I am a senior at university, and this blog will be chronicling my travels, beginning with a one-semester study abroad trip. My major is in English with a Writing Specialization; I will be graduating the first week of May 2014, and I will be open to kickstarting my career anywhere. Hopefully, this blog will be enlightening for some.
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singingtowers:

My favorite thing about tumblr is following peoples personal storylines. Like when somebody I follow finally goes on a date with the person they like or comes out to their best friend or finishes a huge homework assignment I am literally on the couch pumping my fist and being really happy for them

San Diego 1

Sorry, I’ve been here for three weeks and haven’t given a proper update on this blog in like… 3 or 4 months… What am I doing?

I’m loving San Diego so far. The weather is sunny, warm, but not humid. The people are friendly, and I’ve been working and am working on signing up for college. As soon as I am settled in, I think I will finally have the time to keep this blog regularly updated.

I’d like to thank all of the San Diego people that I have had the pleasure of meeting and chilling with, and all of my acquaintances and new friends. You guys are awesome! :)

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steam-powered-girl:

Idk if I have any followers in NYC, but I am in Brooklyn from tonight-8th, and I plan on hitting up Shinobi ramen and then maybe finding a good live in Williamsburg tonight. Tomorrow night after my interview I want to go to the legendary Tomi Jazz in Midtown East. If you wanna hang, hit me up! ?

From my other blog. Sorry I havent updated this one. Ill be on it as soon as I return home!

Day 52: Resale shopping in Maibara
Rode my bike out to Maibara today. I wasn’t expecting much of the giant resale shop my friends dragged me to, as they described it as being full of anime and manga and such. Well… that’s not completely accurate. The place also sold fashionable clothing, musical instruments (lots of guitars), books, music, magazines, and electronics. I ended up with a stack of old visual kei music magazines (Shoxx, Neo Genesis, Arena 37c, Cure, etc) becuase they were only 100 yen apiece. I also bought this official hide LEMONed shirt for 2000 yen and it’s in like-new condition. (If I had bought it from the actual LEMONed shop instead, it would cost 4200 yen.)
That’s something I really like about thrift/resale shops in Japan. They are not afraid to carry a lot of collectible items/higher quality items because they know people are willing to pay for these things. I can’t imagine how good these resale shops must be for the manga/anime lover. Anyway, there are chain resale shops (like Book Off) and then there are individual places. I think this store is not part of a chain, though I could be mistaken. 

Day 52: Resale shopping in Maibara

Rode my bike out to Maibara today. I wasn’t expecting much of the giant resale shop my friends dragged me to, as they described it as being full of anime and manga and such. Well… that’s not completely accurate. The place also sold fashionable clothing, musical instruments (lots of guitars), books, music, magazines, and electronics. I ended up with a stack of old visual kei music magazines (Shoxx, Neo Genesis, Arena 37c, Cure, etc) becuase they were only 100 yen apiece. I also bought this official hide LEMONed shirt for 2000 yen and it’s in like-new condition. (If I had bought it from the actual LEMONed shop instead, it would cost 4200 yen.)

That’s something I really like about thrift/resale shops in Japan. They are not afraid to carry a lot of collectible items/higher quality items because they know people are willing to pay for these things. I can’t imagine how good these resale shops must be for the manga/anime lover. Anyway, there are chain resale shops (like Book Off) and then there are individual places. I think this store is not part of a chain, though I could be mistaken. 

Day 51: Halfway Done

It’s so odd to think that I’m halfway done with the program (I leave on day 103). So far, the only difficult part of the program is time management, finding the time to study between trips and getting invited out constantly. We are encouraged to interact with the English Language Program students, whom are local Japanese university students, but yet I feel like it’s hard to make enough time to really get to know them, especially since we get a new batch every two weeks. In fact, next cycle I get my own Japanese room mate, so I’m pretty excited for that.

Before I get a Japanese room mate though, I have the following going on, in this order: this weekend I’m going to Yokohama/Tokyo to visit some friends. Then, I’m moving into a different dorm so I can prepare to receive my Japanese room mate. But the weekend before she comes I go to Nagahama and stay with a Japanese family on a weekend homestay. That will be… either really fun or really scary. Maybe both. I feel like these next 2-3 weeks will be the busiest of my entire trip. After that, I only have a few short trips planned (Kyoto, maybe Hiroshima and Nagoya) since I want to study down the last few weeks for the final exam.

I’m amazed how much Japanese I have learned in the 7 weeks of class I’ve had so far; my weekly essay this week was the longest I’ve written and had the least red ink I’ve seen so far, so I am very happy. I’m also amazed that I’m one of the only students who hasn’t been sick with either a cold or flu so far. In fact, I’ve become so comfortable with Japan, I’m so used to the day-to-day of living in Hikone that it’s starting to feel like home. People are able to understand me when I talk to them in public, and I can read many signs, and it’s just… the narrow streets and unique vibe of Japan are becoming comfortable. I think I’m going to be a little heartbroken when I leave.

I’ve also been preparing for my graduation, since I graduate May 4th. I just submitted the RSVP so I can get tickets for my commencement, so that’s exciting. Also, I bought my plane ticket for San Diego, so expect me to keep writing, as I move there May 14th. I’ve got job interviews, I’ve got a one-way ticket, now I just need to find a room to rent or an apartment to rent/share. That seems to be the most difficult part. To do it on a budget, and find someone who isn’t scamming. Wish me luck. :P

Day 46: LM.C in Kyoto

A classmate of mine who is a mutual lover of Jrock/visual kei music decided that we should go to a concert together after she had done a presentation on Dir en Grey and my only comment was to make a remark about (singer) Kyo’s height as a way to show I was familiar. Many jrock/vk musicians I wanted to see either wrapped up their tours before I came to Japan, are touring right after I leave, or are holding fanclub-only concerts in which you had to have been in Japan and joined the club before a certain date… (The GazettE, one day I will see you!)

I’ve already been to Jrock concerts before, but always in the US, and seeing one in Japan was a very different experience. The most convenient way for a foreigner to buy a ticket for this event, if the ticket is available this way, is to go to Lawson’s and use a small machine there to get tickets printed on the spot. We had no idea how to navigate the machine but the lady there was super helpful. 

On the day of the concert, we went to language class then left immediately afterward, getting to Kyoto about 3 hours before the show, which is why I took the time to get the limited edition Sakura Latte from Starbucks. It’s a tea latte instead of a coffee latte I think, and it’s super sweet, but I loved it. The sprinkles on top are candied petals.

I don’t know if all small venue concerts are this way, but waiting in line is totally not a thing here, as the number on our ticket reflected when we got to enter Kyoto Muse. Kyoto Muse is a small venue; it was filled to about capacity and that capacity was about 300. Even though we bought our tickets about a week before the show, our numbers were 243 and 244, so we were near the back. Not that we minded, because visual kei shows in Japan are…an experience.

I’ve seen videos before, and so I knew kind of what to expect, but I wasn’t familiar enough with every single LM.C song to know when to throw my fist in the air with the beat, when to head bang furiously, when to “bow deeply?” to the breakdowns, when to jump. But EVERYONE else certainly did. So we just hung out in the back and watched. I occasionally sang along with the songs I knew.

Other than that, the music was great. LM.C sounded phenomenal live. Also, Maya was really chatty and playful. I was very proud of how much of what he said I understood. My classmate said she couldn’t understand his “mumbling” and his accent. I told her Miyavi does the same, so maybe me watching lots of interviews is why I understand, but come to find out, Maya mentioned he’s from Maibara—a town right next to ours that I’ve visited a few times. Okay… (I later looked up Miyavi and he’s from the Kansai region too; born in Osaka and raised in Kawanishi.) I also noticed that although Maya never seems to look that good to me in pictures, he certainly is cute in person. I don’t know how that works.

I bought a shirt at the merch table, and it was about 3500 yen and only came in one size. Luckily, that size fits me. We were also handed free flyers. I felt really bad because I noticed boxes for dropping off gifts and letters to Maya and Aiji. I didn’t have anything for them, and I felt pretty badly for some reason. 

So after the concert, we headed straight home and to bed because we had an exam in the morning. I love that Kyoto is only an hour away; I definitely plan on visiting again before I leave, maybe during hanami.

Day 41: Osaka 

I went with a Japanese friend to a “car & customize show* in Osaka. The cars were vaguely interesting, though they weren’t powerful at all compared to the muscle cars I’m used to seeing. The blue with it’s hood up had a 1998 cc 2.0L engine; that’s about all I could read since the specs were in Japanese. Other than that it felt like any car show in America. Busy, lots of loud music, lots of girls posing with cars. The usual.

The best part of this auto show was the concert. The acts were Serena (some rookie/unknown singer), SKY-HI, Home Made Kazoku, and e-girls. Probably 90% of the crowd was there to see the girl group, but I only knew Home Made Kazoku by name, so I enjoyed the two jpop/hip-hop acts. The rapper of SKY-HI talks so quickly in between songs and for such long stretches without breathing you cannot help but be struck with awe. It was pretty nifty. I was just sad that photos were not permitted during the concert.

Day 33: Inuyama & Meijimura

For the “fundatory” field trip this semester, the students at my school went to Nagoya to visit Inuyama Castle and Meijimura. To be quite honest, after seeing Hikone Castle I felt Inuyama wasn’t nearly as impressive, and since this was the coldest (and one of the only snowy) days we’d seen, I didn’t take a lot of pictures. Plus, snowflakes kept landing on my phone’s camera lens so the photos are a little more blurry than usual.

We then went to Meijimura, which I’d like to see again in nice, warm weather. Most of the buildings are from the 1880’s-1900’s, so it was really awesome to see, well, Meiji-era Japan. Unfortunately, my phone’s battery died after I only took one photo. However, the photo (the blue building) is the reception hall of the old Saigo (Takamori) house, built in 1887. It was beautiful inside too, and the decor was very elegant, mostly imported from France. Meijimura has about 60 buildings to it, so I recommend any history buffs to check it out.