Andrew

We’ve met some very interesting people and seen some amazing sites in the past few days. It’s been about 3 days since my last update so I’ll try and remember as best I can the progress of our trip.

We got a tour of a campus here by one of the professors of sociology, met John Breen, one of the most famous scholars on the Shinto religion. we got to have lunch and a drink later with a students studying religions in Etheopia who has been in contact with Dr. Roemer. Last night we got a chance to sit down at a Buddhist temple and talk with about 10 Japanese men (via translator) about religion and what we thought about Japan so far. the talk naturally drifted to the difference in toilets…kinda awkward.

We got to visit Nara and see one of the largest Buddhas, towering what looked like 7 stories. We visited a bazaar yesterday morning that happens once a month at a local Buddhist temple and I ran out of money finally, buying gifts. We got attacked by deer at Nara, but we got some amazing group photos. The deer were very docile, some though had a lust for crackers that drove them to attack Dr. Roemer. I also have a video of one chasing Mindy that I may upload if I’m feeling mean.

I’m still having a great time with my classmates, we got stared down on the bus by a Japanese woman with a popped collar, because we were being too loud. (Side note, Japan didn’t get the memo that popped collars are stupid, I’m gonna have to deliver it) We may possibly get to head out to a village that is preserved as an old time Japanese town. This would be great, but the samurai being able to behead peasants that insult them may be a bit too extreme for some people in the group.

It still strikes me as fascinating when I hear the dates of when some of these temples and such were erected, 690 was when the second largest pagoda was built, and it is odd because our own history doesn’t extend back nearly that far. it is also amazing that these enormous structures were built, and still stand, using pretty primitive materials and bulding techniques.

We still need to try Pachinko, Dr. Roemer said that Ball State won’t pay to support my gambling habit though. I’ll get some pictures of the arcades, they are an explosion of color and highly polished chrome.

This is the first chance I’ve had to write a substantial amount about my experiences in Japan, other than brief Facebook updates, so my thoughts may be random and a bit unorganized. I think you will enjoy them regardless.

There is a profound beauty in all things here that I have either failed to see in America, or that we just plain lack. hospitality and courtesy abound in each different city we visit, even though the pace is hectic in places like Tokyo and Kyoto. The food is incredible and I have tried my best to be an adventurous eater. Just last night I ate tofu ( I know, that is gross) but the night before I had chicken heart, gizzard, liver and tail grilled and on a stick. The chicken tail was just pure cartilage, a bit surprising when it was delivered to the table, but I ate it regardless.

The shrines and temples we are seeing are amazing, and I should be able to upload my video very soon of the Nishiki Mikoshi being shaken right in front of us at Gion Matsuri.We are in Ise now, and saw Ise Shrine yesterday. Ise Shrine is one of the most important shrines in all of Japan, because it is the home of Ameterasu, the sun goddess and one of the prime Kami, or spirit deities. Sadly she wasn’t in when we visited, so we couldn’t get a picture with her.

One of the reasons that the trip is going so well is because I am traveling with such great people. My classmates and Dr. Roemer have made this a truly unforgettable vacation/class so far, and I think they enjoy my company as well. I’m appreciative that Collin has been so adventurous as well with the new foods, most of this stuff I’d never imagine eating before the trip. Dr. Roemer has made this trip go very smoothly so far, his mastery of the Japanese language and wealth of knowledge on religions and shrines has been integral in allowing us to see once in a lifetime events.

I do hope though that some of these things aren’t once in a lifetime for me though. I’ve been talking with Mindy and Dr. Roemer about the exchange program that Ball State offers, as well that the Japanese government run J.E .T program where native English speakers come to Japan for a year+ to teach students English. I’ve never been a fan of large cities and have often times said that I wouldn’t enjoy living in one, but I could easily see myself surviving in Tokyo or Kyoto. I may have to learn the language though, which has been the single largest barrier we’ve run into. They let us know though at each shrine by crossing their forearms in an X shape and saying “No foto” nothing gets lost in translation there.

I’ve had the best sushi I’ve ever had, best Sake, seen some of the most beautiful buildings. This trip has been everything that I’ve expected so far, and we still have several days to go. I’ll see you all very soon.

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. mom
    Jul 12, 2010 @ 19:50:59

    How’d those headphones work out for you-any crying babies?

    Reply

    • mom
      Jul 19, 2010 @ 02:25:23

      We are so glad that you are having a blast! Dad says he would like the recipe for the chicken tail sticks. Where do you go next?

      Reply

  2. julie (mom)
    Jul 19, 2010 @ 20:17:48

    Hi andrew , collins mom , I cant believe he is being adventurous with food , he will only eat meat and potatoes at our home .. your a good influence . loved your blog keep writing …. collin’s mom

    Reply

  3. kmmcfarland
    Jul 22, 2010 @ 02:12:48

    You do need to blog more.

    Reply

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