Sun 29 Jun 2008
Having spent a month here, I am glad I fulfilled my dream of seeing Japan, studying and absorbing its history and culture, and getting to know some of the people and seeing how they interact. As an E.A.S major, I knew that I would be interested in just about everything here, but I wasn’t prepared for just how fascinating Japan really is. I am still intrigued by their mix of their native culture and values and Western ethics and methods, especially in terms of business (you can’t walk anywhere without seeing a mob of people dressed in really expensive-looking, nice suits). The public transportation system here is excellent, clean and fast, and really made enjoying city life in Nagoya very easy. Nagoya itself is a great city, and the perfect place for Dickinson to have a program in, as it is near tons of cultural centers, near the Nanzan University, where we can interact with the students (even if our Japanese is virtually non-existent, though I have learned some here and there).
I am staying an extra 5 days with my dad, who is arriving tomorrow, so we can see more. I have always wanted to see Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Hakata Bay, and with the rail passes we have got for our stay, we can travel the Shinkansen Train as much as we want for free! Hakata Bay is a special point of interest for me. Anyone who knows me that I like military history, and Hakata Bay saw two massive Mongol invasions of Japan in the late 1200’s – almost 150,000 people, 600+ years before D-day. It is near the city of Fukuoka, in Kyushu. Surprisingly, there really isnt much in the way of tourist sights for this, especially since this event really helped preserved Japanese culture from being swallowed up a foreign power and was a shining example of Samurai skill. I still have to see it – I’ve bugged Bates Sensei with so many questions about it that I don’t care if it’s just a beach. Historical sites are what you take with you.
Anyways, anyone thinking about coming to Japan – do it. It’s well worth the long plane ride, and you’ll see a truly unique culture that is thriving with historical and contemporary aspects. Things aren’t too expensive (with the exception of Cab rides, which really can burn holes in your wallet) if you know how to be somewhat frugal. Japan does have great food, even if it took me a while to get used it. So come to Japan! You’ll like what you see.