Journey Abroad #2: Cultural Exchanges in Japan and Enoshima





On September 14th I met up with my buddy group, a program set up by Rikkyo University for incoming international students to meet current Rikkyo students, for a campus tour. We met prior through an online zoom session; I met a girl from Spain and a Mexican Japanese girl named Yuki. Yuki invited me to go celebrate Mexican Independence through a Karaoke session with other Mexican and Spanish international students. I accepted and told her about the Mexican and Spanish students in my dorm which she asked me to invite as well. After that, another friend from our buddy group from the Netherlands, Henry, told me about a taco shop near Rikkyo University. I decided to go try it out with Henry, Sam, and Robbert (other people from our buddy group) to see how it compares to authentic and Americanized tacos. When we got there, I was surprised to see the chef making the meat in a rice cooker. Unfortunately, the tacos were drenched in too much lettuce for me to give a proper verdict.

After setting up a group chat, Yuki and I invited around 10-20 people who were mostly Spanish but there were also some French Africans and Germans. We booked a room at Karaoke Ikebukuro Mac which was capable of fitting all of us and rented it from 6pm to 5am. I would recommend this spot for bigger groups since you can play your own music via aux, bring outside food, and come and go whenever you want. I loved the cultural exchanges we had as we showed people Spanish songs and dances such as Bachata.

During Karaoke I got a message from my friend Alex, a German who planned a trip to Enoshima for September 16th. Enoshima is an island in the Kanagawa prefecture with a long history of tradition and nice scenery. According to legend, a wicked five headed dragon fell in love with a goddess named Benzaiten. The dragon changed his wicked ways after Benzaiten rejected his original proposal. On the island lays “Dragon’s Mouth Hill” which is said to be the dragon after he turned himself into a hill to watch over the goddess. Love is a major theme on the island since it’s sacred for marriage and there were A LOT of couples. Funny enough I was unaware about this until halfway through my journey with Alex.

On the island lies a lighthouse observation tower called the Enoshima Sea candle which is 196.2 feet high (60 meters). It gives you an amazing 360 view of the entire island, but I fear heights, so I was scared to go over the railing. Another significant landmark on the Island was the Iwaya Caves which were formed from water erosion which contained statues and tombs. It was a long day of walking since the journey lasted from 7am to 9pm.

On September 17th, I was invited by some Ukrainian friends to a Ukrainian Festival meant to show solidarity between Japanese and Ukrainian people. Some of the foods I had (which I apologize in advance if I butcher the names) were pyrizhky, holubtsi, kompot, mashed potatoes, apple pie, and stewed cabbage. I really enjoyed pyrizhky (a bun stuffed with egg and vegetables) and kompot (a type of berry/fruit juice which I found refreshing). The event was at a shrine in Shibuya at night. These last few days left me exhausted that I spent my remaining days recharging in my room, but I look forward to starting classes next week.