Japan | Osaka

11:29 AM Ally M.G. 0 Comments

Today was extremely fun! It began around 7:30am where I got up and cooked breakfast and got ready to be out of the accommodations by 8:45 to meet with Mika. We met around 9ish in Karasuma station and got on the train that headed to Umeda Station...aka Osaka. The train ride took about 45 minutes and time passed by quickly as I made small talk with Mika.

When we arrived the first thing we set out to do we see the Floating Garden Building, which was a 30 minute walk because Mika and I have no sense of direction whatsoever (thank god for GPS). The Floating Garden is very misleading, because there is no actual garden floating anywhere in the building...it is just a really tall building with a whole in the middle with a really awesome view of the Osaka city line. We spent about an hour there chatting and staring out into the distance ( I nearly lost my hat to the wind twice)

Oh...by the way Joe and Franz were with me too.

Anyways, after that we were all kind of hungry since most of us ate at 7ish and it was already 11ish. We found a restaurant called Ai and it was pretty good! I ate a Japanese burger, I know it is not very Japanese but i was craving a burger, but I forgot that Japanese burgers are bunless so it was a bit disappointing to just eat burger meat drowned in some sort of sauce.

Once all our bellies were full we headed to the Pokemon Center, and we got lost made a full circle around the street we were on before we found the building where the Pokemon Center is located. (A++ on directions for Mika and I).

I did not take any pictures of the inside of the Pokemon Center because I was too busy FaceTiming my younger brother as I showed him all the neat stuff that they had and trying to figure out what he wanted from the store. It was pretty neat and I spent a tad too much money. To feel a bit better about ourselves we bought belgium waffles as snacks...and let me tell you...that was the best freaking belgium waffle I had ever eaten in my life.

When we all finished spend a ridiculous amount of money in the Pokemon Center, we headed to a really tall electronics center in Osaka, because Joe and I were in the search for amiibos. Much to our surprise they did not have any amiibos other the common ones...just like the States...Then the boys splurge a bunch of money of figurines.  They were really neat to look at especially since they had so many anime, movie and video game figurines, but i would never buy stuff like that...at least they were nice to look at.

Soon after we met up with Daisuke and hopped on a train to head to Osaka Castle. We unfortunately arrived too late to actually enter the castle, so hopefully in another opportunity when can go inside and see its historical beauty. The five of us did spent some time in the area, most chillen and resting our feet because we were all dead tired. Daisuke had just finished getting out of his part time job and Mika, Joe, Franz and I had been walking all freaking day.  I got blister on my heel and Franz got me a Pokemon band-aid. ( I chose the wrong shoes for walking)

When hunger hit we headed back to the main station so we can go eat Okonomiyaki. And this time they made it right infront of you which was so freaking amazing! I split my meal with Mika because I was stuck between two things and she said she'd get one of the two things I wanted that way I could try them both. (She is so nice, and she also invited me to her Kendo practice!). I really like Mika, even though there is a language barrier between us we were still able to talk about all sorts of things. And when there were words I did not understand she would look them up for me on her phone so I could understand, and that was so sweet of her.

After our dinner...we returned to the waffle store once more...because we were weak and we all really liked how delicious those waffles were. On the way to the store we found a pizza place called Miami Gardens which was hilarious because it is an actual place in Florida. It was fun explaining to Mika and Daisuke that Miami Gardens was an actual place and it does not have a famous garden or anything.

Daisuke really wanted to take Purikuras of all of us together...and we did just that...and it was freaking hilarious. Purikuras are a Japanese photobooth that is oriented to young girls in order to take prettier pictures of themselves. We all became pretty girls.


Japan | Nara and Kyoto Tower

10:29 AM Ally M.G. 0 Comments

Today I woke up at 7:30, which is an hour later than usual. (It was fantastic!). The schedule for today was Nara and deer. Nara is really well known for the "Deer Park" they have along with Todai-ji. I was super pump cause I was going to see a bunch of bambis. I went on this Nara adventure with Chess and we headed out to the station at around 9am. We both bought a train pass that would get us to Nara and back and a few other trains. It was the cutest card ever.

10 minutes into the train ride...I freaking lost my train pass! It was in my pocket and when we were switching trains it was gone. I was so angry. Especially since I paid 1680 yen for it, I literally lost $15 right off the bat. It was awful.

We arrived arrived at Nara around 11ish. The train rides from Kyoto Station to Nara station was about an hour or so. Thankfully, the station people let me pass through when I told them that I lost my train ticket.

The temple and park were in the same street and the right off the bat we saw deer. It was so mental! Chess and I were casually walking up the street to go to Todai-ji when a deer came into vision out no freaking no where! The whole time I thought the deer were going to be in a park, almost like a zoo type of thing we had to pay to get into, but it was not like that. They were just everywhere. EVERYWHERE. The deer causually walk everywhere, letting people pet them and feed them cookies.

They were all so cute, but they were all smelly (so much deer poop everywhere). I had to breath out of my mouth for a long time. Chess and I kept petting deer as we headed to Todai-ji. We spent a good hour distracted by all the bambis around us.

Todai-ji is a temple that was built in the Nara period (710 - 794 AD). The temple was officially positioned as one of many state-established provincial temples. However, since the chief object of worship of the temple is Vairocana Buddha, and the temple was built to reflect this Buddha. The statue of Vairocana Buddha is made from cast bronze, which was then plated with gold. The statue was consecrated in 752, but ut was damaged and repaired several times in the following centuries. The Great Buddha Hall was burned in the fires of war in 1180 and 1567, and the current building is actually the third generation structure (and it was built during the Edo period). Even though it is 33% smaller than the first original structure Todai-ji is still considered the largest wooden structure in the world.

Once we finished being boggled by the size Todai-ji, we saw the shrine stamp collection notebook in the area where they sell the shrine charms. Chess and I bought ourselves some~ (We now have to return to Kinkaku-jin to get our stamps)

We returned to Kyoto and set fourth to buy our train tickets for Osaka. There was a specific place we had to go in order to get cheap tourist tickets. We saved around 100-500yen and we could use all the trains we wanted for a specific line as many times we want. Once the ticket was secured in our personal belongings we set out to search Mr. Young Men, a restaurant Chess wanted to eat in Teramachi Mall (which is in Sanjo-dori). We got slightly lost for a while but Chess found a "landmark" and we were able to the restaurant. There I ate okonomiya and it was delicious!

Once our tummys were nice and full we set fourth to Kyoto Tower. Kyoto tower was pretty cool, but it was not nearly as impressive and cool as Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Sky Tree. But it was still pretty cool seeing Kyoto as a little miniature set.


Japan | UniQlo and Le Jazz

10:11 AM Ally M.G. 0 Comments

Waking up is getting a bit harder everyday, my lack of sleep is catching up to me and it is pretty bad. I made french toast for breakfast and it woke me up a bit (I made sure to put a bunch of sugar!) Then I went off to catch my bus.

I am very behind in the new Japanese class and it is pretty stressing. Everyone knows so much knew grammar that I need to know already. Today, the sensei gave me a bunch of homework the other students have already completed and it is a lot of work. I don't even have the new textbook yet! Franz and I have till next week to complete homework for chapter 1,2, 4, and 5. Also, we have to complete a quiz they already took and work on a presentation (which we are already 2 weeks behind everyone). I hope I can survive this.

Lunch was fun though, I really enjoy hanging out with the buddies. Sumire, Hikaru, Akari, Daisuke and Kazuki are all great. If I do get the opportunity to return next year for the spring semester I hope they can take me under their wings.

After lunch, Elaine, Mitch, Franz, Hikaru and I went to a clothe shop called UniQlo. I did not understand what it was till we arrived to the shopping center then I understood what we were up to. Everyone but Hikaru and I bought clothes. The clothes were really soft and cute, but I didn't feel like buying anything at the store.

Then we stopped by a parfait shop known for having over 200 different parfaits to choose from. I had a pumpkin, banana and caramel parfait and it what the most delicious sweet to ever enter my mouth.

Once we finished eating we parted ways. Franz and I stopped by the post office and I bought a bunch of stamps (cause of reasons), and headed back to the accommodations. I took a quick shower, because I wanted to straighten my hair. When my hair was nice and straight I met up with Mayu, Mitch and Franz in a little jazz club called Le Club Jazz. 

It was really fun, and listening to live jazz music is one of the nicest things ever.

It was really nice. I would like to return in some other opportunity, maybe before I leave to Miami...who knows.

On the way back to the accommodations I realized that I hadn't eaten since noon so I quickly bought myself an onigiri with spicy fish and ate it for 'dinner'.

Tomorrow I will be going to either Osaka or Nara. I am not sure yet, but they will both be fun. 


Japan | New Yukatas and Friends.

9:17 AM Ally M.G. 0 Comments

The only reason that I woke up at a decent time today was because my dad texted me about 6:30is (maybe) telling me to wake up. (How did he know I was still asleep? Beats me). I woke up a little stressed because my video did not process while I slept so I had to make breakfast for my roommate and I (and the dishes...cause I do both...), I also had to go through my morning routine and get ready for school. It is a lot to do in an hour and a half. But, I survived! I had two slices of toast with marmelade, apple juice and half a cup of green tea. And of course, my video uploaded (thank freaking god) just in time to run to the bus stop.

Today was the day that I was going to be told if I was able to move a level or not...and guess what...I moved up!! I got 19.5/20 on the quiz, and I felt super accomplished (I miss .5 because I spelt America wrong). Unfortunately, I am super behind. The class has already covered 3 chapters and there are a bunch of new grammar and words that I do not know. Hopefully I can catch up this weekend with the help of Pam and Elaine (they've been in that class since the beginning). They were reviewing the new grammar and I felt extremely overwhelmed. The last hour of class buddies came in to chat with us so we could practice our Japanese.

Daisuke was the one we got to chat with. Which was a relieve, because Daisuke is the definition of great. He is a Japanese Literature major who works in the Harry Potter section at Universal Studios in Osaka. He loves instrumental music, shoujo, reading books, CardCaptor Sakura and Harry Potter. He put my nerves at bit more at ease as we all chatted about ourselves and our lives and what not. (I also invited him to come to Miami, I teased him with pictures of Diagon Alley). Here is a really bad picture of him.

He also took my camera and decided to take pictures. There is a picture of Jun (in the back) and his sister Azumi.

Tanaka-sensei (the director of the Ritsumeikan Study Abroad Program) came to me during lunch to hand me a pamphlet for the Ritsumeikan semester long study abroad program and kept insisting that I should do it. (I am the only one he gave it to). He gave me two pamphlets so I gave the second one to Franz. I really want to do it, I know that I would pay same tuition as FIU, because there is an international waiver thing, but the problem is housing. Ritsumeikan offers dorms for international students...but right now FIU is semi-affordable because I still live with my parents and they pretty much maintain me. It is another great opportunity and it would really cool to finish my minor in Japan, but it is something I really have to sit down and plan and save accordingly because it will be expensive. (living abroad for 6 months). I need to apply to many scholarships and hope that maybe it can help me do the semester long session.

After lunch group B and C had their excursions to try on yukatas and ( to my later knowledge) keep them. I now see where the money that could have been used for our bus pass went. I honestly thought they were going to dress us up and then a couple minutes laters dress us down.

Then we took a stroll around Nishiki Market, in our yukatas, because some people were hungry and Franz wanted to purchase himself a fancy cooking knife. (He didn't get the nice this time around). I got to the accommodations around 5pm (super early I know), but I needed to learn the new grammar and attempt to catch up to the rest of the class. Languages do not come super easy to me like Franz (he is so lucky) so I have to study hard to become better at Japanese, especially since I accepted the challenge of being in the harder class.

I have finished my not really assigned homework and reviewed the best I could. Hopefully I get my new textbook by tomorrow! Oh...for dinner I had peasant pasta...aka....pasta with egg.

Mitch, Elaine, Franz and I at another photo-booth!