The Study Abroad Newsletter

Spontaneous Trips Around Japan

Jhoanne Domingo
Rikkyo University, Japan

Konnichiwa! One of the frst events that we dorm residents experienced was a Hanami or fower viewing. I often saw pictures of sakura blossoms prior to going to Japan, and I had always wanted to experience sitting underneath a sakura tree with my friends. The event was very fun and I got to meet a lot of other people from the other dormitories that I had not met before. The Hanami was in Yoyogi Park which was at least an hour away from my dorm, but it gave me a chance to get to know my new friends. Next to Yoyogi Park was the Meiji Jingu or the Meiji Shrine. My new friends wanted to see more of the park, so we went to visit the shrine. To get to the shrine, we had to follow a wide path surrounded by trees.

One of the things that always struck me as interesting about Japan was that you could be facing skyscrapers taller than anyone could believe, and then turn around and see nature and a piece of history. This was also a very memorable day for another reason. After visiting the shrine, my friends and I had to take the train home, and it seemed that everyone was also trying to get home. After letting a train pass us by hoping that the next one was going to be less crowded, we accepted that we were just going to be like sardines and joined everyone else entering the train. It was a tight fit, but we all made it home in one piece.

Another memory that I have about Japan was when my friend and I went to Kawagoe to do some sightseeing. Although our plan was to go and see a temple, visiting Kawagoe became so much more than just seeing the temple. We stumbled upon a small restaurant owned by a very nice elderly woman where I ate the best curry I ever had in Japan. We also visited the temple and a small museum we didn’t even know was connected to the temple itself. Lastly, we unknowingly walked about a kilometer (or about 0.6 miles) on our quest to visit a Book Off. That day basically encapsulated what I experienced in Japan the whole semester. I let myself wander and see things that weren’t part of my plan, and I ended up experiencing and seeing things that I wouldn’t have otherwise. During the whole semester, my friends would spontaneously make plans, and because the trains could take us anywhere we wanted to go, we would just go. It was these experiences that I had with my friends that make me miss and appreciate my semester in Japan.