Maia does Japan (Summer 2012)

MSP ----> NRT

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Sent off my Jet Program application this morning. Hopefully I will be able to return to Japan and continue blogging. :D

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Despite the fact that I have four tattoos, in Kusatsu I was still able to experience an Onsen. For those who don’t know, an Onsen is kind of like a hot tub, expect for the fact that the water comes from volcanic springs — also people bathe naked in these onsens.  I was lucky enough to get a private one to myself for 25 minutes and it was amazing. I take back all disinterest I had in them before this experience. In short, before you get into the water, you bathe and clean yourself and then you just simply soak in the hot water and it is way more relaxing than one could ever imagine it is. 

Despite the fact that I have four tattoos, in Kusatsu I was still able to experience an Onsen. For those who don’t know, an Onsen is kind of like a hot tub, expect for the fact that the water comes from volcanic springs — also people bathe naked in these onsens.  I was lucky enough to get a private one to myself for 25 minutes and it was amazing. I take back all disinterest I had in them before this experience. In short, before you get into the water, you bathe and clean yourself and then you just simply soak in the hot water and it is way more relaxing than one could ever imagine it is. 

Filed under Japan Study Abroad Kusatsu Onsen

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I firstly want to apologize for the lack of quality in these photos. This occurred the one day I left my camera in the hotel room, so I had to resort to taking pictures on my iPhone. In Kusatsu —

We had an opportunity to try and experience Yumomi. Until this trip, Yumomi was completely foreign to me. I knew Japan had hot springs but until recently I assumed that they always diluted the volcanic water with cooler water, however I was completely wrong. In order to preserve the healing qualities that the volcano the water is cooled by hand. A group of women (usually) stir the water with huge wooden paddles (while singing a song) and then splash the water around to release some of the heat trapped in the water. It was neat to actually get a chance to participate in this and be a part of it. It also showed that despite how modern Japan is, they still use traditional methods to cool hot spring water 

Filed under Yumomi Kusatsu Japan Study Abroad

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Kusatsu’s Yubatake: literally a hot water field in the middle of the city— it gushes out 5000 liters of 70 C water per minute making Japans largest water field. The town smells of sulphur because of this. They also have a small foot bath near by, and lots of pools that one can wash their hands in around this. 

Kusatsu’s Yubatake: literally a hot water field in the middle of the city— it gushes out 5000 liters of 70 C water per minute making Japans largest water field. The town smells of sulphur because of this. They also have a small foot bath near by, and lots of pools that one can wash their hands in around this. 

Filed under Kusatsu Japan Study Abroad Hot Spring Yubatake

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On the way to Kusatsu we stopped at a Kokeshi doll factory and Museum. Before going to this museum, our group had quite limited knowledge of these dolls and their meaning. Somehow we all came up with the idea that these dolls represented parents killing their child or something like that, which to an extent is true, but not to the extent that we were conveying it. After doing some further research on then and listening to the museum guide talk about them I got the feeling that no one is really 100% sure of the meaning behind these dolls. While Japan did practice infanticide until the 20th century, there’s actually little evidence that these dolls had anything to do with the practice, thus destroying any pre notions we had before going to the museum. We also had the opportunity to paint our own Kokeshi dolls. It gave me some kind of idea on how hard it actually is to paint these dolls. It’s really a lot of work, I couldn’t resist buying one right after I finished painting my doll. 

Filed under Kokeshi Kokeshi Dolls Study Abroad Japan Kusatsu

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I need to catch up on some old blog posts.
—— 18.6 - Gibhili Museum. Our class had the opportunity to visit the Gibhili Museum. This was one of the outtings that I had been looking forward to the most simply because I have loved My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service when I first saw them a few years ago and secondly because it’s so incredibly hard to get ticket for this museum. After arriving at the train station that was closest to the museum, our group walked for about twenty minutes through forests and parks (it actually made me feel like Mae wandering and first finding Totoro)  before we finally arrived at the Gibhili Museum. The museum was brightly colored and felt like it was out of a Hayao Miyazaki movie. Unfortunately no pictures were allowed inside the museum, but I snapped this cute picture of Toroto before we entered the museum. Before this, I knew Totoro was extremely popular in Japan, however I didn’t realize what a huge pop culture icon he was. Also, not to mention the fact that the museum sells out admission every single day and tickets have to be purchased so far in advance. My favorite part of the exhibit was the movie which was kind of an additional scene to My Neighbor Totoro where Mae gets on a cat bus and goes to the forest where thousands of totoros are boarding a giant cat bus, and she runs into her Totoro. It’s adorably cute.— This outing also allowed me to observe the kinds of people that went to the museum, I noticed that it was a lot of people my age and people with younger children, (it reminded me of Disney land almost where it’s a wide range of people all there because they love Gibhili movies. 

I need to catch up on some old blog posts.

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 18.6 - Gibhili Museum. 

Our class had the opportunity to visit the Gibhili Museum. This was one of the outtings that I had been looking forward to the most simply because I have loved My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service when I first saw them a few years ago and secondly because it’s so incredibly hard to get ticket for this museum. After arriving at the train station that was closest to the museum, our group walked for about twenty minutes through forests and parks (it actually made me feel like Mae wandering and first finding Totoro)  before we finally arrived at the Gibhili Museum. The museum was brightly colored and felt like it was out of a Hayao Miyazaki movie. Unfortunately no pictures were allowed inside the museum, but I snapped this cute picture of Toroto before we entered the museum. Before this, I knew Totoro was extremely popular in Japan, however I didn’t realize what a huge pop culture icon he was. Also, not to mention the fact that the museum sells out admission every single day and tickets have to be purchased so far in advance. My favorite part of the exhibit was the movie which was kind of an additional scene to My Neighbor Totoro where Mae gets on a cat bus and goes to the forest where thousands of totoros are boarding a giant cat bus, and she runs into her Totoro. It’s adorably cute.— This outing also allowed me to observe the kinds of people that went to the museum, I noticed that it was a lot of people my age and people with younger children, (it reminded me of Disney land almost where it’s a wide range of people all there because they love Gibhili movies. 

Filed under Gibhili Museum Totoro Tokyo Japan Study Abroad

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6.22 — Our group was given the opportunity to take part in a tea ceremony, despite originating in China, the tea ceremony is an important part of Traditional Japanese Culture. Walking into this, I had no idea what to expect. We were lead up a narrow staircase into a tiny room with tatami mats, everyone gathered around the tea master, who through a translator told us some of the history of the tea ceremony and told us what we should say for the various parts of it (everything has a specific response). We then were handed out a Japanese sweet, In this case it was a gelatin like substance with red beans in it.  The tea master than began pouring hot water into some powered matcha (green tea), we then had to stir the mixture together until it produced a frothy substance (which was nothing like green tea I have had on my trip here). When I first took the first sip, I realized that I didn’t like the bitter flavor of the tea, however it was rude to stop drinking so I kept my Honne (my true feelings about not liking the extremely bitter tea) and exhibited some Tatemae (behavior and options that are outwardly displayed in public) to imply that I liked the tea very much, including a traditional slurp for the last sip of tea to express that you liked or enjoyed the tea. While this tea, was definitely not my cup of tea— it was nice to experience a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. 

Filed under Tea Ceremony Japan Kyoto Study Abroad