Click here for Part 1: Field trips
Without a doubt, the highlight of my time in Japan was the Kansai Excursion. I finally got to ride on the shinkansen for the first time and I got to visit the temples I had studied back home, including experiencing meditation as taught by a real Buddhist priest. The hotel was really nice, and even though it was kind of intimidating at first, in the name of adventure, we all decided to try a public bath for the first time. The second day of the trip was earmarked for free time, and my friends and I decided to use that time to see all of Kansai. We started off at Kinkakuji in Kyoto, moved to Nara to see Todaiji and Nara Koen, and finished the day in Osaka. Nara was by far my favorite, and my recommendation for anyone going on the Kansai Excursion in the future.
JSP isn’t always the only option for planned travel, as the classes you’ll take will probably offer some sort of hands-on field trip as well. I was lucky enough to go with one of my classes to Fukushima to help plant rice, and I also got an in-depth look at Akihabara through another class as well. Now that the program is ending and I’m looking back on it all, I can say that I’m happy with what I was able to see, do, and accomplish in Japan, and both JSP and TIU helped me to do it all.
My advice to incoming JSP? Four months is shorter than it sounds, so try to come with a goal in mind so you can make the most of your time here! Is your purpose for visiting Japan studying the language? Making new friends? Experiencing the culture? Whatever it is, best of luck in your endeavors! Just make sure to put down the books and schedule in a day trip here or there, because Japan has so much to offer.