NOBOROU!! Up the Fushimi-Inari Shrine

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            Classes had really settled in now that we’re onto the second week of school.  We also had our first quizzes in both speaking and writing classes and we will continue to have them every week on new vocabulary and kanji.  The Japanese classes are moving along much faster than what I am used to, especially since we have spoken Japanese 5 times a week, but I guess new materials help keep things interesting in the class.

            During the breaks between classes, students would hang out in what is called the “fish bowl”.  The fish bowl is the lounge inside the building where all the exchange students have their classes and it’s appropriately named so for the all-glass wall it has.  Despite the name, the fish bowl is a great place to not only meet people from other seminar houses but also Japanese students who have also came in hope to practice their English and make new friends.   And so by this way, I, too have made several Japanese friends to make up for my speaking partner since she had caught a cold and couldn’t come to school.  Poor thing, I hope she will get better soon.

            The weekends here in Japan are always full of possibilities.  Back at home it’s always the same old routine of family and homework, but here, I think it’s possible to have a different weekend every time for your entire life…well, at least for an exchange student, it seems like it could happen.  Anyway, some of my friends and I headed for Kyoto for the third time in the three weeks we’ve been here to visit the Fushimi-inari Shrine.  I have always wanted to come here ever since I saw pictures of its famous rows of bright tori gates, and after getting there it’s hard to believe that I’m was at the real place.  We were able to see priests in their traditional garments performing ceremonies for the visitors that are wishing for good luck.  Climbing the shrine was literally breath-taking because it was on the mountain and there were LOTS of steps, but the view going up was worth it, plus we had the bonus of seeing the white snow in contrast with the orange-red gates.  At the top was a beautiful view of the city where we ate some roasted chestnuts while enjoying the view before heading back home.  On the way back, we stopped by a Vikingu (aka. buffet) place called Ninja Café, where all the workers dressed up as ninja and act like one as well.  It was quite amusing but also great, because it is things like this that make Japan unique and I just can’t wait to see more in the future.

the rewarding view from the top

beautiful snow covered path and tori gates

Priests

Pick your path

one of the many staircases we climbed