Last Night in Japan

We, Nanzan students and Dickinson students, stayed up all night until the first shuttle left at 5am. We watched the last Japan world cup game and tried to bond one last time. The japanese students at the dorm all, even though they had class, wanted to show us one last really good time. This shows how much all of them loved to spend time with us and vice versa. Japan was an experience I will never forget and we all made amazing friends that we will also never forget. We all are going to keep in touch via facebook, but hopefully some of them will come to Dickinson so we can share our experiences and show them around just like they did.

Inari Shrine

The Inari Shrine was another of my favorite places that we visited in Kyoto. It is a shrine, but there is also a pathway up the mountains to various smaller shrines. On the pathway up, you go through thousands of torii (gates). Bates Sensei took a group of us up the 4 km trail to the top of the mountain where we could see a view of Kyoto. Even though it was rainy and exhausting, we still finished the climb. Depictions of foxes can also be seen everywhere throughout the shrine area.

Golden Pavilion

The Golden Pavilion has been one of my favorite spots that we went to in Kyoto. It is an extremely beautiful building built around a really nice lake. If you go extremely close to the building, you can see all of the individual gold leafing. When you walk around the lake too, there are a lot of schools who take field trips to the Golden Pavilion, and I and all of the other students were asked multiple times questions by these students who needed to practice their English for class such as where are you from? and what is your favorite part of Japan? I feel like the golden pavilion is a great place for tourists and for anyone to go see beautiful Japanese structures.

Basho Poems

On one of our trips in Kyoto, we got to create our own Basho-style Haiku poems. The poems deal with change and seasons, so I wrote a poem about seasonal depression. My poem went,

The chill autumn wind
destroys all prospects of warmth
in love and in life

The experience also had an interesting mood due to the heavy rain that day. After we all shared our poems, we went increasingly further into the forest around the place where we read our poems. It was beautiful to see the bamboo forest in the rain and mist. It was extremely powerful. I couldn’t get any good pictures because of the rain, but it wouldn’t have captured the eerie quality anyways.

Japanese Class

Today, some of us attended a Japanese History class in English which was a very interesting experience. It was very much a discussion-based class, much like the seminar and small classes at Dickinson that are heavily based on classroom interactions. We first began by asking the Japanese students questions. One of the interesting responses to the Japanese perception of America, is that Americans seem to think that they are the center of the world as evident by when they are asked the question of “where are you from?” they respond with the name of a state or a city as opposed to the US. I never really thought about it that way, but it is true that Americans do typically answer that way out of habit. Overall the class was learning about World War II in English from an Asian perspective, of which I knew close to nothing about. However, the students were very friendly and actively participated in the discussion, much like in America. I have no photos because I couldn’t take them and they wouldn’t be that interesting, and couldn’t capture the uniqueness of the experience.

Sakae Adventures

On a random Tuesday night, Trang and I decided to explore Sakae on our own to find a good restaurant to eat at and stuff to do. We ended up going to Oasis 21, which is a suspended glass walkway with a kind of small pond/fountain. It is pretty high and there is a wonderful view of the Nagoya TV tower. After we ate at a conveyor-belt sushi place in Sakae, which was actually really good. I was really apprehensive at first, but felt good once they gave us an English menu, because at first, we had no idea what anything was. I tried eel, salmon, yellowtail, tuna, and cucumber rolls. My favorite was surprisingly eel. Below is a picture of both the conveyor belt and some kind of fish roe that Trang ate. Overall, it was an interesting experience.

Vending Machines

One thing that I have found so far is that the amount of vending machines in Japan for drinks far surpasses the amount of vending machines for drinks in the US. It has caused me to spend more than I would normally on drinks as opposed to on food in the US. It is interesting that even in a small pottery town, like Seto that we visited, there seems to be one around every corner. I am not sure why there are so many, but as someone from the US, it is striking to me. The vending machines like this one are found everywhere from subway stations, to small pottery shops, to lots of random streets, to several places around Nanzan University, and the like.

Japanese Food!

So far in Japan, we have had the opportunity to try and experience a wide variety of different foods and restaurants. Our first group meal was a delicious meal with several courses including, one of my favorite Nagoya specialties so far, which was this restaurant’s chicken wings. They were seasoned heavily and had a really nice flavor, but they are very different from American wings. We also had the opportunity to get as many different types of drinks as we wanted, which included all kinds of nice japanese teas.

Another thing that I love so far is that all of the teas sold in vending machines are unsweetened and taste really good. It is extremely convenient to have this because in America it is extremely difficult to find unsweetened iced tea in vending machines and stores.

My favorite meal so far has been our meal in Seto, a pottery town outside of Nagoya. I had fried noodles, which were really good and had the local pickled ginger, fried rice, miso soup, pickled radishes and carrots, and strawberry shaved ice, all of which were delicious and cooked right in front of us.

I am excited to try most of the foods that I still do not know about and am really interested in seeing how the Kyoto specialties compare to the Nagoya specialties.

Introduction

Hello everyone, My name is John Ekas, I however, go by J.K. I am currently a freshman at Dickinson College and I am an International Business and Management Major and am possibly double majoring or minoring in East Asian Studies. I am taking Chinese, so I am really excited to travel to Asia, but am nervous about the language barrier because I know no Japanese. Right now at Dickinson, I am involved in several groups on campus. I am in the Choir, Collegium (another singing group), and Tritons (admissions group). I am also going to be an RA on campus next year. I am extremely excited to come on the Japan Practicum to learn more about Japanese culture and history and to experience the culture.