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Kyoto. Kyoto desu.

July 22, 2009

(Originally Published 01/09/2007)

Yesterday was a busy, busy day.  First we had the Opening Ceremony.  I was expecting a bunch of pomp and circumstance (and certainly, there was some of that) but I wasn’t expecting the head of the Japanese department to get up and make such a cool speech.  Shimaura-sensei is so cool!!!More...

She was basically talking about a long list of dos and don’ts in Japan but she was just so funny.  Since the speech was in Japanese, most of the jokes were lost on most of the students.  But Willy and I (and several other people) were rolling around laughing because we knew what she was talking about.  I hope someone recorded that speech because it was so awesome.

After the ceremony, there was a huge welcome luncheon!  It was really good food.  Willy and Lee and I met a really cool guy named Kyle and we walked around with him a little bit talking about Japan.  We decided to check out the pachinko parlour because we saw a big sign that said 1 Yen Pachinko.  Turns out it’s one yen per ball if you buy a thousand balls.  It was really cool-looking but we didn’t feel like throwing away ten dollars to try it out.  It was really loud in there.

After that, Willy and I walked around the neighborhood in a new section that we hadn’t explored yet.  There was a really cool metal sculpture of a steam engine in the middle of the road!  We met up with Lee again at the CIE (Center for International Education) and got in line for the Kyoto tour.  It was a huge line and we started to get a little discouraged because who wants to go to Kyoto surrounded by 400 foreigners?  Well, they had a good system for remedying this.  We were split up into groups of 3-4 people and then 2 Japanese students were assigned to guide that group.  So Willy, Lee, and I met Mami and Yuko.  It was so much fun to walk around Kyoto with them!  They were really sweet and I felt really confident talking with them in Japanese.  We went to Kiyomizu-dera, which none of us had ever been to before, and spent some time at the top looking out over the city.  Kyoto is fabulously beautiful.  It’s a huge city but it looks really, really nice no matter where you are – especially high above it on the mountain.  We walked by some tourist souvenir shops and I picked up some orenji-mikusu sofuto kuriimu (Orange-mix frozen yogurt).  It was delicious.  We walked around Gion for awhile and then we went to dinner at another okonomiyaki place.  I had okonotakoyaki – a mixture of okonomiyaki and takoyaki (octopus dumplings) – and some hot nihonshu (sake).  It was probably the best sake I’ve ever had.  After that, we rode the train back to Hirakata City downtown and then we said goodbye to Mami and Yuko.  We all really want to meet up again sometime.  Yay!  I’ve got more Japanese friends and they’re girls!  🙂

It was a long walk back from Hirakata downtown to the dorms, especially after all the walking we’d done previously but we made it back.  We decided to walk instead of riding the bus because we’d spent enough money already that day.  Today I’m going to my language lab orientation and then Willy, Lee, and I are going to Den-Den Town!!!  I got my Japanese class listings yesterday and I got into level four speaking and level three reading and writing.  I think it’s going to be a great year. 🙂

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