My family usually relaxes on summer vacation, such as going to Hawaii, Tahoe, or Mexico. Yet strangely, my mother decided we should go to Japan the summer before my sophomore year. I am full Japanese-American and am the fifth generation in the United States. Also, I can speak zero words in Japanese. One might say that I was a little curious of my roots. I grew up participating in activities in Japan town, located in San Jose, California. It is a small Japanese-American community that I assumed would be somewhat similar to Japan. My assumption was very incorrect.
The flight to Japan seemed almost never-ending. Before Japan I believed the flight to New York to be tiresome, but I was very wrong. We watched continuations of various movies, watched other passengers sleep, and got to pick out our airplane meals. After what seemed like a never ending flight, my mother, my brother, and I arrived in Japan, where we were picked up by one of my aunts in Kamakura, Japan. As we rolled our suitcases out of the airport, I was surprised to find that we were not traveling by car, but by a bullet train that was followed by walking a few blocks. When we arrived at our relatives’ house I was surprised to find that their houses looked exactly like ones that are found in the United States. We stayed there for a few nights while our aunt showed us around the city they live in. I enjoyed seeing how our relatives live but it went by so fast and the next thing I knew, we had to fly to Tokyo to meet up with our tour group.
Our tour group was pretty diverse from backgrounds and ages. Luckily, I met a girl that was around my age and a boy, who was a little younger than my brother. I am sure that the tour was very educational as I remember visiting an endless amount of landmarks. We visited many museums, gardens, and even went to a secluded hot springs inn! In order to get to the secluded inn, the tourists must travel across a lake on a very fast boat. I remember taking pictures on the boat because it was funny to see someone look like they’re going to get blown away by the wind. The inn was nothing like anything I have ever seen in the United States. They had separate hot springs for men and women, and people usually just go in and sit. Supposedly, the water is good for your skin. After “getting pampered” by the hot springs, our tour group was treated to a seven course dinner, where we all dressed up in informal “kimonos”. That part of the trip also went by fast and we were on our way to the next city, Osaka, in which we stayed one night before going to the airport to return home.
Even though the vacation was not as relaxing as traveling to Hawaii, I am very thankful that my mother took us to Japan because I know I learned a lot more about my heritage that other Japanese-Americans do not. I was very proud to come home and tell my grandmother all about our trip because although she was born in the United States, she went to school in Japan. I will admit there are things that I will not remember the names or where they were located. However, I will also admit that I remember the significance of the locations that we visited and the many places that we got to shop!
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