Sayounara Japan and a Trip to Europe

posted in: Omar in Kyoto, Japan | 0

After traveling through Southeast Asia, I returned to Japan where my host family had held my luggage for me before I headed home. I had one final day to wander through the streets of Kyoto, sit by the kamogawa river that is so central to the city, and eat at my favorite ramen shop. It did feel sort of odd being there knowing that my friends had already made their ways home. At night, the girls hosted a closing dinner …

Fitting into Japanese Society

posted in: Omar in Kyoto, Japan | 1

I’m done traveling throughout Southeast Asia and I’m glad I did it as ‘stepping out’ has allowed me to see Japan as more of an outsider once again. I’m not really one for museums but I do make sure to read up a little about a country’s history, demographics, etc. during my visit and this often led me to find interesting connections between those countries and Japan or even the U.S. Singapore brought me the closest to the equator that …

Education in Japan and New Beginnings

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Hey everyone! For this week I’ll be writing a bit about what I’ve learned about the Japanese education system. I guess the most logical way to go about it is to go through chronologically, but an important distinction to make from the start is that their school year begins in April and ends in March, so long term breaks like those in the American system are virtually non-existent. The sequence generally follows this order: Nursery School, Kindergarten, Elementary School, Junior/Senior …

A Day in the Life

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Back after two weeks! For this week’s blog I thought I would make a video showing what a day studying abroad in Japan might be like. This was on a Friday, so I just had Japanese class and then the rest of my day to venture around. Please turn on the subtitles and enjoy! Bear with my translations…I tried to translate as naturally as possible but translation problems will get to you. The Sakura had just started blooming when I …

Festivals and Celebrations. Temples and Monks.

posted in: Omar in Kyoto, Japan | 0

I am taken by surprise with just how many festivals and celebrations I’ve encountered in Japan, especially in Kyoto. You’re sure to find a couple a month, even sometimes a couple on the same day, and it’s not too uncommon to randomly get caught in the middle of one while walking down a street. The great part is, many of these celebrations are completely free and they make great opportunities for communities to bond, or even to just hang out …

In Pursuit of the Cherry Blossoms

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Tadaima! I’m back! As I mentioned in my last post, I spent the last week traveling down to Okinawa, then up to Tokyo before returning on an overnight bus to Kyoto, arriving girigiri into Monday morning classes. It was nice having some time off before spiraling into these last few weeks of the semester, and luckily my program funds these kinds of trips for us. Although Kyoto is considered one of the best places to experience the cherry blossoms, they …

Occupying Spaces: Tradition vs Modernity

posted in: Omar in Kyoto, Japan | 0

Hey guys! This week I’ll be writing a bit about forms of art I’ve encountered so far during my time in Japan. It’s forced me to reflect on gigabytes of pictures and a 6 page bucketlist I’m still working through, so bear with me! My general impression of art in Japan, be it through music/entertainment/performance or more traditional forms such as paintings/architecture/literature, is that works tend to live between two extremes: tradition and extreme modernism. They aren’t necessarily in total …

First Impressions (and the past 5 months)

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Hello readers! My name’s Omar and I am currently studying abroad with the Associated Kyoto Program (AKP) at Doshisha University in Japan. I decided that I would be coming to Japan by the Fall of my first year, but I wasn’t completely sure of when, for how long, or which part of the country I wanted to come to. My interest in Japan began because of its language. I self-studied it a bit before coming to Amherst, and it was …

Japanese Cuisine: Innovation and a Hidden Diversity

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Amherst’s Japanese department has an annual winter Curry party at Tawa-sensei’s home along with a sushi party in the spring, which I always made sure to take advantage of. Besides that, my experiences with Japanese food before coming here were limited. NYC restaurants can be pretty expensive for one, but finding one that is actually authentic has its own challenges. Amherst and the Northampton have a couple of restaurants too but selections there can be few and oversimplified. I wrote …

The Other in Japan

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I started learning Japanese for several reasons but one of my biggest motivations was a desire to learn more about a people that I had few interactions with. Language facilitates cultural exchange, especially in using it to communicate nuances that are otherwise lost in translation. You can learn a lot through language, but there are many things that can only be learned by actually being among its people. There are several phases in accustoming to new surroundings while studying abroad. …