Week 4

This was our last week in Japan, but I still found time to do fun things. I visited Kanayama, and I was able to get a western style burger, which I had not had in some time. I also visited Osu Kannon one last time, which was nice. The highlights of the week were visiting Nagoya castle and seeinf Meiji Mura. Nagoya castle, and the artistry on display was quite impressive, especially considering it had only fully opened to the public about a week prior. Meiji Mura was also fantastic, and it was great to be able to see all those buildings from all those time periods. In particular, I really enjoyed seeing the lobby of the Frank Lloyd Wright Imperial Hotel.

 

Studying abroad in Japan this summer was a great experience. I look forward to going back after having studied further into the language and culture so I can appreciate the experience all the more. 

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Week 3

This week was extremely eventful. Ot started out on Sunday with a trip that I took to Nagashima Spa Land. Riding the rollar coasters and relaxing in the Onsen was a lot of fun, and it was pretty satisfying to be able to find my way over there all by myself. But the Atsuta Matsuri was also quite memorable. I had so many different kinds of food, and the martial arts demonstrations and floats they were carrying around were realoy cool to see. Of course, this was also the week we spent in Kyoto. I really enjoyed walking around the area of the Nishiki Market and all the famous temples we saw. On Saturday, I was also able to take the recommendation of a friend of mine, and I went to visit a Ninja Dojo, which was super cool.

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Week 2

This week had some of my favorite memories of the entire trip. On Sunday, I spent the entire day explering the Osu Kannon shopping district. I really apreciated being able to explore the area at my own space. I saw a couple people in really cool cosplay, and I was able to find quite a few stores focusing of manga and video games, which was pretty fun. I also really appreciated the time that we spent with Japanese students this week, especially the english class. I got a few Line contacts, and I hope I can keep in touch. Of course, I also had a great experience on the hike from Magome to Tsumago. The towns themselves were really fascinating to get to see, but being in the mountains was great to. 

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Last Week

Even though I spent a lot of my last week in Japan working on my paper and presentation, I still had such a memorable time. After the Kyoto trip, we headed back and started working on our papers. While I was nervous that it would keep me inside, I was able to go out to the local cafes to work on my paper. I had been to the red one at the end of the street several times, so the two kind women who owned it immediately recognized me. I got a yummy apple cake and some tea and ended up finishing the second rough draft of the paper in several hours.

I had some packing to do and was too exhausted to head to the Fushimi castle on the Friday, but the highlight of my week was definitely Mejimura. My group and I got the chance to visit lots of the buildings, and it was extremely interesting to see the mix of time periods as well as architecture. We would go into an old teahouse and then turn around and there would be a cathedral that looked like it was out of Europe. The grounds were massive and we almost ran out of time after going through only one area, but I felt that it was an amazing way to wrap up the trip.

Our last night, we went out to a karaoke bar for my birthday. It was so much fun and we ended up having a night of fun songs to sing, drinks and food. I’m so grateful for all the friends I’ve made on this trip and can’t wait to see them back at Dickinson.

Overall, it has been such an great and interesting experience. While I have been to Asia before, Japan reminded me that every country is so unique in itself even if people tend to generalize about areas in particular. I’ve never experienced a culture that is rooted in so much respect and spirituality, and I definitely appreciated the temples, shrines and gardens in the perspective of mental health. I can’t wait for my next opportunity to be able to visit Japan and thank you to all my fellow classmates and above all, Professor Bates, for sharing this experiences and helping me through!!!

 

 

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week 4

This past month in Japan flew by and has truly been an amazing experience for me. Before the trip started, I was a little intimidated to live by myself in an unfamiliar culture and society so far away from home for a month. However, Professor Bates was really encouraging by having us travel to different places in Nagoya and Kyoto and try new things. By the end of the trip, I definitely found myself much more familiar and comfortable around Japan.

While our final week in Nagoya was a little shorter than usual, it was still filled with fun afternoon trips and activities. To start, our group went to visit Nagoya Castle, which had just re-opened a week earlier. Inside, I was blown away by the elegant woodwork carvings as well as the paintings. Below, I added two pictures that I found to be very beautiful.
The rest of the week was primarily focused on finishing the final paper and presentation, in which I chose to talk about the history and promotion of pleasure quarters throughout the Tokugawa and Meiji period.

As I reflect on my time and Japan, I think one of the biggest things I learned from Professor Bates was how to break down stereotypes. For example, we talked about how there are many interpretations of what a Geisha performer actually is, and how the American image of a samurai is not necessary correctly. I look forward to bringing this new knowledge and way of thinking back to the U.S and hopefully influence other people to think similarly.

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Final Week

These four weeks have flown by and I do not know where the time went, especially this last week. I was very worried about the paper and presentation timeline at the beginning of this past week, since the group had just come back from Kyoto very tired. It was a huge help to have a free day on Monday, which I used to write out a solid outline for the paper. A more exciting thing that happened this past week was going to Nagoya Castle. I could not believe the palace had just been finished eight days prior to visiting! The place was amazing, and the wood smell was intoxicating. I could not get over how clean and white the palace was, and the ceilings in the back rooms were breathtaking. The artists did a phenomenal job recreating all the wall and ceiling art. The bird carvings were outstanding, and the colors were so vibrant. Though the palace is not a historical building anymore due to the bombings, the reconstruction provides a unique glimpse as to what these buildings would have looked like new. I very much enjoyed the new clean aesthetic and charm of the palace, and would definitely go back to see the castle once it’s done.

The Meijimura museum on Friday was also quite the treat! I had no idea how vast the grounds were and how long it would take me to get through the amount of buildings I saw. The Franklyn Lloyd Wright hotel is incredibly detailed and plays with one’s imaginations of the glamorous early 1900s. I would have loved to have stayed there and had tea in the tea room, had I had the time. The photo studio house was definitely my favorite though, with its cute small rooms and amazing photo set on the second floor. Ken, Zayn, and I got the funniest photo in that staged area! In addition, the red exterior of the house was so charming, and cute.

Despite the great photo from the Meijimura Museum, the funniest part of this week was the karaoke night a few people and I had on Friday. I didn’t know what to expect, but the room we had and the songs we sung were hilarious. The room was very small, and we had some struggles at the beginning with the TV. However, the group’s biggest relief was there was English songs. We were very worried about that, and it would have been a very different night had half the group had to try singing in Japanese. Only Ken and Julie might have been able to survive that kind of karaoke. We had two hours, and man did that fly by.

It is hard to believe my experience in Japan this summer has come to an end. I was so pleasantly surprised by the friends I made, and the new material I learned. I would go back to Japan in a heartbeat, for I know there is so much more I could see and learn. I am so glad I went on this program, and can’t wait to see people from this trip back on campus this fall!

  

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Week 4 Blogpost

I can’t believe that it’s already over. Given that i’m still in Japan, it still feels as if the program hasn’t ended, but it simply isn’t the same being in japan without the incredible people and learning I’ve done this trip. I’ve gained so much from my interactions with some of the most wonderful people I’ve met at Dickinson, and I’m so glad to a part of a summer program as amazing as this one. Although I miss my fellow classmates, I know that this program couldn’t have been as powerful as it was, if it were not for our passionate instructor, Professor Alex Bates. His constant effort to make sure we were comfortable and educated on the trips and places we visited made this program 100% more rewarding in every way. I’m thankful to have this experience, and I wouldn’t have done it with any other group of individuals at Dickinson because I know that any change in our class would have made my experience drastically different than how it was.

As I head to New Zealand in less than 10 days, I am so honored to have spent the short Summer I had, in Japan. This country truly is a beauiful place, and I’m proud to be a citizen of Japan. I definitely learned more about how Japanese culture is an huge part of my identity although I’ve never been back until now. I’ve been able to talk to local students and people, and seeing how welcoming and caring they are has opened my eyes and helped me remind myself to be nicer to other and treat others with more respect that I do now. This trip has helped me solidify the fact that being Japanese is truly one of the three most important aspects/identities that personally define who I am. In coming to Japan, I’m more motivated to continue my learning for the Japanese language and make that more of a priority in my life.

Thank you Professor Bates, thank you Dickinson, Thank you Japan. You’ve all given me the opportunity to grow and learn about myself and a culture that I hold close to my heart.

Although I am leaving the country soon, I wish that it will not be my last time here. I hope to return soon, very, very soon.

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Week 4 Blog Post

 

This past week was a nice way to wrap up the trip. Other than working on our final papers and presentations, we were able to travel to Nagoya castle and Meijimura. Seeing all the buildings in Meinjimura was definitely my favorite part along with getting more ice cream. Also, the little train there was cute as well. I did not really know a lot about the Meiji era and western influence at that time so it was really interesting in just how it affected even the look of buildings in Japan at the time.

I still cannot quite believe that our course and trip to Japan has already ended. Before the start of the program, I thought I had a good idea of what experiencing Japan’s culture would be like, but actually living in the country proved me wrong. Talking to the Nanzan students, making conversation with Nagoya natives, and even just doing things like going to the Atsuta matsuri not only made me utilize some of my Japanese speaking skills, but also made me view Japan in a different light. These kinds of experiences along with traveling the country has really proven to have been a time of growth for me.

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week 4

As I sat in the Hong Kong airport I realized that I was actually leaving Japan, and the thought made me really sad as I am loathe to admit that I’m actually leaving Japan! This last week as brought so many lasting memories from shopping (a lot) to visiting fun shrines, the zoo, and the agricultural museum.

This week started off go great with the festival on the way back from Kyoto. The rice planting festival was very entertaining to watch, and I got some really cute Inari souvenirs! The thousand red gates leading up the mountain were so breath-taking, and even though I didn’t go all the way up, I still appreciated how extensive the pathways were.

Next was the amazing day off on Monday. I decided to work on my paper in the early morning, but in the late morning I went to go see 2 temples. The first one I got to was v seen while in Japan. Later it was explained to me that it had influences from Thai culture, but at the time it was really cool. The second temple was enormous! The monks working in the small shop in the temple were so nice. We had a great discussion about the class and it was really fun. Also, that night was the group dinner with Meguro-sensei. I loved the food and the company was great.

On the other free day, Peter and I went and visited the zoo! It was really big and very beautiful. I saw a whole bunch of animals that I had never seen before except in movies or on the internet including a bush dog and a fennic fox (my favorite weird animal). The greenhouse in the botanical gardens was also really amazing. They had rooms for different areas of the earth like a desert room and a tropical room. It was really cool to see all the different types of plants that don’t grow near my home.

In all, this trip to Japan has been a life changing experience. I feel like it has really made me grow as a person and become more independent. At the beginning of the trip I never would have thought I would be taking the subway by myself around a city, but here I am. I also have a renewed respect for the Japanese people that I have come into contact with. Most of them have been really nice and helpful and many even tried to speak English with me to help accommodate my abysmal Japanese skills. I loved learning during the class time, and I now feel as though I have a better understanding of how to look at stereotypes and think if they are major generalizations and if there is any truth or lies in them. I’m going to miss Japan so much and I hope I can come back someday to see all the things we have missed in Kyoto, Nagoya, and beyond. Also, to all of those still traveling around Japan, please be safe and I hope you really enjoy your time!

      

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The Final Week :(

     

I am home and now experiencing the beginnings of jet lag. Hence why I am posting this at 2am eastern time. However, it’s not nearly as gruesome as I thought it would be. Being home is nice so far, but I really do miss Japan already.

Week 4 started off nicely as we wrapped up our trip in Kyoto by going to Fushimi-Ku. Some people were very devoted to climbing to the top, I, however, was winded and too exhausted to climb through all the gates (I also was not expecting this to be a literal hike). I enjoyed being at this temple because I did not expect it to be as interactive and engaging as it was with all of the gates, people and food vendors/shops. After visiting this temple, we headed back to Nagoya where I then started working on the final draft of my presentation and paper.

After the Kyoto trip, a little hiatus to work on the paper and presentation definitely helped take the edge off. I worked on my paper all of Tuesday, and then we headed to the farm-to-table restaurant where we enjoyed a Japanese-styled buffet and conversed with Dickinson professors and alum currently in Japan. Despite Dickinson being a tiny world, the cross-cultural and world connections here are endless.

Anyway, the final week sped by because most of the week was dedicated to working on the finals of this trip, and before I knew it, we were leaving the Kinshu Center (sad face). I am forever grateful for having the privilege of travel over 6.5k miles away from home to study a different culture’s history and visit a lot of important monuments throughout this month in Nagoya + neighboring towns and cities. I am definitely inspired to come back to Japan for an extended stay and continue to visit this culturally diverse country in my future. The program ended so soon ago that I still need time to digest everything that I have experienced in the last month, and reflect on ways where I may have been culturally insensitive or biased about how I was thinking about certain experiences whilst staying in Japan.

After taking this class, I am even more fascinated with Japan and want to learn more about the complexities of Japanese history, art and culture as it exists both in history and today. Also, I think that everyone’s presentations really allowed me to see what we all individually  took away from this course, and how differently we all approached the projects to understand certain topics more in-depth.

Thanks to everyone who made this experience so great for me. Alex Bates, I really enjoyed coming on this trip and I hope that you do this with more groups, or at least something similar to this extended stay and course. Thank you very much.

Hope to see some of you at Dickinson when I get back from abroad!!

-Muhajir (Mu)

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