See you later, Japan!

I spent four weeks in Japan and had the adventure of a lifetime. From meeting many new people to eating traditional Japanese dishes, Japan was everything I expected and more!

During my art class, a mangaka, Junya Inoue came to visit and talk about the industry and drawing techniques. Mr. Inoue is the author of a manga called Btooom! which has also been adapted into an anime. The class was divided into three parts. For the first part, he introduced himself and answered some questions we had about the industry. Second, he drew one of his characters for us and taught us about the different pens and paper used. Third, he had each of the students draw our own character and come up with some backstory. IMG_3679.jpg

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He was very nice and got a selfie with me!

I also made it to the Ghibli Museum. It’s very tricky to get into the museum, so I hardly got in. One of the professors knew some people living in Tokyo who got us tickets (locals are allowed a certain number of tickets per month they can purchase). Studio Ghibli is the animation studio behind many famous animated movies such as Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, and PonyoIMG_3836.jpg

One of the field trips with Saitama University was to Kawagoe, a small town often known as “Little Kyoto.” It had a very small town feel and there were many historical sights. IMG_4053.jpg

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I also got to experience wearing a yukata, which is a summer kimono.

The most memorable historical landmark would have to be the Daibutsu (Big Buddha), found in Kamakura.

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The environment in Japan is so different from the US. The streets are much cleaner, even in big cities like Tokyo. The trains are on time to the minute and it’s very easy to get around once you get the hang of it.

While my time in Japan has come to an end, these memories will always be with me. I am so thankful to Saitama University and all of the wonderful people I met for making my dream come true. I will certainly be going back one day. Until then, my Japanese language studies will continue!

I’ll see you soon, Japan.

Thanks for the unforgettable experience,

ジェイダ

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Playing the Koto

For this past week, I want to share my experience with the koto. My host mom took me to her high school on a Saturday when club activities were going on. I was able to play it myself! Now, I did not do very well, haha. The 先生 (teacher) had to guide and correct me a bunch, though, it was really neat to be a part of the activity! The students were super sweet and welcomed me to watch and play.

ジェイダ

Exploring Japan

So it’s been two weeks since I came to Japan! I have gotten to make many friends and visit places I’ve always wanted to go! I hope my experience allows you to follow me to Japan!

On the Thursday where I left off, I visited an art exhibit about Hokusai Manga. This is where we get the Japanese term “manga” to refer to comics, though the original term referred to Hokusai’s sketches.

After the exhibit, I went to Omiya to eat dinner and shop around. There were several alleyways filled with unique stores and restaurants. You really never know what kind of shop you’ll find upstairs or in the basement!

Friday was a field trip to Shibuya with my art class. We met at Hachiko Statue, a very popular meeting spot among Japanese people and tourists alike. This statue is a tribute to the real life dog, Hachiko, nicknames Hachi. This Akito dog was adopted by Eizaburo Ueno and the two grew very close. Everyday, Hachiko would see his owner off to work at Shibuya Station and come back to pick him up after work.

When Hachi was two years old, Ueno died suddenly from a brain hemorrhage at work. Still, Hachi would go to Shibuya Station every morning and afternoon at the time his owner’s train arrived, hoping to find his master. The locals knew Hachi and called him “Chuken Hachiko,” Hachiko the Faithful Dog. He continued to go to the train station twice every day until he died 8 years later. Hachi became famous around Japan and his story had spread around the world. Hollywood made a film about Hachi, which is called Hachiko A Dog’s Story. I watched this movie the summer going into 8th grade and had never heard the story before. It hit me right in the heart.

For those of us who came early, my art professor took a group of us to see a mural within Shibuya Station.

Once everyone was at the meeting spot, we walked over to the NHK museum. The NHK is a very popular TV station. Many Japanese people will have this on TV while eating breakfast, including my host family. There are news shows, kids shows, and comedy shows on the channel.

I will update more soon!

An Introduction to Japan!

Hello everyone! I’ll start by introducing myself. I’m Jada, a computer science major about to be my fourth year. I’ve wanted to come to Japan since 9th grade, so I’m so happy to get to share my dream with everyone.

When I got past customs and retrieved my luggage, I was met by three very sweet Japanese students. We got lunch at the airport and I gave them some oatmeal cream pies and starbursts for dessert. I’ve been in Japan for about 6 days now and it’s been very eventful! After the students dropped me off with my host mom, I unpacked and fell asleep without dinner. Japan is 14 hours ahead of Alabama, so it was around 5AM in Alabama when I got to sleep. The 11 hour plane ride was during the day, so I had only slept about an hour.

Here’s a picture of me in my room. It’s very cosy! In Japan, it’s expected to take your shoes off when entering someone’s home, so I kept the little slippers from the plane ride and didn’t open them until I got to the house. Some people have house shoes they wear, but my family usually goes barefoot or wears socks, so I’m not using my slippers like I thought I might.

The next day, my host mom showed me around a Japanese gym. We saw several traditional Japanese sports like sumo, judo, and kendo.

Afterwards, I went to a welcome party for the exchange student. There was a brief introduction and orientation where we learn how to stay safe and how to act in host homes. After a tour of the campus, we played games and got to know our Japanese volunteers and our fellow exchange students. I won a Japanese wind chime (furin) in a game of bingo! Saitama University’s mascot is Merin, an adorable green bunny (at least, I think she’s a bunny). Monday was a day full of classes. I’m taking Contemporary and Modern Art in Asia and Japan, Japanese for Beginners, and Global Agenda in the Japanese Perspective. I’m very excited to learn! In the art class, my sensei (teacher) is going to bring in a manga artist as a guest! He’s the author of BTOOOM! It’s a manga with a battle royal-like theme that’s very good. Btooom is the sound a bomb makes as it goes off, since one of the main weapons is a bomb.

I don’t have classes on Tuesday, so I went to Tokyo and the surrounding areas with some fellow exchange students who only have a morning class.

These pictures show the view around/near Tokyo station.

Here are some pictures of/around the imperial palace gates.

These are some pochinco (slot machines) in Akihabara. It’s extremely loud in there!

Akihabara at night is beautiful! The owl in the last picture was showing off some of the cute owls you can find in a local owl cafe! I’ll go there sometime!

I hope you learned something about Japan.

Thanks for reading,

ジェイダ (Jada)