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2 posts categorized "Gabrielle Walti"

12/19/2012

Running in Japan

I really love running. Please do not mistake me for an extremely dilligent, somewhat crazy, every-dawn-a-day running machine. I wish I was that motivated. Instead I run when I manage to get myself out of bed or decide to not waste my evening online.

You will not find many people running throughout Tokyo at various times of the day because everyone is either taking care of their children, working, or a tourist (sorry, that's a completely untrue generalization, but is part of the reason I think random runners are not common). I have seen the occasional snazzy-sports-wear-clad runner running around the city in the morning or evening, but compared to my experience living in Hillsboro (OR) and Cambridge (MA), it's not that common.

My host family luckily lives between two rivers, and there are lots of parks/public space around rivers in Japan, so I have been able to go running whenever I choose and am rarely alone. Bicyclists far outnumber runners/joggers/walkers, so there's an unspoken law that slow, non-wheeled people stay to the far left so that speedy cyclists can zoom past.

Sometimes my host mom joins me on a run. Here's a photo of us (more like a photo of the running path + scenery):

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Sometimes my host sisters join us with scooters or skate-boards, though not recently as it's really cold out. Here we are when it was not cold: 

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One thing I do recommend, whether or not it is socially common, is to run in places you vacation to (or just new places). I find getting up early for a run on vacation is much easier than a regular school/work day and when you get yourself out and exploring early, you can scout the scenic places and basically have the town/city/local to yourself. 

About three weeks ago (I think) CIEE went on our big fall trip to Hiroshima and Miyajima. I got up Sunday morning to run through the Peace Park of Hiroshima and it was so much more thought-provoking than walking through with tons of people milling about and taking photos (I get distracted people watching). I stopped a few times to look at details on memorials that caught my eye or to offer some silent wishes for peace to the young, innocent victims and their families.

Monday morning I went on a fabulous run through Miyajima. I went running around 6 AM, which is not that early compared to city life, but the entire place was deserted when I started out. It was so quiet. The sun hadn't risen yet and as I approached the 厳島神社 (Itsukushima Shrine, a very famous shrine in water - if you google it you'll be like, "oh yeah! I've seen photos of that before." Probably.) the flood-lights that lit it through the night went out. And I noticed monks walking around the base of 厳島神社 (normally not possible because the tide comes in the whole day and surround it with water) which made me realize how giant that Tori gate really is. I watched the sun rise accross the bay waters which was beautiful, then ran up to the near mountain where red Momoji leaves covered the ground and I felt like I was running through streams of blood (but in an unreal, beautiful, artsy way... not real blood). As I ran back to the hotel, the few locals trodding through their morning duties looked surprised as I ran past, but we still bowed to each other with the greeting, "おはようございます。" (I, a little breathless and awkward while trying to slow down but not stop running).

All in all, it was a great trip and I am very glad I went running each morning there!  

11/30/2012

Cold Seasons Greetings!

Greetings from Japan! 'Tis the season to get colds, so of course I have recently obtained one and I am sniveling as I write. ^^; I think this is the same in every part of the world, so 大丈夫ですよ!

First, I believe introductions are in order! I am joining the blog rather late with this entry, and promise I've started to compose several posts before, but just never finished due to midterms and colds among other things. ごめんね。。。

My name is Gabby and I grew up in Hillsboro, Oregon, a beatiful place with rain and trees everywhere - all the time. Now I'm in my junior year at Harvard University (on the opposite coast, with rain, snow, and not as many trees), and am currently studying abroad through CIEE for the fall semester here in Tokyo (where it rains seldomly yet has a good amount of trees). I'm an East Asian Studies concentrator (major) and love languages. I enjoy communicating with my host family in very broken Japanese and trying not to forget the Korean and Chinese I learned last year at school.

I think this entry will be a very brief summary of (some of) what I've experienced so far this semester along with my promise to write more specific entries soon!

I arrived in September when it was quite hot and met my host family of four (Mama, Papa, then-5-year-old Kohaku, and baby Midori). We live on a utopian-like island surrounded by the Arakawa (Ara River) and Sumidakawa (Sumida River) in an apartment complex full of young families like our own. It's a good thing I love children. ^^

At the end of September, the CIEE crew went on a great day trip to Kamakura where we saw the ocean, 大仏 (GIANT BUDDHA OF KAMAKURA), and ate ice cream to survive the heat. Here is a wonderful visual of the giant Buddha, Daibutsu, for your viewing pleasure:  IMG_0598

In October I experienced my first Halloween without candy, yet did not miss the Halloween décor. Tokyo has definitely mastered the art of decoration and plenty of stores we covered with pumpkins, bats, and witches (though I also found crabs and bunny rabbits) - I give them an 'A' for effort.

The end of October CIEE had a party for host families and CIEE students to interact and play games with the children. A few of us students even wore a yukata, which was a bit too restricting for my taste, but fun to walk about in and recieve compliments for its beauty. Another image! IMG_0657

To wrap things up for now, I also celebrated my host sister, Kohaku's birthday in October. Then in the beginning of November, I sold bubble tea at Sophia University's school festival. Then somehow made it through midterm tests. And celebrated the end of midterms with a very relaxing trip to 大江戸温泉物語, an onsen theme park with an Edo period themed interior. Onsen, if you do not know, is a Japanese bath from natural hot springs and is AMAZING. I felt so rejuvenated after that trip!

Tomorrow we head off to Hiroshima for our big CIEE fall semester trip! Thanks for reading and happy almost December. ^^

-Gabby