Welcome to Japan!

My summer vacation officially ended this week and I’ve definitely been feeling the back-to-work burn. As I’ve mentioned before, I change schools every term, so I started at a new school this week. However, since there are three schools in the city I’m living in, and three terms, that means I’m now back to the school I started at last year. I think the change (well, return, but change from the school I was working at before summer) is good in some ways, because the summer left me feeling pretty lethargic. I think part of that is due to the fact that many of my close friends left Japan this August to return to their home countries. I’ve been a bit lonely, which for me just makes me extra lazy.

Thankfully one of my best friends in the world, Zack, came to visit me this August. He came right around the time all my new friends were leaving Japan, so his visit really helped me deal with that.

Zack and I have known each other since we were about nine, so we’re coming up on being friends for 20 years pretty soon. Yikes! Of course I don’t have any great old pictures of us on my computer here, but I do have this great one of us before our Senior prom with two of our other very close friends:

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One of the best things about Zack’s visit is that before he came, he had never left the US. I was really excited to show off Japan to him and give him a great first impression of traveling abroad.

I was a little worried he would experience some serious culture shock, jet lag, and just an overall sense of being overwhelmed, but he did amazingly!

His only moment of true culture shock was actually when he entered my apartment, and this shock was actually based only on a misunderstanding. My apartment has a small entry way that looks like this:

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The door behind me (not in the picture) is the front door, the door to the left is the bathroom door, the door in the front is to the rest of the apartment, and the door to the right is to the shower room. When Zack arrived, I had all these doors shut. His first reaction was of pure claustrophobia–for a few seconds he thought this was my entire apartment! Thankfully, it’s not, and my apartment is actually a pretty nice size (and is bigger than the one I was living in back in the States!).

I had a really great time showing Zack Japan. My Japanese is pretty terrible, but it was a nice challenge to be in charge of everything and be forced to do all the talking everywhere for once. Although Zack did pick up some Japanese and studied it while he was here. It was pretty impressive!

Of course, any trip to Japan wouldn’t be complete without a trip to an arcade…

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…or a purikura booth!

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Zack had some pretty great skills with the UFO catcher machines (claw machines) and won us some prizes.

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We also were pretty awesome at karaoke.

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Zack also really enjoyed the gacha gacha machines.

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We ate tons of great Japanese food, like sushi, sashimi, tempura, tonkatsu, okonomikayki, yakiniku, yakitori, and more I can’t think of at the moment.

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We got to enjoy a summer festival in Asahikawa, Hokkaido. And of course, you have to go to a weird cafe when in Tokyo, like this fun bunny one.

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And of course, you have to go to a weird cafe when in Tokyo, like this fun bunny one.

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We also met some really friendly Japanese people pretty much everywhere we went.

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We enjoyed famous ramen in Sapporo’s “Ramen Alley.”

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We also went to Asahiyama Zoo in Asahikawa and saw some pretty adorable animals.

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Of course we had some rough moments throughout the trip where we may have wanted to kill each other…

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But overall I think we had a pretty good time! We spent some time at the beach near Zushi.

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And enjoyed the beautiful night scenery at Mt. Moiwa in Sapporo.

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And even though Zack was too big for the trains, buses, seats at restaurants, and his slippers, I think he had a great time!

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He even managed to make new friends!

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2 responses to “Welcome to Japan!

  1. Heidl, you’re an awesome tour guide. You gave him a little taste of everything and an experience he’ll never forget. Helen, you’re gonna have a wild time when you go. Leave your comfort zone behind and enjoy the ride.

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