First, a little info about myself. My name is Cynthia Liang and I am a student from the University of Oregon. My family is from Taiwan however, I was born and raised in the city of Portland, Oregon itself so you can say I am bit of an expert on the weird, spring allergies and year long rainy weather!
In terms of education I am double majoring in International Studies and Japanese. I wanted to study in Japan to not only improve (hopefully) my language skills but to experience and learn as much as I can about Japanese culture as it is something that has always fascinated me as a child. The reason being...since I was a kid, going back to Taiwan equated to frequent exposure to Japanese popular culture as it permeated every possible outlet in Taiwan. You see Taiwan definitely had a love affair with Japan from everything from Japanese television to drama, to Japanese fashion and food. Naturally as I got older, from my childhood experience, I developed an interest in wanting to know more about the culture that so influenced my family's home country.
Currently, it has already been over a month and a half since I first set foot in Tokyo this September. So much has happened since then that I can almost fool myself into believing that I have been here much longer. Before I got acquainted with my host family, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit some sites planned out by CIEE staff. First we visited Narita-san, a beautiful temple near Narita airport.
Afterwards we had a guided bus tour to get ourselves acquainted with some popular/famous areas in Tokyo. We also were able to visit the famed Asakusa temple where I drew one of the best luck of the year slips from the temple (Win for me!). Back on the bus everyone had some much needed rest on the bus due to our jet lag and probably some essential mental adjusting to the fact that we were all finally here in Tokyo! I myself was mentally noting all the cool places I wanted to visit within my first month here. Which luckily I got to do almost immediately!
One of the many notable things I have done since my arrival here has been the opportunity to go to a maid cafe in Akihabara (AKA Otaku Paradise). Just to be even more awesome, I visited not just any run-of-the-mill-cutesy-maid cafe--I visited a samurai maid cafe. And although there were strict rules against photography in the cafes without first paying, overall the cutesy games and service provided along side the experience and fact that you can say "I did it" are well worth it. Although some people might find the fact that Akihabara's streets being populated abundantly with maids and maid cafes (even butlers) a tad bit intimidating--or just plain weird. However I myself have always been intrigued by this widely popularized and commercialized market niche for maid cafes and the like. Also, if they exist and have been able to for quite some time now, it just means its fulfilling the needs of someone out there and all the more power to them.
Although bad for my health I have always been a huge sweets addict (and food + buffets but mainly desserts yum!). Finding out from a Professor of mine that Japan offered Cake buffets (or cake vikings as its called here), you guessed it, all you can eat cake, landed cake buffets as another huge reason for me to visit the mystical and wondrous land of Japan. And eat cakes I did.
I visited the cake buffet aptly named Bittersweet in Shinjuku, which offered a good selection of cakes, crepes, waffles and even pizza and pastas alongside tea and coffee. I would go there everyday if I didn't have to worry about becoming diabetic.
As you can tell from the Halloween decorations on the desserts. Halloween itself is coming up soon! This weekend in fact is Halloween. And although only recently has Japan started to embrace more Halloween themed decorations and traditions. It seems the young people of Japan (plus exchange students of course) celebrate it in all its candied costumed glory much like they do in the United States.
So far Japan itself has been a dream come true for me and there are still many more places and things I'd love to see (and eat). Keep your eyes peeled for my next adventures, until next time! Also I wish everyone a fun and safe Halloween!