It’s hard to believe it’s been over a week since we got back from Japan. It feels like a lifetime ago. I think I’ve experienced just as much culture shock returning home as I did going to Japan. I’m still a little surprised when I walk in the grocery store and I can actually read all the packaging or when I get in the car and the steering wheel is on the left side. I crave the all the delicious foods I got to try, but most of all, I miss spending time with my host family and all the friends I made.
Going to Japan was easily one of the most amazing experiences in my life. During the first nine days, we were able to tour different parts of Japan including Tokyo, Kamakura, Hakone, Kyoto, and Nara. It was interesting to be able to experience both the traditional and modern aspects of Japanese culture and to see how they are both so clearly apparent in the Japanese lifestyle. While in Tokyo, we saw the majesty of Old Japan as we visited Meiji Shrine and the Imperial Palace. We also saw cutting edge robotics at the Honda showroom and the neon lights of Shinjuku. It was beautiful to see the new and old so seamlessly intertwined.
We also got to see much of the natural beauty of Japan. From the fog-covered mountains in Hakone to the reflective green rice patties and serenity of Amaharashi coast in Takaoka, Japan is a beautiful island. One of my favorite memories from the trip was cruising Lake Ashi and seeing the mountains surround us in every direction.
As wonderful as our tour was, my favorite part of the trip was our time in Takaoka. Everyone took such great care of us and I the time of my life. My host family was so kind and made the best food! I was so happy to be put in a big host family with lots of extended family. It was so fun to get to know my whole family and make friendships with people of all ages. I loved being able to experience what life is like in Japan. I learned so much from my host family. I enjoyed helping my host siblings study English and I’m grateful for their help in teaching me Japanese.
I also enjoyed the opportunity to go to Takaoka Ryokoku High School. I was amazed by how friendly the students and staff were. Everyone was so welcoming and helpful. It was a lot of fun visiting the English classes and talking to different students. Despite my limited language skills, I was able to learn about some of the student’s interests and to make new friends. I enjoyed playing volleyball with my host sister in gym class and trying the delicious school lunches in the cafeteria. I learned so much about school in Japan both through attending Takaoka Ryokoku High School and watching my host sister as she diligently studied each night.
I’m glad that I was able to learn and experience so much on this trip. As I reflect on our time in Japan, I realize that this trip has not filled me, but it has made me hungrier. Hungry to see the world, to know more not only about Japan but the rest of the world as well. I realize now that the more I learn, the wider and deeper my hunger grows. I want to know more about the world I live in and I’m grateful for this opportunity and how it has pushed me to begin my search.