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Nerdy Heartbeat’s Epic Adventure In The Land Of Rising Sun: Part Three June 7, 2010

Filed under: Japan — andthismakesaheartbeat @ 3:15 pm
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Day 3

Went to our first temple and shrine: the Daijuji Temple. It was simply gorgeous and instantly learned about the etiquette regarding entering temples: how to take your shoes off before entering, how to pray etc. etc.

We then visited the Toyota Factory where we were greeted by two really really awesome prototype products: a fully functional robot that can play various songs on the trumpet

as well as a very futuristic looking wheelchair/car.

They were both insanely cool and definitely gave the image I thought of as Japan being “the technological capital of the world”. After the showcase, we went to the actual factory where we saw the massive assembly line where each Toyota car is made. Additionally, at a cafe near the factory, I discovered my new food-related love: oddly enough, eel (in the top right):

As our tour guide/instructor puts it quite simply: “it’s f**king amazing”.

Next stop was the Hatcho Miso factory where Hatcho Miso, a soup made out of just soy sauce, water and salt is created over the span of 2 years.

This miso has been popularized by being the choice of the Emperor for years. We saw how it was made and then got free samples.

It was pretty good but the Hatcho Miso flavored ice cream was amazing. Probably one of the best flavors I’ve ever had.

Day 4

Shrines, Shrines and more Shrines

The architecture of some of these places is simply astounding at times. It was also interesting to learn that before entering places like this, you had to “cleanse your spirit” in water fountains located before entering.

Today was also the birthday of one of our instructors. We all celebrated at an irish pub owned by another one of our instructors. It was a fantastic time and a great way to wind down after all of the traveling we have been doing.

Day 5

We visited Okazaki Castle. It was enormous and filled with tons of cool stuff including lots and lots of samurai swords and armor: which we had the awesome opportunity of trying on. The whole place was covered with history, digital reenactments of war and some really interesting stories involving conflicts with rival feudal Japan families.

We were also able to get a great view of Okazaki City from the top of the castle.

Later that day we visited a fish restaurant. The catch? We had to catch, skewer and cook the fish ourselves. It was a huge feast and everything was delicious. I seriously love this place more as the days go by. All the cultural differences; the way it’s at times the complete opposite of America, really intrigue me. The food is more elegant here, always needing to eat with chopsticks. Every building and structure has a substantial amount of charm and visual appeal. Sure the differences give the impression that living here wouldn’t exactly be the best choice for me but it’s definitely the kind of place I would love to visit time and again. And the best part is that I still have about 10 more days here.

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Nerdy Heartbeat’s Epic Adventure In The Land Of Rising Sun: Part Two June 3, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — andthismakesaheartbeat @ 10:02 am
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Day 2:

We take our orientation in the course and get placement. I’m in beginners, obviously and began to become accustomed with the program we use to learn Hiragana. It all seems that it will be a hearty challenge but it will definitely be rewarding.

We then began to journey around the city more seeing some of its beauty:

…as well as more of its ridiculousness:

Seriously, Japan has way too many hats with nonsensical sayings on them…

We also decided to go to a local ice cream parlor… Cold Stone:

Yeah I know. This isn’t exactly delving into Japanese culture but hey it made me feel at home. That and the girls who made our ice cream were the most adorably enthusiastic people ever.

I also made shrimp for dinner and surprisingly, it was actually really good.

Stay tuned very very soon for a posting of a very eventful day 3.

 

Nerdy Heartbeat’s Epic Adventure in the Land of Rising Sun: Part One June 1, 2010

Filed under: Japan — andthismakesaheartbeat @ 8:16 am
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This place is amazing. Enough said. It’s bright, colorful, incredibly animated and filled with video games. And I’m not even in a big city yet. I’m currently station in Okazaki City located minutes away from Nagoya. The plane ride was a bitch however. 15ish hours on a plane and I couldn’t even sleep after taking sleeping pills. That was fun.

Then we got there and we were instantly mesmerized by the odd looking coke cans:

It looks like a car fuel can. It was then, that and the odd looking bathrooms, that we were definitely not in the States anymore. We took a quick plane ride to Nagoya and drove over to our campus. Our dorms look like prisons and the beds are like sleeping like a rock. That being said, I slept for like 6 hours (from 12am-6) and felt oddly refreshed. It’s probably just the jet lag though.

When we woke up today, Tues Jun 1st/Feeling like it’s Memorial Day (Jesus it’s like we’re on Lost) we instantly began walking around town. Soaking in the scenery:

…while also enjoying all the bizarre things around town like the super giddy cartoon mascots that are seen at every corner.

or the ridiculously awesome food choices…

We then treked over to the Aeon Mall where we browsed clothes, Pokemon/DBZ/Disney (apparently they love Stitch a lot) paraphernalia, got free samples of the grossest pseduo-jello/slug?/hair gel? at some chain joint. It was all pretty neat but low and behold…

We saw this and just assumed it would be a video game store but alas…

it was an extremely flashy arcade. Once we saw the bright lights and hundreds of game machines we all acted like a bunch little kids at Disney World. The place had games that no one in the USA has the pleasure to play including an arcade version of Mario Kart, all the hottest new fighting games

and this…

A VR video game pod with a huge screen where you control a robot and fight in an epic team battle. It was something I have never seen before and if it moves to the States (huge if) it could easily revitalize the arcade industry.

After having the biggest geekgasm ever, we all walked around the mall and the rest of the city, while making silly photo ops along the way.

Later tonight we’re planning to see a new Japanese samurai film, The Last. I also bought Pokemon themed Ramen and will probably eat it for dinner (it will most likely be horrible). But so far, today has been an excellent way to begin what may be a fantastic next few weeks. I’ll be in touch letting you know all the great places I go to with plenty of photos to boot. Until then… namaste.