Japan Trip Summer 2013

Going to Japan for the first time was, as you may imagine, quite a shocking experience for someone living in America her whole life. During the Summer of 2013, I took my first trip to Japan along with about 20 other students from my high school’s Japanese National Honor Society. The trip was 100% student planned, and we all had a certain city in Japan that we were in charging of planning out the itinerary for the group. The city that I was in charge of was Osaka, which ended up being my favorite city in Japan.

Our trip consisted of traveling all around the Kanto and Kansai areas of Japan to see experience Japanese culture, food, and people. Let’s just say that Japan was completely different than what I thought it was going to be like. Although my Japanese teacher did a pretty good job of explaining the basics of how we should act in Japan, we all made plenty of mistakes and also made some discoveries about the pros and cons of being in Japan as a foreigner.


Osaka, as I said earlier, is probably my favorite city in Japan. When we went to Osaka, we spent about two full days there, and since we were staying at a hotel in the Umeda area, we got a chance to experience a variety of places – from shopping to historical museums, we were pretty close to most of the places we wanted to go. We shopped at Hep 5, visited a museum that recreated an Edo Period town, and visited Osaka Castle, probably the most famous tourist sight in Osaka.

ameeraaandmeonhepfive

My friend and I riding the famous red Ferris wheel at Hep 5 shopping center!

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My at the top of Umeda Sky building! I would really recommend this spot if you go to Osaka with your significant other 😉 It is really a beautiful place!

Wandering a street in Osaka~

Wandering a street in Osaka~

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Our group picture at Osaka castle

If you are planning to go to Osaka, I would strongly recommend trying their Okonomiyaki and Takoyaki dishes!


Next, we took a Shinkansen from the Shin-Osaka Station all the way to Hiroshima. We spent a day in Hiroshima checking out the Peace Museum and Park. Although I am ethnically Indian, my nationality is American, so seeing a museum dedicated to the destruction caused by nuclear weapons, specifically the Atomic bomb that America dropped on Hiroshima, made me feel very guilty for some reason. We do study the effects of the Atomic Bomb in Japan at school, but going to the museum, despite being a bit of a downer, was overall a very important experience and one that I will never forget.

In Hiroshima, we also visited a high school called Misuzugaoka High School. The people there were very friendly, and I finally got to see what a real Japanese High School is like!

Waiting for the Shinkansen to come. They are ALWAYS exactly on time, so don't be late!

Waiting for the Shinkansen to come. They are ALWAYS exactly on time, so don’t be late!

I could not find my own picture, but this is the most famous scene from the Hiroshima Peace Park.

I could not find my own picture, but this is the most famous scene from the Hiroshima Peace Park.


After spending the day in Hiroshima, we took a ferry to Miyajima where we staying in a Ryokan, or a Japanese traditional style inn. Miyajima is home to one of the three sites of Japan at Itsukushima Jinja, and has beautiful hiking spots, so if you want to have a very spiritual experience or just want to see Japan’s beauty, then Miyajima is the place to visit!

The traditional dinner that we were served at the Ryokan was super delicious!

The traditional dinner that we were served at the Ryokan was super delicious!

My friend and I at Itsukushima Jinja, one of the three sites of Japan! This torii gate is one of the most famous places in Japan, and has come to represent Japan as a country in many ways.

My friend and I at Itsukushima Jinja, one of the three sites of Japan! This torii gate is one of the most famous places in Japan, and has come to represent Japan as a country in many ways.


From Miyajima, we took the ferry back to the mainland and took the train to Himeji! The Himeji Castle was still under construction during the time we went, but we got to bike around the city and see…the construction I guess (^^’)

I may look pretty happy in this picture, but I am horrible at riding bikes!

I may look pretty happy in this picture, but I am horrible at riding bikes, so I was terrified this whole day. :/


From Himeji, we took a train to Kyoto (my other favorite city for its historically important sites). In Kyoto, I think I really started to understand what Japan is all about. This is where I really realized that yes, Japan is WAY more than what you can see or read in anime and manga. I have always loved the Japanese language, but Kyoto is where I fell in love with Japanese culture.

If you’re a history lover like me, or you want to know more about Japan as a country with a rich culture, then you should head to Kyoto.

My friend and I at a green tea specialty cafe in Kyoto where we ate parfaits with EVERYTHING green tea. Green tea ice cream, jelly, dango, whip cream, you name it. It was delicious.

My friend and I at a green tea specialty cafe in Kyoto where we ate parfaits with EVERYTHING green tea. Green tea ice cream, jelly, dango, whip cream, you name it. It was delicious.

At a place called Kiyomizudera, there is a separate love shrine where if you can walk from one stone to the other with your eyes shut, your luck in love will be good.

At a place called Kiyomizudera, there is a separate love shrine where if you can walk from one stone to the other with your eyes shut, your luck in love will be good. ( I made it, but nothing has happened yet haha)


From Kyoto, we took a day trip to Nara, an important place for Buddhists because it is where Todai-ji, or the largest statue of Buddha in Japan, is located.

The Daibutsu is an awe-inspiring sight indeed. I will be going there again as soon as I get the chance.

The Daibutsu is an awe-inspiring sight indeed. I will be going there again as soon as I get the chance.


Finally, we ended our trip in Tokyo! We were all tired by the time we got there, but the bright lights and large crowds gave us all the energy we needed to get through the last three days of our trip. I loved exploring Harajuku, Akihabara, and all the big places, but I definitely enjoyed Tokyo a lot more the second time that I went the following year. From Tokyo, we took a day trip where we visited the Cup Ramen Museum in Yokohama to make our own ramen!

I didn't actually get to see it, but my friends saw this giant Gundam!

I didn’t actually get to see it, but my friends saw this giant Gundam!

We also went to the studio Ghibli museum, which is the most magical place that I have been in my life. You can't take pics inside or I would have had another one!

We also went to the studio Ghibli museum, which is the most magical place that I have been in my life. You can’t take pics inside or I would have had another one!

pokecenter

In Japan you can find lots of Pokecenters, where they sell all things Pokemon! You can even find rare candies 😉

The cup noodle museum in Yokohama was really great! we made our own Ramen and it tasted delicious >:)

The cup noodle museum in Yokohama was really great! we made our own Ramen and it tasted delicious >:)


All in all, that was my first trip to Japan. It was super fun but stressful as well, so If you get to go to Japan, I would focus on certain cities that pertain to your interests. Do your research! Not every city in Japan is the same, and each place has something totally different to offer, so just keep that in mind when you’re planning your next trip to Japan!

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