got to be the “host” and make the tea ourselves. It’s actually harder than it looks because you have to try to make it foam at the top with a whisk and mine didn’t actually foam that much. Overall it was fun, though, and the sweets were really good!

Tea ceremony utensils

That’s all for the day. Tomorrow is Ghibli museum!


Day 16: Akihabara 秋葉原

June 4, 2018, Monday
2018年6月4日 月曜日

Good evening! Today, Monday, I didn’t do very much, so instead I’m going to tell you about my amazing trip to Akihabara this weekend!

We left around lunch time, me and two other girls, a nice small group that can move around easily. As I said before, it is only two stops away by train so it was a quick little ride and we were there! As soon as you get there you can just tell you are in Akihabara, it is so lively and full of character (and it’s a nerd town so there’s like actual posters of anime characters everywhere).

The very first thing we had to do, and one of the things on my Japan To Do List™, was to go to a maid cafe. Some people may find these places a little weird but I honestly love being surrounded by cute happy people and things. We actually got lucky because after we got there one of the maids got on the little stage and started singing a way-too-cute song and everybody was waving pen lights and I was thinking “This is it guys, I’m moving to Japan to become a cafe maid so I can be this cute.” This kind of thing just doesn’t exist in the U.S. (well, occasionally at conventions, but it’s not the same), so it was definitely a unique experience!

Cat pose while wearing a cat shirt and cat ears because cats

After the cafe we walked around and did a little shopping. I insisted we stop by the AKB48 theater so I could just take a look at it, but I still found myself being a little sad that I couldn’t see a show even though they are not on my list of favorite groups. That is one thing I will not get to cross of my Japan To Do List™ this time: going to an idol concert. I guess that just means I will have to come back!

But I did cross off a very important item after that: going to a cat cafe! Honestly our twenty minutes there went by way to fast, and I was hoping more kitties would come up to me to let me pet them, but I can relate to their desire to just be left alone and to take a nap.

This kitty let me pet him while he slept and I was so happy

I also went to the Book Off store there and I held myself back from purchasing too much, but I kind of got lost in all the CDs they had! I should mention that I found in old record store in Suidobashi as well. I think when I come back I’m going to make record store hunting my hobby, because I really just love digging through the shelves looking for gems that I simply cannot get back home (unless I buy online and pay ridiculous shipping fees of course).

And we also stopped by the Hello Project store, which mainly sells pictures but they also had a display of some of Morning Musume’s and Angerme’s costumes and I could not even.

Morning Musume is my current favorite J-pop group, if you didn’t know

This might have been the best day that I’ve had in Japan so far! I feel so accomplished now that I actually sort of feel ready to get back home, but I still have some time. Check out my photo diary below (I chose this song because it was playing when we were at the cotton candy shop and I geeked out again):


Day 15: YMCAに行きます!

June 1, 2018, Friday

Is it possible to go to the YMCA without singing this song, or…?

So today we had to check out of our dorm temporarily and move to the YMCA in Tokyo. I still have my own room here, which is small, but I also have a TV which is cool. The best thing, however, is how close it is to everything. You can get here from a train station (Suidobashi) that lies in the middle of a loop around Tokyo. For example, we’re only two stops away from Akihabara, which is where we are planning to go tomorrow! I’m so excited!

It doesn’t get more convenient than this

After we got here we did a little looking around town and found a lot of anime merchandise shops, and there’s also a little theme park (which I did not go to because money). The Tokyo Dome is near by, which I am very familiar with because I know that’s one of the biggest (if not the biggest?) venues for concerts in Japan. In fact, Amuro Namie, a very popular singer since the 90s, is going to be here this weekend performing as part of her final tour. If only I could go see it…

She’s so pretty y’all

I also went out and had dinner and nice conversation with a friend of mine from our group. I’m very happy I’m getting to know these people. Even though we’ve been together for a while, I still love each and every one of them for different reasons. It’s cool to see different individuals come together for a similar interest and just have an adventure!

I’ll tell you all about my weekend adventures on Monday!


Day 14: Toshiba 東芝

May 31, 2018, Thursday
2018年5月31日 木曜日

Today we went to the Toshiba Science Museum in Kawasaki (Kanagawa prefecture). Apparently admission to the museum is actually free, but we had a reservation so that we could have a tour guide who spoke in English. There is a good amount of English translation in this museum so I think anyone could enjoy it. The museum shows the transition of technology in the last century and it was very interesting to see how far we have come in this time. It seems to me that Japan has been right alongside the U.S. in terms of technology.

The museum

Aside from the artifacts, there were also some activities and games that could be played. There were a lot of little kids here, but honestly I had fun anyway. My favorite was a motion capture game where you have to keep drones away from the technology by hitting them with mallets (it’s as funny as it sounds), and another where you program elevators to pick up the customers in time (it’s harder than it sounds).

The happy group

I have more pictures from the museum here if you want to check it out!

Honestly I have not been feeling well the last few days (low energy and mood), but I know it will get better. We don’t have much longer in this country and I want to enjoy every moment.