It was strange landing in Chicago after 10 weeks in Asia. The flight was from LAX, just before noon, and it was almost uncomfortable to be around people that openly speak English. It seems like a blur, but for an obvious reason: our route started in Kyoto, Japan and ended in Beijing, China. In between we coasted along Kyoto, Nara, Kobe, Hiroshima, Matsuyama, Beppu, Kumamoto, Tokyo, Taipeh, S.A.R. Hong Kong, and then got to China to see Shenzhen, Guilin, Wuhan, Kunming, Li Jiang, Chengdu, Xi’an, Chengde and Beijing, and topped it off with 5 days of Honolulu. It is hard to put it all in one little blog, but I’m warning you, it might be a long one.
Augustana’s expedition with 74 students and 4 professors flew over Greenbay, WI to get to Japan; just a strait line over the North Pole. Japan was a shock in every sense, since humidity was high and we came from a pretty mild summer in the Midwest. However, Kyoto was a great place to have a culture shock since everything that is ancient in Japan is in the Kinki Prefecture. While in Kinki, we were able to make one whole-day excursion to Kobe, a city that was devastated by the earthquake in 1996, and Nara Prefecture, home of Todai-Ji temple and one of the biggest Buddha statues in the world. I also got to visit old friends, Yuki Serizawa and Masami Arai at Kobe City University for Foreign Studies, and they took me to the traditional archery class, Kyudo. Kyoto and Nara are two of the only places that were not bombed in WWII, thus they represent true Japanese heritage. They were lucky not to have military bases that should be bombed (unlike Tokyo and Osaka that were carpet bombed).