Friday, August 5, 2011


This is my final post, as I leave tomorrow afternoon to go back home.

On Wednesday night, we set off fireworks at the park one last time.
Then, yesterday I had lunch with a few friends and I went to the shopping districts one last time to finish off お土産 hunting. Later on, I was treated to dinner by the very kind and generous former 留学生, Yusuke and Megumi!

Hope to see you soon! (Assuming anyone is actually reading this...)

7-31-11: Hiroshima

Last Sunday, I went to Hiroshima as a final trip before I leave Japan.

I met up with the always adorable Yukina-chan and she was kind enough to show me around Hiroshima. We spent most of the time at 宮島 (Miyajima) and was very beautiful.

Later on that night, we went to have Hiroshima's famous お好み焼き for dinner!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011



Everything lately has been extremely busy with classes ending and trying to enjoy things as much as possible, so I haven't had much time to post much of anything.

The first set of photos starts with when I attempted to teach my 日本事情 (basically a Japanese History course) class how to make an origami rose.

Next, continues the origami theme, with a collection of all the origami that I made while I was in Japan, which I gave to all the students who came to the farewell party as a small token of my appreciation.

Next, is a slightly older set of pictures that I had to take off facebook (I didn't have my camera at the time) of when some of the Japanese students let us practice Calligraphy.

There is a lot of random filler shots mixed in and then pictures of the farewell party.
Followed by this past Saturday when a Vietnamese foreign exchange student I spent some-time doing some more origami (it's a little ironic that she is pretty much the only person in my entire time here with even the slightest interest in origami @_@). Afterwards, we had 焼肉 at considerably cheap restaurant.

Finally, today we went to an interesting restaurant and then went to a カラオケ屋 for about 7 hours. I'm not sure how they make any money off their daytime rates, as there is all you can drink beverages and it was only about 800円 for each person for the whole time. I'm really going to miss Japanese カラオケ, to say that it is superior over what little we have in U.S. is a dire understatement...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

7-9-11 & 7-10-11: 根羽

For the second of two posts, we went to 根羽(ねば), a tiny village about two and a half hours from Nagoya, where one of the American teachers at Chukyo University has in-laws who own a large, historical home. Around thirty people went, mainly Japanese students from the professor's seminar class.

It was very beautiful and relaxing with a very scenic river within a few minutes walking distance (sadly that scenery at one time included some naked guys...).

At night, there was a 祭り with some really magnificent fireworks; they were so close that it almost seemed that the embers were going to land upon some of the nearby houses. There was also an event where the people who were in charge threw a ton of mochi out of the second floor of the town's municipal office. Anyone who got a mochi with a pink slip in it, received small prizes.

It was a really great experience, probably one of the best of the semester so far. The professor and his family were extremely kind and considerate to all of us.

7-5-11: The Fourth of July

Sorry for the long gap in-between posts, so here is two in a row. The first is of the celebration that some of the international students had, setting off fireworks on fifth of July...(it must have still been the Fourth somewhere).

There are also a few random pictures thrown in below.

Monday, June 13, 2011

6-11 & 6-12: 京都

This past weekend Chukyou University hosted a trip for the exchange students to go to Kyoto and visit some of the sights.

We left early Saturday morning by bus and it took about three hours to get there. We first visited a 湯豆腐 style restaurant and had several different types of tofu.

Next, we went to 三門寺, which I honestly don't know much about, besides that there is a temple building you can climb. There's also an aqueduct that I wonder when was built, as it seems much more recent than the rest of the temple area.

Next was 清水寺. The street leading up to the temple area was littered with various interesting soveigneir shops. The temple itself was sprawling, wide open, with several 鳥居 and shrines. The name of the temple comes from the water springs that run throughout the area and three flowing fountains that visitors drink from in order to gain good grades, long life, or love. There were also a few 舞妓, 芸者 in training that Kyoto is famous for.

Probably the most impressive part of the trip was 三十三間堂(さんじゅうさんげんどう), a Buddhist temple where 1,001 cypress statues of the Buddha 観音 are housed. There are also 28 attending deities, including 雷電 and 風神. Regrettably, photography was forbidden.

We stayed at Villa Hotel, probably the highest quality hotel I've ever stayed at.

On Sunday, we went to 二条城,the former castle and residence of the Shogun/Third great unifier of Japan 徳川家康. The actual building wasn't very impressive, especially after 三十三間堂, but the adjacent gardens were accompanied be some very nice scenery.

Next was the most famous temple in Japan, 金閣寺. The temple is entirely covered in gold-leaf paper and sits in the middle of a small lake.

It was a really nice trip, but it was a bit too much to properly take in during such a short time period and it would have been nice to have some more time to look around in the shops, as it was I didn't have any time to get any souvenirs or see everything. Also, everything closes really early in Japan, save for the パチンコ parlors and bars, so even though we had some free time in the heart of the city on Saturday night, we weren't able to anything.

I'm thinking about going taking another trip someplace by myself, but haven't decided when or where to go yet. I would like to go to Hiroshima and maybe see some of the exchange students from last year if possible. It would also be nice to go Osaka...どうしようかな

Monday, June 6, 2011

6-2-11 through 6-5-11: Museum, Fireworks, and Matsuri

This past Thursday (6-2-11), my 日本事情 class went to the 徳川博物館.

Yesterday, I bought some fireworks (well, sparklers) for some of the other foreign exchange students and went lit them on the nearby bridge.

Early today, there was a fairly large 祭り(I think 熱田祭り-あつまつり). It was unbelievably crowded.
I was actually surprised at just how similar it was to the State Fair, it was mainly just a long line of vendors selling foodstuffs, there was very little in the way of anything traditional beyond a group of taiko drummers by the temple and a group carrying a small cart of lanterns.

I was also given the impression that Japanese fireworks were far superior to U.S. ones, but the display at the 祭り fell far short of my expectations; rather than having a short, continuous chain of fireworks, it was more like they set them off in ten second intervals and just kept at it for a long, long time. Ultimately, a lot of us, not to mention many the other spectators, just got bored of it and went home.

If I seem a bit jaded, its probably due to standing in the middle of crowd that refused to budge for over an hour. The food was excellent, though.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

5-19-11 猫喫茶店

I was sick with the flu or something the entire week after Golden Week and wasn't really able to get out and do anything until this past week.

This past Thursday, I went with some friends to a cafe where they have a bunch of cats running about the place to play with and some pretty good drinks.

Cue up the "d'awww"s.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Pictures: Tokyo

Golden Week: Tokyo

The Golden Week break started last Friday, and three of the other exchange students and I went to Tokyo on Saturday. We left on bus at about noon and arrived in Tokyo at around 7pm, it was a long trip and it would have been far too disorientating to try to sleep, as the bus made stops about every ten or fifteen minutes. It wasn't entirely unenjoyable, though; I'm fairly used to long trips car rides and the scenery was fairly nice.

We were all really tired when we got there and it was a long subway ride from the Tokyo station to 浅草 where we were staying, and a good thirty minute meandering through the dark streets of Tokyo to find our hostel. We shared a single room with two sets of bunk beds and was really nice, especially for about 4千円 for two nights. After we checked in, we met up with one of the other international student's friends in 新橋.

At about 2 a.m., I felt what I thought was the person in the lower bunk shaking the bed, but would later find out to be an earthquake (3.0 振動), the first I've ever encountered.

The next morning we went to Denny's for breakfast and, after stopping off in 六本木, I went to 新宿 to re-unite with Akihito with a Swedish-Iraqi exchange student, but of course being the same 方向音痴 that I always have been, we got really lost and he had to come find us in front of 吉野家. It was good to see him again and we went to the famous Tokyo municipal building, 都庁, and took some photos of the area.

We then went to 池袋 for a bit and then headed to a small shop that I really wanted to visit, おりがみはうす. They had a small, yet really amazing and awe aspiring, at least to me, gallery of masterpieces from some of the world's greatest origami enthusiasts, such as Kamiya Satoshi and Eric Joisel. This was probably the highlight of the trip for me and I wound up dropping over a hundred bucks on books and paper.

From their we went to 渋谷 and sought refuge from the rain in a 焼肉 restaurant, another first for me. It was delicious, although we did almost set the place on fire due to some over enthusiasm on the part of some of the others. Akihito and I then went off from the others who went clubbing and went to play darts; we were both pretty lousy, especially me, but we still had a great time.

On the way back to the hostel, I got really lost again; at first on purpose, as I wandered through a temple in the dead of night and it was really peaceful and practically magical, with almost no-one else around. But, eventually I got really lost and wound up in the next district over, but eventually, through sheer stubbornness and will-power, found the hostel again.

The next morning, Monday, we were all exhausted from our respective adventures, but had several hours to kill until the bus departed. So, we went to 東京タワー and went up to the first observation deck. The bus back seemed so much longer and more arduous and I think that everyone agrees that the bus is 二度とだめ.

It was a great, but exhaustive trip. I was actually surprised at how seemingly few people there were, given the vast amount of build-up that Tokyo is given as one of the world's most densely populated cities, but that may have been due to the rain and the vacation period.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Classes and Golden Week Plans

I'm currently taking eleven 'classes' where each class is an hour-fifteen minute period. Unlike at NCSU, classes are arranged in periods, with five class periods each day. This has its benefits and its drawbacks.

中級日本語 - This class is pretty easy for me and more of a review. It meets four days a week, everyday except Tuesday and each day we have a different teacher and different focus, such as listening on Monday and speech on Wednesday.

異文化 - This class is probably really tough for me, mainly because of the way the professor speaks. He tends to speak really fast and incomprehensibly, generally starting out the sentence in a normal comprehensible tone, then dropping his voice down low and practically grumbling out the sentence, until the end where he raises his voice really loud. He's very energetic and likes to make a lot of jokes (I only know this because everyone else laughs). Its a shame because the class itself seems interesting from the syllabus, but by the end of every class I simultaneously want to drop-kick him in the chest and feel extremely frustrated with my own inability to understand what is going on.

The class itself is supposed to be an analysis of differences between Japanese and international releases of manga. I'm not really certain, but I think what we are suppose to be learning are all differences that I was already readily aware of and seem fairly obvious (at least from a foreigner's perspective): sound effects being kept in the original language to maintain the artwork, etc.

平和論 - Study of post-wartime Japan, in particular the role that the military serves in a nation that has, atleast in theory, forsworn all acts of aggression. I really like this class as it is interesting, the professor is extremely nice (to the extent that he goes out of the way to put English on the handouts for me and the other American student in the course), and I can follow it fairly well despite the high amount of course-specific language. Although, this course does highlight something that is common to all of my courses so far, Japanese students don't seem near as studious or even respectful of the professors during class, which is odd given the stereotype of Japanese people as extremely obedient and diligent; students are constantly talking during class and the professor often has to quiet them down, although its never completely silent. The professor for this course, who also teaches my next course, pointed this out to us and said there was concern about the quality of higher education in Japan.

日本文化 - A very basic course taught in English about Japanese culture.

アメリカ文化 - American History. I'm taking this to fulfill a credit and to have an easy course that I don't have to worry about too much. There may also be an opportunity to help teach the course later on in the semester. The professor is a nice Canadian man who teaches in English and all of the students I've talked to speak highly of.

総合日本語 - Comprehensive Japanese. I have this class for two periods back to back and its very exhausting, but possibly the most rewarding of the courses I'm taking. All of the other students in the course are Chinese and most have already or are planning on passing/taking the level 1 JLPT, so I often feel very out of my league. However, the professor's Japanese is very clear and it feels nice to at least be able to understand most of what is going on. So far we have been studying 機能語, words used to fulfill a role in grammar and their usages, i.e. にとって、について, etc.

日本事情 - Another Japanese cultural course, but much more advanced and taught in Japanese by a young Korean woman. This course is probably the second hardest to follow and gives me the most work as, unlike the 異文化 course, there are a lot of handouts written in what is probably high school or college level Japanese that I always wind up having to translate because the professor speaks extremely quickly. The course so far has focused on different regional aspects of Japan, i.e. West coast Japanese man walks like this, but East coast Japanese man walks like this. Again, most of the students in this class are Chinese and for some reason I feel like even more of an outsider as usually speak Chinese to one another and I have no clue what they are saying.

I also help out with an English conversation course on Friday mornings.

Today was the first day of Golden Week!
I'll be going to Tokyo tomorrow, if anyone has any suggestions for places to visit while I'm there, please let me know!
I'll also hopefully be seeing Akihito again!

Monday, April 4, 2011

4-4-11 Campus Tours and Olympic Athletes

Today we did 外国人 registration with a few Japanese guides.

Afterwards, there were tours of both the main campus of Chukyou in Nagoya and the one specializing in sports in Toyota city. The main campus was interesting as there was a small shrine within it and a large graveyard adjacent. Actually, there are a few places that sell headstones in between my apartment and campus. The buildings themselves were a lot more spacious, ornate, and otherwise impressive compared to NCSU.

Chukyou is famous in Japan for its athletes and producing several Olympic athletes. We saw a few people practicing Kendo and ping-pong. We actually even happened to run into the gold medalist in the Hammer Throw event from the Greek Olympics, Koji Murofushi. He was extremely kind to us and took the time to talk with us and talk photos with him. Sadly, all of the pictures that I took of him turned out poorly due to the lighting and not knowing how to force the flash on my camera, I will try to get some pictures from the other exchange students. We also watched the silver medalist in figure skating, Mao Asada, warm-up.


Friday, April 1, 2011

Pictures from 4-1-11


The flight from NC to Detroit was on a really narrow plane and I couldn't really do anything except for listen to music and make a few cranes.
The airport in Detroit was a lot nicer than one would imagine. The section I was in must deal with a lot of traffic to Japan, as everything was also written in Japanese in addition to English.

The flight that I was on to Japan was also going to Manilla afterwards, and I think that about %70+ of the people there were Filipino, as hardly anyone exited through customs in Japan. I wonder why.

The flight itself was pretty terrible. The guy sitting next to me was damn near catatonic and slept practically the whole way there. I was stuck in a window seat, adjacent the wing, so not only could I not see anything, I had to climb over two people to get out. I ultimately just sat there, not wanting to interrupt to others' sleep and paid for it, as my stomach continued to do barrel rolls and the guys in front of me smelt as if they hadn't bathed in days and then proceeded to roll around in a mound curry. There were times that I felt like my limbs were going to atrophy off and I would become the token Dharumaさん of the flight. I couldn't get to my bag, so I all could do was read, make cranes (which I stopped as it seemed to make the feeling worse), and listen to music. I wouldn't have been able to do much else anyway, they kept the cabin in a state of perpetual night.

The one thing that I noticed most prominently upon getting here was the abduance of people wearing surgery masks. I was aware that this occurred in Japan, but was still shocked at the frequency; about one out of every eight people I saw wore masks and it wasn't restricted to just to older people.
I have to wonder if they are even worth wearing, as my understanding of it was that it was more for the benefit of patients during surgery to prevent damage to the more vulnerable interior of the human body by disease. Even if it does reduce the chance of airborn infection, there still other ways to be infected that seem at least just as likely, if not more so. Regardless of the reason, in one night, I saw more masks last night than Wakemed probably goes through in a week.
*Edit: I asked one of the Japanese students about this today and they said it was due to allergies. Although, there isn't really any noticeable amount of pollen, especially compared to North Carolina, which I'm sure is probably looking like a vast expanse of yellow.

The apartment is nice, (thank god there is an a/c!). I'll post pictures once I clean up a bit, I don't want people to realize what a slob I am.
I did manage to lose 2千円 already somehow and that really sucks. Although, I did just get back 4百円 in change after putting in 150円.

Please let me know if I'm writing too much or if there is anything in particular you want to know more about. I want this to be something that isn't tedious to read.

I already miss everyone in Raleigh and wish the best for you all!

Thursday, March 31, 2011


I just got to Japan, but I'm way to tired to write anything more right now.
I'll post something else tomorrow/later/whenever.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Hey everybody,

I'm going to attempt to keep some kind of record of what happens in Japan. I can't promise to be all that regular or entertaining, but I will do my best to update when I can.