Japan Week 1: Shinto Shrines and the Peace Memorial

My first week in Japan was something special, exciting and new. It started out leaving Tampa, everyone was excited for me but it didn’t really hit me until I boarded the flight from Huston to Tokyo. It was my first long international flight and I got excited and nervous all at the same time. I was excited to go to Japan and experience the culture and language but I was nervous for the long flight, and I didn’t know what to expect. It was long and a little bit uncomfortable but I got through it. We landed in Fukuoka and I was afraid that I was going to get my friend and I lost, but I didn’t and we found our hotel just fine. When we settled in, we got ramen with the sensei (teacher). It was the best ramen I ever had! The past few days were full of walking and train rides which was all new to me. I loved learning about the foot traffic culture of Japan. How to stand on one side of the escalator, and the way we have to stand/ walk on the left side because of the flow of traffic. In the middle of the week we visited two beautiful shrines, before visiting them I thought that all of the shrines looked the same. After visiting these two shrines, I learned that each shrine has their own unique gods that live in them. In each shrine there is a fountain with paddles, where people have to scoop water and pour it on their left hand then their right hand. After that we have to pour water on our left hand and drink the water to purify our mouths. Lastly we have to lift the paddle up and have the water pour down the handle to clean it for the next person. I was nervous because I didn’t want to do it wrong but I got it right and I’m very comfortable with doing the purification ritual now. On Friday, we went to Nagasaki which was one of the locations where the U.S. dropped the atomic bomb. We visited the Peace Memorial Museum which was located there and we saw items that were found after the bomb drop. I looked at these items and it seemed fake, it is hard to imagine normal money, bottle, houses, stores, and history just being erased in a matter of a second.

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