Tea Ceremony

•May 28, 2010 • 1 Comment

One of the most interesting experiences I had, involving traditional Japanese culture, was a tea ceremony. It showed how even when presenting guest something as insignificant, at least from a westerner’s perspective, as a drink of green tea, the Japanese use great amounts of patience and respect. I thought it was very interesting how after thanking for the tea and bowing, the drinker was expected to twist the bowl of tea, in order to show the intricate designs. In western culture I feel that one is supposed to notice how exquisite the dishes are, but not to mention it. It is some sort of quiet display of how wealthy they may be. Another thing that shocked me was that the tea came in a powder form. We have seen this at restaurants, but I thought this was just a cheap quick way of making the tea. In fact it is just ground tealeaves that apparently is the traditional way of making this beverage.



•May 27, 2010 • 3 Comments

Throughout my life, when I thought of sumo wrestling, I thought of big fat men in diaper like outfits. It seemed to me that it would be impossible for anyone to take the sport seriously. After going to a sumo tournament though, I realized I was dead wrong. The origins of sumo are intertwined with the history of the Japanese people themselves.  In America we have sports, which some people’s entire lives revolve around. The connection to sumo for the Japanese is very different than a simple love of the game.  Just by waiting outside of the arena we were able to experience how people will wait on the sides of the sidewalk leading up to the door so they can cheer for their favorite wrestlers. These large men are essentially entire sports teams who all have their own fan bases. I can now see how these men are not a joke in any sense and in fact rest the history of the Japanese people on their shoulders.

Dealing with the Rain

•May 27, 2010 • 5 Comments

The Japanese seem to think of everything when it comes to dealing with everyday issues. One of the things that I personally do not believe would be a real problem is rain and how people tend to drag water into stores and restaurants with their soaked umbrellas. At the entrance of every store there is either a bunch of umbrella bags waiting to be used, a place to put umbrellas, or a fancy automatic umbrella bagging station. This method of trying to prevent the floors of these establishments from becoming wet greatly differs from how the United States deals with problems like this. In America people are expected to bring wet umbrellas where ever without any chance of leaving them outside or bagging them up. Instead we like to just put wet floor signs anywhere that water has collected enough to start raising the chances of people slipping. This is just another example of how the Japanese differ from Americans by trying not to negatively effect anyone around them.

Otaku Girl

•May 27, 2010 • 1 Comment

When we visited D3 Publisher, we were shown a series called Vitamin. This is part of Otaku culture, but a part that I have never really experienced or thought about. These games were created for girls, where the main characters are a group of men, who are supposedly very good looking and desirable. Up until this point I had believed that these games were exclusively for men who couldn’t find any real girls to talk to. A fun fact that we learned at D3 was that recently popularity for these female targeting games has been on the rise, while their male counterparts demand has been decreasing. One of the main differences I noticed, at least from the cover art, was that the characters in these games had a great deal more skin covered than the girls in the other games. I don’t know if this is completely true, but from what I saw and heard, I was given the impression that these games for girls were not all about sex appeal, like the boys games are, and seemed to be more about simply interacting with individuals from the opposite gender.

Waseda University

•May 26, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Waseda was the second university we visited on our trip. This university campus was much younger, yet still sophisticated. In fact, the building that we spent all of our time in had been completed the month before our arrival. We spent much more time here, giving us many more opportunities to meet some of the students. We did not have the same luxury as last time with students who knew English very well so the conversations ended up to be very repetitive with the same regiment of questions asked over and over again. What usually would happen was that the American students would ask many questions and the Japanese students would answer. When we met the advanced English speakers though, the tables were turned and we were the ones answering the questions. It was interesting to hear how Waseda was know for being the underdogs, while Keio was know for being the rich elites. From what I saw, both of the universities had students who were very classy and smart, and I doubt that I could distinguish the two styles from one another, even if I were to spend more time with both groups

Keio University

•May 26, 2010 • Leave a Comment

While in Japan, we visited two universities. The first one was Keio University. The campus was quite beautiful, with an abundant amount of history. One of the things I learned about while there, was that the man on the 10,000-yen bill was in fact the founder of Keio University. He was also the man who set Japan’s education system up, after visiting the United States and Europe. For a man know for his contribution to education to be glorified in such a manner is great. It really shows how highly the Japanese value the education of their people. Before we actually got to meet and talk with a classroom of students, I did not know what to expect, with the language barrier and all. Luckily there were many students that spoke English very well and translated between the non-bilingual crowds.  This made it very easy to communicate and gave me my first chance at really connecting with other college kids from another country.

Japanese Style

•May 23, 2010 • Leave a Comment

One of the first things I noticed being here in Japan, is how everyone seems to be dressed very nicely, all of the time. The business people all have very nice suits or dresses on that seem perfectly fitted and clean, while the more casual looking people still have clothes on that you know must have cost them a bundle and a great deal of time planning. Even the construction workers that I saw were wearing high quality and well taken care of uniforms. In the United States the only group that could even begin to be compared with are the business people. Otherwise, it is very easy to find people in the U.S. who barely even looked at their clothes before they walked out the door in the morning, or care what they look like in general. The biggest difference though is that construction workers and other professions that rely on manual labor usually have uniforms that consist of at least one article of clothing that has been torn or stained in one way or another.