By Rakiya Washington (Japanese Plus)
My experience traveling to Japan through Globalize DC’s Kakehashi program was the most exciting and motivating experience that I have had while being in the Japanese Plus Program. Not only was this the longest travel experience I’ve had, but it was also the first time I had traveled by plane. I am glad that I was able to kill two birds with one stone and travel to a country that I have always desired to go to. During our trip to Japan, I had the opportunity to travel to several areas of Japan, including; Tokyo, Akihabara, Gifu prefecture and Harajuku. If were to choose my favorite places out of those I visited, I would have to choose Gifu and Harajuku, because they had very different atmospheres and made me feel more connected to Japan.
Gifu prefecture is where I stayed with my host family, and for me, this experience was the most sentimental and meaningful event in the entire trip. My host family consisted of a Grandmother, Grandfather, their son, daughter-in-law, and their two young children. I really enjoyed the two days that I experienced with them as we travelled to various places, such as Inuyama Castle, a ramen restaurant, a mall, and a temple/shrine. Inuyama Castle was a beautiful experience as I was glad to take pictures of the amazing view from the top of the castle. I’m not usually one who takes photos; I’d rather live in the moment; however, this trip pushed me to start taking more pictures, which was actually really fun.
After going to Inuyama Castle with my host family and another host family with Bryson and Asa, we all went to a ramen restaurant where I enjoyed some delicious simple ramen. Then we were able to meet again with Bryson and Asa to go to a huge mall for about an 1 hour, which I really enjoyed, since I love to shop. However, it was not as enjoyable, since I forgot my wallet, but nonetheless, I really enjoyed my time there and would love to go again. Then we went home and tried on traditional kimonos and played “Pick-up priest.” Although we were only there for two days, I was developing a great relationship with my host family, and it caused me to feel such sadness to say farewell. But, going to Harajuku made up for that sad event. Harajuku is a famous shopping area in Japan and I was excited to go and spend my money. I was so happy with the purchases that I made and I will definitely be returning sometime in the near future.
Overall, my experience in Japan was something that I will cherish for the rest of my life as it is only the beginning of a journey to getting to know Japan more deeply. Throughout my college experience, I will be studying abroad in both Japan and South Korea, as well as taking courses to study the language. I am so excited to see what other opportunities will be opened to me that will allow me to love Japanese culture even more.