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!