Miyajima

To be honest I had only been familiar with Miyajima by a picture I saw once of the o-torii gate. Two train rides and one ferry later we arrived to a national park where wild deer roamed the streets, we were surrounded by greenery,historic  structures, and lots of shrines. I couldn’t believe how friendly the sika deer were, if you didn’t watch your papers and clothing you may just leave with a few bite marks. I learned that this sacred island for buddhist and Shintoist and that the eldest shrine is the Itsukushima shrine. I really enjoyed visiting all the different shrines and walking up to the five-story pagoda. Even the history of the O-torii gate until know I didn’t know that it stands on it own and appears to float in the water. Here is where I also tried fried oysters for the first time, which I really enjoyed eating and the preparation as it was cooked on the grill. Overall, this beautiful island made me appreciation the different culture and religion that Japan has to offer.

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1 comment May 29, 2010

Tea Ceremony

After the tea ceremony we attended  I was curious to what everything symbolize and the process on the ceremony itself. It is said that the most important thing for the the host to do is to make sure the room is clear of negative energy, and filled with tranquility. While we wanted for the host to prepare the tea itself we received two sweets to snack and enjoy. Two of the snacks were small flowers made of sugar that melted in your mouth. The other traditional snack was a bigger in size and shaped as a real flower.

While we watched and enjoyed our snacks we watched the host bring out all the utensils required for the tea. Our host brought out a tea bowl,tea whisk, tea cloth, and tea scoop. Everything was purified by the host and the room remains silent during the ceremony. My favorite part of the ceremony was receiving my tea, we both bow to each other and I had to pick up the bowl with my left hand and cup the bowl with my right. I also had to make sure I turned the tea before we drank it.

Add a comment May 27, 2010

Children in Japan

Even as an adult, I was a little uneasy about traveling alone in Japan. I have lived in major cities back in the states but I have never felt safe traveling without some sort of protection.  Just as a student at MSU, I was told not to walk alone at night, travel with groups and always be alert.  But the major cultural rearing difference I have noticed is that children are taught to travel on their own. Most children in the U.S. are either picked up by school buses or driven my their parents.Here in Japan, I have seen children as young as five walking and riding the subways to and from school. The means of transportation here is mainly the subway and train system so I am assuming this is why the children are so independent. It made me realize that I had only been in Japan for 2 weeks but I wasn’t scared to travel on my own and the secure feeling is something I envy and wish we could have back at home.

2 comments May 26, 2010

Disneyland Tokyo Style!

Coming from a family with five sibling the opportunity to go to Disney was never really obtainable. As we grew up everyone besides myself found their own way to the magical kingdom until now. The wonderful opportunity to not only visit Disneyland itself but in Japan was something I knew I couldn’t pass up. With that in mind, seven of my classmates and I set out on adventure to find our way to Tokyo Disneyland. It was only about 30 minutes away and when we stepped inside of the gates it was like a fantasy world. Since I was a first timer, I had nothing to compare it to but I know one thing, the food selection from other theme parks was very different. Instead of your typically hamburgers, hot dogs, and pizza we had beef curry with rice and turkey drumsticks. I also realized that since the majority of the population is Japanese we had to ask for special English subtitle screens for the performances. Overall, I had a great time and hope to visit the other locations in the United States.

Add a comment May 26, 2010

Onsen Experience

An onsen is a hot spring bathing facility that allows you to relax and heal your body from everyday stresses. I was very interested in the experience and since it was recommended my roommate Courtnie and I searched for a local onsen. We found an indoor onsen located in Roppongi, a small day spa called ViVi.  But most of the traditional onsens are outside of the mainland of Tokyo and typically outside due to the nature of the bath water.

Little did we know that traditional onsen are also known for naked communion, this is supposed to help bring down barriers and help individuals be more comfortable in our own skin. The traditional onsens are also known for mixed sex bathing but since has changed to same-sex  style after the meiji moderning period.As opposed to western style, it is custom to wear bathing suits to spas, public pools and so forth.

My personal experience was a little shocking because we were ignorant about the nude customs but lucky the locals were very understanding and helpful. Our onsen was only same-sex and emphasize showering before and after bathing. The whole experience was an eye opener and made me realize how different our norms are compared to Japan. I would definitely recommend if you are in Japan to try the hot spring baths.

Add a comment May 26, 2010

Tokyo Giants

I personally love the game of baseball…I love the feeling you get when you walk into the stadium and hearing the crowds cheering and the music blaring and the blended colors of devoted fans.  I have had the opportunity to visit several baseball stadiums back in the states and not one of them could ever compare with Japanese baseball games. Even though it was a rainy Monday all the giant fans were standing loud and proud through the whole game. The cheering and chanting never stops here making the game that more exciting to watch. We had the chance to see two home runs in a row and the locals are so animated here when it comes to supporting their home team. I saw the coolest jerseys, towels and even baseball bat nunchucks. My family is a big fan of collecting baseball souvenirs so I purchased a few of my favorites including a miniature bat and pink jersey to wear to the game. I also made sure I took lots of videos to show my family what a really baseball game is like! As a bonus, the Tokyo Giants won the game!

Add a comment May 24, 2010

NTT Docomo runs this country!

Ntt Docomo is the number one cell phone provider in Japan and it’s for a good reason. We had the privilege to have a company visit there this past week and the cutting edge of the technology is insane! Similar to DNP, they are working with AR to create visuals media such as virtual cities for the future and this virtual shopping system.

The shopping system impressed me mainly because it made gifting for others so much easier.You no longer have to guess sizes or actually have that person be present. The system allows you to scan your information and also family members and also recognizes the wardrobe you currently have and selects outfits that you would be pleased with.  The most exciting part of the demonstration was the virtual fitting room and being able to see a miniature version of your family member in the clothing selected.

Also, I can’t forget the main focus of this company, which is mobile devices. I was totally blown away by the cell phones that are rings or when watches or how about the cell phones that allow you to use just your finger to hold a conversation. They have even made devices for elderly people to hear through a device when place on their forehead. I totally envy the HD quality and  12 mega pixel cameras that NTT Docomo offers and wished that their phone were compatible back home because I would purchase one in a heartbeat.

1 comment May 23, 2010

On a Quest

I have always wondered who comes up with sns games that I find myself getting addictedto such as farmtown or cafe world available via facebook. Well today I found the answer. Video gaming companies such as Q Entertainment are tackling Japanese social networking websites such as Gree, Dena and mixi to get the 20 million+ users to play tutorials and more. But this company is not only offering games via the web but also on mobile devices and televisions. Make the accessibility that much easier. The games they are working on currently is a concept game focused on horseracing which in the US we don’t have. The tutorial for this game showed that it appeals more to females due to the applications of changing outfits and so forth. I personally love horseracing and would enjoy playing such a game on any media. I hope that some of the games with eventually cross over to north america and we can too have a chance to enjoy Q Entertainment games!

Add a comment May 23, 2010

Purchasing the finer things

Some call me a shop-a-holic back home but here in Japan I am your average consumer. Shopping here is part of the lifestyle and keeping up with the latest trends is a must. Everywhere you turn there is a boutique or a five-story mall and shoe stores. Where can one begin to explain the consumer’s experience and the transaction process. The customer service and satisfaction you receive from start to finish is unheard of in the United States. For example, when I purchased my Lunarswift Nike running shoes in Osaka one of the employees handed me a screen to find out what I was interested in and  then selected shoes for me to try on. After choosing my favorite pair; she scanned my purchase and wrapped my shoes individually, wrapped the box and covered the box with a rain cover, then kindly walked me to the door bowing to me and thanking me. This must be the reason everyone loves shopping in Japan.The hospitality is such an experience alone, I just hope I can bring this back to the states and apply what I have learned in my own work environment.

Add a comment May 23, 2010

Medical Mask

On my way from traveling across the world I managed to catch a stubborn cold that has haunted me for the last 3 days. I have tried to cover it by medicine, victim c and cough drops and of course by cover my mouth when I sneeze. But I noticed when I did such a thing the locals would stare at me as if I was being rude. I soon learned that it is custom and out of respect for others to wear a medical mask if you are ill. Then I looked around and understood why so many people were wearing masks in general. Out of respect and as a guess of this country I purchased 2 packages of pink masks to wear until I get better. I didn’t feel like I have a disease anymore and felt more comfortable walking around. I wish the US was more concerned for others and would adopt this so we wouldn’t spread so much sickness around. Honestly,it wasn’t until H1N1 broke out when we finally started getting hand sanitizers readily available.Everything here is more sanitary including the bathrooms and the no trash rule. Yes, I may look like a ninja girl in the US but here I’m just another sick person trying to get better!

3 comments May 14, 2010

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