In June 2008, I went to Japan, Land of the Rising Sun. I went with my Girl Scout Travel Group as part of an EF Tour. Let me tell you, it was the best place I’ve ever been. There was so much to see and do, I would love to go back again one day, maybe even live there for a while.
Japan was a beautiful place. Japan had to be the cleanest place I’ve ever been. The people there were very polite. Some of the locals even spoke English! I think that we Americans can learn a thing or two from the Japanese, even if it’s just to keep the streets clean.
Plenty of funny things happened on the trip. Since it was June and rainy season while we were there, our group was unable to see Mt. Fuji. Our Tour Guide, Rie-san, felt bad, so she made her own Fuji for us. One of the Moms on the trip also had trouble with Japanese. She wanted to buy a fan with rabbits on it, but she didn’t know the words, so she pantomimed a rabbit and failed miserably. In the end, I came to the rescue by telling the shop clerks “usagi.” The same Mom later heard us girls say “kawaii,” which is Japanese for “cute.” She decided to tell Japanese mothers their children were cute, but instead said “kowai” to them all. She ended up telling a bunch of women that their children were scary! The trip was a riot.
The food was strange there. Breakfasts were especially weird. At every breakfast we went to, they had rice and miso soup. Rice comes with every meal in Japan. Also, to appeal to American business travelers and tourists, they had French fries for hash browns and mini hot dogs for sausages. One place even had Umeboshi (pickled plum), which is super sour. For lunch, there were all sorts of crepes with anything you could imagine in them, from jelly to fish to ice cream! For the truly adventurous, there’s Tako-yaki, which is Octopus in a ball of fried dough. It’s very delicious, despite how it sounds. My only complaint (besides the Umeboshi) is the one traditional meal we had in Hakone. There was a raw fish with the head still on for us to eat. I don’t have to tell you that many of us pushed that to the edge of our rice bowl.
Japanese cartoons (anime) are also everywhere! In Akihabara, there were ads for things drawn like Anime and even stores (Gamers especially!) that were devoted JUST to anime. In Osaka, we even saw a sign for a “Pokemon Center” where they just sold things for the show Pokemon. Anime is a huge part of Japanese culture, which is another reason I want to move there.
The primary religions in Japan are Buddhism and Shintoism. While in Japan, we visited many Buddhist temples and Shinto Shrines. We were able to see the world’s biggest bronze Buddha while in Nara. Both the temples and shrines were gorgeous and very peaceful.
Japan had to be the most amazing place I’ve ever been. The sights, the smells, and the sounds were all like they were here in the United States, but somehow different. I will go back to Japan someday, hopefully to stay. Until then, though, I never want to see another bowl of rice again.
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