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Latitude 40° 東京

This blog is one that lightly paints the picture of a New York City girl's rare study abroad experience.

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Dec23

A History Lesson in Hiroshima

Posted on Dec 23 by

Beyond Words I’ve been stewing over this post for a while because I can’t quite seem to do it justice. Many times I sat down to write this ever since I visited Hiroshima and threw my hands up in frustration. Words are not sufficient enough to express what I experienced in just two days of being there. Even now as I type this, I’d spent many dark, early morning hours after the trip watching documentaries, reading facts and figures from historians and analysts, pouring over page after page of horrifying accounts from survivors. Perhaps it was my new awareness of Hiroshima, of the atomic bomb and what it did to the people living in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki that also drove me to the online debate forums, a gruesome terrifying place second only to 4chan. There I came upon the following question: Was the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki justified? I didn’t expect a 100% outcry against the bomb, but nevertheless I was shocked to see that the debate was practically 50:50 with the ‘No’ side losing by 1%....

Dec07

Attack on Tokyo

Posted on Dec 7 by

There’s something for everyone in Tokyo. If you fall into the occasionally otaku inclined category as do I, there’s ALWAYS something for you to do. So one Sunday morning I ambled on over to the Sunshine 60 Building in Ikebukuro. I’d been hearing about an art gallery for my all time favorite anime and manga as of right now, Attack on Titan or Shingeki no Kyojin (進撃の巨人) as I more often call it. Attack on Titan For those that don’t know (how could you NOT?!), Shingeki is set in a world where all of humanity lives sequestered behind walls, hiding in fear of the Titans who indiscriminately devour them. The story centers on Eren Jaeger, his adoptive sister Mikasa Ackerman, and their friend Armin Arlert who become orphans and refugees after a Titan breaches the outermost wall. Eren, Mikasa and Armin decide to join the Survey Corps, an elite group of soldiers who fight Titans outside the walls in order to reclaim their honor and ultimately the world from the Titans. It’s this mind blowing juxtaposition of gorgeous and...

Nov17

Mr. Miyazaki & the Studio Ghibli Museum

Posted on Nov 17 by

Come with me and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination! Take a look and you’ll see into your imagination! If You Want To View Paradise Hayao Miyazaki might as well be Willy Wonka for all the footage people actually see of the inside of the Studio Ghibli Museum. It really is a hassle trying to visit this gem of a tourist spot. I had to make reservations through JTB in New York City in August, exactly three months in advance from my scheduled visit date. For those who reserve a ticket in Japan, you have to do so one month in advance at Lawson’s. I received a voucher and was essentially told, “No voucher? No Ghibli.” Fair enough. Upon presenting my passport as proof of identity, I heard the words no amateur photographer wishes to hear toting their shiny new DSLR toys: “No cameras.” Miyazaki beseeches us to take home all experience of the museum with fondness in our hearts and no photos in hand. “The Ghibli Museum is a portal to a storybook world. As the...

Oct30

Tokorozawa Matsuri

Posted on Oct 30 by

So apparently I missed a 7.1 earthquake. Japan seems to have earthquakes at 2 a.m. often. And typhoons colliding with each other right off the coast of Tokyo Bay. Needless to say the weather’s getting pretty hectic here. But despite the steadily dropping temperature readings and imminent disasters, I’ve been enjoying quite a few pleasant days as well. Tokorozawa Matsuri On one of said pleasant days, I visited the Tokorozawa Matsuri. It’s held every year in October and features traditional Japanese parade floats (mikoshi), taiko drums, and (here’s a real kicker) samba dancers. Kinda reminds me of the street festivals back in New York City; food stalls lining the sidewalks, an angry mob of cars prohibited from the main roads, and a mass of people going absolutely nowhere fast. But most importantly, there is FOOD. I was escorted by two Japanese students my age who knew a fairly decent amount of English. Enough English to tell me that, indeed, The Avengers is an awesome movie, 24 is apparently the show of all shows right now in Japan along with...

Oct09

Sophia University 上智大学

Posted on Oct 9 by

The Learning Begins I signed up for a 400 level comparative art history course dealing with perceptions of Japan in cinema. On the first day of school, I strode confidently into a lecture classroom rivaling an auditorium in size. I was slightly perplexed when I noticed a merry band of chattering Japanese students slowly filing in to a class that, as I understood, would be taught in English. My thought process was as follows: – They must all know English – I’m a failure at life for not being remotely near that level of understanding Japanese. – At least five of these lovely students will become test subjects in expediting my language acquisition. Effective immediately. – I’m from Skidmore. I’m from New York. I’m from MURICA. I got this. Such was my happy little thought bubble. Until the professor began speaking entirely in Japanese. The one other international student in the room gave me a side glance. Two foreign students quite obviously in the wrong class and all we could do was quietly argue whether we bear through it...

Sep27

Homestay in Saitama

Posted on Sep 27 by

The Journey of One Thousand Miles . . . Begins with the loss of Nutella. It’s been a week since I’ve made my debut in Tokyo, and I regret to tell everyone that my jar of hazelnut, chocolatey goodness didn’t make it onto the plane; my luggage was 8lbs over and the Nutella weighed a whopping 2.4lbs. Utter tragedy, but no time to spill tears because boy, was I busy. Because of a typhoon, my already lengthy 13 hour flight was delayed for another 5 hours. Ultimately I slept for most of it and ended my journey across the seas with my own rendition of The Doom Song. A lot happened over the span of my orientation: mourned the loss of my nutella, met some pretty cool folks from the CIEE program, registered as a Sophia University student (Jōchi Daigaku as it’s called in Japan), woke up at 2:00 a.m. to earthquake tremors, met a whole lot of international students also attending Sophia University, endured a simulation of the 2011 Tōhoku Earthquake at a disaster training center, really the...

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