My most memorable vacation ever had to be my trip to Japan. My sister Lindsay, had been living there, teaching English to medical students, and we decided to visit her. In July, we went to the airport expecting the time of our lives. After 14 hours of sitting in a plane and watching subpar comedy movies, we were exhausted but we were finally in Japan.
Lindsay met us at the Japanese airport and acted as our translator for the trip. We went to a quaint small town known as Magasaki after a two hour train ride. There were beautiful rice fields everywhere and a small softball field in Magasaki. Lindsay was part of the cities softball team and had told them about her family coming to visit. Consequently, the team had a surprise planned for us. After touring one of the player’s sake factories, –sake being Japanese beer—they took us to a fancy Japanese restaurant that cost 20,000 yen. If this was not enough, the mayor of the city came there to give us a gift, towels. Apparently the small town was unaccustomed to having friendly American visitors and this was a huge deal. My parents, unprepared for this magnificent demonstration had bought beef jerky as a gift for their Japanese hosts. They were extremely embarrassed at the modesty of their gift. If there is one lesson that is to be learned, it is that Japanese people are in general very generous and hospitable. Therefore, if you are ever exchanging gifts with them, prepare to give something nicer than usual; otherwise you will end up being very embarrassed.
Afterwards, we left Magasaki and went to tour Tokyo. The Tokyo nightlife was very interesting. Every teenager had died their hair an orangish-brown color and all the women had crazy hairstyles comparable to Katey Segal’s in the television show Married with Children. Karaoke was extremely popular in the city so we decided to visit a Karaoke store. Surprisingly enough, the majority of the music was in English and not Japanese. This just shows the pervasiveness of American pop culture. Later, our family visited a Shinto shrine. In this shrine, there was a public fountain in which people would dip their feet into the water to wash them. This was a nice respite from the ninety five degree sun that was beating down on us. Afterwards, we proceeded to walk up what must have been over 300 stairs to get to the top of the temple. It was quite difficult, but the Shinto statues at the top were worth the exercise.
My sister was forced to go back to her job, so for the rest of the trip, my family and I had no translator. Unfortunately, when our family had to return to the airport, we missed our stop on a subway and were totally lost. It seemed that no one could help us because we could not find anyone who spoke English. However, my brother had taken one year of Japanese in high school before the trip and was able to communicate with an amiable Japanese businessman who agreed to help us out. The language barrier was still difficult to break, but after about an hour of communicating and wandering the subway system, the businessman got us on the right train and we were able to find our way back to the airport. Our trip was over, but the great memories would last forever.
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