Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The One Where I Went To Japan


Can it be? Already 6 whole months since I was in Japan? Was I really halfway around the world? It seems like last week, yet some parts have become blurry.

Yes, that is the famous Mt. Fuji! I woke up at sunrise (4:30 am, no biggie) with a friend to take this picture.

At the beginning of July 2012, I went with a group of nine other people from my church to Okutama and Tokyo, Japan for two weeks. We helped with the Japan SEND annual conference, from Vacation Bible School for the kids to leading worship and providing the speaker.

It was amazing, from seeing the missionaries and hearing their stories, to traveling around JAPAN. The scenery was breathtaking, with plants and water everywhere. Could it be more different? I live in Kansas, everyone. Southwest Kansas.

Here's some highlights from my trip:
+ One day I went on a walk around the Tama River with some friends and took hours of pictures on my then-brand new dSLR. I think it was somewhere around 800 pictures or so? Yeah, you could say it was kind of pretty there.

+ Tokyo is amazing. And so huge! I guess Okutama, where we spent most of our time, is actually part of Tokyo. Tokyo is not only one of the biggest cities in the world, but pretty much an entire prefecture, or county, by itself. With so many millions of people in the busiest subway system and station in the world, I was fighting claustrophobia quuuiiiite a bit.

+ I climbed on Mount Fuji. How cool is that?! No, I didn't climb the whole thing. I wasn't a big fan of waking up at 2 or 3 a.m. with the guys, so I opted to climb only a few stations with the rest of the women. I wish I would've climbed through the middle of the night, so I could actually have climbed to the top. Either way, I'm very thankful for such an amazing opportunity!

+ I stayed up way longer than I think I've ever gone before. Jet lag is weird. Really weird. Also, an international flight over an ocean seems to take a lot longer when you can't sleep at all. When I arrived in Tokyo, I was forced to stay up until night their time (the time conversion is basically -2 hours from CST, then switch a.m. & p.m. // While we were there, we did +2 and switched a.m. & p.m. Make sense?) plus I don't think I was actually hungry the entire time. I don't know if it's just me, but always eating in the middle of the night is kind of strange.

This was our idea of a picture to show how tired we were. This was on
hour #24. I bet you can't tell at all! (I'm on the right)

+ The food. So good! You wouldn't think that I would enjoy eating mainly rice (chopsticks, FTW!), and even though I really wasn't hungry, I loved it! The majority of our meals were at OBC for the conference, but we did have several meals in Tokyo. Including one at TGI Friday's (you have no idea how happy the guys were for actual beef!). Anyway, I really enjoyed having rice a lot. The fish I'll have to get used to, seeing as I'm from the middle of the US. We don't really have seafood... But overall it was great! We had legitimate Shoyu Ramen noodles, not the kind in a package that cost like 30 cents, and they're are actually really, really good. My favorite was a toss-up between Yaki Soba and a beef, onion and rice bowl at a small Tokyo restaurant. Yum!

These were some of the authentic Japanese meals we had during the trip:
1. An obento box meal from a convenience store. This was chicken!
2. The beef, onion and rice bowl that I loved
3. The legit Shoyu Ramen from "Ramen Square" in Tokyo
4. Of course we had sushi in Japan! This was at a fish market in Tokyo

Because I can't tell you everything about my trip to Japan, I thought I'd share a few more pictures. It was hard choosing so few pictures! I hope you enjoy them :)

On the very steep path down to the Tama River

This was our view for the majority of our time on Mt. Fuji.
I wasn't complaining!

Because who doesn't want to go rafting in Japan?
And then jump off a giant rock :)

In the "teen district," or Harujuko Street, in Tokyo with some friends.

There should be at least one picture of me with my hair down, and I know
it was it down a lot! I think this was in the twin observatories in Tokyo.

Aaaand cue the awkward "I haven't slept in 30 hours so I'm finally
making my bed" picture. This is a futon bed on the traditional Tatami mat,
which was surprisingly comfortable.
While I had a great time on this trip, I felt so bad when I saw the millions of Japanese people who might never hear the gospel. So many follow Shintuism, Buddhism, as well as Catholicism, depending on the season. I pray that we will be able to reach more for Christ in one of the world's largest unreached people group, and the "missionary graveyard."

It breaks my heart just thinking of that. I hope that I will be able to go back to Japan (!) in order to both see more sights and help the missionaries that I grew close to in those few days.

I'd like to thank my friend and traveling companion, Janae, for a few of these lovely pictures! It's hard to tell who took what picture, since we constantly took pictures of the same things the entire trip :)

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