We’re coming to our last week here in Japan and feeling of sadness is coming over me. Overall the trip has been amazing. Before the trip, I was a little worried, because I knew absolutely no one that was going, granted I’ve seen most of them around on campus, but I wasn’t friends with any of them. Luckily we have all gotten along well for the most part and we’ve had a lot of fun together. I’ve enjoyed our class time and our field trips. Class has allowed me to explore a period of Japanese history which I was completely ignorant about and our field trips not only supplemented our class discussions, but it has allowed me visit shrines and temples that I would not see otherwise. Another concern of mine coming into the trip was having a Japanese roomate. I’ve completed my 1st year of Japanese, so I know the basics, but I was worried that the language barrier and cultural barrier would create an insurmountable barrier so we could not forge some type of relationship. Luckily my roomate  speaks  English and he’s extremely nice. If there was one thing I could change about the program, it would be the length. I feel that 1 month just isn’t enough time to get acclimated to the country and culture, and it makes the sensei’s crunch everything into a small time frame. I would have liked to spend 1month in Nagoya and 1month in Kyoto. That way we would have had adequate time to visit the majority of shrines and temples in Kyoto, while @ the same time spend enough time @ Nanzan with our roomates.

Back from our 5day trip to Kyoto and I thought I would share my thoughts on the trip and Kyoto as a whole. The day before leaving for Kyoto, I did a little research on the city. I found out that it was the third largest city in Japan, behind Hiroshima and Tokyo. Our teacher informed us that it was the cultural capital of Japan. So going into the trip I thought that it was going to be like Nagoya where it is not touristy, simple transportation and not too modern. Well, I was amazed by all the tourists I saw during my time there. In one day I heard, Dutch, French, English, Spanish and Portuguese. The presence of so many tourists made me not enjoy Kyoto as much. Transportation killed me financially, coming from Nagoya where you can by a $20 train card and go almost everywhere with that card to Kyoto where apparently train cards are extinct so everywhere we went we had to pay. It wasn’t efficient and it made transportation harder than it needed to be. The inn that we stayed at was nice, when our sensei’s mentioned that we’ll be staying at a “traditional” inn, I had nightmares of uncomfortable beds and more bean pillows. Fortunately the Inn had no bean pillows and the beds were extremely comfortable, it also had a western toilet which I was extremely happy about. During the trip we visited many shrines and temples, but my two favorite destinations were the Golden Pavilion and the Zen garden. Unfortunately the weather was not on our side for the Golden Pavilion, but it was beautiful anyway.

PS: Some people on the trip were able to get pictures of Geisha’s, but when I went to the Geisha district the only one that I saw covered her face with her umbrella and walked the other way. I was little disappointed in my lack of Geisha sightings. :(

A couple of days ago when we were in Sakae, one of our sensei’s mentioned that there was a futsal court in the area. Upon hearing this my eyes lit up, because I’m an avid soccer fan and after watching the joga bonito videos, I’ve always wanted to play futsal. (FYI: Futsal is a sport similar to soccer. Originated in Brazil, main difference is that the ball is smaller, the goals are smaller and its played on a hard court.) Armed with this information, I convince a member of the group to come with me. I had a general sense of where the court was, but we needed concrete directions. So we go to the information desk @ Sakae station. When I ask the lady where the futsal court was, she stared @ me like I was crazy, Forshadowing the overall theme of our adventure. She asked me if i mean foot soccer, I proceed to describe futsal to her and she then tells us that yes there is a court and we have to take exit 4 out of the station, make a left and we’ll run into it…. After walking what seemed like an hour, we ask a lady waiting @ the corner of the street. We show her the map and the name of the park area. She proceeds to turn the map upside down and gives us directions, I inform her that she has the map upside down, so she turns it rightside up and gives us the directions again. After she left, we were not sure how trustworthy those directions were, so we ask a guy on a scooter, who backs up her directions…… so what felt like an hour again and we weren’t sure if we were ever going to find this court. On the map it said that the river rand under the expressway where the court was located, so after finding the river we followed it to the expressway. When we saw whats under the expressway, we knew the court was not going to be dream paradise that I envisioned it to be, filled with Brazilians who were going to school me in the ways of futsal. Under the expressway, there was what i assumed to be a homeless village, because there were shabby tents and Suntory water bottles everywhere and homeless men were sitting by the tents. The court wasn’t a paradise, in fact it looked like it hadn’t been used in years and was quite shabby. Needless to say my futsal dreams in Japan are over, same with my soccer dreams, because A) it takes years to find a soccer ball. B) I cant get a game of soccer to save my life C) Japanese soccer jerseys are way way overpriced. I guess I’ll play baseball while I’m over here.

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