Hello everyone! My name is Darcie Knight and I am a student at Seinan Gakuin University in Fukuoka Japan. Fukuoka is a large city located on the island of Kyushu, Japan's southern island. I am working hard trying to learn Japanese language and culture. My dragon has been learning along with me, her name is 花火 or Hanabi, which means firework in Japanese (it is actually my favorite Japanese word).
|Hanabi studying Japanese. She is trying her best!|
Living in Japan has been fun but it also has its difficulties. Fukuoka is a really good city to live in if you are a student. The cost of living is not as high as other places in Japan and transportation around the city is easy to navigate. There is plenty to see and do in just this one part of Japan. Once I become better at Japanese, I feel like Fukuoka would be a place I could live in again someday. Seinan is a great college to go to. I live in an international dorm with people from all over the world. I have made so many new friends from different countries who same similar passions about Japan. Classes here are also interesting. I take Japanese four times a week and also other cultural classes such as Japanese history, traditional theater and dance, and a class about manga and anime. I am even taking judo, which is super tough but also fun!
I have managed to go on so many adventures since I came to Japan in January! My first big trip was to Tokyo during a break in February. Tokyo is so different from Fukuoka. It is bigger, more complex, and filled with a lot more people from all over the world, like New York City or Paris. I was overwhelmed with just how many people there! I went to many famous places in Tokyo. I saw the Tokyo sky tree and went to the largest fish markets in Japan (I think it's also one of the largest in the world) to eat real, fresh sushi.
|Sushi at Tsukiji fish market, Tokyo|
I went to Akihabara twice, since it was one of my number one places to visit in Japan. I am a huge lover of Japanese anime, and Akihabara is the center for it, so I spent hours running around and collecting as much anime merchandise as possible (maybe even a little too much). I also went to Shibuya, which reminded me of Times Square, and visited the imperial palace. Tokyo was an interesting and a fun experience, however, I would never live in such a big and confusing city. I actually prefer Fukuoka.
My next big adventure was a school trip my college organized for international students and Japanese students to explore the island of Kyushu. I loved this trip because I got to see more of the island that I live and study on. On the trip, we went to a pottery place out in the country and painted our own plates. We went to Yufuin in Oita prefecture, which was near the mountains, and visited the crowded tourist area near a popular lake. I ate ice-cream made from the local limes, which is one of the foods the area is known for, and saw a bakery that was a recreation of the bread shop in the movie Kiki's Delivery Service! We then stayed the night at a ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn, in Kumamoto. I got to wear a yukata and have a really amazing meal with everyone in a very Japanese setting.
|Group photo of students from the Kyushu trip wearing yukata at a ryokan in Kumamoto|
I also went to an onsen or hot spring for the first time. The onsen was my favorite part, it was surreal sitting in an outdoor spring looking up at mountains. The only thing was I had to be naked in front of a bunch of other women for the first time in my life, but I got over it since onsen is something you just have to experience when coming to Japan. The next day we went back to Oita prefecture and visited an historical town called Hita Mameda Machi, famous for being a government center during the edo period and for producing the Japanese dolls seen on Girls Day. While here, I somehow ended up on the news! I was interviewed while viewing an old exhibit of Japanese dolls, and later while eating lunch, I saw myself on TV for the first time! It was shocking. On the last part of the trip we went to Dazaifu, a famous shrine where people come to pray to do well in school and their studies. I hope being there helped me a little for my future studies in Japan. The Kyushu trip was a great memory for me, not only did I get to see more of the island but I bonded with the other international students and made new Japanese friends that also came on the trip. So far, it has been one of my favorite adventures here in Japan.