日本の大冒険:第4章 – 日本の日出 – Japan Adventure: Part 4 – Sunrise in the Land of the Rising Sun

皆さん、こんにちは!久しぶりですね。すみません、日本に着いた時から、そごく忙しくなりました。実はいつも疲れていますよ!でも私の日本の大冒険はこれまでは楽しくて実りあっています。それでは記事を書く時間はあまりありませんでした。

とにかく、やっと二週間前にギルマン奨学金のグローバル・エックスピリアンス・ブログのために新しい記事を書きました。昨日はついに出しました!これは私の日本の到着と早い経験についてあります。よかったら、読んでシェアしてくださいね:日本の日出(残る日本語のポストが下に現れます。)

Hi everyone! I’m sorry that it’s been so long since I’ve posted. To be honest, I’ve been really busy and tired since I arrived in Japan, though it’s been a fun and rewarding experience so far, and so I really haven’t had the time to sit down and write a decent post yet.

Anyway, I finally wrote an article a couple of weeks ago for the Gilman Global Experience Blog (which is only getting posted now) about my recent arrival and early experiences in Japan. Please feel free to read and share: Sunrise in the Land of the Rising Sun

イントロ

That sums up a lot of my initial impressions about Japan, and describes some of the process of my arrival, but it also leaves a lot left unsaid. I am guilty of writing about individual bits and pieces of my experience to friends and family, and sharing a few longer stories here and there without actually sitting down and documenting much of anything, and so this post is an attempt to change that. I don’t know that I’m going to have the time to try to transcribe all of my thoughts in Japanese, but I’ll try to gauge that as I go. I’ll do it if I think I can manage it, for the sake of my Japanese friends who may be curious, but I’ll have to play it by ear. Even if I can only manage a truncated version, I suppose that’s better than nothing! And I’m sure it would make my sakubun professor happy.

So I’m going to start with the heady part of what I’ve already missed in my first month in the country: my first five days. Though I imagine with this post, I’ll only be able to cover the first two.

成田空港 Narita Airport

To begin with, after saying goodbye to my dog, who I have come to dearly miss given the general dearth of larger dogs in Japan, I road with my girlfriend Ashley from Oroville to the Oakland International Airport early the morning of September 12th. It was a bit of a difficult ride, emotionally, knowing that I was going to have to leave she and Mitzi for a year. The airport proved as difficult as imagined, and it was a slow, tearful goodbye before I went through security and made my way to the plane. After a short hop to LAX, where I had a layover of a couple hours, I found myself on a much larger Japan Airlines plane sitting next to a young Japanese mother of two. Her own mother apparently wanted to sit with them, however, and so we traded seats, netting me an upgrade to “premium economy” class. It was as advertised: not first-class, but the seats were larger and more comfortable, I had access to a screen with movies, music, and news, and got some comps as far as certain drinks and such were concerned. I hadn’t been able to order a vegetarian meal due to the website I bought my ticket from, so I had to cobble together what I could eat from a variety of different sources, but all in all it was quiet and reasonably relaxing. I watched a few movies in Japanese including about 3/4 of Ready Player One and slept for most of the rest of the roughly 11-hour flight.

After arriving in Narita, the first thing I noticed was advertisements for toilets. Yes, they stick a picture of a pretty girl on an ad and throw it all along the entry in the airport. This should immediately tell you something about how Japanese toilets compare to their North American counterparts.

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The Toto Washlet – for when you realize that attempting to “smear yourself clean” is probably never going to work very well.

Beyond that, the airport wasn’t especially impressive. It paled in comparison to LAX as far as feelings of being clean and modern, which surprised me. It had more in common with the Oakland Airport, though I think OAK might win out in the aesthetics department as well. I went through immigration, got my resident card, went through customs, got my bag, and was then left alone to figure out how the hell to get from Narita to Kamakura in one piece. (See my previously linked article for more details on my arrival and ticket-buying experience.)

鎌倉 Kamakura

By the time I dragged myself into my first hostel, the Kamakura Guesthouse, I was utterly spent, and ready to sleep for 10 hours or so. I missed out on the common room festivities the first night, but by the end of my stay would meet some great people, both staff and other guests, native Japanese and visiting foreigners, and feel as though I’d enjoyed something rare and wonderful.

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This blurry photo of the Kamakura Guesthouse at the time of my arrival matches my exhausted frame of mind after an 11-hour flight, 2-hour arrival and ticketing ordeal, 2-hour and change train/monorail ride, and rainy 10-minute walk with two pieces of luggage.

The intervening day I spent seeing some of the sights I came to Kamakura to see. After wandering around in some heavy rain for a while, I ended up at the 大仏 Daibutsu, a giant figure of Amida Buddha that is one of the most famous Buddhist icons in Japan due to its size and age. It’s worth seeing, and a few yen will let you inside the metal giant’s structure to see some of how it was constructed.

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While not a practitioner of Pure Land Buddhism (this guy isn’t the Buddha), I nonetheless wanted to pay my respects to a venerable figure of Buddhist legend.

Post-Daibutsu I wound up at a fantastic little vegan-friendly, hemp-oriented restaurant called Magokoro (that review shares my own thoughts) along the Kamakura waterfront, and I’d never been happier to eat a meal. It was a tad pricey, and the portions weren’t huge, but everything was handcrafted with care, there were abundant vegan options, and nothing I ate was less than incredibly delicious. I had a nice conversation with the waitress there, complimented the chefs in Japanese to enthusiastic responses, and walked out feeling like a million bucks (or a very, very large number of yen that I’m not going to attempt to calculate).

On the way back, I stumbled into 長谷寺 Hasedera, which a waitress at the Guesthouse’s downstairs bagel cafe had told me about that morning over breakfast. I gave that a thorough exploration, though at this point the rain and humidity were starting to make walking difficult. By the time I came back from the peak pathway above the temple grounds that overlooks Kamakura’s seaside, I had to grab a Pocari Sweat and sit down for a good twenty minutes before I felt like I could continue (if you ever decide to explore any part of Asia, be ready to get good at taking buses and walking a whole lot—renting bikes would probably be handy too).

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About 1/5 or so of the walkway from the top of Hasedera’s ocean view path to the bottom. For a few from the top, see my Gilman post.

I got a nap in after I returned to the Guesthouse, and later that night ended up making friends with people in the common area and kitchen as they cooked and conversed. There was a personable young man from America (Utah, maybe?) who had been traveling with his mother until she left, and was there for another two weeks on his own. He was studying Japanese too, though merely on vacation. There was a Kiwi who lived and worked in Japan at another hostel, and one of his coworkers, a Chinese girl with excellent Japanese, also joined us later in the evening. There were two young German lads touring around seeing the sights, and several Japanese girls whose names I can’t remember. Three Japanese guys were also there, including one with excellent English, another with a penchant for tobacco and talking about alcohol that I was particularly fond of, and another with a wild laugh and slightly unhinged demeanor who kept the proceedings lively. By the end of the night, we all felt like the best of friends. We started at the Guesthouse, went to the 24-hour grocery for beer and a liter of umeshu that we finished off in short order, and then the Kiwi took us all to an izakaya nearby that his friends had told him about. There we ate and drank and talked in mixed Japanese and English for a good hour or so before retiring to the warm common room of the Guesthouse again until bedtime. It was exactly what makes travel at hostels so special, and I couldn’t have asked for a more heartening start to my trip.

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A few of my compatriots from my time at the Kamakura Guesthouse.

The following morning, after another bagel breakfast at the downstairs cafe, I bid farewell to all of my new comrades, gave out a couple of souvenirs from Chico to the Japanese guys, and headed back to Ofuna Station to catch a train to Nagoya. Train travel in Japan is a confusing process, and though I seemed to manage, it would give me more trouble in the days to come. I was tired and slightly hungover, but not really any worse for the wear, and thus my third day in Japan began with a train to another new city.

まとめ

But that will have to wait for another day, as this post has gotten long enough, I think. Hopefully I’ll get around to writing another in the days to come, and hopefully get slowly caught up with everything that I’ve been up to since I got here. Until then, I’m afraid this is all I can muster, as in less than two hours I’ll be headed to my third festival of the month in Matsumoto!

So until then, everyone, take good care of each other, especially in America where the trend seems to be to oppose and dismiss each other. Fight corruption and corporate control, and young people, get out and vote. Be kind to one another, look out for one another, and keep my country safe for me until I return. お願いします。

日本語版

先の記事は私の日本の第一印象と到着のプロセスについて話すが、もっと話したいです。私の旅行ことをあまり書かなかったので、今、長い説明を書いてみます。日本語版はちょっと難しくて、暇があまりないので、英語版より短くにならなければならないかもしれません。すみません、日本人の友達!

成田空港

9月12日の朝にまずは私の犬から離れて、彼女と一緒にオークランド空港まで運転しました。私のことは悲しくなって、泣くと離れて、セキュリティ入り口に行って、飛行機に乗りました。OAKからLAXまで飛びて、新しい飛行機に乗って、若いお母さんと二人子供のとなりに座りました。でも彼女のお母さんもそこに座りたいので、席を変えました。プリミアムエコノミークラスにアップグレードされました!前の席の後ろに小さい画面があったので、レディープレーヤーワンを75%見ました。

成田空港に着いたら、まずはトトワッシュレットの広告を見て、日本のトイレはすごいかなと思いました。(笑)でも成田空港は思ったより印象的ありませんでした。LAXは高そうでOAKもちょっといい感じがあると思いますが、NRTはちょっと汚いでした。(もっと詳しく読みたかったら、先の英語の記事を読んでみてください!)

次のストップは鎌倉でした!

鎌倉

私のはじめのホステルは鎌倉ゲストハウスでした。そこに着いた時までには本当に疲れていました。次の日は大仏を見に行って、長谷寺も行って、まごころという美味しくて海の横にあるレストランで食べました。長谷寺はすごいきれいで坂に上から鎌倉の光景は美しかったが、あとはしんどくになりました!

ゲストハウスに帰ったら、囲炉裏の部屋と台所で新しい仲間と一緒に話して晩御飯を食べてお酒を飲みました。アメリカ人とニュージーランド人とドイツ人と中国人といくつか日本人と一緒に近い居酒屋で飲みに行って、くまくんという人は私とタバコを吸いて、いい友達になってきました。今この思い出は大切なものです。

次の日は9月14日で新幹線で名古屋に行きました。

まとめ

電車と新幹線のチケットを買うのは難しいと思いますが、その話は今度教えますね!今、時間が尽くしました。すみません!日本語版はちょっと短いだけど私の機能はあまり足りません。でもペラペラに足りたいので頑張ります!毎日勉強しろう!

ありがとうございます、皆さん!また今度ね!

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