“Humor is the great thing, the saving thing. The minute it crops up, all our harnesses yield, all our irritations and resentments flit away and a sunny spirit takes their place.”- Mark Twain
November 19, 2010
We got in to Kobe bright an early and spent about 5 hours going through customs. I did a home stay through Semester at Sea so I was one of the first off of the ship to meet up with the university students who were taking us around for the day. In the beginning it was a bit awkward but after a while we started to get to know our student tour guides. We had to struggle to find an international ATM but soon enough we were on our way to Osaka our first stop for the trip. We go off the train and went to the largest electronics/mall in Osaka where we would be eating lunch. Since there were so many of us we separated into 3 different groups based off of what we wanted to eat for lunch. I went with 4 other Japanese students to this place that was sort of like a melting pot. We sat down, ordered the type of meat we wanted and went and grabbed vegetables that we would be cooking with our meat. It was all cooked in a pot right on our table. After eating way too much it was time for a bit of sight seeing around Osaka. We met up with the rest of our group and we set off for Osaka Castle, which was beautiful. The Emperor who built it actually never used it but it was a protection for the dynasty for many years. A few hours later we were heading to Osaka University because we would be meeting up with our host families as well as having a party. Well we showed up about 45 minutes late but as soon as we arrived there were a few speeches and we were eating sushi and hanging out with our families and the students. Once everyone had finished eating we had the opportunity to dress up in Kimonos---or at least the summer version of them, even the boys in our group did it. After a photo shoot we spent some time socializing with the university students and before I knew it this women was taking me in her car to drop be off at my host family’s house. When I got there I had to wait a bit before my family got to the door but when they did it was a sweet little lady and her son. The husband was gone away—he is in Iraq and is a war photographer. But things were a bit strange at first, the son spoke no English and the Mom spoke only a little. I brought lots of pictures though in anticipation that my family wouldn’t speak English. After a couple of hours and a lot of green tea later, my host Mom gave me a tour of her house before I went to bed. She showed me her three kitchens; her family room, dining, room, her two bedrooms, and then she showed me the formal room. All of it was traditional Japanese with the white and brown trim and the sliding doors. All doors must be closed after entering or exiting a room it was really cool. She showed me to my room where I had the best night sleep I had, had throughout the entire voyage.
November 20, 2010
The next morning my Host Mom came knocking at my door at 6 am, I was helping her make breakfast for the family. We made miso soup, rice, salmon, eggs, and had fruits. It was a gourmet breakfast and it was one way to break through the language barrier. We ate breakfast and we exchanged gifts with each other and before I knew it I was being picked up and heading back to the Osaka University. The students we were with the day before had an entire day planned for us. We were dropped off at the university and then the day began. A small group of us started for the Tenryuuji Temple in Kyoto. When we got of the train, the first thing we saw was Kyoto changing colors. All the leaves were either red or yellow and the city was beautiful. We walked through the crowded streets, it was a holiday so everything was packed and right next to me were two geishas all dressed in their attire as well as full makeup. I took 15 pictures-quickly and was so excited to actually see real GEISHAS. After all the excitement of the Geishas we made our way to the temple. The best part was the bamboo forest, it was amazing and for about a kilometer it was all bamboo trees. We spent some time exploring around the lake and then it was time for lunch. We ate ramen and something similar to croquettes and then green tea ice cream for dessert. After lunch it was one to the next temple, the group of us jumped on a small train and we found ourselves at “the Taj Mahal of Japan” It was the Kinkaku-ji Temple which was gorgeous. It was a temple that was completely gold. We spent some time taking pictures in front of it and the Japanese students taught us how to say “ will you take a picture with us” in Japanese. We got some great pictures with young Japanese boys and girls who were there on a field trip. On the way out of the temple we go to have our fortunes read, and then we had to tie them on this special branch in order for them to come true. After that it was time to head back to Kobe in order to make it to the ship on time. Saying goodbye to our new friends so sad, we had spent two whole day with them, but everyone promised to find us on facebook.
November 22, 2010
We arrived in Yokohama bright and early and Loryn and I made an early start towards Tokyo to meet up with everyone. After a while we finally found our way to the Ninja Hostel-where we would spend the night in capsules. We met up with Kevin and the three of us set off to explore Tokyo for the day. We went to the part of town called Shibuya where there is the largest and most crowded intersection of the world. When we got up from the metro station, it was exactly the typical Tokyo that I had expected. We walked around Shibuya for a while before grabbing lunch…everything appeared to be extremely Americanized. After a couple of hours we made our way back to the hostel to meet up with the rest of our group to figure out what we would do for the last night in an international port. After a bit of deliberation we decided we would do dinner, karaoke, and go out to a club. A few of us went out to explore the area where our hostel was before all of us go dinner. Dinner came and went and we all go ready for the big night out. Karaoke was hilarious and we had a private room for about 12 of us. We sang everything from GAGA to sweet Caroline. Next thing we knew it was POURING RAIN and we found ourselves in the middle of a SAS festival. The club we went to was filled with people from Semester at Sea. We danced until 5 am…,which is when the metro reopened, and we went back to our hostel EXHAUSTED.
November 23, 2010
The next morning Loryn, Kevin, and I were up and out of the hostel before any of the others were even awake. We made our way towards Yokohama to explore for the day before having to board the ship. We grabbed lunch, showed Kevin our ship, and before we knew it, it was time to head back to our ship to start getting through customs.