“Sumi ma sen” translates from Japanese into English as “excuse me.” This is a phrase I’ve become very familiar with since coming to Japan! I never appreciated the ease of communication in America until coming here. Not being able to speak or read the language has put an interesting twist on everything. But the difficulty of communication has only more so exhibited the generosity and graciousness of the Japanese people! Locals here are so willing to help me navigate, and are so loving even through the few English words they know. I’m learning that communication transcends language; despite not being able to speak, I am learning so much about the Japanese people and their culture. And wow, it is incredible.
If you’re interested, below is a quick day by day summary of what I’ve been up to in Japan!
Acclimation day in Kameoka (our home base). We toured the local castle, Kameoka-jo, went to a Saga-Arashiyama (nearby town) to shop, took a bike ride through the bamboo forrest, and ate dinner at our friend, Nagata-san’s, restaurant.
We went to Kiyo-Gakko, a local junior high school where our good friend, Nobuyoshi, is the Vice Principal. There were learned how to play the taiko drums, a beautiful and traditional Japanese music style! After that we went to Himeji Castle, one of the largest castles in Japan that was originally designed to bring peace to the warring feudal nation.
We got to meet Nishijima-sensei, one of the most famous potters in Japan, who then instructed us in pottery and gave us some of his priceless pieces! After, we went to Kinkaku-ji, also known as “the golden pavilion.”
Our first free day in Japan! We found an onsen in Kameoka, which is a natural spring hot tub. This was a rather interesting culture shock, as there are no clothes allowed in the onsen! After, we went to a boat festival in Saga-Arashiyama, where we rented boats and collected some of the beautiful fans the geishas drop in the water. Then we went on a “geisha hunt” in the Gion district of Kyoto!
Our first company visit! We toured the manufacturing facilities of Oyatsu, a successful snack company headquartered in Japan. That night our group adventured to a karaoke house, a very popular pastime in Japan!
Another company visit! Toured Sharp electronics, learning about their history and their current technological endeavors. Then we headed to Nara for the night, a town full of beautiful shrines and temples.