The Great Kyoto Adventure, Part I

At last, another weekend had arrived. After doing lots of research on the internet, I had decided to take my own personal tour of Kyoto. First stop? Ninna-Ji.


IBU Photo Session

Another Friday night was upon me, and to kill time, I decided to explore the campus of IBU.


Early Morning Shortcut

I woke up on Thursday morning to the frustrating realization that I didn't really have anything to eat, so I decided to go to school early, and get some food at the convenient store. I used my extra time to take some pictures of the shortcut that Rick, Sean and Dustin had found at least a week prior.

Fun With Flowers

It was the day for traditional Japanese flower arrangement! I can't say I was actually looking forward to it, but we didn't have much of a choice in the matter.


Another Trip to Den-Den Town

Day Trip

A typical lunch from the cafeteria at IBU
It looked like it was going to be a pretty normal, uneventful school day on Tuesday, until Courtney, Stacey, and Neko-Sean invited me to go with them to Nipponbashi.

I took this picture after I had been screwing with the tilt-shift
function on my camera. I guess it still looks pretty cool.
We took the train over to a station about 4 or 5 blocks away. We were a little on-edge, because we had recently been warned about the "bad part of town," Shinsekai, and it was right across the street from us.

It's a pretty cool looking place, though.


Singing and Sushi

Rock On
Rick posing with the guitar

The week started off with a meeting in the music room. It was time to practice the songs we were singing on July 4th! Unfortunately, Tribute by Tenacious D has been denied. We replaced it with Twist and Shout, The Beatles' style!


Another Trip to Umeda!

I would like to start this post by saying that I'm going to start paying better attention to the quality of my posts. I'm going to filter out more lame pictures, and put more interesting comments in between them. Or die trying. Or live trying.

Tired and Aching

It was Sunday, and Saturday had been a long day. In between all of the sightseeing and fun times, there had been a lot of walking, and a lot of standing in the hot sun. My legs hurt, and it was raining outside. Luckily, the wi-fi, I mean Rick, was home, so I could surf the internet. It looked like it was going to be another lazy day.

When I checked my Facebook, I had a message from Stacey. She wanted to go to Umeda. My initial reaction was... No. No way. I was too tired, and I could barely walk. But then, Rick- I mean the intern- wait, yeah, Rick left. The rain was becoming just a sprinkle, so I decided to take a walk around the block to see if I was up for another trip.

Another Trip

After making sure Kilo and Jackson didn't want to go, I hobbled my way over to the girls' dorm, so I could tell Stacey I was backing up on my decision. I brought my umbrella, since the rain hadn't really stopped yet, and I had no way to check the weather forecast.

It turns out I was the only one, so it was just me and Stacey, prowling the streets of Japan, much like the first day I got here.

Downtown Osaka

We hopped aboard the train, and made our way towards Umeda.

Kyoto Time, And A Pilgrimage (Or Two)

Exploring Fujiidera

Saturday had arrived. Finally, the day had come to visit Kiyomizudera! I woke up early, and headed down to the station. We were meeting at 10, but I got excited, and showed up at 9. I had about an hour to walk around, so I ventured into uncharted territory, north of the train tracks.

There wasn't really anything in particular to see, well you know, except Japan. I snapped a few pictures of the city, because in Japan, even a leisurely stroll about town is bizarre and interesting.


Screwing Around, and More Karaoke!

A Lazy Week

It had been a busy weekend, and I was more than ready to take it easy.

The view from my bed.
Monday came and went without much fuss. Tuesday I took a trip to the mall at Abenobashi. On the way to the Fujiidera station, I took a small detour. There was an interesting looking bell-shaped block on my map I wanted to check out.


The Land of Haruhi Suzumiya

My First Pilgrimage

Before coming to Japan, one of my main objectives was to carry out some anime 聖地巡礼, or "pilgrimages," for those of you who can't read moon-runes. Today, my goal was to go to the "holy land" of  The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.

My day began with some laundry. I rinsed my socks separately, since my shoes had turned them green the day before.
The color balance in this image is fine.
I headed down the street fairly early. My destination was pretty far away, and I didn't want to risk being stuck there in the dark. I walked about half a mile down the street to the bus stop on the main road, and noticed a small shrine next to it while I was waiting for the bus.
This kind of thing was really common, but that
didn't stop me from taking pictures of it.


Osaka Castle

A Ride to the City

It was Saturday. Time to go to Osaka Castle!

We met up at Fujiidera station at 10:00, just like before. I got there early, and it was very hot and humid, so I made my way over to the air-conditioned 7-Eleven to get myself something other than my water bottle to drink. I got myself some ice cream, and I chose this tea to drink, because it had K-On! merchandise affixed to it. Yes, drink companies. That's all it takes.

Collect them all!

It even had a little stick for me to pick them up with. How cute.

It wasn't long before the group showed up. After following a moderately-confusing network of trains and subways, we arrived outside the Osaka Museum of History. It's a really tall, cool-looking building.




I really like Japanese calligraphy.  I took a class once and it was really fun. That's why I was excited to do it again in Japan.

The teacher was a really cool guy. We all crowded around him and watched him draw the character 永, which means eternity. 

They gave us some how to papers and set us loose.


"Normal" Days

The next couple days weren't very eventful. Tuesday was pretty cool, but nothing much happened.

I noticed that a rash had developed on the back of my shin. It was gone in a couple of days, so I think it was just because I was wearing pants and running around the city the day before. I normally wear shorts, so I don't think my legs were used to that kind of thing. I have omitted the picture. Be grateful.

We started an interesting project with a couple members of the music club. I was asked if I wanted to sing some songs with Japanese students and I was like, "okay." It turns out it's a lot more complicated than that. Luckily I can play guitar, because they wanted us to play instruments, too. They also asked us to pick out some songs. I was put into the English song group with Rick and Christian. We decided on "Good Riddance" by Green Day, and "Tribute" by Tenacious D. They said they would check the songs and get back to us. We will be performing on the 4th of July.

Super Spicy Curry

That night, we went to a Indian-style curry restaurant. We waited in i-talk a while for everybody to show up.

Tennoji and Nipponbashi

Tennoji "Temple"

I'm gonna start this article by explaining Tennoji. Shitennoji is the name of the school I'm going to. It's probably related to the not-so-near Tennoji. Tennoji is the name of a temple. The "ji" means temple, so it would be redundant to call it "Tennoji Temple." There is also a station several large blocks away from Tennoji called Tennoji Station.

Now that we've got that out of the way...

The Trip to Tennoji

After school on Monday, it was time for a field trip. We took a bus down to Fujiidera station. I decided to bring my duffel bag, because I was sick of walking home with shopping bags cutting into my hands.

Non sequitur galore.
In Japan, 7-Eleven are very common, and you can do pretty much anything there. they have some of the only ATMs that take foreign cards, so they have been vital to my trip. You can actually buy substantial, reasonably-priced food there, too. Let's have a round of applause for 7-Eleven.

We all hopped aboard the train to Osaka-Abenobashi, the station right next to Tennoji Station, and started walking towards Tennoji.


A Lazy Sunday


I said Friday was a "free day," but it didn't even compare to the free-ness of that Sunday. I slept in a little, ate breakfast, and admired my accumulation of stuff.
Not pictured: omiyage.
 After sitting around and browsing the internet, doing my homework, and just being lazy in general, I headed over to another, closer supermarket called "Harves" (not a typo) with Kilo and Jackson to check it out.

Harves? Sounds like some kind of disease...


Tennoji Station And The Mall

I love these mats so much that I decided to take pictures of them. They're so cushy and easy to walk on but you can stand stuff up on them just like hardwood floor. You can't get rug burn from them, either.


On Saturday, we took the train to Osaka-Abenobashi, a station right near Tennoji. 


A "Free" Day


Friday was the first day that, after school, we had no obligations. So a bunch of Japanese people asked us to play soccer.

Trip to Umeda

Grocery Store Trip

Thursday was a pretty average day at school. We handed in homework, learned, received homework, etc.

After school, we went home and headed to the grocery store. "We," meaning Jackson, Rick, Sean, Dustin, and me. I needed to get some general supplies. Toilet paper, food; the typical stuff you would get at a grocery store.
Japanese cemeteries are way cool.
I take pictures of them whenever I can.
There is a cool cemetery on the road to the supermarket I had never noticed before. I took a picture. I didn't, however, take any pictures of the supermarket. Again. I got some eggs, bananas, blocks of curry mix, and meat and veggies to make said curry. I got some toilet paper, because the people before us only left 2 rolls. They actually left us quite a bit of stuff, like shampoo and laundry detergent, so I'm not complaining.

Kilo soon showed up at the dorm. He said he was going to the Pokemon center. Needless to say, I was going, too.



Day 2 (or 3)

I again woke up pretty early on the second day of school (probably because of jet-lag). Knowing I wouldn't be able to go back to sleep, I got up and got ready.
Some Engrish Kilo found on the label of the towel
I bought the day before.
More natto.
 I still had a couple more cups of natto left, so I went ahead and started the rice first. I wanted to try mixing the rice and natto.


First Day of School, Pt. 2

After we went and looked at the gym (there is a pretty ramshackle set of work-out equipment up there), we made our way back downstairs and towards the library.

The library.
We learned where to go to find English books (not really sure why I'd want to do that), and where the computer lab-type area is.


First Day of School


On Tuesday, I woke up around 5:00. Kilo and Jackson were still asleep, so I silently slid the door open and brought my laptop into the kitchen. In the morning, I tend to get distracted really easily. I did some writing for this blog, but after maybe 5 minutes I got up and started washing dishes. There are actually quite a few utensils, cups, bowls, pans, pots, and other kitchen tools, but they are all really old and beat up, and most of them were dirty. After I had cleaned a solid amount of them, I decided to try and figure out the rice cooker.

There were no instructions on the rice cooker, so I used the instructions on the bag of rice. There are no measuring cups, so I used a drinking glass which looks to be about 2 cups.

I ate a banana, and then tried out the natto. It was disgusting. Luckily the rice was coming soon. We were just experimenting with the time, so we were checking it every 30 minutes or so.

At this point, Kilo had awakened, and Jackson had, too, to some degree. Kilo and I decided to go on a walk around the neighborhood.

The Program Begins

Watch your fingers...
Tuesday the 3rd, the first day of the program, was an absolutely amazing day. After 12:00, people started to show up. First were Jackson and Sean. About an hour after they joined us, members started streaming in one after the other. It wasn't long at all until we had a full group.

A little after 4, a couple of Japanese women showed up and started taking a head count. Our program director, Shoji Azuma, wouldn't be showing up until Wednesday, apparently. After they had introduced themselves (I'm bad with names, so don't ask), they told us to go take a walk for 40 minutes; we would be leaving then.



Land Ho!

After about 10 hours, I noticed that the display showed that the plane was above the coast of Japan.
The first time I saw Japan.
I opened the window and saw the most awesome thing I've ever seen in my entire life. I was literally looking at Japan. I slowly started to realize that I was technically now in Japan, and that I was seeing it for the first time, physically right below me. I know it probably doesn't seem like that big of a deal to somebody reading a blog, but I had tears welling up in my eyes. It was such a moving experience to see what was literally the place of my dreams appearing before my eyes.

There were still 2 hours left of the flight, and I spent nearly every minute of those 2 hours gazing out the window, watching the tiny cities and mountains slowly float by. This was it. I was was there.
A random city who chose to remain anonymous.
I saw lots of cities and mountains, and even more clouds. I tried to figure out what cities I was looking at based on the location according to the monitor, but I was none too successful. As we neared Osaka, the clouds thickened.
It's hard to believe that underneath this beautiful,
white blanket of clouds is a "gloomy," rainy day.
Almost there...

Sitting Around, Doing Nothing... On A PLANE!

Learning to Fly

Yesterday (or was it today...?), I finally set out on my journey to to the land of the rising sun. By airplane. What does that mean? MORE WAITING!
That's right! "The day" might finally have "come," but really it all boils down to the same thing. Sitting around, twiddling my thumbs, waiting to be in Japan.
Friendly Bunch.
I began in Salt Lake City, of course. My dad took me to the airport and helped me get checked in for the first time, because he's cool like that. The TSA were surprisingly cheerful. They were all laughing and smiling and cracking jokes. I took off my shoes, I emptied my pockets and half of my backpack. I walked through the scanner. I put on my shoes, I filled my pockets and half of my backpack. When I got to the terminal, I realized I had shown up unnecessarily early, and so the waiting began!


Leaving Soon


Well then...

The Real Preparation

So, I'm leaving tomorrow.

I've had my stuff packed for about 4 days now. I just couldn't help myself. Supposedly packing early is also one of the commandments for packing light (I'm pretty sure I read that somewhere on that site). Anyway, I've got all the essentials. Several changes of clothes. A change of shoes. A swimsuit just in case. Candy. Drawing materials. Okay, I guess I'm not exactly "packing light," but that doesn't mean I haven't used some suggestions from light packers.


Sitting Around, Doing Nothing

Hello again, readers! I bring to you a relatively unexciting post!


Well, it may have seemed like a terrifying process at first, but here I am, about 6 weeks later, with my passport.
It feels pretty good to finally hold it. Apparently I'm supposed to sign my full name on the line above the ID page. They did specify full name, so I suppose I shouldn't use my normal signature, just to be safe. I'm kind of nervous though. What if I screw it up and it comes out sloppy? This is some hardcore stuff!

I suppose I'm pretty much ready now. There are a couple forms I'm able to fill out now that I have my passport, and I still need to pack, but it's kind of early for that :(


Orientation the Second

Today was my long-awaited second (and last) orientation meeting. I now have all the information I will have about the program until I meet everybody at the airport on June 3.

The Room

You are tearing me apart, Lisa!
One of the first things we talked about today was the room assignments. He wrote out a bunch of room numbers on the board, like such:

101 (3) 洋室
102 (3) 和室
201 (2)
202 (2)
203 (2)
204 (2)
和 1 (2)
洋 2 (2)
洋 3 (2)

The line there separated the two different dorms, the boy's and girls' dorms. The number in parentheses was there to represent how many people each room accommodates. 

I immediately started to get excited when I saw that 和室 (wah-sheetsu). I had originally assumed all of the rooms would be 洋室 (yo-sheetsu), since the dorm is called 和交寮 (wah-ko-ryo), which roughly means "Japanese exchange dorm."

Oh wait, you don't know Japanese? A washitsu is a Japanese-style room (as opposed to the western-style yoshitsu), with tatami mats and futons that you get to lay out every night and put away every morning. I'm not sure what is going to be available in this particular room, but traditionally you basically change the room as needed. In the day, you might put out, for instance, a chabudai. A chabudai, being one of those low tables with floor cushions (zabuton) that you may or may not have heard of.
Yeah, kinda like that.


The Places I Will Go

My favorite part about this blog is that I can vent all I want about how excited I am to go, but I don't have to annoy anybody who might not care. Everybody reading this is reading it because they care at least somewhat (I hope). My first post wasn't a very good introduction, so perhaps I'll explain myself a little now.

Phase I

This bulk of this trip is a study abroad program that I'm doing through the University of Utah. The Japanese school is called Shitennoji. There is a map at the top of that page I just linked. It is wrong. This is a bird's eye view of the school:
Image from Google