Friday, January 7, 2011

高 知 大 学

日十と十一番: Days 10 & 11

Finally, the day to explore Kochi University had arrived. We were greeted by two of the professors, both of whom recognized me from a trip they had paid to Fresno during the fall semester.

Aboard the bus which would take us to the three university campuses were a few English-learning students from the school, most of whom were rather elderly as well as a couple Chinese exchange students. Yet, everyone was eager to interact and converse, whether it was to practice English or to practice Japanese. Many conversations would be had throughout the day.

We had several stops planned for the day including the university, the first of which was the medical campus. After a short look around, we headed for the agricultural campus and stopped inside the Kochi Institute for (Earth) Core Sample Research… where my katakana reading abilities was tested by one of the elderly women touring with us. I am proud to say I performed very well.

Following lunch, we headed to the beach and to the Sakamoto Ryoma memorial, a famous samurai of the area. It was a bit too cold to fully enjoy the beach, but the fresh air of the sea is always so good to breathe in. The whole area was beautiful and had a cliffside shrine.

Sakamoto Ryoma

Group shot

Corina and myself. It’s so awesome to go on a trip and meet really cool people. We found out we’re in the same Japanese class next semester so we’re pretty excited ^_^

After the beach, we visited a viewpoint that oversaw the city of Kochi and all I could think of was how marvelous it would look at night with the entire city aglow.

The next part of the day consisted of a visit to a Buddhist shrine.
Since I am indeed the only blonde around, my hair color has become a bit of a joke in the group and this was further encouraged when the gentleman on the trip with us inquired if my hair was real (assuming he meant the color) then nodded thoughtfully and walked away when I assured him that it was.

The last destination of the day was the Asakura campus of Kochi University, the main campus, where we were shown a Yosakoi dance (dance originated in the Kochi area) by one of the university dance teams. We were then invited to take part but it mostly ended in a lot of confusion and laughter.

We concluded the evening by visiting a local ramen shop and then watching Ramen Girl with our sensei.
(I apologize for the jokes and commentary).

And as the last day in Kochi was left without schedule, I mostly did laundry, packed and conversed with my usual group. However, I was also given time to reflect a little.

The thing that I love most about traveling is that it forces you to leave behind the television, the computer (for the most part) and too many woories, and to actually get outside exploring the world and its wonders.

On this trip to Japan (and all other vacations I have taken in the past like Hawaii, France, Spain, etc) there are so many beautiful things to be seen and appreciated, no matter where you go. It opens you up to the wonder and beauty that exists everywhere, that sometimes you do not appreciate if you have lived in one area for a long time. After all, I lived in Yosemite for several years and while the national park amazes people from around the world, to me it has become a mundane area that I hardly ever think about…

Traveling also forces you to think in new ways, whether it is a new language or foreign customs, and it opens you up to entirely new perspectives.

We are all a common people living essentially together, yet are so divided by borders that do not exist in a literal sense. Traveling allows you to get outside the narrow vision of residing and being accustomed to one culture and permits you to expand as an individual. Even if you do not agree with someone’s lifestyle or are not taken to their cuisine, it can help you see where they are coming from and understand rather than impulsively shun something that is simply new to you.

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