People to People Trip to Japan (2008) - My Family Travels
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It was during the summer after 8th grade when I went with my People to People delegation group to Japan.  Over the course of two weeks we visited many historical sites, ate authentic Japanese food, and even got to participate in the community and since we did so much I can only talk about some of it.

My first memory of the trip was our first stop which was Tokyo.  During our stay there we visited both the old and the new that Tokyo has to offer and it was all very amazing.  For example, one of the first places we visited was the Imperial Palace Plaza where we looked over to the Palace to see where the ruler lives.  Being able to see the beautiful Japanese architecture and the nice clean water around the plaza was a very nice experience.  On that same day we got to experience the modern Japan when we visited the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Offices in the Shinjuku district.  This district is known for its cloud piercing skyscrapers and its New York look.  This place reminded me a lot of home but we then went into the Government Offices and went up to the 45th floor!  I have never been in a building that high or do I ever want to again.  The windows went from floor to ceiling creating a horrifying sensation as one looked outside and felt they could fall in any instance.  One of the final places we went to was a museum of Japanese anime called the Suginami Animation Museum.  Despite not being a fan of either anime or manga I found the experience rather enjoyable since my friends enjoyed themselves and the information they had there made for a good read.  When we left Tokyo we headed for Mt. Fuji where we climbed over halfway up and got to be above the clouds!  Our tour guide showed us some pretty amazing things up there such as a special type of rock that you can eat and it tastes like sugar!  Upon leaving I was very sad and disappointed that we couldn’t have spent more time up on the mountain and in Tokyo.

The best part of the trip was visiting the Gokayama village.  It was still the same as it was many years ago which truly brought out the Japanese culture which was very exciting.  We stayed there for three days and stayed overnight in these ancient huts which were built with special types of roofs known as “gasso-zukuri” which translates roughly to “hands clasped in prayer”.  It was a real tiny village and there were still people living there, which was quite a shock to me.  And not only did they live there they had little shops were everything was hand-made.  One of the things that I liked about it the most was that at night it would get real quiet and nobody would be around so you would get to go around and take in all the sights without having anyone to bother you.  You get to walk almost anywhere in the village you would like to go to and just sit down and take it all in.  During the day we got to participate with the community in many events.  For example we got to go on a farm and help dig up potatoes and pull out weeds from their special sunflower patch.  Or one day when we built Japanese instruments and use them in a traditional dance. 

This sums up my fondest memories of Japan and I hope that others will get to experience that too.         

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