Tag Archives: Japan

Japan- The Country of Rising Sun

I arrived to Japan in mid of March, when the spring time was calling for the cherry blossom. “Hanami” is the old name of picnicking under a blooming sakura (cherry blossoms). It could be considered as a reunion time, when friends and family members are sitting on the carpet under the cherry trees and enjoying the beautiful scents and color of spring. I lived in a guesthouse for both Japanese and foreigners. It was a very friendly community. I had a chance to experience “Hanami” event organized for the tenants by the guesthouse. It was very enjoyable to see the canopy of blossoms with a picnic and a traditional photo screen.

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As my internship lasted until August, I had more chances to explore the summer season in Japan. About the weather, it was not so nice to go out during the season of both humid and hot. It is also the time of tsunami. Regardless of these factors, it was still worth to staying there for the summer because it is time for “Hanabi” (fireworks) festivals. For me, the Japanese fireworks were bigger, longer lasting, and more colorful than any fireworks that I have seen so far. The special thing going hand-in-hand with hanabi was wearing Yukata. This is traditional clothing in Japan, and also is known as a summer version of kimono. Wearing yukata does not mean only wearing an outfit, but a certain hairstyle and elaborate accessories are the requirements to complete the look. I and my colleagues went to see hanabi in August, it was a great chance for me to wear yukata. One of my colleagues has lent me her yukata, which was made by her mother. I would say, it was not as easy as it looked to wear the yukata by myself. With the help from my colleague, I finally managed to have a perfect look for the firework festivals.

Hanabi 1Hanabi 2

Mount Fuji is a national icon for Japan, which is the highest mountain in Japan at 3,776.24 m. This is one of the most attractive destinations for foreigners, especially for hikers. The best option is to take two days and one night to reach the top of the mountain. Unfortunately, due to a tight schedule, I was not able to complete the trail. However, it was still worth going to the Mt. Fuji for the sunrise as well as for little walks.  One thing to be aware of is weather. As it is a typhoon season during the summer, as well as the weather up to the mountain can be unpredicted- changeable, climbing the mountain with well preparation and experts are recommended.

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Japan is also a famous place of shrines, temples, and souvenirs.

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Getting to know Japanese history, traditional things, and cuisines, Japanese manner and equity, etc. as well as discovering many different perspectives of the country makes me want to stay there longer. It was such amazing journey for me. I hope I would come back to Japan one day soon.

Learning language, life and work

I’m doing my first hospitality management training in a lovely guest house in Onomichi (cute, relaxed and vintage styled town), called Anago no Nedoko ( Sea Eel’s sleeping place). My jobs are helping with preparing and serving breakfast (japanese and western style), cleaning cafe and cleaning guest house’s first floor (showers, toilets, common kitchen and living room). If my co-worker missing/having holiday ect (:D), I also do the second floor (dormitories and private rooms).

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Time is flying way too fast. 😀 On my free time I go eating out, sightseeing or geo caching with my local friends or guests of Anago. Stuff of the guest house have parties, movie nightscand sport events often (couple time per a week).  Trying my best to learn japanese and finish my friend’s wedding gift. Became also addicted in jogging (Onomichi full of uphills and stairs. ;D

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Onomichi is full of stray cats, temples, islands, friendly people and things to see. Most famous attraction is Shimanami Kaido that is a bikeing route (70km one way) through seven (?) islands from Onomichi to Imabari. Highly recommend, very beautiful. ;D

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Enjoying my life to ^10. So if you do not see mee in next autumn, you know where to find me! ;D

News from Japan, Oita.

Konnichiwa! Greetings from Japan!

I have been here for two months now, with only three remaining.
Time flies by when you’re surrounded by a lot of amazing people and interesting things.
Now, most people going to Japan from TAMK seem to choose RItsumeikan so you may have already heard stories all about that, but here’s something from Oita.

Gakuseiryo showercornerFirstly, the most important thing: The living environment.
I was assigned to one of the two international dorms here called the Gakuseiryo (Translating literally to Student Dorm) while the other one is called Kishukusha.
They both have their own sides to them, but I must mention that the rent here in Gakuseiryo is about double the amount the students in Kishukusha pay. Even now I do not really know the proper reason, but I think it is because you get your own shower and bathtub. Sounds great right? Well, if you’re the size of a Japanese young man, maybe.
Personally I find it quite inconvenient due to being quite a bit taller than the average Japanese, for the bathtub is quite small and there is not much space in the shower. Not to mention you have to stand in the slippery tub to take a shower. That kind of turned me off at the start to be honest.
Kishukusha has public showers, but hold on, there’s more.
Because this is Japan and they highly value their privacy, the 3-4 shower rooms per floor can all be locked and there is no way anyone could peek into them while you’re in there. So privacy is not an issue. There are no tubs there but they are SO spacious compared to the tiny corner of a tubshower hybrid we have here at Gakuseiryo.
Other than that the rooms are about the same size, BUT the soundproofing at my dorm is far superior to that of the other one.
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My neighbor can blast music all day long without bothering me and compared to hearing other people cough through the wall in Kishukusha I would say the soundproofing is really quite something here at Gakuseiryo, not to mention this was quite recently renovated.

The bedsheets, pillow, blanket, all that good stuff had to be rented from an external company for about 60 Euros for 6 months, although that’s quite the small price to pay when you consider it’s there when you arrive and you can leave it there when you leave. That said I heard you can get the same set for half that from a shop but you’ll have to arrange for it to be transferred to the dorm which would include additional fees, and you’d have to throw it away yourself upon leaving. I’m happy with the option they provided.
All I had to do was write my name and room number into an email and it was all arranged for me before I arrived. I paid up later at the office.

20150405_122005There’s also a 24/7 store just down the road, so if you get hungry in the dead of night you can always go and get some snacks, packed lunches, baked goods and even deepfried chicken. That really saved me the first few days when I didn’t know the left from the right not to mention knowing how to supply myself with food in the new environment where everything seemed to be written in an alien language. I got used to that in the first few weeks though, as with everything else pretty much.

That said, I still haven’t quite received that much of a culture ‘shock’ as I’d expected, although I do miss some things I’d say I’ve managed to adopt quite well, of course the credit for that goes to the ever-so-helpfull Japanese folks and my fellow transfer students who had most been here for a whole semester already.
They were kind enough to show me the ropes and they’re all really fun to hang around with. I must admit I had my doubts about that at first but I’m glad everything turned out to be better than expected.

Did I mention most of the western style toilets have electrically warmed seats? Yeah, I’m definitely going to miss those when I return to Finland. Oh, they also have integrated pidet and shower in the toilets for those who are into using them. Technology!

About the studies here, while I heard there would have been something more fitting to my field of study in RItsumeikan, I’m glad I chose Oita because the courses here are mostly the things I wanted to study about anyway; The language, culture and history of Japan.
We also have classes about the affairs in the EU so there’s something I can contribute to.
The Japanese books were quite expensive, around a hundred Euros for the workbook and textbook together if I recall correctly, but it’s a single-time purchase unless you happen to lose them.

There’s a ton of places to eat out nearby and a supermarket or two right in the walking distance.
While I’m not really a friend of fish myself, the Sushi restaurant offers a selection of things that are precisely for us like fried chicken, octopus, squid, even fries and ice cream.
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You order it all on the screen and it comes up to you on a conveyor belt. They count the cost of your meal by the coded plates you’ll have piled up at the end of the meal.

There’s a few local bars, pubs and clubs that the transfer students frequent in the city as well. A trip to the city costs about 2 Euros by train and only takes about 15 minutes.

20150405_112633To anyone considering coming to Japan for their exchange, I’d recommend Oita.
The other university is on a high hill as well, so you won’t be leaving it often mostly due to the effort of having to walk all the way down the rounded road to get anywhere.
At least that’s what I heard from one of the guys who was staying there that I met on the beach the other day.
The sun is also quite strong here compared to Finland, burned me to crisp but that’s what I get for underestimating it in the first place.
You should be fine with the strong suncreen you can get at some of the shops here. Alas I had none at the time but don’t you make the same mistake.

In a nutshell, it’s been well worth the trip coming here. My only regret so far is that I’ve only three months left to enjoy my time here, but that just means I’ve got to make the best of it.

Best regards,
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Greetings from Japan (again)

Hello and greetings from the sunny and quite warm city of Beppu.

It’s been about two and a half months since I started my internship at Ryoutiku Bettei Hotel. Oh boy were the first couple of weeks nerve-wrecking! I still have moments of nervousness sometimes, but I’m glad the worst is over. I’m used to my tasks now and my seniors are treating me as a proper member of the hotel. One of them even asked if I’d like to stay in Japan and get a permanent job from the hotel, but I rejected the offer politely telling that I really want to graduate from university… and after that to go to a graduate school! Thus, no time to stay at the hotel even though it is a quite nice place to work in.

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Me holding a lunchbox I made at a park during cherry blossom viewing (花見)

Since I have previous experience of studying and living in Japan, I know the hierarchy system and different language for different situations. At first I had to spend some time studying the most formal language used for customers and it’s still quite the tongue twister, but I’m getting used to it.

I work from 10am to 5pm with a 30min lunch break. My hours are waaay shorter than regular workers’, and I’m even allowed to go home on time (very common in Japanese work culture to stay at work until the boss leaves or do over time work for at least an hour). I start by working at the lunch restaurant, have a break and then move to the lounge where I welcome guests and then take them to their room while explaining about the hot springs, breakfast and other functions of the hotel. There are some projects going on at the hotel which require me to act as a contact person for the university I had my exchange period in so it’s fun to interact with the APU students again. I sometimes miss my former uni!

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Me being extremely happy!

I come home every day around 5.40pm and I’m often too tired to do anything awfully productive. I usually cook, exercise if the weather is good and my legs are not dead, and just “hang out”. I have one or two holidays per week and during them I sometimes go to explore new places in Beppu.

I think that’s enough for now. Thanks for reading!

 

Maria

 

Konnichiwa from Japan!

It’s been a very fun, boring, educational, interesting, hot and cold ~2,5 months in the land of the rising sun. My exact location is a small town called Beppu in Oita prefecture. Classes (homework, teaching and contents of classes) at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University are quite similar to TAMK. So far I’ve tackled one case of homesickness and one case of real sickness, so it hasn’t been a very bumpy ride. Beppu is not very vibrant or colorful, but the university and its lovely people are what make me wanna spend more than one semester here. Oh, and the delicious food plus cheap hot spring spas! Oh, did I forget to mention my dorm is next to a sea with a beautiful beach…? Life is treating me well.

Enough of talking, on to the photos…

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