Sept. 7th, 2018- 日本へようこそ!(Welcome to Japan)

This the welcome sign you see after you have landed in Narita Airportはじめまして!(How do you do? Glad to meet you!). Sorry for the late post, but I have been getting used to this roller coaster ride of studying abroad which is normal for anyone living in a new country.  Prior to leaving, I was worried my flight would get canceled/delayed due to a category 4 hurricane approaching my hometown of Hawaii. Luckily, the storm dissipated in time for my departure. The flight wasn’t too bad since the duration lasted only 7 hours. On August 28th, my journey started when I arrived in Narita Airport. As soon as I went through immigration customs and baggage claim, I arrived the main gate and met two other current Linfield students and some KGU students known as “buddies.” One of my buddies was actually an exchange student last year at Linfield named Naoki, aka Kiki. Soon after, we were transported to our dorms where we got a tour. The next few days were filled with orientation, meeting the KGU International Center assistants, and a few trips. Here are a few highlights of some of the days during our arrival week:

Thursday 8/30- I learned how to use the rail system for the first time going to downtown Yokohama. In Japan, almost everyone uses the rail system as a mode of transportation to work and school. Riding it will take some getting used to since I felt a little dizzy from standing while the train is moving. The trains can also get crowded at times especially during rush hour, and you must offer your seat to elderly or people with infants to be polite. In downtown Yokohama, some of us went to get International sim cards for the smartphones. After that we had lunch at a place called Ichiran Ramen. It is an unique restaurant because you order from a vending machine and then you eat at your own private booth. I enjoyed this “antisocial” experience where I can just focus on the taste of the delicious ramen all by myself. Then we did a little shopping at mall called JoinUS. We went to a café where one of the program assistants, Matsuoka Sensei, treated us all to drinks. This shows how sincere and kind people can be in Japan.

Tonkatsu Ramen
Tonkatsu ramen from Ichiran Ramen

Friday 8/31- The next day we took a placement test for our Japanese language classes. After that we had  a bento lunch with our Japanese lecturers. It was nice getting to know our lecturers before classes started, and were all fascinated by our interests and our background. It is similar at Linfield when we get the 1:1 student-teacher ratio, and they want to remember us.

Yokohama City
Yokohama City as seen from Cosmo Clock Ferris Wheel

Saturday 9/01- We met with our KGU buddies and went to various places around Yokohama. First we walked around Yokohama Baseball Stadium, and through Chinatown. After that, we went into separate groups and did our own activities. For lunch, my buddies and I went to this Hawaiian restaurant called Sun Aloha Minato Mirai for a little taste of home. The one thing I like about Japan is that it has a great relationship with Hawaii, so I hope to find some bits of Hawaii here. Then, we went to the famous Cup of Noodle Museum where it was all about the famous ramen cup and its creator, Momofuku Ando. I learned that Momofuku Ando was a great innovator by using creative thinking and curiosity to create a successful product. The day ended by going to CosmoWorld amusement park where I rode the famous Cosmo Clock ferris wheel and a cool water ride.

Cup of Noodle Wall
Had Momofuku Ando not created Cup of Noodle, then broke college students would not have been able to survive.

Sunday 9/02- The next we spent time with our buddies again by going to Enoshima, a small island located off the Shonan coast of Kanagawa Prefecture. From there, we went to the Enoshima aquarium where we saw lots of fish and marine life. There was even penguins and otters! After we that we had a lunch break, and it was off to the Enoshima Shrine. It was really nice, but it turned out be a long hike for me. I should have worn more comfortable clothes especially since the weather in Japan is very humid during this time of the year.

Enoshima Shrine
Enoshima Shrine

So far I have been having an interesting experience in Japan. My only issue is the language barrier. Japanese can be a difficult language especially when people are talking really fast. Sometimes, I feel intimidated when I listen to them speak, and I don’t know what to say because I know so little. And not a lot of people speak English except for a few that speak broken English. I wished I had reviewed more during the summer. Hopefully, I will improve and become fluent before the end of this program. Until next time, じゃまた!(See you later)!

Group photo at Enoshima Aquarium
Our group at Enoshima Aquarium

ーAlyssa Kuwamoto (アリッサ クワモト)