I studied abroad in Kawagoe, Japan this past fall semester. Although there were many frustrating and trying times trying to integrate into a culture so vastly different from what I was accustomed too, it was so incredibly rewarding. I met many friends, both American and Japanese, and made so many great memories that I still reflect on from a day-to-day basis while back to my regular life at Willamette.
While there’s no possible way to share even a fraction of what I was able to see in my four months, one particularly fun trip was to the Kansai region, where cities like Kyoto present a more traditional and spiritual side of Japan, in contrast to the bustling cosmopolitan area of Tokyo where we lived. I was able to become close with the people in my program and see a lot of amazing sights. Here’s a few photos to document our 5 day journey:
Our first stop to Miyajima. Popularly known as “shrine island,” you might recognize the giant shrine gate that stands out in the middle of the water. Here, the tide was out, so you could actually walk over to it!
This is the “genbaku dome” in Hiroshima. This building was miraculously left standing after the bombing of Hiroshima during World War II. It stands as a testament to this dark time in history in hopes that nuclear weapons will never be used in wartime again.
This is the “kinkakuji” or the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto. It’s covered in gold leaf and resides on an island out in the middle of a giant lake/pond. Beautiful!
My personal favorite place was the Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine a little ways outside of Kyoto. You might recognize these gates from the movie Memoirs of a Geisha. There are hundreds of these gates that wend every which way and lead to thousands of shrines with statues of foxes, the messengers of Inari.
Group shot of the Japan Studies Program group at Kiyomizu-dera, one of the most well-known temples in Japan.