We’ve all had our share of last weeks and finals weeks, but I doubt that this finals week was like any other for any of the exchange students. There was of course the relief of having no more classes, the signal of summer finally starting, but there was the one thing missing, and that’s the “Hey, I’ll see you again in the fall!” feeling. The unavoidable go-home date was upon everyone, and I think that’s more of a reason why we didn’t want finals to arrive than the actual study that we were going to have to do. But because finasl week was coming, most of the classes ends the week before, so we ended up having lots of free time. Some was spent studying, but mostly, unplanned, I returned to the places that I had first gone to when I arrived in Japan 4 months earlier.
A friend and I decided to splurge, since it’s one of the last things that we’d get to do here, and we decided to stay at a ryokan in Nara. A ryokan is a very expensive traditional Japanese “hotel” where you get elaborate dinner and breakfast as well as other facilities like a big, hot bath while wearing tradiitonal yukatas. As expensive as it was, it was definitely worth it and I would recommend it to anyone with a bit of money to spare to experience, because I don’t think you can find anything like it anywhere beside Japan.
The day in Nara was gorgeous unlike the freezing cold day we went back in March. The deers, also seeing them for the first time during daylight hours, were drastically different. They were much friendlier and didn’t look like they were gonna attack you if you didn’t feed them. We visisted Todaiji where the famous wooden giant Daibutsu were housed, and goodness it was big. Having taken the Japanese Art class really helped me appreciate these artworks more. It’s really amazing that such a statue could be made from wood and had lasted for hundreds of years and it also showed how important Buddhism is as Japanese most popular religion.
On Monday, we had a special treat from Mother Nature, an annular solar eclipse was happening and was visible from Osaka region where we were. So at 7 am in the morning, a group of us just came outside of our seminar house, plopped down on the ground and fought the urge to stare at the sun. It was really an experience of a lifetime, and to have it here in Japan was an amazing coincidence. The only drawback was that most of us had a final later that day, and after the eclipse, we all had a little trouble seeing for a while. =)