Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Message from Japan: Ariqa Herrera

We are excited to share special messages from AU students who are currently studying in Japan. These include insights and observations that you might find especially useful when you arrive in Japan. Please feel free to leave a comment and let us know your thoughts or questions.

Ariqa Herrera
Ritsumeikan University

When people think about studying abroad in Japan, most immediately think to go to Tokyo. I decided to do my study abroad in Kyoto because I wanted the modern Japanese experience without compromising on the traditional aspect of it. Studying in Kyoto has been one of the best things I’ve experienced since I’ve been in college because not only is there a ton to see and do in Kyoto, there are so many nearby cities that you can take day or weekend trips to and see more of the country.

In Kyoto, there is a host of many old and famous temples that you visit like Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Temple, or Kiyomizu Dera, a temple that overlooks all of Kyoto, or you can go to a monthly flea market at Toji Temple. My favorite temple that I’ve visited has been Ginkaku-ji, the Silver Temple, because the history is fascinating and the grounds, beautiful. You also have to walk up a street of vendors before getting to the temple and it has such a fun energy to it. The people here are usually very friendly too, though some will openly gape at me simply because I am a foreigner. Ritsumeikan University is considered to be located in the countryside of Kyoto so the houses are old and traditional and I pass by Ryoanji, a large temple, every day on my commute to school.

Kyoto also has the largest student population in all of Japan so if you visit Kawaramachi in the evening, there is a ton of life and fun things to do.  My friends and I will go down to the river in Kawaramachi to sit and drink while so many other students around us are hanging out or playing live music. You can also wander the streets of Kawaramachi and find parfait shops or purikura, which are Japanese photo booths.

Nara, Osaka, and Kobe are all located very close to Kyoto and you can get there by the Hankyu which is a cheaper alternative to Japan Rails. Nara is famous for its Deer Park which I still haven’t had a chance to visit yet. Osaka is known for its food and Osaka Castle, which is my favorite part of it, or visit Universal Studios Japan. Kobe is probably the furthest city but it’s a great place to visit if you want to try the famous Kobe beef or just see a Japanese port city. The Kansai region, where Kyoto is located, has been one of my favorite places to live simply because of all the incredible things you can do that it’s difficult to grow bored of it.

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