Over the weekend our senpai (a 2nd year JET- Japanese for “upperclassman”) took two of us out and around nearby cities Kurashiki-shi and Okayama-shi. We wandered the mall and got to know what’s available to us and where we can go for whatever random things we may need during our time here. It was a helpful trip, speckled with embracing the beauty of our prefecture. We journeyed through the Bikan District of Kurashiki-shi, an old town with a beautiful temple (we even stumbled upon a Japanese wedding with the bride in full wedding kimono!)
and river and amazing classic Japanese buildings.
We also enjoyed the newer aspects of Japan, checking out the local mall and all the wonder of Japanese products. From poop hats to Gudetama (a hilarious grumpy/lazy egg yolk cartoon character) to taiko drum games
We learned the train system and even did a bit of karaoke in Okayama, tried Japanese fast food hamburgers (at Mos Burgers) and enjoyed conveyor belt sushi. All in all it was a great time with so much to see and take in, and more moments of “I can’t believe I’m in Japan!!” We endured the stares of the locals and embraced our gaijin status. We walked by McDonald’s knowing one day we’d go when we needed a taste of something familiar. There were even a couple Starbucks offering Peach Frappuccinos for the season (and for Okayama’s famed peaches)! All in all a great way to spend one of my first free days in Japan.
Monday and Tuesday brought more opportunity to explore Okayama City during our prefectural orientation. On Tuesday we were taken to the beautiful Korakuen Garden, one of the top 3 gardens in Japan. My fellow Asakuchi JET and I returned later that night to see the garden lit by lanterns, an annual August event that was too beautiful to pass up. We were also able to journey closer to Okayama Castle and see its beauty by lantern light.
The following week on Wednesday our supervisors took us out to see the sites of our little city, Asakuchi-shi. They took us up the hill to the planetarium which houses one of Japan’s largest telescopes, down to a local somen shop where we are cold somen and cooked vegetables from the shop workers’ gardens.