Japan

Hello Japan ⛩

As of today, I’ve been in Japan for one week.

It’s kind of a weird feeling to realize that I’m here, especially since I’ve been planning it for well over a year. I guess I just expected to be in a perpetual state of planning, never really getting here.

This past week has been a whirlwind of fun. I’ve mastered the art of the train, I’ve finally figured out the money system, and I’m becoming more comfortable with the language little-by-little. I’ve tried new foods and made sure to embrace as much as I can. I know I have a long way to go, but I’m hoping this openness I’m experiencing now doesn’t end.

If you follow me on Instagram/Twitter or have me added on Facebook, you’ve seen quite a few of these pictures already, but in an attempt to talk and catalogue my time in Japan, I’m going to talk more about each picture and their context! 😋

Ramen in Narita! 🍜

Getting to Japan was seamless, with no flight delays or lost luggage or anything. Everything went so according to plan! I couldn’t be happier. My friends and I landed in Narita, Japan, on September 6, and there we met my boyfriend. 💑 I met him for the first time, though we’ve spent hours video calling and exchanging text messages. We clicked instantly, and even my friends were surprised at how easily we got along. It was a 15 minute bus ride or so to our hotel where we dropped off our things, took showers (ugh 15 hours of travel), and got refreshened up for the night.

From there, we set off to explore Narita. We stopped by Naritasan, but my boyfriend got freaked out by a picture my friend took (it was covered in orbs, which Japanese people believe means there are spirits there), so we didn’t stick around all that much. It was kind of raining, but it was still comfortable, so we just kept walking for quite some time. We eventually ended up at a ramen shop and ducked inside. I got a plate of gyoza because I wasn’t all that hungry (they’d just fed us on the plane), but my friends and boyfriend got ramen. Trust me, I can’t wait to try ramen in Japan, but I’m happy to wait for the right time for ramen. 😉

After dinner, we continued to explore Narita and wound up at karaoke for an hour. My boyfriend loves karaoke (he seriously goes 2-3 times a week), so we had a blast picking Japanese and English songs. Surprisingly, the Disney songs were the most common ground for everyone.

The hotel we spent the night in was really nice, especially since the room was only around ¥6000 ($60). The day next day was both happy and sad–we were all excited to get to Osaka, but I was really upset to leave my boyfriend. It’s better to be a few cities apart in the same country than an entire ocean apart, but I still wish we lived in the same city and could easily hang out. Either way, saying goodbye sucked and we already have plans to see one another soon. 💜

Takarazuka!

There is a lot of BS that came after getting to Osaka and the hotel where me and the rest of the Kwansei Gakuin international students stayed, but I’m not going to go into it that much. It was fun, but I was definitely ready to be out of hotel rooms and unpacked!

I officially moved into my dorm room on September 8, and I’m living in Takarazuka. The station is about a ten minute walk from where I live, so it’s really convenient to catch a train to Osaka or Nishinomiya if I want, and there are plenty of connecting lines in-between. Which is how I ended up at my friend’s host family’s neighbor’s party the night I moved into my dorm (which is more like an apartment, but more on that another time). I’d never taken the train before in my life but, since we came equipped with pre-loaded ICOCA cards, I decided – hey, what’s the harm?

It was one of the most fun things I’ve done so far. My friend and I were both worried her host family would be really strict and maybe even mean, but they’re the complete opposite. They’re so much fun and so kind, and they let me spend the night at their house two nights in a row. They’ve also basically adopted me as a second host daughter and tell all of their neighbors and friends about me when they come over the house.

Considering I don’t have a host family of my own, it’s really awesome to have that experience and I had a ton of fun at the party. They were so welcoming and kind, which I’ve heard is a very Kansai thing. I was interrogated (in Japanese) when I got there, but the questions were fun and they were all genuinely interested in my answers. The entire table freaked out when they found out my boyfriend is Japanese, but it’s also exciting because they can’t wait to meet him (and interrogate him, too).

On Saturday, I went with my friend to Osaka and we had a blast. We got a little lost coming out of the station, but once we found what we were looking for (Yodobashi!), it was smooth sailing from there. Yodobashi is everything to me and more, and I’m so glad it exists. I can’t wait to go back in the future and explore it some more since I only had the chance to see 3 floors. 😭

関西学院大学

On Monday we finally got around to visiting the school. Orientation week had officially begun! We did quite a bit on that first day, and I can definitely say it was a blast to get to meet a lot more people. I met my global buddies (which is basically a group of 7 international students and 3 Japanese students), and I love the Japanese students. They’re so friendly and fun, and I had a great time interacting with them. I really hope I can become good friends with all 3 of the Japanese buddies because I love chatting with them and can tell they’re really interested in getting to know other people and other cultures! 🌎

The school itself is amazing, and I’m having such a great time exploring the campus and becoming familiar with it. There’s a great cafeteria where you can get an entire meal for less than ¥500 ($5), and it’s all fresh food and so filling! I absolutely love it.

A stream on campus

I don’t get the feeling that I miss my home university yet and I’m not sure I will. I really love KGU, and I think it’s great how many opportunities they provide for international students to interact with everyday Japanese students.

After some pretty mundane orientation days, my friend and I decided we wanted to head back into Osaka to find some cute bags. It’s difficult to carry all of the things you need here in Japan (like water bottles, umbrella for maybe-rain/definite-rain days, and your wallet), and our bags that we brought from America just weren’t cutting it. So, we took a trip to HEP5 and did a little bit of shopping. I ended up finding an absolutely perfect small backpack that’ll fit water and everything else I need, and my friend managed to find what she was looking for too! HEP5 had me absolutely drooling over clothes, but my boyfriend recommended that I check out UNIQLO or GU long before I step into more high end fashion clothing stores.

かき氷

We found ourselves enjoying an absolutely mountainous mango shaved ice treat in a café, which brightened us up a bit and kept us shopping (seriously, there are so many floors in HEP5 and so many stores on every floor).

The true gem, though, was finding the ferris wheel at the top of HEP5. I immediately texted my boyfriend and told him when he comes into Osaka we have to go on the ferris wheel because it was so much fun, and the view was incredible. It looks out over all of Osaka city, and you can even see Osaka Castle from the top! Since it had been raining before we got there, the entire place just looked clean and cool, and the city was so picturesque. Considering it was only ¥500 for a 15 minute ride, it was well worth the money and the wait wasn’t long at all.

大阪 💟

We didn’t end up coming home until around 11pm, but it was such a fun night and so worth it. Getting to so easily explore Osaka is awesome, and I can’t wait to wander further and further away from the train station as we continue to explore new and exciting places!

Today was another orientation where we picked our classes for school, and I’m so glad that I finally have a schedule! I purposefully made my Fridays as free was possible (only one class from 11:10am-12:40pm) so that if my boyfriend comes into Osaka during the afternoon it’ll be easy to meet up with him, and also so that travel is very easy and possible. Since most places are fairly convenient to get to within a few hours, there are a lot of great options for me to travel with, so I can’t wait to see what kind of trips I take on the weekends! 😝

I explored campus some more today and spent time in the Japanese garden on campus, which was so nice and tranquil.

I can definitely say I’m really happy with the school I’m attending, and I think I made the right choice to come to Osaka over the other possible destinations. I really can’t wait to see what else this year in Japan has in store for me, and I’m looking forward to it all! 🇯🇵

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6 Comments

  • Reply
    Tara
    2017 September 15 at 7:54 PM

    Eeee! I am so happy for you. You finally made it to Japan! It does feel weird at first since you’ve been planning it for so long, and now that it is happening, it feels so surreal!

    Reading your summaries is making me smile. I’m glad you were able to get a hang of the train system and the Japanese money! I still struggle with the money portion when I go there. They have far too many coins for me to deal with LOL I giggled at you meeting your friend’s host family and their interrogation of you. That’s good they were so welcoming to you! Oh, and I love that you found a Japanese garden on your campus! They are truly one of my favourite things about Japanese culture *_*

    Keep on sharing your adventures whenever you have a moment to do so 🙂 I look forward to seeing the rest of your Japanese adventure!

    • Reply
      Sydney
      2017 November 13 at 12:53 AM

      I’m finally getting used to the money! I’m starting to recognize coins easily. Back in the States, we never use coins (or cash), so the concept of having them on you is really weird. But these days I’m starting to get the hang of it and can give exact change a lot easier. I think when I get back to the States I’ll have a hard time dealing with cards because it’s sometimes kind of fun to pay with exact change!

  • Reply
    Etta
    2017 September 24 at 5:59 PM

    Seems like a pretty eventful week. The pictures look stunning. I knew the Japanese culture was pretty reputable for their upkeep especially around campuses, but that was only in theory. Even with such high standards, these pictures surpassed my expectations. Hope you enjoy your times in Japan! That food looks delicious. I’m sold on planning a trip to visit at some point thanks to you. 😛

    • Reply
      Sydney
      2017 November 12 at 7:40 AM

      I hope you end up planning a trip here! It’s a wonderful country. 🙂

  • Reply
    Claudine
    2017 September 30 at 9:50 AM

    Great photos Sydney! 🙂 And I love how each photo really tells a fun story. Looks like you’re enjoying Japan a lot!

    It must have felt so great meeting your boyfriend and getting to spend time with him. Long-distance relationships suck! 🙁 But at least you’re now in the same country and that you can see each other more often if you want to! 😀 And I love how you guys went to karaoke; I heard karaoke is really huge in Japan and that it seems like they have every song you can ever think of (I even heard they had songs in different languages!)

    It’s so nice that your friend’s host family was so nice and welcoming. It really helps having locals around you when you’re adjusting to a new place <3 Asians really like interrogating people even during the first meeting, but it's just our way of getting to know new people. I think it scares or makes foreigners feel weird, but I'm glad you were super game to answer their questions 🙂

    • Reply
      Sydney
      2017 November 13 at 12:51 AM

      Thanks so much! I’m having a blast here!

      Karaoke here is kind of next level lol. The rooms are usually really fancy, and the song selection is incredible. A lot of karaoke places back home were kind of lame and had very few songs (or just Korean ones), but here you can usually get songs in Japanese, English, and Korean, and I’ve heard some places have other languages too! And it isn’t that expensive to go to karaoke here either.

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