Big change, little town


I went to Wakayama! A small area of Kansai, where there is little to do, and lots of sights to take in. To me though this was one of my turning points when it came to my time in Japan. For this was the first time I would seek adventure on my own, and doing so all on my own. During my time in Japan the most difficult part to understand is the train system and how it operates. People would tell me “Just use google maps”. It was a lot easier said than done. Combined with a foreign language you couldn’t read and barely understand, it didn’t always make for the most relaxing vacations. So up until this point, I was going on everyone else’s time, schedule, or plans, but this time I had to go my own route, for one simple reason: Cat station. Yes you heard me right, a cat station. Kishi station is Located in Wakayama, south 2 hours away from Osaka by train. Kishi station is one of the only sites out there where tourists swarm to see one of Japan’s stations dedicated and run by a real cat. I had to see it. I arrived at the confusion that was the Osaka train station in Umeda and with a little turning around a few conversations with the train attendant I could barely hear over the hustle and bustle, I finally sat down and prepared for the 2 hour long train ride that was waiting for me. During this ride, there was so much I had to think about, especially during this time I only had about a month left in my program. A lot of study abroad students go through a long trail of denial when it comes to leaving their host country. We have become so at home in the place we live that the idea of living anywhere else seems, well foreign. Osaka Japan became my Knoxville Tennessee (Hometown). My reality and view of Japan was completely flipped, Japan was no longer this far away land that I questioned whether it existed or not, it was home. Ironically this is what I was thinking about after having a conversation with a train attendant that I could barely understand. Though this made me realize even if I could fully understand the language in the states, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t as lost as I was in Japan sometimes. Once I arrived at Kishi Station, I only stayed there for about 30 minutes, crazy I know. All this talk about this amazing place only to stay 30 minutes? I came to realize that the statement “It’s about the journey and not the destination” truly applied to this point in my study abroad and I will never forget how much of a big change I went through on the ride to that little town.