On Leaving Japan, My Second Home

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My last selfie in Japan: me fresh from a night's stay at the 9hrs capsule hotel. I stayed here the night I arrived in Japan and I stayed here again on my way out.

My last selfie in Japan: me fresh from a night’s stay at the 9hrs. I stayed here the night I arrived in Japan and I stayed here again on my way out.

Packing up all of my cumbersome suitcases and stuffing souvenirs into over-sized carry-ons opened up a bubble of time for me to reflect on the four months I spent studying abroad — my first adventure overseas. Living, laughing, and learning in Japan made up the busiest few months of my life; I was constantly scuttling about, getting on and off subway trains as I went to classes and taught some of my own with the superstar instructors at a Japanese high school. My faux leather planner was full of circled dates for extra activities and potential meet-ups with friends and family. The short, dirty blonde hair you see to the left framed the face of a girl whose brain previously swarmed with plans of trips and visits to cool destinations in Tokyo, many of which, of course, never happened. All students who get the opportunity to study abroad go through this, I’m sure of it. Our schedules quickly become packed, and the places and events that hovered at the bottom of our wishlists turn into adventures unrealized. I had several of these stragglers that didn’t make it into my study abroad scrapbook, but even with all that was on my plate, I was able to make the most of my time in Japan, my second home.

The experiences I have had in Japan blessed me with amazing new opportunities and helped to build a stronger me. The brave young woman who boarded a plane bound for Japan in January was very different from the braver and bolder one who stepped off a plane in New York, late April. I never expected to learn more about my self and my soul, but I did along the streets of Tokyo on my morning walks to class. I didn’t anticipate meeting inspiring new people and making new friends, but it happened in a Japanese high school in Kanagawa. There is so much I owe to those who made it possible for me to study overseas, but at least I was able to give a little back through my internship.

My suitcases ready to roll around the airport and leave for America. (The other cart should say "Goodbye, Japan.") 😞

My suitcases ready to roll around the airport and leave for America. (The other cart should say “Goodbye, Japan.”) 😞

Because these experiences helped me grow and I became attached to life in Japan, leaving it was an event akin to leaving behind a beloved stuffed animal in a hotel as a little kid. I was sad, frustrated, and a little over-dramatic, but I knew that it wouldn’t be my last time there; if the map of my future plans uncurls its paper edges the way I hope it will, I’ll be stepping the streets of Japan again soon. I also knew that I’d become the “back in Japan” kid for many years after my return to the States, but I’m more than happy to be that kid. I did my family proud by realizing my dream of visiting Japan, but more than that, I did myself proud, and that is what we should all seek to do.

I hope that the students who read these blogs and dream of studying and exploring in a new places, get the chance to do so. Make the most of your college years while you still can, and plan to travel! ♄

More Must-Visits in Japan: Release Your Inner Foodie

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There are big differences between the “food culture” of the East and the West, and while there are countless similarities, there are still plenty of unique foods, places to eat, and ways of eating that are fun to discover about both areas. Studying abroad in Japan after living all my years in America, I have enjoyed experiencing excitement and surprise as I uncovered some of the similarities and differences of the two types of food cultures I am now familiar with.

A few of those who will study abroad in Japan after living in the States might be a little disappointed with the disappearances of the kinds of foods they’re used to (cheap peanut butter, for instance, is difficult to find in Japan’s grocery stores, and cereal is also not as big a part of breakfast in Japan so the choices are limited) and the introduction of new foods that take center stage at different meal times. These phenomena take some getting used to, but most of what you’ll eat are things you like because, although restaurants don’t serve typical “American food,” you can still shop for most of your favorites at the markets.

To give you a preview of what you can expect traveling to Japan (from an American’s point of view), I thought I’d introduce you to some of my most frequented food spots and most tasted treats. I have many favorite traditional Japanese places, but these are some of the good eats you may not have heard of!


ăƒžăƒ«ă‚€ăƒăƒ˜ă‚™ăƒŒă‚Żă‚™ăƒ« -- See how glorious this giant bagel looks! <3

ăƒžăƒ«ă‚€ăƒăƒ˜ă‚™ăƒŒă‚Żă‚™ăƒ« — See how glorious this giant bagel looks!

 

Maruichi Bagel

The first place you should know about if you miss rich, beautifully baked bagels, is Maruichi Bagel (ăƒžăƒ«ă‚€ăƒăƒ™ăƒŒă‚°ăƒ«) which is right near TUJ and the Shirokane Takanawa Station stop (near the park there). It’s an inconspicuous little shop with a white interior and friendly and sweet staff that get so excited to see customers come in to buy their amazing bagels. Another TUJ student frequents the shop so much that the staff learned his favorite order right away and tried to save a cinnamon raisin bagel for him at the end of his long day of classes! We went in together as the semester came to a close and I mustered up the courage to explain in Japanese that we were heading back to America in a few days, and that it would be our last bagel before we left. They were so sad to see us go! Definitely make a Maruichi bagel your morning breakfast before you finish your walk to TUJ!

Pancakes bigger than your face topped (or put on the side) with a giant mound of whipped cream.

Pancakes bigger than your face topped (or put on the side) with a giant mound of smooth whipped cream.

 

Eggs ‘n Things

One of the top restaurants on your list of places to stuff your face should be Eggs ‘n Things, an extremely popular “all day breakfast” Hawaii-based gem that has several locations in Japan (including Harajuku–convenient if you spend the rest of your day there shopping!). They do feature seafood dinner options, but they are known for their ridiculously enormous pancake and whipped cream set that is available all day and night. Get to these restaurants early though, there’s a wait for their delicious wares!

Spagiro

Missing American or Italian-style spaghetti? Check out Spajiro (ă™ă±ă˜ă‚ă†) which has eight locations in Japan, including one open for the (very) late night owls of Roppongi (think karaoke!). They have delicious giant bowls of spaghetti in so many styles, and the sizes are all the same price (small, medium, large and for the big eater, extra large). It’s on the cheaper side of the really filling American-sized portion restaurants–even the small size is big enough for those who feel like they are ready to eat a horse! There’s a location in the Azabu-Juban area, which is a ten minute or so walk from TUJ’s Shirokane Takanawa. I’ve been here so many times after wasting time struggling to find dinner spots near TUJ. I usually always find myself trekking the walk to Azabu-Juban to bask in the warm, saucy red glow of a big bowl of Spagiro’s spaghetti.

And for dessert…

St. Marc Cafe (ă‚”ăƒłăƒžăƒ«ă‚Żă‚«ăƒ•ă‚§), known for its signiture and original “Chococro” pastry, is an amazing spot for coffee, pastries, and ice cream dishes and there are several of them that will seem to pop out of the woodwork in the spots around Tokyo and Yokohama that you’ll frequent. There are also tons of crepe shops in shopping centers, and two rival shops in Harajuku that serve up some of the best crepes you’ll ever taste. Have fun discovering your own favorite foods in Japan while studying abroad! Just remember to watch how much you dish out on ramen, udon, pancakes, spaghetti, desserts and more! Don’t forget to buy groceries!

Ice cream from St. Marc's and a beautiful pastry behind it!

Ice cream from St. Marc’s and a beautiful pastry behind it!

My favorite dish at Spagiro's (go mushrooms!!).

My favorite dish at Spagiro’s (go mushrooms!!).

Not the Same

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One of my final outings of the semester was visiting the Tsukiji Nippon Fish Port Market with Ashlee Mantione. While waiting for the market to open, we were able to watch the sunrise.

As I started packing for home, I kept thinking back to one of the songs that my favorite artist, Ben Folds, composed back in 2001. The song, “Not the Same,” is about how even the most mundane thing changes you. Although studying abroad is by no means “mundane” there’s a certain magic to it that wears off after the weeks of daily commutes begin blending together. And after a while (most of the time without your knowing) the country you’re studying in becomes an inseparable part of who you are. This made Japan feel more familiar, more ordinary—to the point where maybe my experiences became a bit mundane. Regardless, my overweight suitcases and unrealistic expectation for America to have as many vending machines as Japan has made it clear that I am not the same.

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Before I left Japan I was able to swing by the recently constructed Oizumi Anime Gate. This area, featuring life-size bronze statues of classic anime characters, is located outside of the Oizumi-Gakuen Station in Nerima. Lum the Invader Girl is one of my favorite characters; she’s also one the protagonists in Rumiko Takahashi’s Urusei Yatsura. Without reading Urusei Yatsura—which is jam-packed with Japanese-specific humor that I had to look up to understand—I would never have gained an interest in studying Japanese culture so I’ve got a lot to thank Lum for!

Over the course of my semester I learned that planning a trip weeks in advanced isn’t always necessary. Spontaneously deciding to find lunch somewhere other than the nearest seven-eleven on a weekday or foregoing an early start on homework to scope out more of Harajuku Friday evening is always a good choice. On the topic of going out, when I return to Japan in the future, I’ll remember to set aside a larger amount of money for food and transportation. While preparing to study abroad I had been more focused on all the souvenirs I might pick up rather than my grocery and train bills. Additionally, I’ll find the courage to bring larger suitcases or learn how to use the post office because I did not have enough room nor weight allowance for my luggage.

I’d also like to return to Japan with a larger vocabulary and grammatical understanding of Japanese. Temple University Japan’s language program was a great way for me to kick-start my language skills, but I was always hesitant and far too concerned with saying things correctly to really put them to use. What was even more difficult than being fearless with my Japanese was juggling my coursework and personal trips. I tend to be a slow worker so I spent a lot of time either completing assignments or trying to keep up with them after going out and exploring. It’s why I’d love to return to the country with a slightly lighter schedule and also why I stress the importance of knowing and acting upon your academic limits.

It’s not a surprise to me that so many of my friends and peers are returning to America knowing that Japan is still a part of their futures. Although it’s hard to identify, there’s something about Japan that constantly calls those who stay back. I’ve been lucky enough to experience even a sliver of Japan’s cultures and I look forward to the next time I’ll be able to stay.

Kyoto and Osaka

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Last weekend a group of friends and I managed to see Osaka and Kyoto. It was great to see some more traditional Japan, which can be difficult to find in such a modern city like Tokyo. We were able to take the shinkansen (which was $220 round trip; a pricey train!) and experience the cities for all they have.

Temple Japan students Carlos Casademont and Megan Smith head towards Osaka Castle.

Temple Japan students Carlos Casademont and Megan Smith head towards Osaka Castle.

In Osaka, one of our must-see's was Osaka Castle. It was originally built in 1583 CE, but was burned down in 1868, and later bombed during World War II. This building was rebuilt completely in 1997.

In Osaka, one of our must-see’s was Osaka Castle. It was originally built in 1583 CE, but was burned down in 1868, and later bombed during World War II. This building was rebuilt completely in 1997.

The castle towers over everything in the area, and you don't realize just how big it is until you get closer to it.

The castle towers over everything in the area, and you don’t realize just how big it is until you get closer to it.

TUJ students Carlos Casademont and Megan Smith sotp for a photo outside of Osaka Castle in Osaka.

TUJ students Carlos Casademont and Megan Smith stop for a photo outside of Osaka Castle in Osaka.

The ponds surrounding Osaka castle were beautiful and it couldn't have been a better season to visit than late spring.

The ponds surrounding Osaka castle were beautiful and it couldn’t have been a better season to visit than late spring.

One thing that makes Osaka different from Tokyo is that escalators "flip". In Tokyo, you stand on the left side of the elevator. As seen here, in Osaka, you stand on the right.

One thing that makes Osaka different from Tokyo is that escalators “flip”. In Tokyo, you stand on the left side of the elevator. As seen here, in Osaka, you stand on the right.

Osaka is known for having some of the best food in all of Japan. "The ramen's broth was so 'on point"", commented Temple Japan student Carlos Casademont.

Osaka is known for having some of the best food in all of Japan. “The ramen’s broth was so ‘on point””, commented Temple Japan student Carlos Casademont.

This was one of our restaurants signature Miso Ramen, with some pork in it. It was absolutely delicious!

This was one of our restaurants signature Miso Ramen, with some pork in it. It was absolutely delicious!

At the restaurant we went to in Osaka, they were known for their famous gyoza. It was by far the best I've ever had.

At the restaurant we went to in Osaka, they were known for their famous gyoza. It was by far the best I’ve ever had.

Osaka at night has so much to do! We passed so many pachinko parlors, karaoke studios, movie theaters, and even saw this giant ferris wheel coming out of a building!

Osaka at night has so much to do! We passed so many pachinko parlors, karaoke studios, movie theaters, and even saw this giant ferris wheel coming out of a building!

One must see in Kyoto is the Fushimi Inari Shrine. This Shinto shrine specifically was made for the Inari-kami, hence it's name.

One must see in Kyoto is the Fushimi Inari Shrine. This Shinto shrine specifically was made for the Inari-kami, hence it’s name.

The shrine at the bottom of the mountain has many buildings, and there are multiple shops to purchase shrine-related gifts, food, and typical souvenir gifts.

The shrine at the bottom of the mountain has many buildings, and there are multiple shops to purchase shrine-related gifts, food, and typical souvenir gifts.

Fushimi Inari shrine conveniently had tons of places to pray and throw yen into, for your wishes and prayers.

Fushimi Inari shrine conveniently had tons of places to pray and throw yen into, for your wishes and prayers.

The sun peaked out a little for a magical moment, but like every trip I've taken so far, the day got very cloudy and rained a little. This moment, however, really brought the tranquility and beauty to Fushimi Inari shrine.

The sun peaked out a little for a magical moment, but like every trip I’ve taken so far, the day got very cloudy and rained a little. This moment, however, really brought the tranquility and beauty to Fushimi Inari shrine.

Temple Japan students Carlos Casademont and Megan Smith head up Fushimi Inari Shrine among the Torii gates.

Temple Japan students Carlos Casademont and Megan Smith head up Fushimi Inari Shrine among the Torii gates.

These woodblocks are available at multiple shrines all over Japan, but this shrine specifically in the shape of a fox, for the Inari-kami. These are for writing your wishes on, but lately it seems that they are a way to display your level of art.

These woodblocks are available at multiple shrines all over Japan, but this shrine specifically in the shape of a fox, for the Inari-kami. These are for writing your wishes on, but lately it seems that they are a way to display your level of art.

My logic at an early morning hour said "Wear my yukata and climb up to the top of Fushimi Inari Shrine. It'll be fine." It wasn't fine. Here though, TUJ student Megan Smith and I snapped a photo with the Torii gates BEFORE we had made it to the top.

My logic at an early morning hour said “Wear my yukata and climb up to the top of Fushimi Inari Shrine. It’ll be fine.” It wasn’t fine. Here though, TUJ student Megan Smith and I snapped a photo with the Torii gates BEFORE we had made it to the top.

Each torii gate is donated by a local business, and businesses all over Japan now. There are over 10,000 torii gates now!

Each torii gate is donated by a local business, and businesses all over Japan now. There are over 10,000 torii gates now!

These fox fountains followed us up the whole way to the top, creating a melody of dripping water to lead our way.

These fox fountains followed us up the whole way to the top, creating a melody of dripping water to lead our way.

The view of Kyoto at the halfway point at Fushimi Inari Shrine was incredible!

The view of Kyoto at the halfway point at Fushimi Inari Shrine was incredible!

Our miraculous moment as well finally reached the top of Fushimi Inari Shrine.

Our miraculous moment as well finally reached the top of Fushimi Inari Shrine.

TUJ student Carlos Casademont looks out over Kyoto from Fushimi Inari Shrine.

TUJ student Carlos Casademont looks out over Kyoto from Fushimi Inari Shrine.

Kyoto Tower was greeting us right as we left Kyoto Station. This is not to be confused with Tokyo Tower in Tokyo.

Kyoto Tower was greeting us right as we left Kyoto Station. This is not to be confused with Tokyo Tower in Tokyo.

At Kyoto Station, there was a display for the new Dragonball Z movie, featuring the dragon Shenron from the show (and movie).

At Kyoto Station, there was a display for the new Dragonball Z movie, featuring the dragon Shenron from the show (and movie).

One temple that is really close to Kyoto Station is Higashi Honganji, a Buddhist Temple specifically in Pure Land Buddhism.

One temple that is really close to Kyoto Station is Higashi Honganji, a Buddhist Temple specifically in Pure Land Buddhism.

The purification fountain at Higashi Honganji was quite ornate. To enter, you must take the ladles, pour the water in your left hand, then right, and pour some water in your hand and sip it. Do not drink think water though, so make sure to spit in out in the appropriate area once you've sipped it.

The purification fountain at Higashi Honganji was quite ornate. To enter, you must take the ladles, pour the water in your left hand, then right, and pour some water in your hand and sip it. Do not drink think water though, so make sure to spit in out in the appropriate area once you’ve sipped it.

Sadly, photographs are not allowed inside of Higashi Honganji, but the outside of the building is gorgeous and tranquil.

Sadly, photographs are not allowed inside of Higashi Honganji, but the outside of the building is gorgeous and tranquil.

Osaka and Kyoto are places you just cannot say you didn’t see in Japan. They hold some of the traditional values of Japan combined with a fantastic array of culture, food, temples and shrines, and more! I’m glad I was able to go before I leave Japan, and they are one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.

Tsukiji Market

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On one of our last day in Tokyo, I decided to go to the Tsukiji Fish Market with one of my fellow TUJ classmates. In order to go, however, you need to usually find a place to stay all night because the market opens up at 5am every morning (except for Sundays, Holidays, and certain Wednesdays). The market is known to be one of the largest in the world, with business coming from all over the globe to purchase and sell fish here.

The streets near Ginza were completely deserted around 4 AM. We decided to leave around 4 AM for the market, before it got too crowded.

The streets near Ginza were completely deserted around 4 AM. We decided to leave around 4 AM for the market, before it got too crowded.

When we arrived at the market, it was still slow but vendors were putting out their goods, and shops were turning their lights on. Here is one of the main signs indicating where the outdoor market begins.

When we arrived at the market, it was still slow but vendors were putting out their goods, and shops were turning their lights on. Here is one of the main signs indicating where the outdoor market begins.

Even though it was still early morning, the market was moving about already. When visiting here, it is recommended that you take caution where you walk, because it can become very very crowded and busy.

Even though it was still early morning, the market was moving about already. When visiting here, it is recommended that you take caution where you walk, because it can become very very crowded and busy.

Many of the vendors had history of the trade outside the building. The market actually used to be in Kanda, but was relocated to Tsukiji some time after World War II, since the city was growing around up around it and the area wasn't as close to the port.

Many of the vendors had history of the trade outside the building. The market actually used to be in Kanda, but was relocated to Tsukiji some time after World War II, since the city was growing around up around it and the area wasn’t as close to the port.

We managed to arrive at the market a few minutes before 5 AM, when the market opens. The area is actually patrolled by the police, and they are very strict with their rules about the market.

We managed to arrive at the market a few minutes before 5 AM, when the market opens. The area is actually patrolled by the police, and they are very strict with their rules about the market.

In recent years, tourists have caused quite a problem in the market. In all honesty, Tsukiji is NOT an attraction, but merely a market. Vendors are trying to conduct businesses, and so many tourists flock to the area now that it inhibits that. It also has become a health hazard for the fresh fish being sold. Too many people around makes the temperature much hotter, and increases the risk of the fish getting contaminated with germs. Because of this, Visitors are not allowed to visit until after 9am when most of the fish are sold.

In recent years, tourists have caused quite a problem in the market. In all honesty, Tsukiji is NOT an attraction, but merely a market. Vendors are trying to conduct businesses, and so many tourists flock to the area now that it inhibits that. It also has become a health hazard for the fresh fish being sold. Too many people around makes the temperature much hotter, and increases the risk of the fish getting contaminated with germs. Because of this, Visitors are not allowed to visit until after 9am when most of the fish are sold.

Since we had arrived a little too early, it was a perfect time to catch the sunrise on Tokyo Bay.

Since we had arrived a little too early, it was a perfect time to catch the sunrise on Tokyo Bay.

The port area is where the real action happens. Here, there are trucks, carts, scooters, and bikes constantly moving. They're transporting fresh fish and other goods to and fro. Even though the fish wasn't visible, the smell was quite apparent that we had found where they were being sold.

The port area is where the real action happens. Here, there are trucks, carts, scooters, and bikes constantly moving. They’re transporting fresh fish and other goods to and fro. Even though the fish wasn’t visible, the smell was quite apparent that we had found where they were being sold.

In the market, there are certain areas that are restricted at all times. This is where the products are actually being brought in from buses, trucks, and of course, boats.

In the market, there are certain areas that are restricted at all times. This is where the products are actually being brought in from buses, trucks, and of course, boats.

In the market, there are many famous sushi and sashimi restaurants, since the fish could not get any fresher than from a place like the market.

In the market, there are many famous sushi and sashimi restaurants, since the fish could not get any fresher than from a place like the market.

Many merchants sold variations of dried goods. I've never seen so many beans and dried fruits ever!

Many merchants sold variations of dried goods. I’ve never seen so many beans and dried fruits ever!

If you love seafood, then you will love some of the things Tsukiji has to offer. All kinds of fish, shellfish, squid... you name it, they have it. The market is most famous for it's tuna auctions at 5 AM. Merchants from all over the world come to bid on gigantic tuna, but only about 70 are allowed in every morning.

If you love seafood, then you will love some of the things Tsukiji has to offer. All kinds of fish, shellfish, squid… you name it, they have it. The market is most famous for it’s tuna auctions at 5 AM. Merchants from all over the world come to bid on gigantic tuna, but only about 70 are allowed in every morning.

The Tsukiji Market was an amazing experience to see a tradition that has been around for decades. I really thought going early was a much better experience, because there are no tourists around and you can really see the “behind the scenes” of the market.

The Last of the Big Trips

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Even looking up at it, Osaka Castle looked dazzling in the sunshine.

If there was ever a weekend when my infamous ability to push off big decisions came back to haunt me, it had to be this past weekend when a few friends and I finally made our way to Kyoto and Osaka. Many study abroad students at Temple University Japan make it a travel priority to see these two cities and I highly suggest, if you plan on studying abroad in Tokyo, doing the same. Tokyo has a lot to offer and since coming in January there hasn’t been a single day where I’ve run out of places to visit, but it’s also important to see more of Japan. My friends and I put off solidifying our plans until the middle of March and due to conflicting schedules, ended up booking a hotel during finals week. We made it to Kyoto very late Friday night and had less than twenty-four hours to dedicate to each city over the span of Saturday and Sunday. It’s not impossible to sit in on several theatrical performances then try out different restaurants in Osaka or pop your head into a handful of temples and shrines in Kyoto over the course of one weekend, but it is a bit of a challenge to balance out when everyone that you traveled with—including yourself— is sick. The best way to get the most out of traveling to Kyoto and Osaka (assuming you’re healthy) is to write, rely, and follow through on an itinerary.

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Here are some of the many, many torii gates at Fushimi Inari Shrine!

Even though we caught colds, the trip was exceedingly worthwhile. On Saturday, my friends and I spent our afternoon by Osaka castle, where we were able to buy snacks from food vendors and admire the scenery. Later that evening we ate dinner at Ipputo—a fairly priced and phenomenal ramen restaurant. There was a bit of a wait to get into Ipputo, but it wasn’t long and we were able to order our meals beforehand, speeding up the time between food preparation and consumption. On Sunday, we hit the road for Kyoto with the famous Fushimi Inari Shrine, one of Japan’s Unesco World Heritage Sites, as our destination. The shrine is known for its 10,000 torii gates and the climb, accompanied by countless flights of stairs, to the top. There were a few ways to get to the top of the shrine and it was agreed that in order to return to the Kitazono women’s dorm before curfew we would take the shortcut. Two hours and a few rests later, we realized that we misread the map and took the scenic route up. Luckily, we corrected ourselves and took the shorter path down.

Including my weekend trip to Kyoto and Osaka, there were so many instances throughout the semester where my plans were pushed back, flawed, or didn’t end up happening for whatever reason. I think learning to enjoy them regardless has been one of the most beneficial parts of my stay in Japan. It’ s like when my friends I read one of the maps at Inari incorrectly and took the long way up, coughing all the while. It wasn’t easy that way and we definitely weren’t pleased to find out why our hike felt like it would never end, but we still managed to make it to the top.

AnimeJapan 2015

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A few weeks ago, my friends and I had the privilege of going to AnimeJapan, the largest convention in the world featuring Japanese animation from all studios and stations across Japan. It was hosted in Tokyo Big SIght, a convention center located in South Tokyo along the bay, making it very windy. Although the lines were very long, and the crowds were huge, it was definitely worth the „1600 to get in.

Upon arriving at the convention, we realized that there were so many people! In the exhibition halls, there were lots of television stations and animation studios showing off some behind the scenes of the work they do on their animations, and selling merchandise.

Upon arriving at the convention, we realized that there were so many people! In the exhibition halls, there were lots of television stations and animation studios showing off some behind the scenes of the work they do on their animations, and selling merchandise.

There was a large cosplay area where people could take photos of those dressed up. Here, they provided backdrops from specific shows, so that those characters could pose with it

There was a large cosplay area where people could take photos of those dressed up. Here, they provided backdrops from specific shows, so that those characters could pose with it

The area also extended outside, because there were so many people. You usually had to wait in line to take photos of the cosplayers, and they each had their own sign so that you could go to their social media pages.

The area also extended outside, because there were so many people. You usually had to wait in line to take photos of the cosplayers, and they each had their own sign so that you could go to their social media pages.

TUj student Naomi Polite is in awe of just how large the exhibition halls were, especially at the large screens above many booths screening promos for new anime.

TUJ student Naomi Polite is in awe of just how large the exhibition halls were, especially at the large screens above many booths screening promos for new anime.

This show, Love Live!, was very popular at the convention. Idol animes are currently all the rage, so it was common to see girls in similar uniforms in dance poses.

This show, Love Live!, was very popular at the convention. Idol animes are currently all the rage, so it was common to see girls in similar uniforms in dance poses.

TUJ Student Megan Smith is in awe at the display for the series Kyokai no Rinne which just premiered in Japan. As a fan, it was exciting to see new information on the show that wasn't available in the U.S. or even on many English websites.

TUJ Student Megan Smith is in awe at the display for the series Kyokai no Rinne which just premiered in Japan. As a fan, it was exciting to see new information on the show that wasn’t available in the U.S. or even on many English websites.

Many cosplayers at Anime Japan even took photos themselves. This cosplayer, dressed as the character Araragi from the Monogatari series was also taking photos of other cosplayers, while cosplaying himself.

Many cosplayers at Anime Japan even took photos themselves. This cosplayer, dressed as the character Araragi from the Monogatari series was also taking photos of other cosplayers, while cosplaying himself.

Here Temple Japan student Megan Smith poses with the outfit and prop for the titular character from the upcoming anime series Kyƍkai no Rinne.

Here Temple Japan student Megan Smith poses with the outfit and prop for the titular character from the upcoming anime series Kyƍkai no Rinne.

TUJ students Carlos Casademont and Megan Smith laughing over something but still having a good time enjoying Anime Japan and checking out all of the booths and merchandise.

TUJ students Carlos Casademont and Megan Smith laughing over something but still having a good time enjoying Anime Japan and checking out all of the booths and merchandise.

Many studios are a chance to promote their upcoming shows. This one, The Heroic Legend of Arslan, is an upcoming anime television show. This area was very busy because the manga version of the show was written by the famous author Arakawa Hiromi, known for creating the series Fullmetal Alchemist.

Many studios are a chance to promote their upcoming shows. This one, The Heroic Legend of Arslan, is an upcoming anime television show. This area was very busy because the manga version of the show was written by the famous author Arakawa Hiromi, known for creating the series Fullmetal Alchemist.

Cosplaying at Japanese conventions is incredibly different from ones in the U.S. At AnimeJapan, cosplayers were allowed to go anywhere in the convention, but this isn't always the case. In similar conventions in Japan, it is common that you cannot leave the cosplay area without completely changing first. In the U.S. there is no limit on where you are permitted to wear your cosplay.

Cosplaying at Japanese conventions is incredibly different from ones in the U.S. At AnimeJapan, cosplayers were allowed to go anywhere in the convention, but this isn’t always the case. In similar conventions in Japan, it is common that you cannot leave the cosplay area without completely changing first. In the U.S. there is no limit on where you are permitted to wear your cosplay.

Sadly, the convention only ran from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm each day it was open (which was only Saturday and Sunday). Conventions in the U.S. usually run 3 days, from Friday to Sunday, and open at times such as 9:00 am to 2:00 am.

Sadly, the convention only ran from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm each day it was open (which was only Saturday and Sunday). Conventions in the U.S. usually run 3 days, from Friday to Sunday, and open at times such as 9:00 am to 2:00 am.

AnimeJapan was a big new experience for me and I would love to have the opportunity to go to something similar in Japan again. Unfortunately, AnimeJapan is only once a year in the spring, but there are many other similar events in Tokyo and other places in the nearby areas for fans and even cosplayers to attend.