Author Archives: Justine Underhill

About Justine Underhill

A native of DC, Justine attended Sophia University in Tokyo, where the spring semester starts in April and ends in August. As an Economics and Theater & Performing Arts major she took econ classes by day and went to shows by night. Playing with origami, sushi making, kabuki, puppetry, calligraphy, comics and robots all indulge her own uncommonly divergent passions for theater, design, economics and mathematics. Justine’s prior experience as an exchange student in HS took her to Bavois, Switzerland, where cows outnumbered people and there was no internet access in the home. In Tokyo, she faced life at the other extreme, in a dense urban center bustling with technology.

“Drunk on Jin,” or How Not To Date A Japanese Pop Star

“Oh my god! Are you kidding!?? That’s Akanishi Jin!!! He’s a pop star!!!!” My Chinese friend, Jennifer, squealed these words to my French friend, Colette, upon learning that the guy Colette had just met at a night club gave her … Continue reading

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Justine’s 14 Do’s and Don’ts in Tokyo

May 20, 2010 For those of you planning to visit the land of the rising sun here are some tips to keep in mind: (For those of you not planning a visit to Japan, try following these practices at home … Continue reading

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The OIP Advice I Didn’t Take

April 29, 2010 Sophia University, located in one of the nicest areas of downtown Tokyo, has no on-campus housing (most Japanese students live with their parents), making the task of selecting housing for the study-abroad period not a simple one.  … Continue reading

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Where cartoon characters decorate construction sites

April 14, 2010. It was silent as I waited in the Softbank store to pick up my cell phone.  A woman with a tray came over to me and offered me a selection of juices.  I only recognized the orange … Continue reading

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A shrine to honor the dead confuses peace with war, and forgiveness with forgetfulness

This is another blog I composed for the Junior Year Abroad Network: On a rainy afternoon after my Japanese history class, I decided to explore a jinja (shrine) in the neighborhood of the university campus–one known for its imperial grandeur. … Continue reading

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The campus that bans bicycles

I was delighted with my new bike.  Of course, it was not really a ‘new’ bike, since I bought it second hand—but that made it even more special.  I had been in Japan a mere six days and managed to … Continue reading

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Suicide in Tokyo: a nuisance, a right, or a crisis?

This is a blog that I wrote in May for the Junior Year Abroad Network, and I want to share it here: The Japanese take great pride in having the most punctual train system in the world. If there is … Continue reading

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Japanese Lesson Day 5

“Chotoo…” a smooth female voice flows from my computer.  I immediately repeat these foreign syllables; they fall out of my mouth and hit the ground vaguely resembling the sounds of my Japanese computer program.  A male voice interrupts me “This … Continue reading

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