I just hit my 7 month mark and halfway point of living in Japan! This experience is flying by, but I’m so incredibly grateful for everything I’ve seen, everywhere I’ve been, and of course everything I’ve eaten! Here are some of my favorite places and experiences captured with “1 Second Everday.” Since I first got here, I have been documenting every day and every adventure in video, and I’m so happy that I can share it with the world. Here is Part 1! Part 2 will be out in April 2018.
In addition to my “1 Second Everyday,” I also picked 3 of my favorite memories while living in Japan. It was difficult to pick just 3, but these adventures will always hold a special place in my heart.
Top 3 Memories in Japan
Harajuku is a unique place in Tokyo that is defined by Takeshita Street and mouthwatering crepes. I came to this area during my first few days in Japan and it was the most I have ever experienced pure bliss. We were simply running up and down the street with curiosity in our eyes, and no care in the world. It was exhilarating to examine all of the quirky shops and tasty treats; it seemed that life could not get any better. On my first night, I chose to wear my own blonde wig that I had gotten from a friend. That’s just what you do, right? Wear wigs to Harajuku? I had never worn a recreational wig before but I was mentally prepared to push myself out of my personal bubble and get comfortable being UNcomfortable.
This day was both incredibly fun and invigorating. I remember the first time I told the story of this night and elaborating that I had never felt more alive and free. Aside from the delicious crepes, the overall vibe that this area gives off leaves you eager to come back for more. It was a day I’ll never forget and a place I’ll be sure to miss once I’m no longer a 45 minute train ride away.
There’s no way to truly explain the excitement that filled my soul during this trip. You can get to Nagano via the Willer Express Bus (which is cheaper), but we chose to take the bullet train. A majority of the travel time was underground and through the mountains, therefore we couldn’t view the outside world from our windows. That all changed when we were finally approaching this astounding winter wonderland. I peered out from behind the curtains and swore we were in Narnia. The mountainous terrain was coated with what looked like voluptuous marshmallows, and we witnessed the trees getting covered by endless blankets of snow. This sight was an extreme contrast to the Tokyo area which had not seen precipitation since we had arrived.
We stayed at the Nozaru Hostel which was both affordable and cozy. It was no luxury winter cabin, but it was a traditional Japanese experience with futons, a friendly staff (who spoke English), an ancient heater, and a stunning view of the snow blanketed city.
The group of us stuck together for the remaining period of the day. We proceeded to watch the monkeys bathe in their onsens, eat sushi, have a snowball fight, and drink hot chocolate. Although we were barely even in Nagano for 24 hours, this trip was surely one with magical milestones that I’ll be sure to remember.
Without any realization of what Hiroshima would actually embody, the driving force that made me want to go on this trip was the fact that I was enrolled in a World War 2 course. I wanted my research project to be on the Hiroshima Bombing and hoped to see the museums and sites first hand.
We woke at 4am to catch the bullet train from Tokyo and ended up in Hiroshima City by about 10am. It wasn’t the cheapest way to get there, but it was the quickest considering we only had 2 days off. When we got there, the first thing we wanted to do was to see the memorial and the museum. I was pretty astounded by everything I was witnessing. Because I am from America, it’s pretty incredible to see a historic site like this from a non-American perspective. There was so much I respected about both the memorial and the Japanese people. A superfluous amount of beauty and love consumes the whole park and I could not help but feel harmony with the world. Peace is the primary goal at this memorial, and there is not an ounce of hate or thirst for vengeance that hinders their souls. Seeing things from their side made me sympathize with the Japanese people during this time period. I even ended up writing my research project about why the bomb was NOT necessary. I never thought I would feel so passionately about something, but this experience was significantly eye-opening and made me realize how biased history can be.
My favorite part of this adventure was what happened as we were leaving. We were headed to devour the Hiroshima famous Okonomiyaki (which is life changing) when we were stopped by a group of children that were nearly half our size. They had a piece of paper that they were reading from to communicate with English speakers, and asked us if it were possible to take some of our time to answer their questions. Aside from the fact that they were adorable, I could not easily ignore the innocent look in their eyes, and nerves that took over them while talking to random foreigners. With this in mind, we immediately agreed without hesitation. They gave us a paper with questions regarding our perspective and thoughts on the bombing, if we thought it was necessary, and how we think the world can achieve peace in years to come. These were very thought provoking questions and made us ponder this subject deeply throughout the day. It was also wonderful to see that they were analyzing such mature topics an incredibly young age. To these children, we tried our best to open our hearts and opinions with kindness. After all, I’m sure it’s not everyday that they are forced to interact with strangers who do not speak their language. When it was time to leave they said “thank you for your time” in a robotic manner, and I responded saying “do itashimashite” (you’re welcome). They suddenly turned to each other with wide eyes and gasped with glee when they realized I could understand them. I couldn’t help but smile after seeing this reaction, and left feeling confident and proud. I’m just hoping I made their school assignment a little more tolerable and the world a little brighter.
The rest of our Hiroshima adventure was just as amazing, but observing the site where so much destruction occurred so many years ago was terribly special and had a profound impact on my life. I’m incredibly thankful that Japan has introduced me to such incredible experiences, and I cannot wait for my future experiences to come.