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JapanJapan

Nights in the Land of the Rising Sun: Some Alternative Sleeping Arrangements when Staying in Japan

Picture yourself in Japan and you’re probably doing one of several things. Perhaps you’re conversing with a beautifully- dressed geisha beneath the falling cherry blossom. Or perhaps you’re watching sumo. Maybe you’re amidst the electric labyrinth of lights in downtown Tokyo a la Lost in Translation, or maybe you’re alone in ... read more

Leah Eades

JapanJapan

Speaking Partner Program

 Hey there whoever may be reading my blog.  So, last month I applied for something called the Speaking Partner Program. What this program is, is that...well, I'll copy the massage I got from KGU's (Kansai Gaidai University) website that talked about this program. "This program enables you to meet local ... read more

Andrew Vo

JapanJapan

United StatesUnited States

Vlog #2 - Raisin Canes

I was bored so I decided to record myself eating Raisin Canes. I know its lame, but its pretty funny to me! ^_^v Also, I was not alone. lol I was with my "lil sis" and her friend. My "lil sis" kept giving me weird looks like O_o...I wonder why...=P ... read more

Andrew Vo

JapanJapan

United StatesUnited States

First Vlog is up!

Vlog #1 is up! Happy Watching! =D www.youtube.com/watch read more

Andrew Vo

JapanJapan

United StatesUnited States

Visa!!

Soooo....My visa finally arrived! It took about 4 days, but finally it came in! I'm so excited now! A lot of things are getting accomplished as time draws closer for my trip abroad! =D Check out my shiny sakura covered visa ^_^     Ok ok I lied its not ... read more

Andrew Vo

JapanJapan

Introceptance!

Hey there viewers, readers, bloggers, and all you other homosapiens. So, I'm going to start off this blog with a little introduction.  My name is Andrew Vo and I am from New Orleans, Louisiana.  My adventure will start at the end of  August in the most advance technological country on ... read more

Andrew Vo

JapanJapan

Japan Uncovered

Posted on January 26th, 2010 by Cole   The last couple of days have been packed with Japanese sights and culture. We’ve done everything from rubbing the belly of the Great Buddha to watching ten thousand people cross the famous intersection in Shibuya. It seems that no matter how long ... read more

Cole Patterson

JapanJapan

Penke Panke Lodge

Posted on January 22nd, 2010 by Cole What an awesome day for Ride Our World. The Penke Panke lodge where we are staying is simply out INCREDIBLE. The ambiance is next to none with about 15 other guest all hanging around the common areas chit-chatting and watching snowboarding flicks all ... read more

Cole Patterson

JapanJapan

Murphy's Law

Posted on January 21st, 2010 by Cole   “Anything that can go wrong WILL GO WRONG!” That is the easiest way to describe exactly our first 48 hours in Japan. Upon arriving in Japan, we find out that Ride Our World could not travel to Niseko because we incorrectly booked ... read more

Cole Patterson

JapanJapan

So Far So Good

For the past year plus I have been thinking about and imagining what it would be like to actually do this trip. Cole and I have been planning and planning for this adventure for so long that it all seems so surreal to me that we are doing this and ... read more

Brian Lipski

JapanJapan

Backlog 2: Japan, Gozaimas

Hello, many konichiwas to you and gozaimas indeed.  We're in Japan, for those of you who didn’t recognize my fluent Japanese greeting, and it appears to be quite a lovely place. We spent about a day in the giant hive of humanity that is Tokyo and then whisked ourselves off ... read more

Molly Sterns

JapanJapan

Japanese Cuisine is More Than Just Raw Fish

  by Jes Stayton, Greenheart Travel high school abroad participant   The one thing that is completely different between Japan and America is the food.  Everything about it is different, from the ingredients, to the place settings, to table manners.  Even the way it is viewed within the culture is different.  ... read more

Greenheart  Travel

JapanJapan

Japan, the land of adventure

Maybe it’s because it’s so far away from where I grew up that I’ve always seen Japan as a land of adventure. Maybe it was my early exposure to Japan through games. Or it might be the influence of my professor, who sent us on Kyoto tankyu, (adventures), when we ... read more

Daniel Fishman

JapanJapan

Climbing in the North Alps

Back at the end of August, a student of mine invited me to go climbing in the Northern Alps between Toyama and Nagano Prefectures.  It was my second time to spend the night in a yamagoya or "mountain hut".  Part of the trek also involved walking across the Kurobe Dam.  ... read more

Tim Wright

JapanJapan

Adjusting to Attention Abroad

  by Jes Stayton, Greenheart Travel High School Abroad participant   Being an exchange student in Japan is a little different from being an exchange student in France, or Australia.  Japan is about 99 % ethnically Japanese, so people don’t even have to talk to you to know that you ... read more

Greenheart  Travel

JapanJapan

Part III: Gion, Geisha and Gourmet Cuisine

  by Jes Stayton, Greenheart Travel High School Abroad participant By this time I was pretty hungry, and ready for lunch.  First, however, we rode several buses.  One was so crowded there was barely room to move.  A piece of advice: if you ever have to get on a crowded bus, ... read more

Greenheart  Travel

JapanJapan

Part II of the Kyoto Experience: Yuzen Dyeing and Taizo-In Temple

by Jes Stayton with Greenheart Travel’s High School Abroad program The next day, we woke up, dressed, and left the hotel.  We walked to breakfast, which was nice, because the weather was cool.  Kyoto is warmer than Sendai, because it is farther south.  The restaurant was a famous coffee shop, so we ... read more

Greenheart  Travel

JapanJapan

Weekend Trip to Kyoto, Japan: Green Bean Kit Kats, Gion and History Dramas

by Jes Stayton, Greenheart Travel Participant in the High School Abroad Program Last week there was a holiday from the 19th through the 23rd.  This holiday happens every year in Japan and it is a common time to go on trips.  My host family and I went on a trip ... read more

Greenheart  Travel

JapanJapan

Part II of Adventures in Japan: Life as a high school exchange student

by Jes Stayton, Greenheart Travel High School Abroad participant The day begins and ends with homeroom, each about twenty minutes.  Classes start at 9:00 a.m.  There are seven periods, each fifty minutes long, with alternating five and ten minute breaks in between.  The breaks are nice.  In the ten minute ... read more

Greenheart  Travel

JapanJapan

High School Abroad: Adventures in Living in Japan

by Jes Stayton, Greenheart Travel High School Abroad participant Hi!  I am an American exchange student living in Sendai, Japan.  I will be here for ten months.  Before coming to Japan, I studied Japanese for three years.  I am so excited to be here!  Japanese culture is so different from ... read more

Greenheart  Travel

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Getting Around

Cycling on the streets

Michael Lynch

21 May 2009

Japan

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If you choose to get around in Japan on a bicycle, remember to obey all the rules of the road, just as if you were driving a car. That means driving on the left side of the road, stopping at stoplights, and so on. Riding your bike on the sidewalks is prohibited except for persons under 12 or over 70. Always use caution when driving near parked cars. Many accidents with bicycles and motorcycles are caused when a cyclist collides with an opening car door!

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Festivals & Events

Don't miss the Hana-Bi

Michael Lynch

04 Jun 2009

Japan

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Michael  Lynch

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Almost every Festival (Matsuri) in Okinawa ends with a big bang. Fireworks (Hana-Bi) are the signal that the party's over and usually within the hour, the traffic jams are over and everyone has gone home. Many people will pass up on going to the festival and show up just for the fireworks. I always try and guess which direction the fireworks will come from and set my camera and tripod up far away from the crowd. In recent years, elaborate fireworks with music and light shows (costing thousands of dollars) have been the trend. So, if you attend a festival, don't miss out on the Hana-Bi.

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Culture Shock

Which way to face on a "squatter" toilet

Michael Lynch

27 May 2009

Japan

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Many places in Japan still have the old-style toilets commonly called "squatters" in English. It can be confusing trying to remember which way to face when you use one. The easy way to remember is this: you don't want to fall, so face the elevated end...you'll have something to grab hold of!

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Must Do

Don't be home for Christmas

Saleem Reshamwala

15 Feb 2009

Japan

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Saleem Reshamwala

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During my few months in Japan, I made tons of non-Japanese friends, but had trouble befriending locals. I found it really easy to make acquaintances, but local people often seemed too busy to hang out on a regular basis. For me, the turning point came when I decided to stay in my town for Christmas. The period leading up to the New Year ( "nenmatsu" ) is especially busy, but after it's done, everyone gets a brief break and business slows down. And since most foreigners will be out of town, you'll be especially likely to seek out Japanese people to hang out with.

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Etiquette

How to exchange business cards

Turner Wright

24 Jun 2009

Japan

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Turner  Wright

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Begin with the standard semi-formal bow and introductions. Reach into your pocket for the well-protected (hard plastic or metal case) business card that is as dear to you as your beating heart. With one or two hands, extend the card lengthwise to your waiting comrade. Accept his card with two hands and treat it as though it's responsible for your existence. Upon receiving the card, businessmen will generally read it over thoroughly and ask one of a few standard questions (e.g. "Is this your telephone number?"). Thereupon the exchange is completed and shoptalk can commence.

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Food

To save cash, embrace noodles

Saleem Reshamwala

15 Dec 2009

Japan

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Japanese food has a reputation for being expensive, but it doesn't have to be. Any major street will have a noodle shop of some kind, and a bowl of udon can fill your belly for as little as a few U.S. dollars. And if hot soup sounds like a winter food to you, worry not, for in most udon shops you can order your noodles cold in summer. And if you go out late in the evening, listen for the sound of warbly music from passing ramen trucks. They're the Japanese equivalent of a 3 a.m. post-bar fast food run.

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Packing

Leave the Sudafed at home

Saleem Reshamwala

15 Dec 2009

Japan

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Saleem Reshamwala

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On entering Japan, there's a chance you'll get picked up for a customs search. These can range from a quick question or two to being placed in a white room and questioned by three white-gloved men for the better part of an hour (which might happen to say, oh, I dunno, a Glimpse contributor who had a Muslim name, Saudian Arabian stamps on his passport, and a three-week vacation from shaving, but that's for another post... ). Most of the questions are a touch comical for the average American -- you'll get asked straight up, "Do you have cocaine? Heroin?" -- but the one that sometimes catches people is the restriction on Sudafed. It's illegal here (since it can be broken down to make other drugs), so choose pseudoephedrine-free cold medicine.

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Music

Learn a bit of enka to impress (and amuse) your friends

Saleem Reshamwala

15 Dec 2009

Japan

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Karaoke is a regular part of Japanese nightlife, so you might as well use it as a chance to work on your Japanese. Enka is a kind of Japanese music that was popular for years in Japan, but hasn't yet been embraced by the younger generation. Older Japanese men will sing mainly enka on a karaoke night, and Japanese people of all ages will be amused/impressed if you take the time to learn some. Check out American-born enka star Jero (Japan's first Black enka singer), or just search out some enka on YouTube. Plenty of songs there, and some fantastic vintage outfits as well.

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Sports

Get a pair of gym shoes and keep them shiny white

Saleem Reshamwala

15 Dec 2009

Japan

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Saleem Reshamwala

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In most gyms where I grew up (the United States), members can just walk in in their casual sneakers, pick up a basketball and start playing. In Japan, the gym is considered an "inside" space, so you can't just bring in dirt off the streets. Even for a meeting in a school gym, people will either switch to indoor shoes or, in a pinch, pad around in socks. So, get a pair of sneakers just for indoor use. I forgot mine once and played a pickup game barefoot. Fun at the time, but painful the next day.

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TV

Can't understand the comedians? That's Kansai-ben.

Saleem Reshamwala

15 Dec 2009

Japan

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Saleem Reshamwala

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A disproportionate number of Japanese comedians come from Osaka, or at least pretend to. The city has a reputation as the funniest, most lively area of Japan, and the local dialect, "Kansai-ben," is often used by comedians, regardless of their actual place of origin. So, learn just a bit and Japanese evening television will start making a lot more sense. The "Kansai dialect" wikipedia page is a bit dry, but has a good vocabulary list to get you started.

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Dating

Ladies, don't expect any chocolate come Valentine's Day

Saleem Reshamwala

15 Dec 2009

Japan

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On Valentine's Day in Japan, girls buy boys chocolate. Boys buy girls ... nothing. Sorry, that's just the way it is. BUT, fellas, don't think the Japanese chocolate industry is going to let you off that easy. Exactly one month later (March 14th) is White Day, when boys buy girls white chocolate. I once heard that the rule of thumb is that men should spend twice as much on White Day as the women spend on Valentine's Day. If you're budget's tight, it might be a good time to plead cultural ignorance. Though the barrage of White Day advertisements might make that a bit hard to believe...

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Slang

"He's so K.Y.!"

Dalena Frost

18 Mar 2009

Japan

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In Tokyo I was surprised to discover my Japanese friends using an English-letter acronym, "K.Y.," to describe certain people -- a term that always brought a laugh. What could it possibly mean? Though at first I was thinking of jelly, my friends told me it actually stood for "Kuukie yomanai." "Yomanai" means "unable to read." Though "kuukie" sounds like a cookie-monster pronunciation of "cookie," it actually refers to atmosphere. The term taken as a whole, "unable to read the atmosphere," refers to a socially ignorant person, i.e. the one in the group who adamantly thinks you should go left when everyone else wants to go right. Social conflict is highly stigmatized in Japan, so don't be so "K.Y."!

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