I’ve decided that I’m copying excerpts from my daily journal entries for this blog to give me more time to explore and get things done for class. Keep in mind that we are one day ahead. So if it’s Thursday in the U.S., it is Friday here in Japan.
Friday August 20,2010
Today has been the longest but most memorable days of my life! It began this morning on the car ride to O’Hare Airport and ended in a 6 person bunk-bed room at a youth hostel in Osaka, Japan. And I say days because my flight to Japan left at 11:40 AM on Thursday in Chicago and we arrived at Narita International Airport in Toyko, Japan at about 2:00 PM on Friday. Although our flight to Tokyo was unbearably long (14 hours) I ate my first real Japanese meal and talked to a woman who lives in Tokyo. The Japanese woman next to me may help explain why I titled my blog ‘Do I Smell Bad?’ I noticed that she was wearing a gauze mask that covered her nose and mouth and I self-consciously began to wonder if my long day was causing me to smell. I later learned that the Japanese wear masks when they have a cold or respiratory infection so as not to get others sick. If Americans were this sanitary, no one would ever get sick!
Saturday August 21, 2010
My day started off with a somewhat strange breakfast of very small portions of random food such as potato salad, toast with cheese and ham, burnt scrambled eggs, lettuce pieces with no dressing, and a tomato slice. I started two classes today-Japanese Art History and East Asian Markets and they will be challenging and require a lot of work. I am proud to say that I used my first squat-style toilet (although they offer some Western-style toilets like in the U.S.) and successfully spent Japanese yen. $1 is about 85 yen so things are somewhat expensive here. The Japanese take their shoes off when entering a bathroom and wear slippers to use the restroom. Our hostel has public showers and traditionally the Japanese clean their bodies in the public shower and then enter a large hot bath. Almost everyone in our group of girls, showers in our bathing suits but some girls are brave and follow the Japanese tradition.
We definitely stand out here! Most of the Japanese people glance at us quickly and then look down but some get very excited and yell ‘HELLO!’ or try to talk to us in English. The Japanese people are very quiet, clean, and have a ‘get things done quickly and efficiently’ mentality which is why I love it here. I have noticed that everywhere our group goes we are the loudest. It’s starting to get embarrassing! I have never seen a cleaner city and they don’t even have garbage cans on their city streets! I have seen hundreds of cars and not one of them is run down or beat up. The cars all look new! And they drive on the opposite side of the street.
It is extremely hot here! With the horrid humidity, it feels like it’s over 100 degrees here everyday. We all sweat within being outside for 2 minutes. You rarely see a Japanese person wearing shorts or flip-flops though. They cover their bodies but don’t seem to sweat like we do. The Japanese are also VERY fashionable!
So far on this trip, I have been to Osaka Castle, explored and enjoyed the night life at Kita-Shinchi, saw a breathtaking view of Osaka from The Floating Garden Observatory in Shin-Umeda, and sat in an American Chamber of Commerce of Japan meeting.
I LOVE JAPAN! but I miss my family a lot…and Augie.
(since I’m not sure how often I will be updating this blog and I can’t upload my own pictures, feel free to check out my friend’s (Tommy Grevlos) website in which he also blogs and posts pictures from our trip)