So like most study aboard students, I did a lot of studying on Japan culture and language before arriving so that I knew exactly what I signed up for. Initially, when I entered Japan, I expected a high tech country. The way my textbooks told me stories of Japan’s high-tech toilets, bullet trains that reach speeds of approximately 150-200 mph, and earthquake resistance infrastructures left me with the impression of a country that was decades ahead of the US in terms of technology. But in reality, Japan really seems to be more of a mixture of ancient and modern culture. I got previews of both cultures and how they co-existed within the country when my host mom took me home after a long trip from the airport.
As I began to adjust to accepting the fact that I’m certainly not in Philly, I began to shift my attention to differences between the two cities. Everything felt so familiar, yet was completely different upon closer inspection. The familiarity of 7-eleven, was especially welcoming in a country where I felt completely lost!
Upon entering, I quickly realized how different it was from the 7-eleven’s I knew back at home. The plethora of anime merchandise certainly brought a smile to the child inside of me, however, realizing I wasn’t as good as I thought at reading kanji, I resisted the temptation to purchase a copy of this week’s Shonen Jump. I decided to I settled for the familiar katsu-don instead of trying out some of the more adventurous options. After meticulously planning the conversation I was expecting to have at the register, I ended up resorting to using nods instead since the speed of his honorific language was a bit too much for me to handle.
Another noticeable difference between Philly and pretty much all of Japan, was the degree of cleanliness. The grossness of public transit which is the norm for Philly, was not seen at the public transits of Japan. While the trains were uncomfortable cramped and quiet, it was super clean and everyone was very polite. Even the streets are spotless despite not having any public trash cans (a friend later explained that this was a precautionary measure against terrorist threats). In fact, it was pretty difficult to find any place that wasn’t clean. I consider myself to be pretty organized and clean, but the degree of cleanliness and organization that my host family demonstrated in their house is simply astonishing.
So after much debate, I decided to spare my readers a summary of my long journey from the airport since it was pretty uneventful and went exactly like it was supposed to, despite me feeling like a lost child throughout the whole process. Instead let’s skip to the fun part, the Barbeque at Ranzan Gorge!
My group was awesome, and I got to experience my first time setting up a camp fire with the group.
We also played some traditional Japanese beach games, which was a great time!
This was definitely a great time, despite the fact that I totally forgot to bring sandals with me and had to walk on rocks!!