Summary of Japan

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Japan is a marvelous country which I really enjoyed getting a taste of. This is obvious I’m sure, but I am very happy that the first stop in my trip went so well!

  • The best thing, of course, have been the people. And I don’t just mean people like Sasha or Guillame or the Akazawas. Rather, Japanese people have built themselves a marvelous country where everyone is beyond polite and industrious (which I know is the stereotype, but you don’t quite grasp this until you are immersed in it yourself). Japan has a quiet confidence about it that I’ve only encountered before in the United States- this feeling about how much an individual can impact the world- so that was neat to see.

  • My welcome dinner after arriving in Japan, as well as my last one. Actually, anything with Japanese food involved is a marvelous thing- even the fast food joints specialize in a bowl of ramen or rice with some sort of topping, which is novel and delicious. I never saw one fat person while I was in Japan, and I attribute this to what would happen if your default fast food was as healthy as the Japanese kind!

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  • Going around Tokyo with Sasha

  • The shinkansen, aka bullet train, aka the ultimate example of where the mode of transportation is the attraction. I am still in love with the marvelous efficiency and wonder of this system where you can set your watch by the train keeping to the schedule so immaculately and travel faster than 200 kph, faster than you’ve ever gone before on land! I wish we could build one in the US, though I’m sure we’d mess it up somehow.

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  • Karaoke the second night- Sasha did Show Me The Meaning of Feeling Lonely, two Japanese songs, The World Is Not Enough, and a few others I’m embarassed to admit I didn’t recognize. My contributions were Suddenly I See, Flathead, I Will, Oops I Did It Again, You Belong to Me, and we did a duet for both Let It Be and It’s My Life.

  • Japanese strawberries are, it turns out, beyond awesome

  • The street in Kyoto with the geisha, as well as The Golden Temple and the hillside shrine with Guillaume

  • My little room in the ryokan

  • Getting to see Hiroshima

  • Last but not least, receiving an email from Case that my degree was conferred January 16th and I am an alumnus! Hooray! So I suppose I’m technically lying now whenever I list myself as a student on immigration forms, but “homeless and unemployed” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.

Lowlights:

  • Culture shock: Well, it was going to happen, particularly with sensory overload like the kind you get in Tokyo (my saving grace was having Sasha, I would have been much more lost and confused without him). I tackled this one by recognizing it for what it was, making a point to read my English newspaper, and knowing when it was time to take a night in in Kyoto.

  • Internet Issues: It turns out there is no wireless network in Japan like you expect as a matter of course in the US, but rather networks are pretty much universally encrypted. I find this rather odd for a nation that’s supposed to be so far ahead of us, as free wireless is sooo nice! We’ll see if South East Asia is any better, as it would be nice to upload pictures and text directly to the web.

  • The lack of ATMs for forgeiners in the country- make sure you have enough cash because if you don’t it can be problematic very quickly if you don’t.

  • A really irritating blister on the back of my left foot from walking, which got to nice size over the course of the week even when bandaged up…
  • And, well, I very unfortunately lost my hat in Tokyo on my last day (ok lost implies I don’t know where it is, but I know it probably fell out of my jacket when my coat was checked at dinner). Nooooo! Though to be totally fair, it is way way way too hot for such a hat in Thailand, so there would have been no real point. So life will go on, perhaps with pictures of me in my sunhat…

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