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  • Writer's pictureGus Ramirez

Everything She Wants - Wham!

Kyoto, Ibaraki and Nara

Mono No Aware (Sadness of things) is the beauty of something due to its transience, a reminder of life and death. Just like the transience of our trip to Japan, the impact it had on me and my peers can only be attempted to be put into words. A couple of weeks before our embarkment to Japan, I was carpooling with my good friend Adriel to our studio. An email had been sent out to our cohort in regard to an opportunity to travel to Japan while fulfilling one of our core requirements for our major. To quote my good friend, “You’re not down foo”. Lo and behold, I was in fact down.

The long journey to get to Japan was an experience but the trip really began when we reached our first hotel, Chisun Premium Hotel. A trip to the local lawsons (in which you can walk 30 seconds and find another, so being plentiful is an understatement) where I and Adriel had our first taste of Japanese cuisine. A bento box of pork and white rice and a variety of other snacks for a reasonable price to start our trip. The day after, we take a trip to the train station to exchange some of our dollars for yen. An effortless 15-minute walk (walking is a constantly reoccurring theme) through the alleyways of Kyoto. Immediately you can notice a difference in the size of everything. The K-cars are half the size of the cars in the states, and people's domiciles are vertical and lean, nothing of superfluous nature. Our walk was enhanced by the constant pitter-patter of rain hitting our umbrellas (rain, another reoccurring theme).

That same morning, a private bus took us to our destination in Kyoto, Tenryu-ji. One of Kyotos most important temples, walking in we are greeted with the tranquil sounds of light rain hitting the ground and the crunch of gravel underneath me and my classmates’ feet. At this site, this was our first experience with getting to see cherry blossom trees, lining walkways and branches of pink, draping over our eyes. This was also our first experience with people from Japan. It gave us a glimpse of what we were to expect going forward, kindness and selflessness. A walk through the bamboo forest after the temple let us feel like we were in another world, surrounded by the height and abundance of these green stalks.

On our second day of the trip, we were given another accommodation of a private bus (the last of the trip) to tour the sites of Daimon-Ji, Ibaraki, and Kiyoizu-dera. At the Daimon-ji, our walking pace was set by Dr. Makoto Nakamura (an uphill climb that was no match for him). The tranquil setting of the temple was the area where we were invited to a traditional tea ceremony where we had matcha tea and Manju sweets.

On our final day in Kyoto, we took a trip to Nara, where we visited one of my personal favorite sites of the trip. Nara Park, where deer were let to roam free. Such a surreal experience where it was a dream-like experience of animals spawning in to grab food from your hand. People and deer together are normal things. After visiting there, we visited the Todai-ji where man is made to feel like a speck of dust in comparison to the size of the temple. Truly vast in stature.

Food Report

A couple of stand-out foods during this time were the delicious food at lawsons that I became familiar with and the tea house matcha and sweets. This time of the trip we were at the Chisun Hotel, where we were spoiled by their breakfast buffet, which no other hotel or breakfast came close to. My plates were full of eggs, noodles, rice, toast, chicken with peppers, milk, and OJ.

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