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Gap Year Abroad

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03/20/2016

A little Bit of Everything

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Wow have I been busy! As language classes have been coming to an end, life has been a swarm of homework, classwork, and studying for the final test (as well as the multiple smaller tests that we will still have even when the final is over). As well as day-trips, volunteering, museum visits, and preparing our final CIEE core class projects. In all of this madness it’s been hard to find a time to write all of it down, but now that I have a chance, boy am I going to try!

So here we go, the speed round of blogging. What have we done exactly? Well…

 

    We made dessert! 

…or rather, we made Wagashi. Wagashi is a type of traditional Japanese confection
 often served with tea. While Wagashi can be made with a variety of ingredients, the sweets we crafted used only Anko (sweet bean paste) and a little bit of mochi. We were taught by a professional Wagashi maker, who was very patient with us when we obviously had no idea what we were doing. I really enjoyed making my Wagashi, although it was really hard not to eat it all before I was done!

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My finished Wagashi flowers.

 

    We took a trip to Kobe!

            Our first day we visited nearby Himeji. We went to a museum and walked around beautiful gardens. We explored Himeji Castle, which was a blast! We were lucky enough to get a tour of the castle and surrounding grounds, which were beautiful, not to mention huge! The Castle itself was amazing. It was first constructed by Akamatsu Sadanori (the son of a local clan leader) in 1346. Over the next several hundred years the castle changed hands multiple times and was constantly being added onto, until it became the 8 building behemoth you can see today. The main building way my favorite! With 7 floors (including a secret floor to confuse enemy invaders) there was a lot to see and do!

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The whole squad with Himeji Castle in the background.

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The weathercock house.

            On day 2 of Kobe we visited the Weathercock house and other famous western style buildings. These houses were built by foreigners who moved to Japan in the early 1900s. I loved seeing all of the old but familiar architecture and decorating styles! I also partook in a ridiculous amount of selfie taking with some of the characters I found around the property.

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This jazz trumpetist was really enjoying the warm sunshine.

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This dude was super tall and a little creepy.

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“The things I’ve seen.”

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I liked this one, she looked like something out of Skyrim.

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I really have no idea what this is.

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… And of course the obligatory mirror selfie featuring Joel!

 

    We Wore Kimonos and blew glass in Kawagowe! 

            Kawagoe was a blast! Many of the buildings there were fashioned in Edo period style, making waking around a fun sight-seeing experience! There were also many fun stores and vendors to see.

            After eating at an impressive buffet (chocolate fountain included) we took an adorable old-fashion bus to our first adventure. At the shop we chose our soon-to-be flower vase’s color scheme, and then with the help of a few of the workers, we cut, blew, and shaped our glass into the correct shape. I had seen glass being blown before, but until now I had never had the experience myself. I really enjoyed the process! With the acquired wisdom of glass blowing behind, us we set out for the next adventure.

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Ever since I first came to Japan I have been looking forward to wearing a kimono. I'd seen many people around Tokyo wearing them and I knew I had to try it at least once. And now was my chance!

            Upon entering the small shop, we were taken to pick out our Yuki (robe) and Obi (decorative sash). We were then taken into the dressing rooms were we were helped in to the many layers that make up the full kimono. Once finished we were taken to get our hair done, then we were ready to go! We walked around the town for about 2 hours taking pictures and shopping. I was surprised at how many people stopped and complemented us. It was a really fun day full of new experiences!

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    It’s been a crazy roller-coaster time, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it’s almost done. I feel like I still have so much to do, but at the same time I am excited for whatever will happen next. I’ve had so many wonderful experiences and I’ve become so accustom to my life here, I don’t quite know how it will feel to leave. Even though it’s getting close, one things for sure

It’s not over yet.

Until next time、

マッデイ

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When the whole squads lookin' fresh.

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