Hi all! My name is Cherise Osaki. I am a 20-year-old college PR major at USC in California, and am blessed with the incredible opportunity to study for a semester at one of the most prestigous universities in JapanーSophia University (上智大学)!
My father is a second-generation Japanese American, so I grew up only speaking English at home. Many things spurred my interest in my Japanese heritage, from the delicious foods and fascinating folklore to the fun fashions and very distinctive culture, but who most affected my love for the Japanese was my dad's cousin, Masako, who came to live with my family in the U.S. for 3 years when I was just a child.
My "Aunt" Masako with my brother and me
My interest in Japanese culture was first sparked through my "Aunt" Masako. I was fascinated by different books she would read to me about Japanese folklore, the delicious Japanese snacks she would give me, and the stories she would tell me about her home country. I vowed to someday experience what her Japan was all about, and got my wish in 2009. Tragically, before I could even board the train from Tokyo to her hometown in Ibaraki Prefecture, she passed away unexpectedly from breast cancer. I was heartbroken, but more determined than ever to fulfill my vow to live in Japan, and eclipse the painful memories of Masako’s passing with new memories of the Japan that she loved. Remembering her gives me the desire to love the people around me in Japan, and reminds me to seize every opportunity God gives me to bless others.
Already two weeks have eclipsed since the CIEE spring term students' arrival in Japan, and it's simply unfathomable to me! Too many wonderful adventures and exciting opportunities have surfaced in this short amount of time, but below are some of the highlights!
The first purikura (プリクラ）of my trip here with some wonderful fellow dorm students on the program!
Purikura (short for "print club") machines are basically photo booths with a twistーthe machines are designed to enlarge your eyes and make your skin whiter and clearer! Some machines will even make your face more heart-shaped, oval-shaped, or square-shaped if you would like. After the photos are taken, you can decorate them with glitter, hearts, pictures, expressions, words, and just about anything you can think of!
We spontaneously decided to watch a Japanese movie (the poster of the film is the one with pink colors and characters in school uniforms)!
This film, called "Ouran High School Host Club" ( 桜蘭高校ホスト部), is about a poor girl at a rich and prestigious prep school who accidentally breaks an expensive vase and is coerced into dressing as a host to pay back the money. The film is extremely entertaining and contains the most ridiculous characters and hilarious exaggerations of stereotypical personalities!
We ate okonomiyaki （お好み焼き) at a small, basement shop in Ikebukuro（池袋). The kind shop owner taught us how to mix and fry our food, and we all had a great time!
Desserts at Milkway Way
If you walk out of Ikebukuro's east exit（池袋の東口) and walk toward Sunshine City, you will notice an adorable dessert shop on the second floor of a busy building that has blue-colored stars pasted around it. This constellation-themed dessert shop is called the Milky Way. The desserts are not cheapーabout 800 yen per parfaitーbut are they amazing and worth it?? Yes!!
Ham sandwiches from Spain and a cute pet flying squirrel!
The relatives of my mom's Japanese friend were kind enough to invite me over to their home for lunch last weekend!! They are the most wonderful people with the most amazing skills (like pottery, painting, jewelry-making, etc.) and the most amazing travel experiences (Spain, the UK, Thailand, Indonesiaーyou name it!). On top of all this...they have a pet flying squirrel (モモンガ) that we fed dried fruit to! Is that not simply the cutest thing ever?!
Various stands at the Meiji-Jungu flea market.
I attended an open market (flea market) in Meiji-Jingu Park last Sunday (明治公園), and it was the most amazing experience ever! People brought various goods to sell, from traditional Japanese clothing to western dresses and stuffed animals! I bought a pair of shoes from here for 400円...and then saw the exact same pair of shoes in Harajuku later that evening for 4,000円! Ten times cheaper? Talk about a good deal!
Our new favorite doner kebab place!
When we were exploring Harajuku (原宿), we popped into this Turkish doner kebab restaurant and absolutely loved it! The people who worked there were also super friendly, giving those who weren't that hungry free food samples and letting us try fun things like the cherry juice they served there!
Making homemade gyoza in our huuuuge dorm kitchen! :D
Voila! 餃子 is actually much easier to make than you would think! It just requires lots of chopping vegetables and time.
All spring semester CIEE students took a day trip to Kamakura（鎌倉) earlier this week!!
My team (we're separated into about 12 teams of six people each) with our wonderful tour guide, Kanda-san, and the beautiful view of the ocean!
The cherry blossoms (sakura/桜) are not quite in bloom yet in Kamakuraーbut they are still beautiful nonetheless!
We were even able to see a traditional Japanese wedding! :D
So far, so great! Classes haven't even started yet, but already the time spent here has been so enriching! I am beyond excited for the experiences that will come when school DOES start this upcoming Thursday, and am excited to share the highlights of my experiences with all of you!