After months of preparing and organising, and 20 long hours of travelling, I finally arrived in Tokyo! The last time I was here in Japan, I only just a tourist visiting for a short holiday, but this time it feels very different. I have been or little over a week and I already feel right at home. The university staff and other international exchange students have been incredibly welcoming and supportive.
The university accommodation I am living in is shared with both international students and Japanese students living away from home. It’s a really great mix of people, as we get to share new experiences as foreigners as well as interact with local people and get useful advice on living in Japan and suggestions for activities to do and places to visit.
The past few days have been very busy, with lots of orientation activities and welcoming events hosted by the dormitory management as well as social clubs run by local university students. Myself and the other international students have also had plenty of time to explore the city. I went with a few other students to Shinjuku, and got to see an amazing view from the 45th floor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building.
We also visited one of the busiest districts in Tokyo! We watched from the second floor of a shopping centre as hundreds of people made their way through Shibuya crossing, known as the world’s busiest intersection. Seeing so many people make their way through the intersection lit by a plethora of neon signs was captivating, and a great introduction to the life in Tokyo.
Around Japan there are lots of beautiful shrines and temples. The first one we visited was the Meiji shrine in Yoyogi Park. This shrine is dedicated to Emperor Meiji, the first emperor of modern Japan and the Empress Shoken. It was built in 1920 and is currently being renovated to celebrate the upcoming 100th anniversary. Another shrine we visited was the ancient Buddhist temple Senso-Ji Shrine in Asakusa. It is Tokyo’s oldest and most significant temple, dedicated to Guanyin, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy.
Also in Asakusa is the Tokyo Skytree. We visited the viewing deck at dusk, and got to see the view as the sun set. The viewing deck is 360 degrees, and sits 350 metres high.
I have always loved and appreciated Japanese culture, and I am excited to learn so much more about it and experience it first-hand during my semester here. This week has been an incredible week of excitement and new experiences, and I am extremely happy I have the privilege to participate in this once in a lifetime adventure.
Tara May, Bachelor of Education (Primary R-7), Bachelor of Arts student, Semester 2 2017 exchange at Chuo University, Japan