LESS THAN TWO MORE WEEKS

I’m really sad right now. I don’t have much to say other than, if you have the chance to study in Japan, please do.

I wish I stayed for a full year. I don’t feel ready to leave yet. Furthermore, I wish I had prepared better and studied the language before coming. While I have learned an intense amount of Japanese, I know that my level is easy to lose if I don’t practice and improve. I want to learn more and more and take this experience with me through life.

Kyoto was a great location because it’s so bike friendly and full of culture. The past weekend plus has just been a hot sticky mess of Gion Matsuri which was a unique and exhilarating experience. Yeah, I hate the hot humid weather, but armed with an air-con and endless combini to run into, I’m not dead yet. Plus, I get scrumptious night market food, exquisite traditional cuisine, and elegant Japanese esthetic in return.

I feel better armed to write useful posts now that I’m almost done, but I’m also impossibly lazy. Here are some quick random suggestions:

  1. open a Charles Schwab bank + request the debit card well in advance
  2. living near downtown can suck… it’s nice to be up in Kitayama. Downtown is only a 30 min bike ride
  3. bring a router + extension cord
  4. pack loose covered clothing (the sun sucks)
  5. dress to impress
  6. learn Japanese for at least a year before coming
  7. stay for at least a year
  8. don’t be vegetarian
  9. Kyoto Sayonara Sales group on facebook is super useful
  10. buy a bike (used, but get the registration papers or you’ll be screwed)
  11. Pack food/perishables when you come to Japan so you have packing space on the way home
  12. book your tickets for golden week way way way way way before getting to Japan
  13. shop at Daiso or other 100 yen shops first
  14. don’t buy anything that’s not crucial during your first week
  15. learn about the culture, volunteer, find a job, talk to locals (even in English)
  16. buy tokyo banana, royce chocolates in KIX when you arrive. TRUST ME

Kate is stalking me.

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Dear Kate,

You’re really tall.

I had a lot of fun with you this past week and wish you wouldn’t leave! I feel like time just passes by so quickly whenever we’re in the same room. Plus, together, we have some kind of magical karma. I can’t believe that we saw both a Maiko and a Geiko. I’ve been going down to Shijo and Gion nearly every other day and only when I was with you did I get to see them.

I also can’t believe that you ate shrimp tempura and liked it! Seafood isn’t all horrible! Never have I been so proud of you. Oh, and the bananas. You beast. And of course we can’t forget the amount of meat you have consumed here. I did warn you that you wouldn’t really have a choice. The okonomiyaki was worth it, though, wasn’t it? (I really need to figure out how to make them as good as they do here.) Continue onwards with your food journey and try the tsukemen at Tsukemenya Yasubee in Shinjuku when you get to Tokyo. It’s the dipping style ramen that Vi was recommending to you. If you end up falling in love with ramen, go visit the ramen museum. Apparently there’s a limited time German ramen offered that is amazing.

Thanks for being my emotional and mental coach. Nothing that Darlene and Charlotte can’t fix, right?  Except, my inability to reach the flow state… and the insane amount of shoes I now own. I’m glad you’re always nearby when poop hits the fan for me. But also just plain glad that you’re always around. I swear that it must be the case that we don’t actually live in different countries. Stop stalking me, you giant. And stop having nightmares when I have nightmares. You really don’t ever heed my warnings about reading violent articles before bed.

Please don’t forget to send/post the pictures you have of us. We can’t have a gap in our love story photo series. Oh and you have to send me: Tiana’s play, your thesis, a guide to writing, $800, and your journal upon completion as well. Yes, you have to send me your journal. I have to upkeep my Kate-scribble-reading skills and study your technique so that I, too, can scribble faster.

Here’s a random list:

  • Yasukuni Shrine is the shrine that honors war “heroes”
  • Buy me a back up phone case (plzzz)
  • The lens is convex and projects the inverted image on the retina. Our brain uses our other senses to process the information. This doesn’t necessarily mean that our brain flips the image, it just is able to make sense of the inverted visual information in relation to our other senses that aren’t inverted at perception. But through experiments in perceptual adaptation (see George M. Stratton’s experiment) it has been shown that our brain can in fact adjust to changes in visual input orientation.
  • Emotion = physiological response & Expression of Emotion = brain activity processing physiological and external stimuli?
  • Weird Tokyo can be accessed via this guide: http://www.hellodamage.com/top/tokyo-tour-guide/
  • Please go to a host club in Akihabara for me. You’ll prolly need to make a reservation.

Love,

Caryn <3<3<3<3

I’m moving north. (+ navigate Kyoto like a pro)

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Unrelated picture of me in my yukata. I wore it to for Hanabi (firefly watching) but we all took too long to get ready and missed the whole event. LOL -_-

So, that happened.

After some events, I have decided to leave my apartment for the student dorms. Everyone– from the UCEAP Tokyo Study Center, to the Doshisha staff– was extremely accommodating. Overnight, they have arranged for me to move into the dorms. Tomorrow, less 48 hours after contacting them, I will be dragging all my things across Kyoto and into Casa Kitayama. The Japanese efficiency that I had been previously unimpressed by has finally shown it’s strengths. I have heard horror stories about the lack of support from friends who had studied in different countries through UCEAP and am glad that I am spared from that experience.

I’m quite excited to spend my last month in Kyoto peacefully. ヴィーちゃん lives in Casa Kitayama, where I’ll be moving to. As we all know, I get on well with ヴィーちゃん so I’ve been around to Kitayama often. It’s truly a nice area. The dorm is nice as well! I love the fact that there are large windows in the rooms. All in all, the change in scenery is welcome.

Describing locations in Kyoto is not too difficult.

If you aren’t too familiar with the geography of Kyoto, here’s the reference points I use to navigate. I don’t regularly travel too far out so take my account with a grain of salt. I neglect a lot of interesting places. I know.

Daily life, regular weekend leisure activities included, take me no further south than Fushimi Inari area and no further north than Kitayama. Between Kitayama and Fushimi Inari, I divide up Kyoto roughly into a few reference points roughly from North to South, West to East:

  • Kitayama
  • Imamiya Jinja
  • Doshisha
  • Shiyakusho
  • Shijo/Sanjo (Kawaramachi-side is implied)
  • Gion
  • Kyoto Station
  • Fushimi Inari

With these points and the river I can describe the rough location of most places I go to or want to go to.

 

Explore: Nagoya

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Daiki showing me around Nagoya

Nagoya w/ Daiki

This cool person to the left is Daiki. The awesome thing about Daiki is that I met him in at the hostel I was staying at in Barcelona. I went to Barcelona for the sangrias, but he came with a much more noble cause– as an architecture student. It’s amazing how friends can be made anywhere in the world! We met up over Golden Week to explore Nagoya, where he lives.

There’s not too much to do in Nagoya but we managed to pack the day anyway. We first went to the aquarium in Nagoya. It was quite a strange experience. There were belugas… I’ve never seen a living one before. It was sort of exciting at first, but my heart quickly broke for them. Their tanks are so small and bare. Likewise for the dolphins and killer whales, I really think that they deserve a better environment to live in. Those three animals, in particular, were used in entertainment shows. Their trainers were not unkind, but there is still a power dynamic that is in place only because those animals have such limited means of living by.

On a more positive note, there were a bunch of excited babies running. I love listening to toddler speech, especially in Japanese. It is so unbelievably adorable. I, one-hundred-percent, am a creep when it comes to cute kids.「もうちょっと見たい〜〜。」(I wanna look a little more)。 The adults, on the other hand, kept commenting on how tasty everything is. I was looking at the octopus on display. Low and behold, immediately I hear 「美味しいよ」。(That’s tasty). Talk about dark imagery. Worst of all, right next to the jellyfish exhibit, the museum installed a display of sauces and recipes for cooking jellyfish. Rendered me just about speechless.

Afterwards, Daiki-kun showed me the shopping streets of Nagoya, which are not too different from the Shijo-Kawaramachi streets of Kyoto. He tried to help me shop for clothes, but the current Japanese style is really far from what I wear regularly so I didn’t buy anything. I did however, buy some toys and catnip for 三毛 (“Mikke”) and 桜 (“Sakura”). They’re so annoying. I love them. Oh! and we had strawberry crepes. Yum. One of my favorite things to get in the hot weather.

Finally, Daiki treated me to omu-rice. That was my first time. I wish I had a picture, but I don’t 😦 . We spent the hour talking about cultural differences but mainly the educational system. I wanted to learn more about Japanese education. Mainly, why was it so easy compared to my expectations? Entire post dedicated to Japanese Education to come.

Transportation

From and To Kyoto

The best option, by far is via bus. The only option I would consider is via JR Bus. It’s cheap and convenient. After that option, I’d go for the Shinkansen which is a lot pricier. There’s the option of Kintetsu, which I took, but it costs nearly the same as the Shinkansen and is a lot more cumbersome. I accidentally arrived back in Kyoto too late, and the buses were all no longer running… 😦

In Nagoya

Get the subway day pass!