This past May of 2007, I was privileged enough to take a trip with 14 other students to Japan. I have always dreamed of seeing the worlds outside of the United States, and Japan was the first country that I wanted to visit. Traveling there was an eye opening experience for me.
It has given me more appreciation for the Japanese culture. About 6 months before the trip, my Japanese teacher was already preparing us for our trip to Japan. Every 2 weeks, we would meet and learn about where we were going.
This helped me to better understand and appreciate the places we visited. When we first set off on the 11hr plane ride, I found it amazing how many Japanese had visited the U.S. and were returning home.
It was also the first time I had experienced 2 different languages being spoken on the plane. Once we reached Japan, the atmosphere immediately hit me. Everything was so clean and neat.
I was even more amazed of this, because there are hardly any public trashcans anywhere in Japan. Instead, you have to hold onto your trash until you go home or come across a trashcan. What shocked me the most was that during my 10 days there, I only found 5 drinking fountains.
Two were in a school, so I don’t think they count, two others were in the subway/train station, and the other one was at a castle of all places. This was a hindrance to me, as a like to conserve money, and all the drinks were in vending machines. So eventually, I had to give in and start buying drinks, or else, I would become severely dehydrated.
One of my favorite things in Japan was the capsule machine. Yes, the capsule machines were awesome. While they cost the equivalent of 2 to 3 dollars, they were a lot better than the ones in America, and well worth it.
Another thing I enjoyed was the Japanese style food and rooms. I even have decided to bring some of that into my own life, here at home. For breakfast, I now eat steamed rice, raw egg, and soy sauce.
The egg, however, cooks over the rice when it is beat with the soy and poured on the rice. I have also decided to change my sleeping style and bought a mat that is like a tatami mat. I now want to get a futon to lie out and sleep on, instead of using a mattress. I want to start having people take off their shoes when they enter my room. This will help prevent dirt from entering my room. However, my favorite 2 things in Japan were cities, Akihabara and Harajuku. Akihabara is dedicated to computer geeks, extreme anime fans, also known in Japan as an Otaku, and anything else high-tech related. I was in heaven while I was there. I wish that I could have stayed there longer, but time was limited. The other place, Harajuku, is a place of fashion. This is where Cyber Goth/Punk, Gothic Lolita, and other clothing items can be found. As I adore strange fashions, I was literally drooling over the clothing. What was even more amazing was the price. Here, a good Gothic Lolita dress would cost at minimum $350. Yet there, I bought 2 very nice Gothic Lolita dresses (in my size, amazingly) for about $100 each, which is a steal compared to America. One thing I learned while traveling in Japan is to just visit a few shrines. Otherwise, you will get very sick of them, very fast. Once you have seen one, they all start to look the same, though I do recommend seeing the Big Buddha, as it was extraordinary. I was so excited to visit Japan, but it was even more fun to visit with my friends. For the 3 friends I traveled together with, this was probably going to be one of my last times seeing them, as 2 of them were seniors, and the other was leaving the school. This trip not only brought the experience of Japanese life right before my eyes, but also gave me time to bond and spend time with some of my very close friends, before we had to part.
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