This year has been the most intensely amazing year of my life without contest. I came to Tokyo hoping and expecting to fulfil all of my childhood and academic dreams. I wanted to shop in Harajuku, become a regular on some of the most famous streets in the world for pop culture, take Japanese trains, eat rice every day, and see my favourite Japanese artists in the flesh. I wanted to visit centuries old temples and shrines, understand Japanese religion, learn about Buddhism and the philosophies of ancient Asia. That was where I was at. But where am I at now?
Being in Japan for a year, it seems silly not to take the opportunity to bob over to (South) Korea. And we did! For a long weekend of Korean fun.
The Republic of Korea is only two hours from Tokyo by plane as Japan’s closest neighbour. Although the two countries have shared many of the same cultures throughout history (Indian and Chinese philosophies and religions as well as the kanji writing system all passed through Korea from China to get to Japan in the past, and during the colonisation of Korea by Japan Japanese culture was forcibly imposed there to a large degree), today they have many stark cultural differences, and the Republic Korea maintains itself as a unique nation with a rich individual culture. Although me and Emily were only there for four days, this was really apparent! Continue reading
I recently made a post about things in Japan that aren’t amazing. When a country’s problems are summarised and presented to you one after another like that, it can probably be quite off-putting. So this one is about the aspects of Japanese society that stand out to me as particularly nice and not scary. Sometimes, regardless of its underlying serious problems, Tokyo seems kinda like an actual utopia compared to the UK. Continue reading
Commuting is something that we definitely do not have to do in Durham. Tokyo, however, is very different. The city is the size of the entirety of Yorkshire, and it’s very common for people to be travelling for about an hour to get to work or school.
For me, living in West Tokyo, it takes around forty minutes to get to Komaba campus and around an hour ten to get to Hongo campus. You might be like ‘WHAAAAAATTTT’, but it’s actually okay. For starters, it’s a taste of REAL LIFE away from Durham, the city in which we come to expect everything to be on our doorstep. It’s also the case that while in Durham we’d go to class and go home, at U Tokyo campus life thrives and lots of people stay on campus for a good chunk of the day. AND once you’re done with class, you can stop by some of the most awesome locations in the world for a shop or a drink before going home (Komaba campus is walking distance from Shibuya and Harajuku, and Hongo campus is right by the famous Ueno park as well as being close to Akihabara and loads of other cool places – it is seriously super awesome). Continue reading