Trip Start Aug 27, 2006
14Trip End Dec 07, 2006
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We arrived in Kobe, Japan four minutes ahead of schedule - 7:56am. Last night I could sleep, the excitement had been building up since meetings starting that morning and the fever burned through the ship like wildfire. Our Japanese interport students cried through our farewell reception which was amazingly done - very beautiful - they are two really awesome people. As we reached the port of Kobe this morning a brass band greeted us along with the fire boat shooting off the water canons. Everyone was our on deck to bring the ship in and when it finally stopped moving we all erupted in cheers - it is our first "real" port as we have been putting it. We have a long early morning of diplomatic meetings we are students remember - ha - welcoming ceremonies, customs & immigrations, clearances, and debarkation. The hirls - Kelly, BethAnn, Marga and I plan to get lost in Koe today. We we will see how we do. So many people are saying that it is unreal that we are in Japan - but it feels very real to me - HERE WE ARE IN KOBE!!
12:45pm - WE FINALLY GOT OFF THE SHIP - well all of us but Kelly because her card demagnetized, oh well it is probably going to happen to all os uf sooner or later, so we are just sitting on the dock waiting. BethAnn and I are having fun playing with the two ways and taking randon photos. Our plan is to take the train into two and go from there. We still have to get our money exchanged and find some maps - and it just started raining - THIS IS GOING TO BE AWESOM!!!!
September 13, 2006
The reason I never finished yesterday's entry was because we never stopped moving. Kobe is a beautiful city - it is grossly modern but yet every once in a while, tucked tightly between concrete giants of the sky will stand a small shrine, pagoda, or temple. There are no public trash cans in Japan - everyone is responsible to take their garbage with them, and surprisingly it is extremely clean everywhere. There are pachinko parlors on every corner and shopping plazas everywhere - massive massive shopping centers. They sell mochi ice cream from vending machines, along with beer, tissues, teas, flavor waters, and Coke. They do not have any diet sodas in Japan - interesting
I want to start right now - we are at Yachio Royakon, a Japanese style inn on the hilltops of Kyoto. I am sitting here alone, by the window overlooking the garden in my yukata (cotton kimono). It is raining, as it has been all day, but the water is so cleansing and serene as it runs down the chains anchored to the ground. The sound it makes as the drops hit the perfectly groomed gravel beds is almost as hypnotizing as staring into a fire. The royakan is dimly lit, the hallways are tiny, and for the 45 of us staying at the inn it is unearthly silent except for the rain. It is exactly what I would have though if it were 100 years ago and geisha (pronounced gay - ko) were still entertaining at the tea house right next door. This is just the perfect ending to an amazing day. The group left the ship at 0830 and we headed for Nara - Japan's original capitol city. We saw the oldest wooden building in the world built by the Emperor 1600 years ago. It is still standing which to me is pretty impressive, but what was more fun was to watch other people struggling to get a grip on how old it really was. We have bento boxes for lunch, really really fancy ones, but we were in a beautiful hotel in Nara that had a wonderful garden, it was really very pretty. Nara is a beautiful city as well, not as modern as Kobe but it had a different feel with many tiny walkways and little inns everywhere. All the time you passed gardens and tea houses it was quaint. After lunch we went to the largest wooden building in the world which was located in a park called Deer Park - and it is obviously named that for a very good reason. Here is this huge city and right in the middle is this park with deer in it, yes deer - the four legged animals.....they were everywhere
September 14, 2006
Everyone woke up this morning to smell of freshly baked bread, it had stoppe rainging and the early morning sun was making everything steam with life. We ate breakfast sitting on the sundrenched tatami mats looking over the beautiful little garden, which took on a whole new personality in the fresh daylight. A few of us walked to the temple in the same compound this morning with Harumi. She reminds me of Mary Poppins and none of us could keep up with her speed of walking. It was very awakening to be there so early in the morning with the dewy warmth and refreshing sunlight while no one was aound. You could hear the dew drops fall from the pine trees and hit the ground, you could smell the freshness in the air, and you could feel life all around. The tour today started at the Golden pavilion - which was great but very crowded. That was followed by Shogun's palace in Kyoto which was pretty amazing as far as architecturally well done for its time - like everything seems to be here
September 15, 2006
Today was pretty laid back, I did some hiking - actually a lot of hiking with our group that did a tour through the mountains. It was nice, nothing to write a lot about but hiking is hiking. At the top we were greeted by monkeys - LOTS OF THEM. And the little town at the bottom of the mountain was so cute and old fashioned. I had lunch at a little noodle shop that over looked the river that the village was on and just had a great time walking around the town and through the bamboo forest that borders it. I had time to sit by the river and writ in my journal and I played with a little puppies that an older man had gotten as a gift for his grand daughter - he spoke really good English and he was very inquisitive about the Semester At Sea
In our getting lost in the city we found free internet so I am writing this now because I board the ship for China. It has been eye opening in certain ways, and just plain fun in others. It is still fairly early in the morning so today's happenings will just have to live in my memory!!!
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