New Beginnings in Japan

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Hello everyone!

This is my first entry, so I thought I would quickly introduce myself. My name is Michelle, and I’m a junior studying abroad at Temple’s Japan Campus in Tokyo. I’m 20 years old, and I’m and East Asian History major and Japanese minor.

So, my first week and a half in Japan is almost over! Jetlag was definitely a struggle, but one that ended, for me, around 4 days after arrival. However, it’s strange to have to calculate what time it is at home in order to contact family and loved ones. Despite the time difference, and being away from home, I am already having a blast here. I’m living in the Ontakesan Dorm, located in the Ota ward of Tokyo. The town is really very quaint, and yet still has 24 hour shops and a small mall. I’ve had no problems finding anything, and it’s been a lot of fun exploring around town with some of the girls I met on my hall.

Ontakesan

My friend Lauren and I were out exploring the other day, and we happened upon a shrine that was tucked away behind the mall. Yes, behind a mall! This is one of the things I truly love about Japan, especially Tokyo. No matter where you are, even in the busiest areas of the city, there are always hidden parks and small shrines tucked in between high rise buildings. The harmony between the modern world and nature is really wonderful, and to me, very calming. If I’m having a hard day, or if I’m sick of all of the hustle and bustle, I can walk to this local shrine and just have a peaceful moment to myself. It’s so beautiful, and I’m really glad that we found it!

In contrast, if I’m looking for some adventure and fun, I can easily hop on the train and head to one of the trendier neighborhoods in downtown Tokyo. The second day I was here, Lauren and I hopped on the train and went to Harajuku, and decided to explore Takeshita Dori which is most famous for its street fashion. I have been lucky enough to go to Harajuku before, and no matter what type of day I’m having, it always lightens my mood. People are free to dress how they want, and express themselves in every possible in Harajuku. This love of fashion is contagious, and the people watching that Lauren and I partook in was really inspiring. It’s also really cool because you can immediately spot the current trends amongst Japanese girls. For instance, right now its frilly socks. Many girls are wearing them with heels, or boots, and they really do add an adorable girly touch to any outfit.

Also in Harajuku, Laren and I discovered an arcade where we took プリクラ (purikura). Purikura are pictures that are taken in a photo booth, which can then be drawn on and printed out as stickers. There’s really nothing like it in the United States, and it’s so much fun to do with friends.

Tomorrow I am planning on going to La La Port, which is a really popular mall here in Tokyo. I will take some more purikura, and now that I have a prepaid cell phone (which I highly recommend) I will be able to scan the photos right on to my phone and upload them. Therefore, you guys can see what I’m talking about.

In terms of the phones, I really suggest getting one. It’s a very convenient way to keep in touch with friends, and a vital way for the school, dorm managers, or family to get in touch with you in case of an emergency. It’s fairly cheap ( you can decide how many minutes to pay for), and you can recharge the minutes every month at local convenient stores or online. Phones are a key part of modern Japanese culture, and almost everyone has one. Instead of talking on the train, many people spend their time texting or playing games on their phones. It’s pretty interesting to watch, and to take part in.

Well, thats all for now! I’m still feeling a bit sleepy at the end of a long school day, so it’s off to bed for me!

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