High School - Japan, High School Abroad

Just a Stroll in Japan

by Colleen McCollum, Greenheart Travel High School Abroad Participant in Japan

Sometimes the best way to experience a foreign country is to just walk. I headed out the door with a cheerful “ittekimasu!” (the Japanese word used when leaving the house). My iPod was in my pocket, offering a soundtrack to my afternoon, and my camera was slung around my wrist. I wandered through narrow neighborhood lanes. Neat houses, tall and thin, squeezed together in the same way their inhabitants fill the trains. Flowering trees bended their branches overhead. Acorns crushed by passing cars littered the cement beneath my feet. If I crouched down, I could see the green moss hiding in the corners of the stairways, keeping to the cool shadows.

Above, telephone lines criss-crossed my view of a cloudless blue sky. Fifteen minutes and I reached a larger road lined with stores. Cars zoomed past in all their shades of black and white. An occasional red or blue caught my eye. People hurried on their daily errands, carrrying bags of groceries and pushing baby carriages, dodging the bicycles that rolled past.

Down the road, up a hill, I came in sight of a temple. Beautiful old trees draped in perfectly constucted spider webs. In their midst, ancient buildings of worship sat tranquilly at ease. White stone statues guarded the mighty gateway. I walked on, past a junior high school echoing with the yells of its baseball team. The hard-working boys were practicing on a national holiday. Not at all a rare occurence in this country.

Farther on, I came in site of a graveyard. I circled the area, taking in the hapharzard rows of meticulously clean gravestones, smoothly polished and adorned with flowers from loved ones. It was a quiet walk. I eventually turned back home.

As I strolled along narrow little sidewalks, I marveled at the October heat. Two days ago, pouring rain chilled the city, but today summer showed its face for one last time before autumn. It was a mere shadow of the temperatures that weighed down the country in July, but warm nonetheless. The sky, smothered in clouds yesterday, was a spotless dome now. Birds chirped from unknown perches in the shady branches. In the distance, Mt. Fuji’s symmetrical silhouette could be seen. A perfect day for a walk.

About Greenheart Travel

CCI Greenheart Travel is personally invested in providing cultural immersion programs that change lives, advance careers and create leaders. We achieve this by partnering with organizations and governments overseas that empower their local communities through experiential learning and practical development. We provide others with the same positive travel experiences in which we ourselves engage. Through travel and cultural exchange, we help individuals reach their full potential, leading to a more tolerant, peaceful and environmentally sustainable world.

Discussion

3 thoughts on “Just a Stroll in Japan

  1. Hi Colleen,
    Miss Eliseo and read your recent blog together…we both felt we were right there with you as you strolled along. Sounds like you are feeling quite at home. Hope you are enjoying the food and culture. I sometimes miss the times we were in Okinawa…It was so different from the way I grew up. My kids always speak fondly of their adventures over there. Hope your weather cools down soon and you can enjoy a nice long fall…will you get snow where you are? I look forward to hearing about your school experiences…until next time…take care.
    Mrs. Bogart

    Posted by Mrs. Bogart | October 20, 2010, 5:12 pm
  2. Thank you, Ms. Witt!! I’m doing my best to keep up the optimism, but I haven’t had an actual attack of culture shock yet. No doubt it’s somewhere up ahead, but I think both the highs and the lows are what make an experience worthwhile, so I’ll try hard to plow my way through.🙂

    Posted by Colleen | October 19, 2010, 10:12 pm
  3. Hi Colleen,
    I’m gathering from your blog entries that life in Japan continues to be illuminating and captivating. I know you must miss your family a bit, but you seem to be taking advantage of every waking moment to soak up your surroundings. I am so proud of you and the attitude you’re bringing to your experience. Don’t be surprised though if you one day stop and break down balling for inexplicable reasons. I thought I was being ridiculous when I’d become overwhelmed with emotion, but I was not alone in my highs and lows.
    Keep on writing–I’m living vicariously in Japan through your descriptions! Gan batte, ne!

    Posted by Sabrina Witt | October 14, 2010, 9:34 am

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