It has been a while since I last posted, but I finally returned to the United States from Japan exactly two weeks ago today. These eleven months passed by extremely quickly, and I am still in sort of a state of disbelief – adjusting back to life in the States hasn’t been as difficult as I imagined it would be (though we’ll see how that changes once I move back into Georgetown!), though it feels somewhat odd now that I’ve been away for almost a year. As a final post, I’ll take a look back at two of my final journeys around Japan.
Japan is beautiful. Urban life in Tokyo has its own charm, but one of the things that I enjoyed a lot was exploring scenic spots outside of major cities. Lakes, forests, mountains, beaches, rivers, small towns – adventuring around was convenient and always brought out a new perspective with which to view Japan. Since my spring semester ended up more lax, I had more time to go out and explore on weekends and breaks. I spent one of these weekends in July hiking Mount Fuji, home to Japan’s highest point. Reaching the summit at sunrise and looking off into the distance was astounding. The moment the sun broke through the clouds, the sky glowed beautifully, illuminating all of the nature around the base of the mountain. Although the hike itself was fairly exhausting, and I didn’t get any sleep in the hut the night before, seeing the sunrise made me feel completely awake. The hike to the top felt completely rewarding, and the views during the descent made everything worthwhile as well – I couldn’t have asked for a better way to signal the end of my year-long study abroad journey.
On a completely separate trip, I made my way over to Tottori Prefecture, a mainly coastal region in the center-north-west of Japan. Tottori contains the only desert region in Japan – the Tottori Sand Dunes – which atmosphere-wise felt like the complete antithesis of Mount Fuji. The sun was blazing down from above, and although a cool breeze emanated from the sea, it failed to offer much respite from the heat. Nevertheless, the coastal scenery was still breathtaking, as was the vastness, height, and sheer immensity of the dunes themselves. Nearby, a museum exhibited amazing sculptures made from the sand from the dunes. This year, the exhibition centered around the United States, and it was cool to see the representation of American icons, settings, and symbols.
Other than the dunes, at the suggestion of one of my friends, I visited the port town of Iwami, which offered its own quaint image of a quiet Japanese setting. It utterly amazes me just how many beautiful scenes are hidden away in isolated areas. Although there were a few other places that I couldn’t visit this year (namely Hiroshima and the Kansai area), overall, I’m extremely satisfied with the amount of exploring I’ve gotten to do this year. Travelling has perhaps been the best part of this year for me, allowing me to get a breath of fresh air and enjoy the views Japan has to offer.
Studying abroad has offered one of the best times of my life so far. In addition to instilling the spirit of adventure within me, I’ve gained new insight, achieved greater self-confidence, and learned a lot more about the world. I look forward to bringing my experiences back with me to the Hilltop, and I can’t wait to return to Japan and continue exploring new places in the future. For anyone who’s considering studying abroad (especially to Japan!), I highly encourage it – a new adventure awaits every day. Thanks for reading!
Until the next adventure!