Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Memoirs of Today: Himeji, Kyoto, Nara, Wakayama (2007)

Hey everyone~! 
Did you all have a nice weekend?? 

Yesterday my roommate/coworker and I went out with some of our amazing students.
It was so fun!
We went to an 居酒屋 (Izakaya) with them and ended up talking, eating, and drinking together for over 4 hours! For those of you who only know me by these posts...I'm a very "kinetic" person. Generally speaking, I maintain my energy by moving around--so for me, sitting at restaurants for so long generally makes me want to fall asleep.
But, to my pleasant surprise, it was actually reaaaaally fun! 
The room we had reserved was a Japanese-style room, complete with tatami mats and a view of a Japanese-style garden~

And, naturally, we took puricura to complete the gathering ;)

Suffice to say, I wasn't able to do a 'memoirs of today' post---but I suppose I can make up for that now, seeing as my break today is longer than usual. ;)


(July 6th-8th)

JULY 6th

Himeji Castle, Himeji, Japan
Kyoto, Japan

The 6th was the day we returned to Kyoto after spending the previous day in Hiroshima. We had already visited the famous temples on our agenda during the first few days following our arrival (which you can read about in detail here if you're interested), so we spent this day mostly walking around town, trying to revisit places we were sure we would miss.

Before arriving in Kyoto, however, our travels brought us to the infamous Himeji Castle, which is arguably Japan's most popular castle. 

After we had successfully wandered our way to the top of the main building, we grabbed some ice cream and resumed our journey back to Kyoto!


This day proved to be particularly humorous for my friend Teffi and I. 
We decided to have a 'girls day' before rejoining our group for dinner
On our way to our favorite shopping area, we had our first official Japanese nanpa...

This charming gentleman was determined to get our numbers...which we didn't have because we were only in Japan for two weeks. So he sufficed for e-mail instead. xD

No sooner had we crossed the street after parting ways with him, than this awesome shop staff started talking to us outside his shop. He coaxed us into his store to talk more and interact with some of his customers.
At one point, he told one particular customers we were his girlfriends.....then gave us snacks xDDDD

After we had fully exhausted ourselves wandering around, we met up with the rest of our group to enjoy some ramen. Again, the staff at the restaurant were awesome!

At one point, for reasons I can't remember, my friend Ryan and I started to create backstories for them as superheroes--I cannot, for the life of me, remember why or wherefore, but, there you have it! Superhero ramen peeps! xD

The next day we were scheduled to head to Wakayama, where we would meet our host families and do a one-week exchange program. With tons of anticipation and full tummies, we headed to bed and waited for the day to come. :)

JULY 7th

Nara, Japan
Wakayama, Japan

The joy of short trips abroad is that you can successfully cram SO MUCH into such a short of time. I did more on this one trip to Japan (my shortest one, at that) than all three trips following it combined.

As I said, this was the day we headed to see our host families
But before arriving in Wakayama, we stopped by the infamous Daibutsuden (Great Buddha Hall) of Todaiji Temple in Nara. 

As might be expected from such an informative title, the buddha inside the hall really were huge and very awe-inspiring! The artistry was absolutely stunning.

But, naturally, one of the most enjoyable aspects for us were the living beings found at the Temple--namely, friendly deer and adorable school kids 


Fully awe-inspired and jovial because of our random 'celebrity status' photo  requests with new friends,
we headed on our way to finally see our school and meet our host families! 

Wakayama epitomizes the Japanese image of "countryside" in so many ways.
To clarify, the image of countryside in Japan is absolutely nothing like the American image. Small cities would be a more accurate description!

But all the same, Wakayama was a beautiful, homely place. <3 

AT LAST we arrived at the high school and assembled to meet our host families!
I couldn't have asked for anything better--my host family was amazing!

My host sister, Naho, had visited my school in the US a few years prior, and said she had chosen me right away from the list of students who would be coming to Japan! And my host mother was hilarious! Both of them met me at the school, and I was able to meet my host father and brother later that night after grabbing some KFC and heading home to enjoy it with my new family and some Japanese TV. 
It still is one of my fondest memories from Japan, even though it's something so 'normal' :)

I was even more shocked because they actually got me a cake~!!!! My host dad worked at a bakery~ it was soooo sweet of them! <3

JULY 8th

Wakayama, Japan

And now we have officially caught up to the real memoirs of today--my first whole day with my host sister, mother, and friends! 

Since it was a weekend, we took a trip to the Rinku outlets to do some shopping~

Our neighbors joined us for the trip, which made it all the more enjoyable! I couldn't get over how adorable the kids were <3

And of course, my host sister is a total babe ;) 

Apart from the fact that we went shopping, there wasn't much that was particularly awe-inspiring to write about. It was just great to be able to spend the day with people who became so dear to me. Even now, I often think about this day and how nice it was to be in Japan with only them--there's something about it that makes the whole experience 'real.' There is nothing like living in Japan with a Japanese family~ :)

Weeeeeeell, that about wraps it up for now! 
Have you ever done a homestay program before~? :3

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