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7 posts categorized "Hana Rudolph"

07/27/2012

Last Days

Well it's down to the last couple days here in Tokyo, so I thought I would write a quick blog post about how I plan to spend it. Thankfully, I have about a week left in Japan, as I'll be heading back to Okayama before I go home to the US, but I leave Tokyo on August 2nd... :( This is officially my last weekend of this amazing study abroad experience I've been wonderfully priviliged to have. 

So, what do I plan to do? Unfortunately, I'm one of the [un]lucky few to have three final papers to write (I had two final exams too! The world is not fair), so that will definitely take up a good chunk of my weekend. A 10-page paper for Regional Security, 12-page paper for Japanese Government, 3-page (okay, don't laugh-- it's hard to write three pages in Japanese, especially about a societal issue like suicide when your sources have to be in Japanese) paper for Japanese.... ahh. Sad weekend up ahead. But I'm trying to make it a little bit better. Such as....

I'm going to Disney Sea again!! Disney has this great after 5 discount, where its 3,300 yen to enter the park after 5 pm. I'll be doing that today(: I'll get to see fireworks, which I'm excited about. What's a summer in Japan without fireworks?

On Saturday, I have one last circle activity with SPH, the AKB imitation group I joined. We'll be doing some yearbook photos and one last presentation? I think, haha. Then I'll be going to my synagogue to say my goodbyes, followed by a nice nomikai with some CIEE program friends!

Though I may not be in the best state of productivity Sunday morning, my plan is to crank out those three papers I have to write, as well as complete some last minute shoppping for myself and friends back home! I also have to buy omiyage (gifts) for people here who have been super hospitable to me.

Monday is more crunch time paper writing, because I want to get them all done before Hakone on Tuesday!! And Wednesday will be time for goodbyes before everyone leaves Thursday....

Goodbyes are always hard, and I'll definitely miss all the amazing friends I've made here. Sure, I miss plenty back home and I've had my share of homesickness, but right now it's hard to think about anything except how much I'm going to miss everyone :( It's been a wonderful four months!!

 

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07/20/2012

Sharing Tokyo<3

My sister came to visit me!! For five days, I got the wonderful opportunity to show my sister around Tokyo, and it was absolutely so much fun. My sister and I, though she's about three years younger than me, are super close, and I honestly had been really missing her during the months in Japan. Especially with the time difference, it's harder than ever while here to keep up with family. So it was really nice to be able to be with her again, catch up, and show her my life here.

Wednesday I have no classes-- one of the weird but wonderful aspects of Sophia's course scheduling-- so she and I went to Tokyo Disney Sea for the day!! My grandmother had free tickets because she apparently holds stock, so we got to get into the park for free. It was kind of crowded because a new Toy Story ride had opened up (we didn't get to ride it!! the wait time was over 3 hours long and there was way too much other stuff to do and see), but so much fun nonetheless.

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My cute sister and me(:

 

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The insanely popular Toy Story ride!

 

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Some Disney Sea performers

 

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The following day I had classes!! Thankfully, I have a wonderful friend who didn't (she ends early), so she graciously took my sister to the Tokyo National Museum. My sister is usually into art, but both found the museum old and dusty, so headed instead to the Ueno Zoo. Unfortunately they learned there that one of the baby pandas had died that morning!! But they had fun, despite the mourning.

I also took my sister to a bunch of food places (Yakiniku, Kaiten Sushi, Kebabs, Crepes, Indian...) and my favorite shopping sites. She had literally come to visit me in order to shop, so we hit a TON of stores! She's a cheapskate like me, so we mostly hang out in the sale sections of H&M, Forever, and Topshop (they had some crazy 80% off sales going on)... as well as some thrift stores in Shimokitazawa. We toured Harajuku for fun too(:

I headed up with my sister to Osaka to drop her off before her flight with the rest of my family from Japan back home! They were spending the night before a flight the next morning, so I had the chance to spend a day with my mother, grandmother and other sister too~ We decided to spend the afternoon at a small zoo.... WHERE I GOT TO FEED A SLOTH.

Sloths are almost my favorite animals. After bunnies and turtles.

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I also got to hold an armadillo, feed some squirrel monkeys, and feed some giant capibara. I really don't understand the appeal of the capibara. They're kinda scary. 

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My mom got a little scared of the capibara too

 I was sad to say goodbye to my family, but I'll be seeing them in a couple weeks! As much as I love Japan, home is home<3

06/26/2012

Cramming in the Sightseeing

It's crazy, but the time is flying by and I have little over a month left here in Tokyo. I'll be back for sure, because I absolutely love this place-- it may just be my favorite city, what with all the lights and activities and people...not to the mention the food and the shopping... But things like a study abroad experience can't be relived; it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I'm trying to enjoy it to its fullest.

Looking back, I feel like I spent the first two months here moving in, getting into the swing of things, learning my way around school and the city, trying to get into a rhythm and pace of life so that I can feel comfortable calling this my home. I explored my commuter pass stops, getting to know all the cheapest stores in Shinjuku and Ikebukuro; I developed my favorite "regular" food places, like Indian on Wednesdays, weekly sushi in Ikebukuro and kebabs when in Harajuku.

Now I'm trying to venture farther out, like going to places maybe a little more expensive to get to, whether based on my guide book, random recommendations, or just pure interest in a station name. It's been a really good decision, because I feel like it's now that I'm truly starting to be able to call this city more of a home, even if it's so soon before I have to leave. No matter! I'll be back!(:

Below are some food and places I highly highly highly recommend checking out:

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Indian: the naan is magnificent. Tabehodai too! (All you can eat) The workers recognize us all now!

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Kebabs: too good. 500 yen is an amazing price too, for all the meat they give~

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An Ajisai (Hydrangea) Festival I went to recently! When you start looking for these events, you can find them: this was advertised on the Seibu line train and we got in with a discount(:

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The sculpture of the flying croissant in Ebisu! For drama fans, Ebisu is where Domyouji waits for Tsukushi in the drama "Hana Yori Dango" (Boys Over Flowers); for beer fans, it's the site of Ebisu Beer Museum!

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For the middle of Shinjuku, one of the busiest districts in Tokyo, Shinjuku Gyoen is beautifully peaceful and serence. For a mere 200 yen admissions fee, the park is  a perfect place to relax and escape the urban craziness.

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Tokyo Disneyland! I lucked out because I got free tickets (my grandmother holds stock), but so incredibly worth it. I had an amazing day there!!

There's a ton more places I could recommend (Shimokitazawa for vintage shopping; Ueno and Kichijochi for parks, etc.), but I can't ruin all the fun of simply exploring and adventuring(: If you have a chance to be in Tokyo though, my sole piece of advice is to get lost in the city. Let go and have fun going everywhere you absolutely can, but without an itinerary. I promise it's worth it. 

06/11/2012

Oedo Antique Market

I recently heard about the Oedo Antique Market. With over 250 dealers, it's known to be  Japan's largest antique fair, held every first and third Sunday in the courtyard of Tokyo International Forum in Yurakucho. Last weekend I decided to check it out!

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One of the many booths!

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These mini perfume bottles are so cute!

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Beautiful tophat in tophat-box

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This silverware was absolutely beautiful.

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Posing with some potential finds?

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The Chairman waves his hand when wound up. 

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Our finds for the day! 

Later my friends and I walked to Ginza, one subway stop away, in order to just see the high end shops and visit an amazing bakery. 

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キムラヤのパン:Kimuraya Bakery! 

The bakery was super popular so we headed outside to eat on the curbside. Some random Japanese men took pictures of us eating...

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But my friends have beautiful eating faces, so I'm not surprised. We then made a pit stop in Akihabara (Akiba) for some errands. It was my first time seeing all the maids advertising their cafes everywhere!

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I'm so happy to be able to claim Tokyo as my home for these four months<3

05/22/2012

Rabbit Cafe!!

I know I promised a post on my Golden Week, but I'm super excited about something else right now that I had to share: RABBIT CAFES. (ウサギカフェ<3)

I'm mildly obsessed with bunnies. I think they're the absolutely cutest animals ever. I have bunny prints clothes (H&M had a really cute line; just saying), I have at least five stuffed animal bunnies (from when I was younger...). I used to own two bunnies-- Choco and Cocoa!

I've really been missing cuddling with my bunnies, but thankfully I'm in luck by simply being here in Tokyo, home to the bunny cafe phenomenon. Ra.a.g.f, "Rabbit and Grow Fat," is the cafe I chose to go to, conveniently located in Harajuku. With the option to pay 600 yen for a half hour or 1000 yen for an hour, cafe patrons get to relaxingly sip on iced coffee or lemonade while playing with the many cute bunnies there. For those looking for a new pet, there are even some bunnies for purchase! I'm not really sure how the system would work, but they were all very adorable. 

I highly, highly recommend. I will be going back very soon~

579913_3629858979565_1066800011_3294693_2034829804_nCherise in front of the store sign~

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Bunnies for sale~

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Cherise and I playing with the bunnies

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Our drinks/free food for the bunnies by simply liking them on Facebook!

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A massive feeder rabbit cuddling up to one of the cafe workers

And that's it for now! Again, if you have the chance, go. So worth it. 

 

 

04/29/2012

Classes and Circles!

Hi again! It's been a month already since coming to Tokyo and it has flown by!! I honestly don't know where all the time has gone, but I've got three months left, and am determined to make the very most of it. For starters, I'm in Ito-- a peninsula just close to Tokyo. I highly highly recommend it: I don't have pictures just yet, but the guest house we're staying at (K's House) is absolutely beautiful, and the surrounding area is just breathtaking. Expect a new blog soon with details about my weekend here! I'll also be going to Kyoto next weekend, because this week is Golden Week, which means days off of school, and what is better than travelling?

This post may be a little short on photos, because I'm dedicating it to talk about clubs and classes (I promise, photos in my next post!). Classes here are great-- I really love all the classes I'm taking. This semester I have Japanese Government and Politics (the professor is really good at lecturing; he tells interesting stories and isn't afraid to bluntly express his opinion on a subject), Introduction to Japanese Literature (I'm taking it with a bunch of people in my dorm, so it's really fun! I'm excited to touch on classics like the Tale of Genji), Regional Security in Northeast Asia (this professor is just ridiculous-- he's so funny, and yet the discussions he inspires are really informative and engaging), and of course, Japanese. I would have to say that my Japanese class is the toughest, but the professors are very good and I'm excited for the level of Japanese I'll be at once this semester is over!

I have to say though, that I'm much more excited about the circle (clubs) I've joined. AKB48 is a big pop idol group in Japan, composed of (supposedly, though probably more) 48 girls. AKB48 has inspired various colleges nationwide to create imitation groups, and Sophia University has its own SPH48, of which I am a new member. 

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The SPH48 chalkboard at freshman orientation week! I really just wanted to wear those schoolgirl outfits...

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Trying on the uniform (costume)!

We perform the dances that AKB48 does on their concert tours, music videos, etc. at venues such as clubs, school events, and stores. Coming up mid-May I'll get to perform with this fun group of girls for a school event, and then a week later at a CD store. I'm so excited! I'm currently learning two dances, and they're really tough since I can't dance, but ridiculous fun. Circles are really an amazing way to interact with Japanese college kids and learn colloquial language. The girls in SPH48 are all very fluent in English (as are many people at Sophia University) so when I get confused they translate for me, but for the most part we all converse in Japanese. 

 

Other than classes, clubs, and my current vacation plans, life has been pretty chill. Quick photo montage!

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Celebrating a friend's birthday at Sweet's Paradise! Dessert buffet for 1500 yen? Count me in~ 

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Trying amazake (sweet rice wine) at hanami! Check Cherise's post below (again lol) for more details on the Japanese tradition of looking at sakura flowers.

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With some of the other dorm girls! 

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Pre-clubbing in Roppongi! We got these amazing kebabs that we keep going back for. Roppongi is a little sketchy though, so just be careful~ 

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Hanging out with some friends at an arcade in Ikebukuro. Ikebukuro is one of the train stops on the way home from school, which means that with my commuter pass, I get to stop there whenever I want for free! Which is so much fun and saves a ton of money, cuz we've been busy exploring Tokyo~

That's it for now! I'll try to post soon with more pictures about my Golden Week travels!  

 

 

04/08/2012

よろしく!

Hello all!

My name is Hana Rudolph; I'm an East Asian Studies (EAS) and Political Science major from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. はじめまして!Nice to meet you!

As a sophomore, I only recently switched my major to EAS this past summer-- and with that, decided I would study abroad in Japan the following spring semester. Since my mother is Japanese, I've always had a somewhat obvious interest in Japan. My grandparents live here, and I try to visit every summer for three to four weeks. I even lived in Japan for a year when I was in elementary school. Unfortunately though, I didn't become fluent, and despite a couple years of high school and college courses in Japanese language and grammar, I'm still far from proficient in the language. 

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A family reunion a couple years ago in Okayama prefecture, where my grandparents live.

Beyond simply communicating with family and identifying with my country (I'm very grateful to hold dual citizenship), I want to be involved in internation relations beween the United States and Japan upon graduation, so becoming fluent is really important to me. While classes at Sophia University are taught in English, the Japanese language program is known to be amazing, so I'm excited to learn a lot! 

Out of the 60-some students that came to Tokyo for the CIEE Spring program, I'm one of the 20 that are staying in the dorms. It's so much fun! It's actually a guesthouse, so there are people staying in the same building who aren't foreign  students but everyday Japanese people. It's really great to be together with people in the CIEE program--especially when classes begin, studying will be so much more enjoyable!--while also having a chance to interact with people from all over Japan. Later today we're all going to hana-mi (花見; literally, see flowers) at a local park,  because the sakura flowers are just starting to bloom all over Tokyo. 

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The cherry blossom trees are simply gorgeous-- it's really crazy to see them all over the busy Tokyo metropolis.

Unfortunately, the downside to dorms is cooking. I'm kind of awful at it, so it's been somewhat difficult and expensive to keep myself fed, but this is a chance to get better at cooking, right? Last Sunday I made gyoza with some other kids in the dorm (for pictures, see Cherise's post!). Everyone was so nice and made it with beef instead of pork, which is what most gyoza is typically made of, since I keep kosher. (Another reason why I decided to dorm-- Passover just started last night, and I couldn't ask a host family to not make bread or rice for a week.) It tasted absolutely amazing. We're all going to make okonomiyaki next! 

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The huge dining hall of DK House!

I've done so much since arriving in Tokyo that it's absolutely impossible to recount what's happened in just a week, but here's a few pictorial highlights:

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A group photo with a rabbit (?) advertising a blood drive in Harajuku for our Orientation scavenger hunt.

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Looking to go karaoke-ing in Shinjuku!

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Anyone who doesn't know what this wooden cutout is, needs to watch the Miyazaki animation My Neighbor Totoro

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Another Orientation group photo, in front of the giant Buddha in Kamakura!

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Some purikura (decorated photo booth stickers) from our first night in Tokyo.

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A super delicious kaiten-sushi (回転寿司) place: the sushi goes around the restaurant on a revolving belt, providing a cheaper way to eat my favorite Japanese food.

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A bunch of the dorm students at our station platform, Fujimidai (富士見台), before we head out for the night.

There's always so much to do in Tokyo, so I'll keep you all posted with stories and photos! Classes [finally!] start Thursday, so we're all excited here to see how the teachers and courseloads will be like. またね!'Till next time~