A recent trip to Hikone (彦根市) and Kanazawa (金沢市) started off with rising early (much earlier than I even wake up for school) and meeting up with my friends at Nagoya Station (名古屋駅). After a semi-long bus ride, we found ourselves at Hikone Castle (彦根城). The entire castle and grounds were really beautiful. We even got a chance to see a small performance from the cute Hikone Castle mascot, Hikonyan (ひこにゃん). After exploring the castle, a friend and I decided to have lunch at a small takoyaki shop (たこ焼き屋). Something that I have discovered while being here in Japan is that Japanese food can be a lot hotter in temperature than one might think. My cheese takoyaki was really hot, but very おいしい.
After Hikone, we took a small detour to a traditional handcrafts village called ゆのくにの森 where we got to decorate a plate with gold leaf. It was a nice, fun little break from the bus ride, and I think it will make a nice gift for my family back in the States. We spent the night in a nice ryokan (旅館) with three different onsen (温泉). There was even an onsen that allowed for both genders to bathe (with the protection of towels, of course), which was really fun to do with all of my friends. In the morning, we had a really nice Japanese style breakfast, which was interesting because my my host family typically eats a western style breakfast.
After breakfast, we embarked on the remainder of our journey to Kanazawa. While in Kanzawa, we spent time in Higashi-Chaya District (東茶屋街) where we toured a small museum and got to drink strong green tea. Walking around, my friends and I found ice cream topped with gold that we bought for around ￥700. Afterwards, we went to Kenrokuen (兼六園), were we walked around the garden, ate mitarashi dango (みたらし団子) and had a ラーメン lunch. Afterwards, we went to a workshop where we got to make our own 和菓子 (traditional Japanese sweets). It was really fun and was the perfect おみやげ to give my host family.
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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>