Smile Because You Were Here

Saturday, December 13, 2014

On this day all the Japanese classes gave a speech in Japanese for at least 5 – 10 minutes for the Beginners and Intermediate class, and a half hour was required for the college level students. You were given the opportunity to choose any topic you desired, so long as you can stay within the time limit. There were topics such as: Javascript, Volcaloid, Vietnamese Remedies, Sailing, Japanese Pop Fashion, Okinawa, and much more. This day was interesting because students from all around Chukyo University attended the program. Afterwards, we all gathered in the cafeteria for a celebration of a job well done. Food, beverages, and a chance to finally relax was something everyone needed after weeks of preparation for this day. Luckily for the year students we have to do this all over again, but now we know what to expect and we will try much harder next semester!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The days count down as the semester students start packing for home, and unfortunately this is a time where everyone can feel the heavy atmosphere. They say four months is a short time to know someone, but four months of seeing the same person almost everyday becomes a part of daily routine. First person leaving on this day was Claudia, a fierce Italian girl with one heck of a talent for making sure thing were done on time and in order. Luckily on this night we were all able to see Nagoya’s first snow storm, and before her departure a white blanket graced its beauty around 11pm until 6am the next morning. Not enough to cancel school, but it was still a fun adventure for the ones who played outside in the snow.20141218_000126

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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas in America is known as a day when family gathers together; however, in Japan this is more of just another day for couples to wander around the town while shopping for gifts and food. It is not unusual for shops, restaurants, and malls to be open on Christmas, in fact, they stay open even later since this day is meant for couples. There was even a recent article about a restaurant in Tokyo which did not allow couples to enter the restaurant because it causes the employees to become depressed about his or her loneliness. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/japan/11289342/Japan-restaurant-bans-couples-on-Christmas-Eve.html. Apparently finding your soulmate here is of absolute importance, and if singles cannot enjoy happiness than couples should be in the same situation. This day is filled with happiness, but on this day many tears were shed. Eloisa, Araseli, Shaina and Kacy left a couple days before Christmas. All four girls were a pleasure to meet during this semester. Next the cheerful Kaylinn left early Christmas morning while the kind but weird Flavia and strange yet talented Tommi left Christmas afternoon. While this Christmas was a sad day, I am glad to have met all these wonderful people. Our time together was short, but who knows, next time we meet it could once again be in Japan!

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Monday, December 29, 2014

Today is the day when Federica, the mother of the students, had to get on her flight back to Italy. I had the opportunity to take her to the airport, and as much as friends do not want to say goodbye they also want the best for each other. I had one hour before reaching back home to Shiogamaguchi from the airport; this meant I had one hour of silent thinking to myself. Whether it be four months or eleven months, time is still the same. At a certain point, we are all pulled together by both chance and choice. You can have all the time you want, but once you form a relationship with someone you will are bound by the strings of emotion. Four months really is a short time; however, time is not of importance but rather the moments and feelings shared among the people around you. You can spend one year with someone and you are still nothing but acquaintances, or you can spend a mere month with someone and feel as if you have been together for a lifetime. The sad part is sometimes these feelings are not reached until time separates this physical touch from each other. Nonetheless, the emotions are still there and the hands of time will once again bring together that which was separated.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

I was given the opportunity to watch people make homemade mochi for the upcoming new year! Not only did we get to make help make the mochi, but my friend and I watched the process of pounding the rice until it became the sticky texture of the Japanese pastry. The entire process took about four hours; nevertheless, this was well worth the wait. We had various types ranging from the azuki beans, daikon, natto, and shoyu flavored mochi. All of which was delicious. The day ended when I headed towards Zepp Nagoya to enjoy a competition a friend competed in.

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Azuki mochi

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Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Years Eve and Day is the time for family in Japan, quite the opposite of what it is in America. In fact, most restaurants and shops will close from December 28 – January 3 due to traveling or shrine and temple visits. It is traditional here to send postcards to everyone who helped you this year, this means your coworkers, parents, friends, and family get a little appreciation. By the way, postcards here cost about one to two US dollars so if you, say work in a company, there is a chance of you spending over $500 just on the cards and not gifts. Luckily I do not have any tradition of this, but I did get to partake in the tradition of temple visiting. The Koshoji Temple located in Yagoto was open to the public for good luck prayers on the New Year Day. My friends and I visited this temple around midnight and experience many street vendor foods, beautiful lit up pagodas, and I even got to ring the prayer bell. New Year prayers are meant to bring good luck, but doing so requires a long wait in line and money to buy charms. These days temples and shrines act as businesses, however you do get the few which do not attract the attention of tourists and rowdy onlookers. The year 2014 was filled with exciting adventures so hopefully this 2015 year in Japan will be a year I will never forget. Until next time!

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