Ross School

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Lyndsey Fridie: Last Post

Last blog post:

So sadly our Japan trip is over! I had so much fun and saw so many different things.
I saw beautiful temples, shrines, castles and many other things. I got to meet amazing people on the train, in Nara and of course Mami's mom!
I loved being absorbed in the Japanese culture.
I tried shrimp tempura and sushi for the first time as well.
I am also glad I got to be with my seniors but it's also sad that this was my last m-term and graduation will be here soon.
This deffinitley toped my Nicaragua trip last year!

I hope I will find my way to Japan again someday soon!
Maybe possibly a five year reunion!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Amanda Gong

This is my first and last M-term, and it is the best one.

I’ve been dreaming about visiting Japan for years. When I went there, everything was as perfect as I expected. The culture, the food, the people…

Besides the beauty of Japan, our unique group is another factor that made my enjoyed my trip. We had two best trip leaders, Mami and Earle. We had the most interesting group of students from Ross School, and it became a great chance for me to make friends with them. I enjoyed every second of my stay in Japan.

Now I’m planning to stay in Japan in the future, and I'm looking forward to seeing everyone in five years in Japan.

And praying for Japan!!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spencer Kuzon

Spencer Kuzon
Last Blog Post

Out of all the M-terms I have been on, this one has been my favorite by far.
Thisis not just because I love Japan to death, but because the awesome group of kids I
travelled with and the two amazing chaperones who accompanied us.
I really could not have asked for a better experience. It was certainly a nice way to reward myself
after handing in my Senior Project and getting into college, and I am really glad
my last M-term was my happiest.
Even the slight damper due to a natural disaster towards the end of the trip could not suppress the overall euphoric feeling I still feel when remembered my days in Japan.
We got to see loads of temples, visit hot springs, see monkeys and most importantly, eat lots of ice cream.
The food was also spectacular in general and I developed a love of curry, udon noodles, and tempura.
One of my biggest accomplishments, I think, was learning to use chopsticks at a
respectable level, as I was terrible at using them before I arrived.
I also loved the amount of attention our entire party received for being foreigners, especially when we dressed up in kimonos. That was really something great and will certainly be
something I remember for the rest of my life.
Mami and Earle were by far the best trip leaders I could have ever asked for. They were relaxed most of the time, but knew when to be serious and they always seemed to know what to do in times of confusion. They were also really cool to hang out with and I enjoyed their company
as much as I would enjoy the company of a close friend.
I would like to thank both of them for being understanding and comforting when I had to leave Japan early due to extenuating circumstances and I am grateful for all they went through to make sure we were kept safe. I could not have asked for a better 2 weeks and I would do it all
again in a heartbeat.

ōki ni arigatō


Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Le’go! This is definitely, without a doubt, the best m-term I’ve been on while at Ross.
It was a great way to end senior year. Because lets be serious spring term doesn’t matter.
Earle and Mami thank you so much for being the best m-term parents and shout out to Mami’s madre “haaaaay.”
I have always wanted to go to Japan and even though we didn’t get to spend more time in Tokyo I had tons of fun. I got to see monkeys!!!!!, temples ( a few to many ) and eat all those amazing sweets that I’m not going to attempt spelling.
I looking forward to a 5 year reunion!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Last Full Day in Japan!

As we were extremely intent on packing everything safely back into our luggage, Devon and I refrained from writing our blog post on the proper day. Reflecting back on our last full day in Japan, I think we can both say that it was a great end to a truly once-in-a-lifetime trip.
We woke up a little later than usual and made our way to a busy shopping district in Kyoto to buy some last minute presents for the people back home. After eating lunch at Mos Burger (a delicious combination of onion rings, french fries, and teriyaki chicken rice burgers), we made our way through the seemingly endless alleyways of clothing, accessory, music, ceramic, and food stores.
While we shopped, part of the group went off to see nearby temples and shrines, and we reunited around 5:00 to make our way to karaoke. Karaoke was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the trip. Upon entering the karaoke building, we knew the place was serious about their line of work. Among hundreds of rooms in the building, we rented one for three hours. According to the language of the song, there were video montages playing in the background of the words (for English songs, there were stereotypical images of the U.S., for Chinese songs, there were images of streams and wildlife). With unlimited drinks and fried food to satiate us, we sang to our hearts' content.

A few songs (and their singers) included:
Any Ke$ha song: sung by Floriaan
Carly Simon ("You're So Vain"): sung by Earle
The Vapors ("Turning Japanese"): sung by Devon and I
Whitney Houston ("I Will Always Love You"): sung by Kayla
Lil Mama ("Lip Gloss"): sung by Kayla, Lyndsey, and Lorenzo

The whole group got to sing a few songs including:
"All Star"-Smash Mouth
"Party in the U.S.A."-Miley Cyrus
"Don't Speak"-No Doubt
"Leave (Get Out)"-Jojo
"With A Little Help From My Friends" & "Let It Be"-The Beatles

and Amanda even treated us to a Chinese song or two!

After spending our allotted 3 hours karaoke-ing, we went into an arcade by our bus stop. Mami gave us each 200 yen to spend on a coin machine of our choosing. Although, as most of those claw games typically go, most of us got cheated out of our money, but both Camille and Abby managed to score prizes (including the sought after gloomy bear). After the long day, we took the bus back to the hostel, giving our bodies and voices a well-needed rest before the long trip back.

Time Capsule-Camille Coy

I feel very fortunate to have visited Japan when I did. Over the course of one of our wonderful M-term days, the earthquake and the events that soon followed ensured that no one will see Japan quite the way that we did for some time.
Japanese culture has successfully bonded the modern world with its ancient past and in the process created a completely unique environment. Even practices that have now become commonplace in most of the western world such as traveling by bus or eating out, have a distinct japanese touch to them.
We could not have had better trip leaders. I didn't feel like we were doing what the other tourists were doing, and yet we explored as many temples, shrines and monuments as we could during our time there. After we left I realized that I had a clear idea of what Japan is and was, but as clear as it was I am unable to put it into words. Maybe that was the goal.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Long Journey Home- Camille Coy

Ah where to begin, what seemed like 2 years was actually only one day twice and a bit of the next. Yes, it was hard to escape March 15th...we left on its night only to find ourselves back in its morning. Very unsettling. The airport in Osaka was very modern and a bit overwhelming. We headed to the food court and each chose what would be our last supper, I had some stir fried noodles with beef and green tea ice cream. A wise choice if I do say so myself.

I've never been to Hawaii before. It was a nice humid change from chilly Japan and I bought "Aloha Mints" to remember the event. Off one plane and onto another within the hour. At LAX (first time in California as well) we...well not much happened at LAX. I was so out of it that I'm not quite sure that it happened at all, but I'm here so I suppose it must have.
JFK. Dirty, familiar, loud, JFK. Ross School. It took forever, and yet once it was over it seemed to go by so fast. Maybe it's because we lived through March 15th twice, while most only do so once.

Whatever the case, I'm glad that we all arrived home safely. I have many Japanese sweets to tide me over until I can go back and restock, which I intend to do as soon as possible.



Sunday, March 13, 2011

Devon Free Day Post

Walking between aisles of toasted mochi and noodle shops, Emma Lesser was unable to feel the atmosphere of nervous anticipation we carefully concealed. We had just visited the bamboo forest—a towering congregation of swaying, segmented cylinders that made us feel quite small. We had explored the monkey forest soon after, marveling at the animals that reminded us so much of ourselves. We had still had much to do. It was Emma’s birthday, and before the trip had even started we had planned to throw her a surprise party at the hostile. It was my group’s job to ensure that her attention lay elsewhere, while the others prepared for our evening celebration. We went to a movie theme park and watched a ninja performance, among other amusing adventures. Following that experience, we took a trolley to the hot spring where we stalled Emma. Lying naked over the hot, open-air rocks, we slept, extending what was supposed to be an hour-long endeavor into three hours of pure relaxation. I took extra long in the shower, conditioning each strand of my hair with deliberate slowness. I made sure that the blow dryer was on the wrong setting so that it took twice as long to straighten my damp curls. By the time I exited the bathing area, it was already 7:00. We had stalled so well that we even missed the trolley back to the Utano area. We walked in 15 minutes late. We stepped into the room, and the energy exploded in a large cry of “Surprise!” The evening was filled with cake and merriment. After scrubbing our plates of their sugary coatings, we went to sleep with full stomachs and a lingering feeling of excitement from the day’s activities.

Bonus day #1 in Kyoto

We started today with saying our goodbyes to Spencer and Macrae who left at 12 o’clock. After our farewells half of us ate at a Japanese pancake house, while the other half ate at a dumpling restaurant. I had lunch at the pancake house; these pancakes were not normal pancakes, but egg pancakes with noodles, a special sauce, and the option of beef and other meats as fillings. After lunch we ventured to the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine. The shrine is believed to help people with their studies, so of course we all prayed to the shrine. I also bought a bag of small round lollypop like balls that were very good. After the shrine of studies, we went to the Moshinji Temple where an emperor had visited.

For dinner we all teamed up to make our own curry with onions, chicken and rice. We ate that with bread and salad, while watching the footage of the destruction caused by the earthquake and tsunami.


Heia-Jingu Panorama

Here's a panorama of Heia-Jingu Shrine

Spencer's Free Day

I had tons of fun during my free day.

Here is a brief synopsis of what we did

-Woke up and ate breakfast at the hostel
-Took a taxi to the bamboo forests and walked through a large chunk of it
-Took a long walk along the water and eventually ended up going to the top of Monkey Mountain (saw and fed plenty of monkeys)
-Walked back along our previous route and had lunch at one of the local shops. Shrimp tempura udon.
-Walked to the trolley station and navigated our way to the edo themed amusment park
-Briefly stopped by the crafts fair
-Took another trolley to the Hot Spring
-Walked/Took a bus back to the hostel

It certainly was a jam packed day.

One part that I specifically want to talk about is a ride in the amusement park called "NY Hotel." From the outside it was just a single door that was supposed to represent an elevator that could typically be found in New York. However, the entire "elevator" was decorated to look like something straight out of a Ghetto. When you stepped inside, the floor immediately began to sway back and forth and even the walls felt as if they would fall through. The elevator buttons were all broken except the 6th floor which is the floor the elevator was "going to." In reality, the elevator did not move at all, but the "window" that was situated towards the back of of the elevator had a scrolling tablet that was supposed to emulate the view that could be seen from the elevator. Towards the end of the ride, the elevator "crashed" and warm air came out of the ceiling as the lights all began to flicker and eventually everything was quiet besides the sound of everyone fake screaming. I just found this ride hilarious as it showed how the Japanese viewed the supposed facilities present in New York.

Free Day - Macrae

Charlie, Earle, and I woke to eat breakfast at the time to which we have now become accustomed. After retrieving keys from the front desk, we ventured to the bike rack to engage in battle with the strange Japanese-style bicycle locks that stood between us and the liberation that this mode of transportation could offer us. When we had finally recognized that we could do no more in our attempt to tear the keys from the resolute grasp of the bike lock, we set out in search of the famed bamboo forest. We pedaled slowly, enjoying the pleasant downhill slopes and stopping to gaze at the vast lake on our way. As was inevitable, we became lost on our way to the bamboo forest. We sought the aid of a guard who spoke little English, but we ultimately only able to understand our map with the help of a bearded man who was fluent in our native tongue.

When we had arrived, we wandered through the expanse of the bamboo forest. When we had finished enjoying ourselves in the meager sunlight that only passed through the leaves because of its ardent determination, we went in search of lunch.

After lunch, we dashed up the paths that led to the monkeys. The monkeys appeared to be riotous of spirit, constantly engaging in battles amongst themselves after the most minor of disagreements.

We voiced solidarity in our desire not to enter what appeared to be an uninteresting movie set.

When we returned to the hostel, I was notified that Spencer and I would be returning home the next day due to an untenable notion of our parents.

Free Day!!

It was our free day yesterday. In the morning, I went to the Bamboo forest in Arashiyama area with a group with 8 people. After 40 minutes’ walk, we started our adventure in the wild money place. Although the mountain was only 188 meters high, I had a hard time getting up to the top. I was amazed by three ladies ahead of us, who were wearing high heels. I definitely need more exercise. The view on top of the mountain was gorgeous, and we could see the whole city from there. The lucky moneys got to see the great view everyday.

I spent the whole afternoon in one store with six floors because there was a huge collection of Sakura stuff. While I was walking on the streets, I saw many people donating money for the Earthquake.

I sure we will have a safe rest of the trip and a trip home with the special protection gift from Mami’s mami.

Free Day - Floriaan

I really enjoyed my free day!

The day began with breakfast as usual, followed by us filming a short "survival" video.

We started out our tour with a taxi ride and short walk to the Bamboo Forest, where we took some pictures and bought drinks. From the Bamboo Forest we walked down hills and across rivers to get to the Monkey Park.

The Monkey Park was a very big hill that you had to hike up, with monkeys sitting on the paths and running around in the trees. At the top there was a house, where you could purchase food to feed to the monkeys outside the house, through windows covered with chicken wire. The monkeys were pretty lively and they fought and pushed each other out of the way to get more food.

After the Monkey Park we went shopping, starting out with a 2 hour break in Starbucks, followed by us exchanging money and buying souvenirs for our families. Then we went back to the hostel, hung out, had dinner and slept.

Free day: Bicycle Riding

On Saturday I spent my free day biking around Kyoto with Macrae and Earle, while everyone else took taxis or buses. The bike ride was very enjoyable and refreshing. I'm also pleased that I did not fall or get hit by a car, even though I had not ridden a bike in years.

We went to a bamboo forest and walked around, enjoying the bamboo.

Then we climbed a mountain inhabited by vicious thieving monkeys.
We got back to the hostel early, about 16:30, a bit tired from biking uphill.
Later, we all surprised Emma with a birthday party dinner.

Abby Cook's Free day :D

In my opinion, yesterday was a very successful day in terms of getting everything done that we planned. We did a loop of Kyoto, beginning at the bamboo forest, going to a “monkey park,” eating lunch (and mochi!!), making our way across town to an Edo time period themed amusement park, and finally ending with a hot spring. However, I have to say that the most important part of my day (as well as Devon’s) was making sure that we got strategically got Emma back at 7:15 for her surprise party. While at the hot spring, we made sure to waste as much time as possible, and it all paid off. Eventually we got to the trolley station to head back up to the Hostel. When the trolley arrived, we were stunned to find that all of us simultaneously had a brain fart, and were waiting on the wrong side of the track. Instantly remembering that cars keep to the let in Japan, we had already missed the trolley. We still had a fun time; the three of us waiting at a little trolley station at 7:00pm until another one finally arrived. Emma’s party went excellently and the cake was delicious.
–Abby Cook

Tanjobi Omedetou Ema-Chan!

I had many adventures on my free birthday day in Kyoto yesterday. The day began with my group trying to get to the bamboo forest, and luckily enough, we stumbled upon it (mostly) by accident. We emerged from the bamboo forest and walked through a small park down to the river. We walked along the river, passing boats that seemed to be for dining, ice cream stands that sold balls of fried dough, and a number of appealing restaurants lining the streets. We walked across the bridge after getting some ice cream and fried dough balls to the monkey park up the hill. It was not exactly a hill though, but rather a very small mountain. After struggling up the many steps, we had almost reached the top, but then encountered the alpha male of the monkey pack. We had not known this fact at the time, but it made sense when someone told us the alpha male had gone down the hill to survey his territory. He was especially aggressive towards Ryan. When we finally finished our hike, we stopped to look at the monkeys, though we were not allowed to look them directly in the eye. Everyone was particularly enchanted by the baby monkeys wandering around. I was fond of the wistful, old monkey pensively sitting on a tree trunk. After we left the monkey park, Abby, Ryan, Spencer, Devon, and I went to eat lunch at a noodle-oriented restaurant. We all had udon noodles, some with shrimp tempura, and some with chicken. We went to explore the nearby shops after that and were happily surprised to find Mami walking down the street with her okasa (mother). We journeyed to the trolley station after that, which was unfortunately hidden away (so it took us a while to find it). Nevertheless, when we found the Toei Kyoto Studio Park, we had plenty of time to look around. The idea behind the park is to let its visitors into the world of old Japanese filmmaking. There were old sets, and a surprising exhibit focusing on Japanese power rangers. We saw people dressed up in traditional costumes and even encountered a live show (with exhilarating fight scenes). After leaving the Studio Park, we went to Tenzan No-Yu hot springs. The boys left earlier, but Abby, Devon, and I stayed for at least two hours. Usually, we would spend less time in the hot springs or bathouses we had previously visited, but I had no idea that the long stay had a secret purpose. Even when Abby called Earle to tell him we were going to be late for dinner (because we had missed our trolley), and Earle (on speakerphone) said that we were "going to be late, 'wink'", I still did not comprehend the true meaning behind his comment. When Spencer greeted me at the door asking for his adaptor, and Abby and Devon were pulled aside, I still had no idea that anything strange was happening. When I could not find Spencer's adaptor, I went back into the lobby with my computer, but he slyly led me into a different room. I was met with a chorus of "Surprise" when I walked through the door and was genuinely shocked to see everyone and a table of delicious food (including two strawberry cakes) greeting me. All in Japan.

The Free Day-CC

Yesterday, our well-planned and organized free day, a group of about 8 of us took a taxi to Arashiyama station, from there we began our quest for the Iwatayama Monkey Park. A journey that led us through a beautiful bamboo forest, up countless amounts of stone steps, and across rivers and dirt paths. I was very proud of myself for completing this challenge, I knew that we had reached success when a Japanese snow monkey blocked our way. It sat there, completely oblivious to us and played with its toes. I froze. I had of course intended to go to the monkey park, but the actual monkeys I had not previously considered. We mustered up all of our strength and pressed on past it. The view from the top was beautiful, it was so sunny and clear out that I could see all of Kyoto! There was an indoor area where one could feed the monkeys through a fence, and I captured a Sistine Chapel-esque man hand to monkey hand picture.

I spent the rest of the day shopping in Kyoto and eating toasted mochi. I bought leg warmers that are covered in white fur and create a sort of a yeti effect.

Still safe from the earthquake and associated disastrous events,


Bamboo, Monkeys, Movie Studio Park, and Onsen

Yesterday was our free day. We did a number of things. We went to a monkey preserve where Abby and I were chased by a good sized monkey. We were just walking up the path and it turned around and chased after us with its mouth open. I've decided I don't like monkeys. In getting to the monkey preserve we passed a rather large river. It was strange because it was the first time in a number of days we were in a large open place. We had been in the cities for the entire trip. Most of the day we got around on a quaint trolley system. It was rather cheap and got us from the hostel to the various places. It seemed like something out of an old movie but of course highly efficient like all of Japan's public transportation.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Video Update

March 10 and 11 - Photos

I've added far more photos than usual because this slideshow is the culmination of two days and because I took a tremendous number of photos on kimono day. Earle took the second photo.


Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday, March 11. The worst thing about being a tourist is having other tourists recognize you as a tourist.

Today we got to sleep in a little bit! We began our day at around 9:30 this morning. We hoped on a local bus to the Kamigamo jinja shrine. Before we entered the shrine we were surrounded by a group of adorable preschoolers. We all took tons of pictures and waved to the children. It was definitely a memorable part of the day. We continued on too the actual shrine, it was beautiful and very orange. I think we all thought that we would see one large shrine but instead we saw a lot of separate shrines. Each shrine was unique and still beautiful at the same time.

After the Kamigamo jinja Shrine we walked to the Shimo gamo jinja shrine. This shrine was similar to the first. After this we walked toward a restaurant called Mos Burger. It was a long walk but it made us all really hungry. We all ordered different things to eat. Most of us had rice burgers with beef or chicken. They weren’t the typical American burger but they were very tasty. -Lyndsey

After lunch we caught a bus to “Ginkaku ji temple” also known as the Silver Pavilion. It was so pretty and everything looked polished and neat, and to me it seemed as if everything was perfectly in its place. It was by far my favorite of all the Zen temples we have been to so far. Then after the temple we went on a long, but very soothing walk on a philosophers’ path. Along the path there were many shops full of various goods that we explored. Also, during our walk on the philosophers’ path we stopped in a café and Mami treated us to cherry blossom, green tea, and vanilla ice cream with cereal flakes. It was so good!! -Kayla

Finally, we visited Heian Jingu Shrine, in Kyoto. Here, we saw the largest torii (shrine gate) in Japan, reaching a massive 24.2 meters high. It was a beautiful sight to see even before you entered the expansive courtyard surrounded by buildings that were once again, neatly painted a spectacular “orangey orange” as Devon described it. Once we all had our few pictures taken, we were… well… I was, mesmerized by a group of young children running around playing tag. What is it about the children in Japan that makes us all stop dead in our tracks?

For dinner, we returned to Kyoto station level B2. We were all told to buy what ever we wanted to eat for dinner in 30 minutes with 1,000 yen. Upon arriving at the hostel, we found that everyone made out exceptionally with both dinner as well as dessert. There was an assortment ranging from bento boxes to bread and cheese, and even strawberry daifku for dessert. YUM…

Tomorrow is our first free day, WISH US LUCK! -Abby

Kimono Day and Today

Regarding the Earthquake

I know you are all worried, but I can assure you: Sebastian is OK.

This message was spoken by Spencer; transcribed by Ryan and Florian; typed by Emma and Devon; edited by the team of Camille, Amanda, Lorenzo, Matt, and Abby; approved of by Kayla and Lindsey; photographed by Macrae; and put into binary code by Charlie. Posted by Earle and Mami.

Kimono Day: the Crowd

Here is a partial panorama of one of the crowds that we drew while at Kiyomizu-dera. Many people wanted to take pictures of us and with us because we were Americans wearing kimonos.

Click to see the bigger panorama.

Actual photos of us in the kimonos will be posted soon!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Kimono Day

Today was Kimono Day! We headed out at 8:15 to put on our dresses and then headed out for a day of sightseeing and shopping. After putting on the eighteen layers of clothing and twenty belts that constitute the Kimono, we headed to Kiyomizu temple to pray at the shrines and admire the view. The main building of the temple was actually a large stage, which people used to jump off of to get wishes granted. With an 85% survival rate it was doing pretty well, but even so people are no longer allowed to jump off the 13 meter high platform.

After touring the temple (and getting a good number of admiring glances from the locals) we shopped in the area around the temple, culminating in a free for all modeling session for the Kimono-clad Ross team. Once the photo crazed crowd began to thin we headed down the winding, Kimono-unfriendly steps to our lunch. After 45 minutes of noodles and tea, we another temple, this one with an extremely large Buddha on the roof. We were able to enter the Buddha from the back, and inside were 12 shrines, one for each sign of the Chinese zodiac.

Not yet satisfied, and with plenty of gas left in our Kimonos, we headed to Kennin-ji temple. This was a large, traditional temple complex that housed a very large painting of two dragons and a number of other traditional Japanese art. After leaving Kennin-ji, we walked through Gion district, an area known for its Geishas, although we didn't get to see any.

It was finally time to say goodbye to our Kimonos. Many tears were shed as the layers and belts were removed one by one, but in the end we were happy to be back in normal clothes. After putting on our jeans and sweaters again we headed to a ninja-themed restaurant, where we cooked our food at the table and were entertained by a ninja-slash-magician who dazzled us by juggling swords and vanishing handkerchiefs. With our stomachs full, we grabbed some desert and coffee and jumped on a bus back home. A long but fulfilling day.

- Floriaan, Lorenzo, and Sebastian.

Tokyo Panorama

Here's a panorama from a few days ago.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Photos - March 9

These photos are the collective work of Ryan, Macrae, and Mami. The Nikon photos were taken by me, the Canon photos were taken by Ryan, and the second photo was taken by Mami.

-Macrae Marran

Mad Tight because Today was not that Fancy and it's Brick Outside my Room at Night

We were able to sleep in until around 8 where we met at the hostel lobby for the
usual breakfast before leaving for the day. We then met again at the bus stop near
the hostel at 9 and took the bus to our first stop of the day, Ryoanji temple.

Upon entering the temple we were confronted with a moderately long route
that first led us to a brightly ornamented shrine before taking us to a massive rock
garden. After gazing at said garden for some time, we finished the normal route
through the temple by walking alongside the complex’s large pond. From there, we
traveled to our next destination, Kinkaku-ji temple. This temple was very different
from any of the historical monuments we had previously visited, mainly because it
was a large tourist attraction. The temple grounds were swarming with natives and
foreigners alike and moving about the premises was a tedious process.

The temple itself was quite a magnificent sight to see. The top two floors
were completely covered in gold leaf and when sunlight bounced off its roof,
the water surrounding it seemed to glisten. Weaving our way in-between the
many visitors, our group finally made it to the end of route and were pleasantly
confronted with many free food and drink samples from the local shops.

From there, we rode the bus once more to our final destination, Nijo castle.
Before entering the castle’s palace within, we quickly wolfed down a bento and
heard a small lecture from Macrae. After removing our footwear and donning the
mandatory rubber slippers, we proceeded to make our way through the enormous
compound. To ward off assassins, the floor was specifically constructed to squeak
under every step, which proved to be a highly amusing experience. We were not
allowed to take pictures in this palace nor were we allowed to, according the signs,
make any sort of sketches either.

We then left the palace, but remained in the castle grounds for quite some
time. We passed over a bridge with tons of coy fish surrounding it which somewhat
reminded me of the pond we have at Ross. Then, spontaneously, we decided to
attend an ancient tea ceremony, which consisted of eating delicious Mochi and
drinking overpowering green tea. Feeling refreshed, we took the bus once more
to Kyoto station to finished up the day with some shopping. One group went with
Earle to a Japanese shrine while another went to a large electronics building, which
housed a large selection of comfy massage chairs.

To finish up the day, the group ventured below ground to shop at a large
delicatessen for dinner. Each individual could choose what he wanted to buy,
and there certainly was a wide variety to choose from. We brought back our food
selections back to hostel and proceeded to have a fairly early dinner before being
given the rest of the night to relax in the lounge.

-Spencer Kuzon


Upon exiting a temple today, we stopped on a bridge to take note of some koi fish in the waters below which reminded us of our dear Ross School.

Click the picture below! You can move your mouse around the scene to find surprises.

Spencer approves this message.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

March 8 - Photos

Turning Japanese by Emma and Devon

This morning we went to Osaka castle where we enjoyed eight floors of japanese awesomeness. Each floor hosted an
exhibit depicting the origins of the castle. We split up into groups, and were each required to retrieve 3 fun facts about the castle before returning to our meeting place. Our fun facts included:
There were 800 original bridges in Osaka.
There are 388 steps in the entire complex (yes, we counted)
There is a legend that Hideyoshi Toyotomi, the founder of Osaka Castle, was born under a strange star resembling the sun. We decided that the people present at his birth were actually very confused, and didn't realize that it was daytime.

During our presentations, we decided that it was the perfect opportunity to purchase some macha (green tea) ice cream. As we consumed our verdant confections at an inappropriate hour of the morning, we shared our fun facts with glee. We journeyed to Nanba where we ate okonomi yaki, a medley of fried noodles, sizzling pork, thinly chopped greens all sandwiched between two egg pancakes drizzled in a curry barbeque sauce. After a sumptuous banquet, we perused the streets of Nanba, peeking into cosplay stores, and buying strange robots. The stores we saw were famous for their outrageous signage, some of which included giant moving crabs, giant octopi, and giant fingers holding a giant tuna sashimi. Following an hour of shopping, we went to the Umeda Sky building where we stood 400 meters above the city. Those of us who were brave enough to open our eyes at that height were lucky enough to enjoy the spectacular view.

We then ran to the electronics store, and frolicked through unending aisles of 3D cameras and laser toys. Ryan and Macrae had found God in the mega lens behind the camera counter. Ryan happily attached the $11,000 monstrosity to his camera, where he proceeded to snap pictures of people on the other side of the store (it was a very big store and a very impressive lens).

Upon arriving home, we met Mami's Mommy, who we called Oka-san (mother in Japanese). She even brought us sweets! Oishi (delicious). What an action-packed day!

Monday, March 7, 2011

March 7

We woke to a morning of mist and light rain. We took a short bus trip to Ninnaji Temple. There we experienced complete silence, interrupted only by the waterfall and the incessant clicking of cameras. A long gravel path led to the temple that sat at the foot of the mist shrouded hills. Behind this ancient, delicate structure lay a quiet pond, surrounded by lush forestry and moss mantled boulders.

By eleven, we were touring the Manga/Anime Museum, where we viewed thousands of comic books and drawings. After seeking inspiration throughout the museum, we were given the opportunity to draw our own Manga with the instruction of a teacher.

We broke into two groups for lunch: one followed Earle in search of Ramen and the other accompanied Mami to a vegetarian buffet.

We took taxis to a small pastry store. We then rode a rickety elevator to the fourth floor, where we met a chef who assisted us in creating our own Mochi flowers. We moulded our Mochi dough into decorative blossoms. After toiling to make dented flower-shaped desserts, we realized that we do not have futures as pastry chefs in Japan. We then formed our own creative shapes. Some of us tried to make flowers, others cats, snakes, and sumo wrestlers. The chef created a maple leaf.

We rode another bus to a tremendously long, canvas-covered street of shops selling fish, fried goods, and green tea flavoured Kit Kats. We returned to the hostel and ate a strange combination of pizza and sushi for dinner.

Matt would also like to note that Macrae failed to eat a particularly large piece of sushi in one bite. Weak.

-Matt Hollander and Macrae Marran

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Mar. 06th Nara奈良

After the Todaiji Temple東大寺, we went to the Kasuga Grand Shrine春日大社, a world heritage. Different from the Todaiji Temple, it was a Shinto shrine.(Shinto is the indigenous spirituality of Japan and the Japanese people), and the color was mainly red. Many Japanese people choose to get married in the shrine with traditional Japanese costume on. Luckily, we are able to see newlyweds there.

Kofuku-ji興福 Temple was the next site we went. The five-story pagoda in Kofuku-ji Temple would be lit every night, and it’s absolutely gorgeous.

We had Daifuku大福 (a small round mochi filled stuffed with sweetened red bean paste) from a famous place near the Nara train station, and we saw them pounding the glutinous rice with a mallet.

(A picture from Google of pounding Daifuku)

We had delicious Sushi for Dinner!I'm about to explode...

-Amanda Gong


March 6th, NaRa

Today was a long and productive day of adventure, language barriers (and overcoming them), and of course strange and delicious new sweets. We began our day very early to catch a train to NaRa, land of the many shi-ka (deer)! There we met our new friends, students from a nearby english school. We formed groups and set out to the Todaiji Temple, home of the biggest buddha in all of Japan! The impressive bronze statue towered over us and just fit inside the gigantic wooden temple. Among the many other visitors, worshippers and tourists alike, I overheard a tour guide say that the body is 800 years old and the head only 400. Interesting. Takeda sensai explained that this could be due to heated competition between rivaling monasteries complete with arson and theft! Exciting! Or perhaps due to the fact that the temple (like most structures here) is made almost entirely out of wood. I prefer the first explanation. After that we explored the area meeting many deer and beautiful mountain-filled views along the way. The stairs up to one particularly beautiful building were lined with wooden totems and bright red banners, causing the still wintery forest to appear full of life. All of the groups seemed to get along well with the other students who ranged in age from about 19 to 55, we had a lot to talk about and learned many new Japanese words. We learned how to sit on the pillows that lay on the floor of restaurants and that the bumpy paths on the sidewalks are for blind people. There were some funny moments, a student in my group found it especially funny that I liked the vending machines and especially shocking that people back home actually kill the beautiful shi-ka (deer) that are protected in Na-Ra.

-Camille Coy

-Photos: Ryan Anderson

Saturday, March 5, 2011

March 5th

Here are some of my photos from today. If you click on one of the photos, you should be able to see a larger version.

March 5th

Early this morning, (the 5th) about half of our group woke up at the crack of dawn to spend time at a local bathhouse. Yesterday, a few students ventured to a larger one, in the free time we were given. Upon their return they were so thrilled with the experience, they insisted everyone try it at some point on the trip. This morning was our first opportunity. The walk from the hotel only took about 15 minutes; the air was brisk (or brick as Floriaan now says 50 times a day) and very refreshing within it-self.

Once there, Mami directed us to the correct place, and explained all of the signs on the doors to be sure that we understood. The bathhouse itself was gorgeous, beautiful tile and wood everywhere you turn. There were four baths on each floor, ranging from bone chilling cold to searing hot, as well as a mist room (It was as amazing as it sounds), and two saunas. Overall, the experience was well worth it and I can assure you everyone had fun.

After everyone got back and we ate breakfast, we all went back to our rooms to pack because we had to be checked out of the hostel and on our way to catch the bullet train at 10:00am. So after everyone arrived in the lobby and we checked out we walked to the subway and took it to Tokyo. Then at the Tokyo train station we all were told to get something for lunch there, and most of us got lunch boxes, which were cold but good and where not like a normal lunch box, but like the picture you see below. After we got our lunches we made our way to the bullet train and left. As we where on the bullet train we passed Mount Fuji, which was so beautiful and a lot of us took pictures off it. There was also a lot of beautiful land that we passed, which I watched until I feel asleep and from me falling asleep and waking up and being 5 minutes away I understood why they called it a bullet train. It took 2 hours and 20 minutes, for us to get there and it is said to go about 150 miles per hour so it was very understandable why when I woke up we were almost there. It was a great experience and cannot wait to go back on it again when we go back to Tokyo, but for right now we will enjoy our stay in Kyoto! : )

After a long ride on the bullet train we finally got to the Utano Youth hostel. As we waited for our rooms to be ready we explored the hostel. We immediately saw the beautifully colored lanterns, the large cafeteria, vending machines and of course the Wi- Fi access. After we settled in and learned how to make up a futon we had a couple of hours of free time. A small group went on a local bike ride and others helped to decorate a lantern. When free time was over we learned how to do Yuzen Zome (a traditional Japanese fabric dye). To finish up a long day we enjoyed a special Japanese meal.

-Abby Cook, Kayla Jerido, Lyndsey Fridie

Video!: Joypolis, Floriaan, etc.

Friday was an adventurous day for us. We went to an indoor amusement park in Tokyo called Joypolis. Here is a video of some of our adventures.

The first few days...

We are having a lot of FUN!

March 3rd

Edo Tokyo Museum ~ Sensou ji Temple ~ Ueno/ National Museum ~ Shibuya

Being good Edo-time students

Can Matt be as strong as the water carriers from Edo period?

The path leading us to the temple was filled with lots of goodies!! Everyone had to stop at every snack stand to try some traditional sweets.

Happy Amanda!

Happy Earl sensei!

Please stay tuned! More to come!

We are off to Kyoto this morning---in about 10 min!

Mami Sensei

Friday, March 4, 2011

Sukiji Fish Market

Yesterday we went to a fish market. We were not able to go where the fish auctions where held, but we walked around an open air market and tried different traditional japanese foods. From here we went to the temple near the fish market, the architecture was a mix between Muslim and Catholic. Then we went split into groups half of us went a bowl shop and other people went to a post office to exchange money. For lunch we went chose between 4 restuarants. Earle, Ryan, Macrae and Lorenzo ate an awesome meal in a stone bowl which cooked the meal. After lunch we went to JOYPOLIS which was awesome. In Joypolis some people left to go to hot springs or shop at Aqua city next door. Those of us at JOYPOLIS drove cars or tried to stop a zombie invasion, Amanda was a master. At 7:00 p.m. we had dinner in the mall. After dinner we petted baby puppies, SUPA SUPA KAWAII. From here we went to the hotel to sleep and pack for our trip in the morning.
- Floriaan & Sebastian

Tsukiji Fish Market

We did a lot today. This morning we visited Tsukiji Fish Market. This was something that I was really looking forward to. This market it huge. Its the largest fish market in the world with 700,000 metric tons sold every year, a value of 5.5 billion USD.

Sensou- Ji Temple

Today we visited the Sensou- ji temple, the place I was assigned. Around 628 AD two fishermen caught a tiny golden statue of Kannon the Buddhist god of Mercy. Today the temple is dedicated to the Buddhist goddess of Mercy. It is Tokyo’s oldest and most popular temple. Although it was ruined during Word War II, it was rebuilt as a sign of rebirth for Tokyo. It also hosts one of Tokyo’s largest festivals in late spring.
- Lyndsey Fridie

Sensou-Ji Temple

Sensou- Ji Temple

Thursday, March 3, 2011

First day!

There were a few funny incidents, like Camille went missing and came back with a large garbage bag with her stuff and Macrae entertained us by showing off his moonwalk skill at JFK, but we are here in Ryogoku happy and excited (and still a bit sleepy)!!

After a LONG plane ride, we had to change money, then took a train to the hotel.

We had a nice dinner at nearby Izakaya restaurant and enjoyed experimenting different kinds of Japanese food---tofu salad and Sashimi to fish broth hot pot with chicken etc.

After dinner Lorenzo, Abbie and I went on to explore a neighborhood "Kon bini" (convenience store)---and we saw a Sumo wrestler in kimono biking away on a very small and squeaky bicycle!

It is 7:30am, March 3rd in Tokyo-----We will have a breakfast together and start the first tour in Tokyo from there :)

Mami's phone number in Japan is (+81) 80-1114-8107 and James' is (+81) 90-1038-7442
In case of emergency, please call us at these numbers.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Here are some quick photos from dinner tonight. We've all made it to Tokyo in one piece. Our 24 hours of travel is finished and we're ready for tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

1st Day!

konnichiwa, everyone!

We spent our first day going over the packing list, money issues, suitcase problems and planning for the free days in Kyoto and Tokyo.

We will be meeting at the school 6:15am tomorrow, and leave for JFK from here at 6:30am.

Mami sensei will be sitting next to Floriaan in the airplane---I am sure he will entertain me for the whole 14 hr flight to TOKYO!

Coffee and water--check


Big smiles---check, check, check!!

See you all tomorrow morning

Mami sensei
Ross School