A Busy Spring Break

Anh Nguyen
March 31, 2014

One of the perks of going in the Spring semester in Japan is getting two week-long breaks: one during the university entrance exams and one during the Spring, which took place last week. I did some travelling to Osaka on my own, and went on an IES-sponsored field trip to Hiroshima and Miyajima after.

My trip to Osaka was short, but it was enough for me: I went to the Osaka Aquarium, and walked around Dotonbori and Namba (the main shopping districts) to get a feel of the city at night. I went on a short trip on the next day to Mount Koya, the center for the Shingon sect of Buddhism in Japan with over 100 temples. I only had time to visit one temple: Okunoin, where the mausoleum of Kobo Daishi, the monk who brought Shingon Buddhism to Japan, laid within the grounds. To reach the mausoleum, you walk on a path through the large cemetery and the old towering cedar trees. I love to look at how green moss was covering the stones on the path as well as the tombstones themselves – I like to imagine how over time, these structures are blanketed by nature and are becoming a part of it. The fresh air in the mountain and the atmosphere of the temple was very calming, and helped me to relax and clear my mind.

The Hiroshima and Miyajima trip was also very fun: I especially liked the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, and the Itsukushima Shrine (the shrine built over the sea and famous for the picturesque tori gate that seemingly floats above water) and Mt Misen in Miyajima. It was chilling to see the effects of the atom bomb on Hiroshima and its people in the Peace Museum. My mood picked up a little when I went to Miyajima and visited the shrine as well as went up Mt Misen. I chose to take the cable car up the mountain and walk on the way down. The view was absolutely beautiful: you can see the blue sea, dotted with islands and mountains,  stretched out underneath. On my way downwards I saw a lot of families and hikers walking up – we all said hello (“Konnichiwa”) as we passed each other. I encountered Kobo Daishi again when I reached Reika-do (“The Hall of Eternal Flame”). The fire inside the hall was lit by Kobo Daishi for his traning, and has been kept burning for over a thousand years.

 

Anh Nguyen

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<div><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Anh hailed from Hanoi, Vietnam and is currently a sophomore at Haverford College, Pennsylvania. She plans to major in Computer Science, but decided to take a non-CompSci semester abroad before coming back to it in her junior year (after all, when else will she get the chance?). In her free time she enjoys reading, exploring new places and new types of food, people-watching, as well as reading food blogs, planning to make every single dish that catches her eye, and then completely forgetting about them. She is as excited to blog about her journey as she is about her Spring semester in Nagoya!</span></div>

Destination:
Term:
2014 Spring
Home university:
Haverford College
Major:
Computer Science
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