My time in Japan was more than I could have ever imagined. I always wanted to go to Japan during my high school years and the Jet Memorial Program made it possible to live that dream.
I guess my trip really started on the day I left for California. Up to that point I had never really traveled out of the state, much less the country. I was nervous as I sat on the plane to Denver, Colorado. I wondered about the people I would meet when I got to San Francisco, but also about traveling to Japan. I met many wonderful people in California, and enjoyed the day we spent there before the trip. I loved seeing the ocean for the first time in my life. It seemed this trip would hold many firsts for me.
The plane ride to Japan was mostly uneventful. I slept along the way only waking up to eat food. The airport was pretty busy when we arrived but we had no real hassle getting through. The first place we went to was the Japan Foundation Kansai Institute. We were welcomed in the lobby by the people who worked there and they explained how to use our keycards, and what our curfew was. The first day was mostly uneventful because we really just got ourselves settled into our rooms. A typhoon was also coming in as we arrived so there wasn't much we could do outside.
The second day we basically just had a class. We also met our teachers and were given a tour of the institute. I went to Rinku town with some friends but decided not to buy anything yet. The third day is where our week started to pick up. We got to visit Senboku High School, which is where our host brothers and sisters went to school. That day we sat in on the English learning class in the high school. The class was taught by two JET participants and unfortunately it was their last day. The Power Point we were shown was very sad and moving. At lunch we ate with our host sister or brother, I met my host sister, Saki Teraguchi, for the first time. She was really kind and shy. I found Saki to be very good at English and she was really into fashion.
The rest of the day was spent at Osaka castle. It was my first time along with Saki’s going to the castle. I was surprised that Saki had never been there even though she had lived there her whole life. We took an elevator to the top of the castle where we stood on the balcony and stared out at Osaka. The architecture of the castle was simply beautiful. It’s very hard to describe on paper what it looked like. I had a lot of fun at Osaka Castle, however we had to leave and get ready for the rest of our trip.
My favorite part was the weekend we spent with our host family. The first day I met my host mother, brother, and father for the first time. I also got to meet their dog, Masamune. We had sushi for dinner that night. It was the first time I had ever eaten sushi! I really like it a lot. After that we went shopping at a couple of malls around town. That night we ate okonomiyaki, a traditional Osaka dish. It was very delicious. The malls were really big compared to the one in my town of Lafayette, Indiana. That night I had a very peaceful sleep. I woke up and we had curry for breakfast. I’m not sure if curry is a breakfast food but it was some of the best I've ever had. That day we went to the aquarium. I've never been to one so I was excited. We met up with Saki’s friend Megumi and her family. Megumi’s host sister was my friend Debbie so it was a lot of fun. I fell in love with whale sharks on the trip. After the aquarium we at a udon restaurant. We sat at traditional tables and I had a lot of fun. I was sad when we had to leave our host families. I wanted to spend more time with them.
The next days at the institute seemed to fly by. Between learning about the culture of Japan and going shopping at Rinku town, I was pretty busy.
The final night we gave a performance to our host families. That night we completed our stay at the institute. We sang and hung out for the last time in Japan. The next day we left Japan and headed back to the United States. I was tired and wanted nothing more than to head back to my hometown. We had fun the last night saying our good byes and packing for the next day. I will remember the days I enjoyed while on the trip. I can’t describe how much fun it was. You would just have to be there to experience it.