Read about Michiko Danielle Yoshinaga's journey of connecting with her heritage as shes studies abroad at Waseda University in Japan.
So since you probably don’t know too much about what I’m doing exactly, I’ll give you a brief summary.
I arrived to Japan on 24 March 2015 (23 March in American time) an hour earlier than scheduled.
This is the first picture I took in Japan and seeing the “okaerinasai” (that is what the Japanese characters say – it means “welcome home”) sign really made me feel happy. I just knew that I was going to love it here.
When I got to Japan, I had to go through customs, which wasn’t too bad for me. It was very straightforward and only took a few minutes.
I came to Japan with my best friend Saki and her mother greeted us the airport and was very kind. We then headed for Takadanobaba (the area of Tokyo where my school is located), which was around a one hour bus ride from Narita Airport. When I got there, as I expected, I was very jet-lagged. I didn’t talk very much for the first few days because I was so tired. I know to my friends who I saw when I first got Japan had to deal with me being grumpy, and I’m very grateful for their support and not getting frustrated with an unusually grumpy Michiko.
The first night in Japan I spent with my friend Michiko (the other Michiko – Michiko studied at PSU last year and we have been pretty close since then) at her apartment. The first thing I ate in Japan was custard taiyaki — a food I haven’t had since I was a kid. It was good. It was better than good. It can’t get any better than perfect.
For dinner we had sushi at a kaiten sushi store (the conveyor belt type), and I was in heaven. It was cheap, the quality was good, and I ate fantastic sushi that would have probably cost me a good $40 in America.
The next day (25 March), I spent the day with Michiko and we went Shinjuku. Michiko has been really supportive to me and helped me to buy a Wifi router so I can use my phone in public because I didn’t want to buy smart phone.
Then for dinner we went to a Japanese style restaurant called Ootoya (there are many of these), and I had karaage (Japanese styled fried chicken)! See below!!
It was perfect. I really am in food heaven here.
I have always eaten Japanese food even in America, but here it is cheaper, better, faster, and healthier, so I am really happy!! *(^^)*
I also checked into my hotel on this day. I spent a few nights here for the Waseda orientation.
I met so many wonderful people that week, and I am friends with many of them. The orientation week was hectic and tiresome, but it was fun too.
I have been dreaming to see this building for so many years, and now I walk by it every single day. I am so lucky. I’ve known this building for over 10 years and now I get to know it even better by being by it! Sometimes I just look at this picture (that I took) because I’d always looked at pictures online but never been so close. Waseda has been my dream school since I was 8 and now I am here. It is really surreal feeling…
I met my host family on 28 March. We live in a suburb of Tokyo and I am roughly 20 minutes away from Waseda so I am very close (thankfully).
I have my mom, dad, and two little sisters Ayano (age 8) and Mizuki (age 4).
My host family are very nice people. My house is nice too. We haven’t had any problems and get along very smoothly. Right now papa is away on business and will be back on Sunday night.
As someone with Japanese heritage, I fit along very well here. At my orientation in America, I was warned that I would have culture shock. The funny thing is, I haven’t.
I have lived through Japanese culture my entire life and now only difference is that I’m actually in Japan. I am honestly a lot happier here than I was in the US. I know there are people who don’t want to hear that, but it is the truth. In America I had to fight discrimination and the ignorance of people who knew nothing but ridiculous stereotypes, whereas here I feel truly at home.
I know I don’t have culture shock because I went out of the US last summer to Estonia. There I was very culture shocked, and was very withdrawn and isolated and unhappy.
I am exact opposite here. I belong here. I know my place. My instincts were always right.
I have been in Japan for nearly a month (1 month tomorrow!) but I am just happy. The only thing I miss is my dad and my bunny. I know my dad is lonely without me and it hurts that he can’t come to see me, but I know we will come back here together and so I stay strong.
I am in a circle (like a club in America, but circles are more structured than clubs) at Waseda called WIC (Waseda International Club). I have wonderful friends, senpai (seniors), and kouhai (juniors). While I have many friends in Japan before I came here, the majority of people I hang out with recently are WIC members. Here are some of my friends and senpai:
Natsumi, Michiko, Midori-san, Yuri
Right now I am taking courses in Japanese academic writing, comprehensive Japanese, Keigo (polite language), Japanese Socio-linguistics, culture in context (an amazing course), and History of Communication. I really like my classes for the most part.
We don’t have a lot of homework in Japan. America is notorious for busy work, but here it’s up to you to study if you want to pass exams.
Last weekend I went to Osaka to see my best friend Chiharu. 🙂 We haven’t seen each other in over a year and so it was great to finally see here again, even if it was only for a weekend.
We went to Himeji Castle but we didn’t have time to go inside so we stayed on the main grounds.
This is me getting really in touch with my family history…Ha-ha.