[Japan Report] Cruising ’round Kansai

Hey all, Lancen here.  I’ve been in Sapporo getting orientated for the exchange program, so I finally have some downtime to write up a post.  I’ll be summarizing my experiences in the Kansai area (Kyoto, Fushimi, an Osaka).

On June 21, Roy and I went to Fushimi Inari.  If you had a chance to read my blogs from January, I wrote about my first visit to the famous shrine.  However, unlike last time, I had enough time to hike all the way up to the top.  We arrived at the station after a good downpour, so the air was heavy and humid.  However, that didn’t stop us from making our way up to the top.

We got there a little before midday, so the place was crowded.


This gentleman hand-carved numerous foxes out of wood as souvenirs to commemorate reaching the top.


Amazake, Sweet Sake (non-alcoholic)
This nice lady is the one who makes home-made Amazake for the hikers at Fushimi Inari. Her effort is found in the taste of her work. It was really good.

The street food at Fushimi Inari is really good too.


On Friday, we took the time to go to Kyoto, where I revisited the Manga Museum.  Just like last time, pictures are not allowed, but I highly recommend visiting the place at least once.  You really learn about just how much manga has impacted the world.

After the Manga Museum, we met up with Dr. Jayson Chun again.  This time we were joined by his colleague, Professor Furmanovsky from Ryukoku University in Fushimi, and Chris, one of Dr. Chun’s former students.  We ate and talked about life and how Roy and I were feeling before the program.  All the while, the professors were discussing their presentation the next day.


After eating dinner, we said goodbye to Professor Furmanovsky and decided that it would be a good experience for Roy and I to check out the Kansai Bar scene.  Dr. Chun and Chris took us to one of their favorite places, Bar Joker.  This place was a lot of fun.  Japanese bars are a great place to meet people and chill.  The drinks are there to soften the barriers, and there’s no pressure to try pick someone up.  You’re just there to talk.


The bartender, Pauline, was a young, 18-year-old woman from France.  She came to Japan to study Japanese 8 months ago, but she’s already light years ahead of Roy and I.  Why come to learn Japanese?  Because she loves manga! I’m definitely gonna go back after the exchange program.


Right-to-Left: The Master, Dr. Jayson Chun, Pauline-san, ME, Roy, and Miho-san

Oh, we also got asked to show off some of our art skills, and we drew the other  bartender.  Now our drawings are up on the wall, and we scored huge favor with the bar’s owner, simply known as the Master.  I highly recommend this place if you find yourself in Kyoto at night.

On our final day in Osaka, Roy and I went to the famous Kaiyukan Aquarium.  I’ll let the pictures do the talking for me.


I don’t know how often I’ll be updating during the program, but please look forward to it.  There’s probably gonna be stuff I can only experience because I’m on the program.  Till next time!

[Japan Report] Getting My Feet Wet (Quite Literally)

Hey all, how’s it going?  I’ve made it safely to Japan and am spending my first few days being a tourist and checking out what I can before flying up to Sapporo for the exchange program.  I’m currently in Osaka, the jewel of western Japan’s Kansai region.  I’ve only been here for a day, and my experiences here already ranked it as one of my favorite places so far.


Roy and I are staying at a quaint little hostel where the rooms are everything I’ve heard of when it comes to small Japanese rooms.  It barely fits our bunk bed.  However, despite the spartan look of the room, the place is really nice.  We have our own A/C unit, the showers and toilets are just down the hall, and the place is super clean.  I think we may have come just after they renovated the place.

Anyways, today we were guided by our wonderful professor, Dr. Jayson Chun from the University of Hawaii at West Oahu.  As he lives here in Osaka during the summer, he showed us around his neck of the city.  It was very rainy today, but I’d take rain over the sweltering Japanese summer any day.

He took us to a local blue-collar restaurant where the food was all prepared fresh and right in front of you.  I just have one word to describe the food there.  DELICIOUS.  I can’t begin to describe how good it tasted, and it was all just $10!


One of the places he took us was Osaka’s equivalent to Tokyo’s Akihabara, DenDen Town.  Just like Akiba, DenDen Town is an area that has numerous shops dedicated to electronics and, of course, ANIME!  This place has tons of shops to fulfill all of your otaku needs, without the hustle and bustle of Tokyo’s city.


We also stopped by Dotombori, the area famous for the running Glico Man and the giant crab.

We didn’t stay too long as it was getting late, and we had to go back to DenDen Town before the stores closed.  We spent almost 4 hours earlier in the day just scouting out the area, so by then we knew exactly what we wanted.   I couldn’t resist and bought myself some stuff direct from the source.  Beats paying shipping!

Anyway, it’s getting late here, and we have a big day tomorrow.  If you read my blogs from January, you may remember me going to the famous shrine at Fushimi Inari.  I didn’t get to hike all the way to the top last time because of the Kakehashi Project’s schedule, but this time … I’m gonna make it all the way to the top!  Look forward to it!