My Summer Trip to Japan

By Cyrus Johnson

This summer, I got to go to Japan. It was my first time out of the country and I was pretty excited! My aunt paid for a plane ticket and the hotel, and my mom came with me.

After a 13-hour flight, we landed at Haneda Airport in Tokyo. We got lost in the airport pretty quickly, but once we found the bus that would take us to our hotel, it was pretty easy to navigate. When we got to our room on the 20th floor and got settled, the first thing I did was look out the window. We had a great view of the Rainbow Bridge and could see both the Tokyo Skytree and Tokyo Tower from there. The next day I checked out the nearby malls, Aqua City and Diver City. Diver City was cool because they had an entire shop dedicated to Gundam, and they also had an arcade there. The arcade games are a lot more fun than the ones in a Dave & Buster to me. They had a bunch of rhythm games, a lot of crane games, and this really fun mecha piloting game, among others I wasn’t really paying attention to. I ended up playing until closing multiple times while I was there.

After that, we went to Akihabara, an area with a lot of electronics shops. We got lost almost immediately, but we found our way to a bookstore and bought some manga before we got back on the subway to go to Sensō-ji, a large Buddhist Temple. We went and got fortunes, but they were both bad, so we tied them up on the bad fortune rack, I don’t know what it was called. The next day we went to Shibuya and saw the Shibuya crossing, a famous spot surrounded by malls known for letting pedestrians cross through the middle of the intersection at the same time.. We were going to go see if we could take pictures from the top of a building, but you had to pay per picture after you paid to get up there. After we were done checking out nearby shops, we went to the Tokyo Skytree. It was cool seeing so much of Japan from so high up, but since it was pretty cloudy that day we couldn’t see too far out.

The next day my mom wanted to check out the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo. They had an exhibit on Takahata Isao, who worked on Grave of the Fireflies, Heidi, Girl of the Alps, and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, which I enjoyed. Afterwards, we went to the Tokyo Imperial Palace grounds. The gardens there were pretty, but our feet got tired pretty quickly. We were only there for a week, and it was a pretty nice trip. The week went by fast, and I’d love to go back someday.

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By Asa Marshall

On Saturday, September 28th, 2019, I visited TOKIYA JAPAN. It is a little shop next door to Hana Market, which is a small Japanese market. TOKIYA JAPAN is a kimono shop located at 2002 17th St NW, Washington DC. I visited a couple times before, because it is a very quaint shop and it’s very cozy and welcoming. This shop actually is a place where you can buy pottery and jewelry made with traditional Japanese methods and designs, as well as trying on and buying kimono. I often visit this little shop every time I go to Hana Market, because it’s really interesting and everything is so beautiful. This time however, I noticed that all around the shop there are pieces of historic information about the pieces, and also how to properly wear yukata (kimono worn in summer).

I was really captivated by all the trinkets and art pieces in the shop and I think it would make a nice trip for the class, because we did recently discuss an article about the foreigners wearing a kimono incorrectly. I’m sure it would make a cool learning experience and it might be very fun because I’m sure many in the class would want to try on kimono!


Back to Karuta

By Jazmin Angel-Guzman

We are back to Japanese Plus year two school year! We are starting off with a game of Karuta, a game where a speaker sings Japanese poems and the players have to look for a card that matches what the speaker sings. It was my first time playing Karuta, and it helped me get back to reading hiragana as review. Hiragana is one of the three Japanese scripts for writing. I did not know how competitive Karuta is until I saw my teammates and the other players kept on snatching the Karuta cards within nanoseconds. I barely had enough time to read some of the Karuta cards myself.

Playing a game with my classmates made me feel happy that I got to see them again. I hope that this year all of us can grow and achieve things together. Hopefully, this year we would have the opportunity to go to Japan and make a lot of memories! I am also happy to see my teacher Eshita Sensei and my coordinator Sally Schwartz again.


By Cyrus Johnson

This past Saturday, some of my classmates, Ms. Sally, Eshita-sensei, and I went to eat at Rakuya, a Japanese restaurant near Dupont Circle. I didn’t even know there was a restaurant there, and I pass it a lot. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention. When I got a menu I was kinda expecting more on it, but they had some really good food. I ordered the Tokyo broth ramen with chicken and egg noodles, and most of my classmates and I got a bottle of Ramune. The portions were a lot bigger than I thought, and I couldn’t finish it. Luckily, Alexx said they’d take my leftovers, so it wasn’t wasted!

Is crossing you legs impolite?

By Alexx Thompson

Did you know in Japan there are many cultural taboos considered polite in America? Things such as pointing, walking on the wrong side of the road can be considered rude in Japan. One of these things is crossing your legs. Here it’s considered a polite thing to do, especially for those who wear skirts. It saves space, compared to when people sit with their legs slightly spread out, so people can sit in tight spaces. In Japan, crossing one’s legs is seen as disrespectful. It is because when you do this you show the bottom of your feet to guests, and since they have picked up dirt,  you are showing that dirt to your guests. This makes for very bad business relations.

It’s okay to cross your legs in a casual setting, but in business relations it’s seen as too casual and improper. It is preferable to sit in seiza, the traditional Japanese way of sitting where you sit upright and your legs are tucked underneath you. If you are sitting in a chair, then simply keep your legs together, rather than folding one over the other.

If you are ever in relations with Japanese people, always remember to receive and give business cards with both hands, give gifts after travels, and remember not to cross your legs!

Almost done for the year

Jazmin Angel-Guzman

On Saturday, we went to the Japanese restaurant Rakuya at Dupont Circle. It was the second to last official day of Japanese Plus. Initially, I was really sad and torn apart that we were about to end Japanese Plus I. But I remembered that I’m coming back for Japanese Plus II. Going to this luncheon made me see how special my class is. My Japanese Plus class consists of students from all over the city and different DC schools, making me meet new people.

I had a blast going out to eat with my class. I ordered egg noodles with shrimp tempura and for my drink, ramune. By the end, I was so full I had to wait a few minutes in order to walk! It was a nice way to close out the school year, but it was surreal that it was our last luncheon together as a class of 2019. I wish I could repeat the day again not only to eat food one more time but spend time with my class one last time.

Our final presentation

By Jazmin Angel-Guzman

On May 29th, it was our Japanese Plus final presentations. The minute I walked in to Sumner School, the place we had our presentations, I had butterflies in my stomach. I was so nervous and I thought I wasn’t ready enough to perform our skits. The reception was nice, because we had food and interacted with our guests. I talked about the KAKEHASHI Project (our trip to Japan in 2018) with the photos we had, until it was about that time to perform. Although, there was a problem that I encountered.

On the day that I had to bring socks because I was going to take off my shoes for my skit, I didn’t because I forgot. I was very reluctant putting my feet where we were going to perform, because it was carpet. Before the few minutes we had to perform, I was thinking of a plan to not put my feet on the carpet, but still trying to show the cultural aspect in the skit – the cultural aspect of taking off shoes before entering someone’s home in Japan. But meeting a dead end, I decided I had to go with it and put my feet on the carpet for a few seconds and sit down for the last scene. We also had to present our reflections, which I wasn’t that prepared for either.

At the end of the program, I felt less nervous and we were given our certificates of completing Japanese Plus I. I felt happy for being a part of Japanese Plus, and growing in many ways during the program. I can’t wait to start Japanese Plus II next year. Although, I was sad that these were some of the last moments of the program, and I know I’ll miss it.