Sometimes the best moments of our lives can come from the simplest of things if we so choose to see it that way. Some may even call it the “Golden Time” of their lives.
Since the last journal a lot has happened, but there is something that I want to clarify before beginning this entry. Originally, when I began posting these journals, I had wanted to do a weekly update, but something I realized is that each week looked identical to one another. So for this journal I thought it was best to combine the two weeks into one journal and hopefully can give some advice about the travels through Japan.
Foremost, some school updates. Nothing has changed much within the workload or the classwork and I have been really grateful for that because I was slightly worried about the amount of school work. I am a good student, but I also did not want to remember my time abroad being confided to my desk doing homework for a majority of the study abroad experience. However, I have developed some new habits, and they have been helping with my procrastination issues. Last journal entry, I had mentioned my worries over productivity and getting assignments done on time, but recently I have developed both a routine and a way to get myself motivated to finish assignments. Each day I have a different amount of classes, so on Mondays and Tuesdays I get back to my dorm at 5 p.m, Wednesday I get back at around 3 p.m, and on Thursday I come back to the dorm at around 12:30 p.m. So what I have found is that during my lunch on the longer days I can get most of my homework done and only have to worry about a small portion once back at the dorm. And on Thursday I immediately start my homework when I come back to the dorm. After all of that, I put a sticker on a calendar I brought from home to say that I have finished my homework for the day. See if I know that a due date is later than assigned, I will put off the assignment until a day or two before. But by starting this calendar I mentally need to see a sticker fill out each day, so that provides me a lot of motivation to get through the bulk of my assignments earlier rather than later.
Other than that, like I said, school has not been that eventful. Maybe that might change or maybe it might not, only time will tell for that judgement. Fortunately though, in this past week it has been Golden Week. I have learned through talking with other people, Golden Week is a time in Japan where four national holidays occur within a week. First is on April 29 to celebrate the birthday of former Emperor Showa, May 3 is Constitution Day to mark the day of the new constitution postwar, May 4 is Greenery Day which originally was on April 29 but then it sub-sequentially changed to May 4, and finally May 5 is Children’s Day. So often Golden Week is one of the busiest times of year in Japan because a lot of schools and offices have the week off. So I took advantage of the few days off from school to explore a little more of Japan.
Technically, at NUFS, Golden Week did not start until May 3, but there was still a lot of time to enjoy. Mostly, I stayed close to the campus because a lot of the people I know who have either been to Japan or currently live in Japan say to avoid a lot of the usual tourist destinations. Most of the time the local Japanese people use Golden Week to go to famous attractions with their entire families to keep them occupied during the time. So with that piece of information and knowing I would be miserable in a busy setting such as those crowds, I thought it was best for me to stay close to the dorm. But it did not mean that I missed out on anything.
The highlight, and the one I thought to share with anyone who reads this entry, was being able to go to the Tokugawa Art Museum and the Nagoya City Science Museum. Unfortunately, at the Tokugawa Art Museum it is against the rules to take pictures of the exhibits and with the amount of people at the Nagoya City Science Museum it did not feel right to take photos inside. However, what I got to experience would not have been justified by any photograph that I could have taken.
At the Tokugawa Art Museum there were about 8 exhibits. My favorite out of the eight had to be the section on the Noh Theatre. Noh Theatre is a traditional Japanese art form that has a 600-year-old history. Within the Noh Theatre there are over two hundred scripts that are classified into five different categories: Gods, Men, Women, Madness, and Demon. Depending on the type of story, it will usually fit into one of those categories and in the exhibit there were traditional masks and costumes that were worn by performers during shows. There were also explanations of the design and what play the costume actors would use and what design was on the attire. And like with most of the exhibits, many families donated a lot of the pieces, especially the Owari Tokugawa family. Before each display case within that specific exhibit, there was an explanation panel talking about the different categories in order and give real examples of plays that would have been found within that classification.
Now I have always wanted to go to the Tokugawa Art Museum and since I am in a Traditional Performing Arts class, I thought it only be befitting that I would check out the special Noh Theatre exhibition. Especially because we will learn more about Noh Theatre in the latter classes and I cannot wait to learn even more than what was inside the museum. Also, I felt as though the museum gave me an even greater insight into the history of Japan through the arts that maybe someone may not have done so yet. As for the Nagoya City Science Museum, I really only went because a friend recommended it to me, but it was well worth it.
At the Nagoya City Science Museum there are about six floors (seven if you buy the special exhibit ticket) to explore and each floor has a different science theme exhibit. There is also a planetarium and special exhibits within each floor, but you would also have to buy it when you get your ticket and by the time I had gone, I had unfortunately missed out on those tickets. But, I went through the regular exhibits and the special exhibit in the basement. Now I could talk about all the floors to an extent, but I want to focus on my favorite floor, which was the Wonders of Science/Discovering the Earth section on the second floor. Out of all the floors, this appeared it was the favorite amongst patrons because of the amount of interactive exhibits there were in the area. There were little dark alcoves to learn about the science of light and reflection, there were sound tunnels that if you clap into them it echoes, and the most interesting part was the exploring water area where one of the main attractions was the hamster wheel that when people walk on it, the water mechanism moves. Ultimately, I had a wonderful time and I am glad I took the chance to explore.
Now it would only be right if I give some advice based on everything that I have learned throughout these weeks.
First, if you have a procrastination problem like me, try to find small solutions. Often when I see people try to combat productivity, they always take an extreme measure to it. For example, a good friend of mine made it her resolution to get her homework done all on the first day of the week and that only lasted for about a week. What I found is that starting small and finding something that is both a good solution and easy to manage, like my calendar and stickers, can make a significant difference.
Second, if you plan to study abroad in Japan and attend school during Golden Week, go out and explore. Golden Week gives many people the perfect opportunity to explore and journey through areas of Japan that they might not get to normally because of class and other commitments. Having the few days off can be tempting to just stay in the dorm and watch videos all day, but I implore anyone to go outside at least one day, so you are not missing out on anything that may come. Besides, I am sure that no one wants to remember just staying inside all day when they reminisce about their time out of the country.
Third, if you are going to go out during Golden Week, avoid tourist or family friendly activities. Now I know I said to go out and explore, but if you do not enjoy crowded places, high pricing, or anything else of that matter I would avoid places where it is more likely to be a destination a family plans to go to like Disneyland Japan. Instead, try to find interesting and hidden places where people may not think to go to at first or if you can wait till the end of Golden Week and you really want to go to the amusement park that would be the best chance to do it. Also, be aware of your surroundings and try to move fast because in Japan most of the time people like to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible, so you do not want to be slow in those types of crowds.
Finally, make sure when you travel you travel with a fully charged phone. This is for those who are just directional challenge and have poor Japanese skills like I do. Your phone during traveling will make a difference between being able to navigate and accidentally offending someone. Often, the maps of the subway or the bus station at the terminals are rather confusing. So having Google Maps on hand is a big saving grace additionally with Google Translate, though please use with caution that it might not be the most accurate, will help with miscommunication. The amount of times I have nearly gotten lost on the bus or accidentally agitated a bus driver is much more than I am proud to say. But a lot of those times were because I do not understand Japanese well. I mean, I understand the basics, but there are certain words that are hard to translate on the spot for me. So a charged phone with Google Maps and Google Translate on hand is the key. Or at the very least, carry around a charger if you know you will travel around for a period.
And with that there is nothing more to say except thank you for reading and hope to see you in the next journal entry!