Honestly, who was I kidding?
It has been over a week since I arrived in Japan and I have experienced more adventure here than I have in my entire life (give or take a few exceptions) yet I have written next to nothing about it.
Frankly I am disappointed but nevertheless that is all in the past now and after a somewhat quick synopsis of the time I have spent here I am determined to keep up to date (I say optimistically yet skeptical of my ability to stick to a schedule).
In the first week I was welcomed into the home of a family friend as if I was his daughter; journeyed from Tokyo to Kyoto on the Shinkansen Bullet Train, taken for dinner at a magnificent hotel and treated to a traditional Onsen by a grandmother of a friend from home, eaten like a king and tested the extent of my curiosity in Japanese cuisine.
I was also initiated as a student of the Ritsumeikan University, began Beginners 1 classes in Japanese, taken out by the school on our initial Japanese culture explorations; first to the World Peace Museum, then a lesson in Kyomizu Pottery, a visit to the Golden Pavilion and a Japanese sweet-making workshop, even the opportunity to dress in beautiful summer Yukata’s and participate in the Gion Festival.
I have met people on the Ritsumeikan Summer Winter Program that have successfully made me laugh, have challenged me and intrigued me, have questioned me and sought information about my home, my family, my university, Edinburgh, Scotland, the UK; people that are encouraging me and enriching my development and people that I can share my knowledge with and learn from, were I can express my opinions and appreciate others, were my thoughts are respected and my British culture is valued.
Every local I have had the pleasure and honor to meet has shown me immense amounts of hospitality and their humility can only be admired. The staff at the university are nothing short of host-parents; their love and affection, their concern for our safety, their support, their expectations, their rules and their patience to deal with over dozen foreign students who vary in their ability to speak and understand Japanese. I can confidently say that I feel very safe in their hands.
And as for Kyoto… It is as if I have woken up in a child’s fairy-tale were everything is covered in moss and the surrounding mountains protect and conceal the metropolis city spilling over with skyscappers and ancient temples. Nothing makes sense here and yet everything is in complete harmony; the people and their busy modern day lives are not without great tradition and culture. Even those that chose a secular path cannot deny themselves of the spiritual presence of nature.
I feel extremely lucky to be in Japan and I think I am going to be very happy here.