Let me fill you in on some of the things I have done since I arrived in Nagoya.
Sakae (栄) is known as downtown Nagoya, with many department stores, a large underground mall and is home to SKE48 (Nagoya’s AKB48). To start things off, my friends and I had a wonderful lunch at McDonalds. My chicken filet sandwich meal was about $8 and it came with a regular sized sandwich, medium fries and small drink (by American standards). Although I had never really planned to visit a western fast food restaurant, it was interesting to see what was offered in McDonalds in Japan. After lunch, my friends and I went to karaoke (カラオケ). Karaoke in Japan is everywhere and it is very popular. We sung only English songs, but it was still really fun.
Osu Kannon (大須観音) holds a plethora of fashionable stores and restaurants, but has a less hectic atmosphere than Sakae does. My friends and I visited Osu Kannon temple and went to a very popular pizza restaurant for lunch. Afterwards, we checked out the many kimono shops, one of my friends found a nice kimono on sale.
For my friend’s birthday, we went to an izakaya (居酒屋) in Kanayama (金山). An izakaya is a Japanese restaurant/bar of sorts where you can have your own private room to eat, drink and even do karaoke with your friends. In addition to the food we were served, I got to try octopus for the first time.
On another day, a friend and I went to Fushimi (伏見) to check out a university dance club practice. It was the first time I had been truly lost in Japan. Walking around, asking for directions and using landmarks to find our way was actually really fun, and when we got to the practice, we got to meet some of Nanzan’s Japanese students and learn about a potential student club to join.
Lastly and most recently, I got to look at my commute through a new lens and truly come to understand how important public transportation is in Japan. On September 25th, Nagoya station (名古屋駅) subway was flooded due to intense rains from the night before. My host mom reassured me that my commute would be fine, but it was far from fine. After waiting over 30 minutes to get onto the train, I ended up running into one of my friends at the train station. Since a major subway line was obstructed, the trains were delayed and large crowds of commuters formed. While switching lines, the crowd was so large that people were packed from wall to wall inching their way toward the next train. It was a very exhausting experience and nearly took 3 hours to get to school, but it was also very eye opening to see just how important the local transportation is for everyone living and working in and around Nagoya.
I still have a ton of places left to explore, but so far it has been pretty great.
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<p>Hi, my name is Ashley Bell and I am a Junior Political Science major at Santa Clara University. I'll be spending my spring semester in Nagoya, Japan and am very excited to share my experiences with you. I hope you enjoy seeing Japan through my eyes!</p>