Good afternoon everyone! I hope you are all well and are finding success this semester! The past two weeks at Kansai Gaidai have been extremely fun but now I am doing nothing but studying for my midterms which start on Tuesday. Let me tell you about what I have been doing over here in my free time!
Two weeks ago at Kansai Gaidai, there was a sports festival which I forgot to sign up for but still attended (as a spectator). For the first hour, I watched from the sidelines and talked to one of my Japanese friends who was volunteering as a judge. After I told her I forgot to sign up, she went and talked to the director of the event and got permission to allow me to join a team. Out of the five teams (red, yellow, blue, green, pink),I decided to join the yellow team because I knew some of the people in that team. I had an fantastic time. I wouldn’t necessarily call what we were doing sports but they were famous Japanese games that are usually played during festivals at school. This sports festival started at 9 am and ended at 4 pm. By 2 pm, I was tired from running so much, so I didn’t participate in some of the next games. Instead, I helped my Japanese friend with judging the events. Thankfully, the weather was really nice that day.
The following day, due to the fact that my homestay mother’s sister and mother came to Osaka, we all decided to take a one day trip to Kyoto! We all met at Hirakata-shi train station around 8 am and started our Kyoto adventure. My homestay mother’s sister has the most adorable baby. She was only 9 months old. Our itinerary included visiting my homestay brothers college and exploring the campus, walking around the city and finally a hike through a mountain that took almost 3 hours (This is the day after I played in the sports festival for hours. My legs were about to fall off by the time I got home). When we got to my homestay brothers college, I was actually impressed by the size of it in comparison to Kansai Gaidai. His college is full of very European style buildings and had some fascinating architectural features. We were able to go into his campus museum which had various historic artifacts that pertained to the college. After an hour of walking and looking around, we left the college and stopped by a famous bread bakery. I am glad I don’t live by a bread bakery because if I did, I would be eating breakfast, lunch and dinner there every day. The freshly made bread was so good. If you come to Japan, I highly recommend stopping by a bakery. They are literally everywhere and have some really interesting breads that you should try! We walked around the city for a while before heading to the mountain trail by train.
The train ride took about 30 minutes and I was able to see some great scenery along the way. Actually, in two or three weeks, I am planning on taking a few trips to Kyoto and other places because of 紅葉 or leaves changing color. I have seen pictures on the internet of Japanese foliage but have not experienced it in person. I am really looking forward to that because in Florida because there is really no winter, there is not much change in the foliage.
Once we reached the mountain trail, my homestay brother and I took turns carrying the baby on our back as we started are accent of the thousands of stairs. It was an extremely beautiful place and it was nice just to talk with everyone. When we reached the halfway point, we found a little shop that sold tea and took a small break. I am actually so impressed that my homestay mother’s mother climbed the whole mountain at the same pace as us. After about 15 minutes, we continued climbing and every once in a while there would be a place to look over the mountains and scenery. At last, we reached the end of the mountain trail and were able to pray at the shrine and receive a fortune. Unfortunately, my fortune was not so good so I discarded it by tying it into a knot around a wooded rod at the shrine. Out of all of the time I have been in Japan, I have only received one good fortune. Most of the time people receive bad fortunes. We ate lunch at a place that was pretty close to the shrine before heading back to Hirakata-shi station. Everything was going extremely well until we got off the train at Hirakata and transferred to another train. My homestay mother realized that my homestay brother and I had forgot one of the bags on the train. It just so happened that that bag contained, my homestay brother’s wallet, my homestay mother’s sister’s wallet, and a lot of other things. I felt absolutely horrible that I had forgot it but everyone else seemed like it didn’t bother them that much. As soon as we got off at he next station, we went and talked to the Station attendants who called ahead to the next station where the train with our bag would be stopping. Thank goodness, the bag was found and nothing was missing. After that, I still felt bad but my homestay mother and brother kept telling me not to worry about it and we went out to a sushi restaurant where I tried poisonous puffer fish sushi (sorry mom)! I was actually a little nervous to try it because I have seen some programs in America where people have died from eating puffer fish that has been incorrectly prepared. My homestay brother ordered two servings and told me, “if we die, my brother is here as a witness and can take this restaurant to court” and laughed. That made me feel much better…but hey, I am still alive almost two weeks later! After finishing dinner, we returned home where I quickly fell asleep.
One last thing before I go. I found out the beginning of this week from my professor that, due to my outstanding class performance and current grades at Kansai Gaidai, I was selected along with 5 other students to go on a trip to Sendai Japan all expenses paid by Kansai Gaidai. When she told me that, I almost didn’t believe it at first but I’ll be damned, it is true! I will be leaving this weekend and am super excited! I will make sure to take a lot of pictures and have many great stories to write about when I return.
Well, I am going to continue my Japanese studies and work on a presentation now. I hope you all have a great Sunday!