Nagoya, Japan SIP

It’s been more than half a year since returning from the Summer International Program in Nagoya, Japan, but I still remember vividly so many of the wonderful experiences I had. One of my favorites is the kimono workshop Nagoya Gakuin University put together for us. One of the local student’s family ran a kimono shop, and they were kind enough to bring some yukata in for us to try, even helping us to put them on properly!

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Even before leaving Canada, trying on a kimono/yukata (and maybe even buying one!) was towards the top of my to-do list for Japan, I mean, who hasn’t heard of a kimono before? A yukata is akin to a lightweight kimono, usually made out of a single layer of cotton and is much easier to wear than a kimono which has many different layers. Yukata are popular to wear during summer festivals since they are much more breathable. After arriving in Japan and seeing the prices, I knew that I would not be able to afford one, but I had hoped to at least be able to try one on and get a picture. When we arrived at the university and were given our program schedule, I was so excited to see that there would be a workshop towards the end of the program!

On the day of, we were separated into 2 rooms: one for the males and one for the females. As soon as we walked through the doors, we could see all of the yukata laid out on the desks, and we all scrambled to choose one. I was immediately drawn to a dark blue one that had a purple and pink obi (the belt). Obi can come either as just a cloth strip or pre-tied into a bow. All of the ones that were brought in for the workshop were pre-tied to make it easier to put on.

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The ladies there helped us into our yukata (otherwise we would have been completely lost on how to put them on!) They had even brought geta (wooden sandals) for us to wear!

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After we finished dressing, we were given the choice whether we wanted to go to a nearby shrine while wearing the yukata. I, of course, said yes – I did not want to take the yukata off yet after finally being able to put one on! Geta are known for being hard and uncomfortable to walk in (you’re walking basically on a block of wood) so the university called several taxis to take us to the shrine.

Now, the shrine is definitely one of the things that makes this experience so memorable.

The taxis took us to the Atsuta Shrine where we took tons of pictures at the shrine entrance.

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As we walked through the shrine grounds, we noticed there was quite a commotion around a certain tree. Tons of locals had their phones pointed upwards and were talking excitedly to one another.

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It took us a while to figure out what everyone was looking at, but then we saw it. Can’t figure it out? Take a closer look at the centre of the picture.

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Yes, that is a snake in the tree. From what we gathered from the locals, the snake can usually be found around the base of the tree, and we were very lucky to see it in the tree. I didn’t even know snakes went in trees.

Besides the snake, the shrine itself was beautiful, and we got the opportunity to take tons of pictures on the shrine grounds before taking the taxis back to the university.

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All in all, I had a great yukata experience and I hope to get to buy one when I go back to Japan someday, hopefully soon.

~ Joyce Lok

Nagoya, Japan

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It’s been a while since returning from my Summer CIP, and experiencing the reverse culture shock was something I didn’t expect. After living in another country for a month, you begin to adapt to the different cultures and practices of the host country; it feels as if you are returning to a foreign country rather than coming home to your family when you fly home. I found myself grasping at small memories and items that brought me back across the globe desperately, arguing with myself about which country is my real home.

Now that I’m entering the Winter 2018 semester, I look back at the experience and think about how much fun I had overall. At this point, I have once again coped with the integration back into Canadian society. With a clear mind, I’ve decided to recount the highlights of my adventure.

 

 

Karaoke

This had to be the first thing on my list to talk about. Karaoke in Japan is on a whole different level! Unlike the song books we have here, you navigate their system using tablets. They also have big screen TVs paired with modern Karaoke systems that are always updating their library. The price is very fair, especially because your time includes unlimited drinks! At least, majority of places do. Places like Joy Joy even offer free alcohol… but if you’re going on a centennial experience you better not drink (it’s in the contract)! They also have different lights flashing around the rooms, and some places have instruments to play around with (i.e. maracas, tambourines).

 

 

Akihabara

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Fair warning; it won’t be as all you anime nerds out there expect. There is a lot of anime there, but not everywhere. There are a lot of arcades too, and if you want to play the music games you see on Youtube, you have to go up 1 or 2 floors (Ignore the crane games. They are tricky for noobs). THEY STILL HAVE DDR IN JAPAN!!!! I also tried a VR game that I can’t go into details with (though I’ll throw out the word bishie as a hint ;))

 

 

Shopping

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The shopping in Japan is just like in Canada, but they have so many more items available at their equivalent of a Dollar Store! It’s like going to a Walmart(but even better) where everything really is just a dollar! I could spend hours in Daiso and Seria just trying to figure out what random trinkets I think I need. The quality is also better than you’d expect. What would normally cost around $12 here in Canada only cost me 100 yen (about 1USD) in Japan! They also have more cute clothes, though I guess that’s up to preference. Another thing to note is how often you’ll see a vending machine around; it’s so convenient on the really hot days!

 

 

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The temples and traditional buildings are gorgeous! Walking around the outskirts of town you can see how they integrate both new and traditional architecture into a beautiful blend… I could get lost exploring for hours on purpose! Although everything is built tightly, it feels like they are more efficient because they don’t waste what space they have.

 

Language

Japanese is such an interesting language which sounds so smooth, and hearing it spoken all around me caused my heart to flutter. I’m so happy to have been able to practice speaking the language, and improving my proficiency. We were challenged to write a report in Japanese, and I honestly had so much fun typing on the Japanese keyboards!

 

 

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This is another thing you should really try in Japan. You can try photobooths in other countries, but I haven’t been able to find one quite like Japan’s. Some booth places will even have rental cosplay’s available, as well as areas to doll yourself up. The biggest thing about Purikura in japan though is the unusual beauty filter. It will make you look so different! I highly recommend getting at least one.

 

Toilets

I have to give the bidet toilets an honourable mention; It’s such a weird concept but once you try it, it’s so hard to look at toilet paper the same way. You WILL regret not trying it. Seriously.

 

 

Lifestyle

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I’ll be honest: I didn’t expect everyone to be so kind. I’ve been approached by Japanese citizens eager to practice English with me and have a nice conversation, and they portray strong emotional connections between each other that I had not expected. Granted, not all are like that, but moments like when my luggage got stuck in the train doors and everyone around me stopped to help me pull it out have me taking a step back to reassess what I had come to understand about Japanese people. It opened my mind a bit more to reality, versus the stereotypes we become so used to. Playing around and doing crazy things, experiencing life in Japan from the perspective of a typical Japanese University student; I can honestly say that I’ve never had so much fun in my life, and I wish I could relive those short moments over and over again.

 

 

Food

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THE FOOD IS AMAZING! If you love sushi, then you’ll cry after trying fresh sushi from Tsukiji Market or any equivalent. It’s so expensive, yet the taste still lingers on my mouth even now… and Kobe beef is sooooo good! Their food tastes so different from North American food, and coming back was a tough transition for me. 7 Eleven has the best fried chicken, and the price isn’t bad; I can literally survive happily off eating that chicken for days.

 

 

Japan Travel

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If you have time, you should really travel to the different prefectures; the difference between them is astonishing, and the experiences are so unique! In Canada you typically stand on the right side of the escalator, but in Tokyo you stand on the left; In Osaka it’s actually the right! The onsens are also so fun and relaxing, though I highly recommend going to a mountainous region to experience the real thing.

 

There’s honestly so much to say, that I even made a short video for a contest about experiencing Japan:

 

 

 

Even after returning, my journey still continues. Since then, I’ve seen and talked with friends I’ve made back in Japan, and I am planning my eventual return. I’m very thankful for the opportunity SaGe has given me; I’ve made so many friends and valuable connections. I promise all you hopefuls that applying for one of these experiences will be a once in a lifetime experience you’ll never forget!

 

 

 

5 Things I Learnt About Yukata 浴衣

5 THINGS I LEARNT ABOUT YUKATA (浴 衣)

I always wonder and admire others from across the planet and was curious on what it is like growing up in another country, like Japan. But now I am living my dreams and in the SIP abroad Japan for the summertime. It’s the first time that the Nagoya Gakuin University in Japan have a partnership with Centennial College for this.  So, it’s exciting for me to be in Japan and in the first group of Centennial students to be part of this too!

One exciting planned activity from the program I tried was trying on a yukata for the first time and wearing it to the Atsuta Shrine.  Though I was curious on wearing one, it changed my perspective. It’s a lot of work. Here are 5 things I Learnt About yukata.

By: Sherry Ing, SIP Japan 2017 Participant

  1. During the summertime, there are many summer festival in Japan. A casual outfit that is worn by the people in Japan are ‘yukata’, during these festivals. They are a light cotton version of a kimono and are worn by everyone.
  2. There are many different types of obi ribbon 🎀 and how it is worn. In our experience, we worn a Tsuke obi. It was an interesting insight for me to wear a Tsuke obi, it is shorter and worn tight around the waist. When I taken a deep breath in, the obi sash would unwind itself and I had to have it readjusted again. Two people had to help me with it. The separate bow part is attached with a wire at the back of the obi. So, I had to make sure I don’t lean back on it when I sit in a chair with a back. Or it will go off centre from the back and you will have to readjust it.
  3. Geta (下駄) are wooden sandals worn without socks with the yukata. There are male and female version. The female version fits for smaller foot sizes only and for tinier foot. I have a wider foot, so part of my toes were outside of the small foot frame. Also, I bought Tabi socks with the geta. But, socks are worn for the colder season.
  4. You wear it with your undergarments. So, walking in the yukata, it takes small steps and movements, or everything will open up and undo itself. Also, you will sweat profusely, while trying to hold it all in.
  5. I wore a pink pattern with daisies. Usually, each person wears a different colour with a pattern that represents their age. Younger people wears brighter colour and bold motifs.
  6. Okay there is a sixth point in this.  It’s a lot of work! We had three people to learn from who skillfully tied the obi and wrapped the yukata on us. Walking in the yukata takes patience, but helps with the delicate movements.  Also, to sit down, it is recommended to sit with both legs to together and to the side or you will give out the wrong impression.