All posts tagged: Japan

No-Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake

If you haven’t noticed already, I love to bake. I am not sure exactly when it all started, but somewhere around high school I started baking on a regular basis. Of all the things that I anticipated would be hard when I studied abroad the first time, not baking for 4 months was not something I took as a serious concern. I knew going to Japan that Japanese homes are typically smaller, and that kitchens would be smaller/function slightly differently due to the size and the staple diet. I was not expecting that nobody I knew had an oven. I was not expecting that my host mom’s kitchen would be smaller than my parents bathroom. At first I was too excited about being in Japan and all the traveling and adventuring around to really notice how much I missed baking, but by month two I was beginning to become desperate. But how to bake something when you can’t bake? For a moment I was deceived into thinking I could bake at my friend Ryohei’s house, …

Japan: Sugano Elementary School Internship

While I was in Japan last fall, I had the privilege of taking part in an internship/field study sort of position. Every Wednesday I got up at the crack of dawn, put on my sweat pants, ran to catch the packed, rush hour train, and took the 40 minute trek to Sugano Elementary School a few towns away. Yes, you heard me correctly, I wore sweat pants to my internship–and it was mandatory. While there were many things about my experience that seemed relatively similar to how an American elementary school is run, there were enough differences to keep me in a constant state of unease and to fill an entire notebook with observations. *I do have a “day-in-the-life” kind of post that I wrote while I was in Japan, though it is a look at one day and not at the experience as a whole. Check it out here!* As I mentioned before, the first shock came even before the first day I started, at the “interview.” I went with one of the IES …

Japan Day 80-81: *First* Trip to Nikko

The program I was on last year, IES Tokyo, has set field trips that they take every semester. The first group field trip we went on was 5 days Kanazawa, and the second was two days in Nikko. Now I have titled this post as “First” trip to Nikko because as you may know, I had an internship/RA position with IES Tokyo over the summer, and at that time our group also went to Nikko. Writing this over a year later as I am, I can’t ignore the fact that I have been there twice in the past year, even though while I was there the first time I had no idea I would be returning so soon. With its near proximity to Tokyo coupled with famous attractions and numerous ryokan and onsen, Nikko is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. The first stop we made once we got to Nikko was Toshogu Shrine. 東照宮 (Toshogu) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is home to various carvings such as the Three Wise …

Japan Day 76: A Day in Nara

Nara (奈良) is probably less known to foreigners, who think of cities like Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Okinawa when they think of Japan. However, open a guidebook or a Japanese textbook and you will quickly find out that Nara is worth at least a day trip. Why? Well, because it is the little known deer capital of the world. Seriously, they are absolutely everywhere in the city. When a group of us were down in Kyoto for the weekend, we decided to hit Nara on our way home (well, back to Tokyo) on Sunday. A weekend of being a group of 8 gaijin who spoke relatively little Japanese and being constantly on the go was beginning to take its toll, so when we reached Nara we were ready to easily find the plethora of deer that had everyone talking. We walked out of the train station and after only a few blocks we were bombarded with elderly women selling crackers to feed the deer to tourists. Being tourists, we thought this was the perfect time …

Japan Day 75-76: Weekend in Kyoto

Looking back on my study abroad experience in Japan last year (because yes I am that lazy, and it has taken me over a year to write about this) I am amazed at how much I stuffed into four months. I mean, the past four months I have gone to school, gone to work………..yeah. But one weekend I hopped on the bullet train with some of my friends and went to Kyoto. It was the shortest and most incredible experience ever. We were in Kyoto from November 15th to 16th, fall of 2013. In Japan, this is luckily still around the season of fall colors, if a bit on the early side, so we were able to enjoy the weather while seeing some beautiful reds and oranges amongst the foliage. While we were only there for basically a day-and-a-half, we did hit some of the key destinations like 金閣寺 (Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Pavilion) and witnessed the contrast of modern and traditional as people of all ages strolled down the busy streets of downtown in 着物 …

Leaving Japan

A person’s emotions are a crazy thing. Coming back to Japan (as you may remember from my previous posts) was very emotional for me, and there were many times throughout my two month stay that I felt anything from sad to worried, happy to satisfied. When I think about the months I spent in America this past year and then look at what I have accomplished in the last two months, I am amazed. True, there were days when it was too hot outside or I was too lazy or I was feeling too introverted and basically stayed inside watching TV and studying. But there were so many days when I spent quality time with old friends and new, productively working or studying, and adventuring and trying new things either alone or with others. And it is in that light that I can confidently say that I am leaving Japan this time with no regrets. It is my goal in life to live life to the fullest, and not to mope about the things that …