Last night was my first full night of sleep, Yay! After making breakfast and getting ready for class every one met in the lobby for 9 am to be shown to the subway station and which line to take. Our small group was already somewhat proficient with the subway and helped show the others around. When we arrived at the Doshisha campus we were taken to a room for orientation and received our school ID. There were several blocks of time were the teachers were very disorganized and we just mingled with the other students. Eventually they sent us on a break; I theorize it was because the Japanese volunteers to take us on a tour had not yet arrived to show us around. We had been told we would have access to the gym here but we found out that it would cost $100 to use it for the month…sorry workout program you are officially on hold. Though I don’t think this will be a problem as there is a lot of walking, a lot of sweating and very healthy food options for $2-3.
The tour its-self left something to be desired. Our tour guide spoke only in Japanese and eventually got us lost somewhere off campus. During the tour we were supposed to have time for lunch but because we got lost our group didn’t get to eat. For those of you who do not know this, I am not a happy camper when I don’t get to eat…
After the tour we were given the option to visit the kitano tenmangu shrine dedicated to a man named Sugawara no Michizane, known for his prominence in education.
Many students come here to pray for good grades on their exams etc.
I donated a coin to the shrine so that I could try my hand at praying to Japanese Kami (spirits/gods). I bought a souvenir from this shrine for health with my zodiac animal on it. This is special to me because Japan is celebrating the year of the snake, my zodiac animal, so there are many special souvenirs available this year.
From here one of the teachers took us to a shopping street/district for those who still needed to pick up some essentials, I finally found toilet paper and of course bought more souvenirs. I also found a fresh produce shop where I was able to buy giant portions of produce for very inexpensive prices (a giant bag of carrots was roughly $100) the man at this shop was very friendly and we both practiced our foreign language skills.
Originally the itinerary did not have these two outings so naturally I was not dressed appropriately and ended up getting blisters all over my feet, I know it happens, sometimes you have to be spontaneous but it was disappointing to find our professors so disorganized.
On the way back on the bus we passed by a huge house fire, the street was filled with dark smoke, like everywhere, you could hardly make out any thing right in front of you. The one thing that stood out to me was a pedestrian who started directing traffic to allow the emergency vehicles access to the fire and redirecting the other vehicles. This man went out of his way to help in an emergency, sorry Manitoba but we need to step up our game.
We quickly stopped at the apartments to drop off our stuff and change for the welcome party. \the party was held in a building on campus, there was lots of good food, getting to know our classmates and the Japanese volunteers and then an awkward bonding exercise where we had to go up to a microphone to introduce ourselves and say a little about our first impressions of Japan.
This was enough excitement for one day.