Puffer Fish, Monkeys, and Deer

Somehow, my time in Japan has run short. With only three days left until my program ends, I’ve been reflecting on the things I’ve seen, done, and eaten. I never expected to get so much done in only 5 weeks, but I truly feel that this program has allowed me to have an immersive and authentic feel for living in Japan. After the program ends, I will be spending some more time in Tokyo, then it’s on to Seoul and then finally wrapping up my trip in Shanghai.

Classes

During my stay in Kobe, I took a “Business in Japan” and “Japanese Culture and Language” course. As a business major with a minor in Japanese, these classes were a perfect fit for me. In my business class, we learned about Japanese pop culture and business. Our professor is an American turned Nihonjin and an expert in his field. He is currently putting together a book of case studies on everything Japanese pop culture from idol groups, Hello Kitty, kawaii, and manga so most of our class was spent reading and discussing these cases together.

The second part of this class was focused on one of Japan’s greatest industries: sake. We were given a tour of the Ozeki Sake Brewery and were given the task of creating a plan to increase the sales of Ozeki Sake in the United States. At the end of the course, we presented our ideas to the owners of Ozeki Sake in their own office. This was one of my favorite parts of the trip. I absolutely loved having the opportunity to not only meet the industry leaders at Ozeki, but also having the creative freedom to present our own ideas to them on how to market their product in the U.S. It was such a unique and exciting opportunity for me, and definitely something I will always remember.

Exploring

Before I left the states for my study abroad trip, I made a bucket list of all the places I wanted to go in Japan and with three days to spare, I am proud to say that with the exception of seeing a Sumo wrestling tournament, (their season starts the day we leave), I got to check everything off of my list.

Kansai is such a great location because it connects you to Time-Square-esque cities like Dontonbori, Osaka and ancient temples and shrines in Kyoto all by an hour long train ride. Some of the highlights of my trip were eating puffer fish sashimi, climbing to the mountain-top monkey sanctuary in Arashiyama, spending a weekend in Tokyo, climbing through thousands of Shinto Torii gates in Fushimi Inari Taisha, and feeding deer out of the palm of my hand in Nara Park.

This trip has allowed to I’ve acquired a love for everything matcha and melon flavored and got to have a Kobe beef dinner in downtown Kobe. My suitcase is now 10 lbs heavier (and I probably am too) with all the foods I couldn’t go home without.

I’m so grateful to have spent my summer learning and living in Japan. Today, on the fourth of July, we are celebrating with our home country and bidding Japan goodbye over ¥100 hotdogs and sparklers.

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