Lit lanterns above restaurant

Credit: Maurice Epps

Nearly everyone in our group has now made it to Japan safe and sound, and the first night is in the books. It was a night of new food, new friends, a new place and new memories. A lot has happened in just one night, and it is just the beginning.

First stop: the hotel

Credit: Sophia Psolka

The hotel we are staying at is one of the Toyoko Inn hotels, which can be found all over Japan. There might not be many rooms on each floor, but there are 12 floors. The hotel provides toothbrushes, hair combs, nightwear and most important, free breakfast.

Most students share the same thought that the hotel rooms feel smaller than they’re used to. Maya Hicks, though, is looking at the small rooms as a positive outcome.

“There’s not a lot of breathing room between you and your roommate, but hopefully that just lends to a closer bond,” said Maya, a journalism major.

The size of the room was shocking to some as well as the unique way of operating the shower.

“I didn’t expect the sink to connect to the shower,” said Allison Binkley, a public relations major. “I like it and think it’s smart.”

To turn on the shower, one must turn on the sink faucet and then a separate switch to divert the water to the showerhead. Another student, Zoë Simonovic, was confused about how to work the shower and reached out to the class group chat for help.

Time to feast

One of the biggest items on everyone’s Japan bucket list was hands down the food. Food is one of the aspects of Japan people talk about all the time when it comes to traveling here. Japan features a new, unique and flavorful cuisine that some students have never experienced before. Let’s just say, the food did not disappoint.

Brianna Archer, Sofia Psolka, Gabby Fiorenza and Zoë all went to Robata Yokoyama for dinner. Zoë said that she had oysters and pork-garlic fried rice. Brianna added that they all shared what they ordered. Sharing is caring!

Another group, which consisted of Bre Citizen, Maurice Epps and myself, went to two different restaurants. The first one was just a small walk-up restaurant that had many different kinds of skewers. The second was a hole-in-the-wall where we ordered ramen (it was so much, they couldn’t finish it!) and delicious dumplings.

On the way to and even at restaurants, students were confronted with a new culture.

Japanese culture

For everyone on the trip, except the professors, this is their first experience with Japanese culture. In Japan, there are unspoken rules when out in public.

Credit: Bre Citizen

For example:

  • Walk on the left side of the sidewalk
  • Keep to yourself
  • Be quiet

Maya said she might have trouble keeping quiet.

“I’m a very loud person and my voice tends to carry very easily, so I’m going to have to be very self-aware,” Maya said.

Not everyone is concerned about these unspoken rules.

“Honestly, I’m not too worried about being in a new place with new people and new culture,” Maurice said. “I think I’ll adjust pretty quickly.”

What’s to come?

After the first night of eating Japanese cuisine, walking down the streets of Tokyo and experiencing Japanese culture firsthand, the reality has really sunk in that the group is in Japan. Students are starting to get even more excited about certain parts and places that will be experienced on the trip.

A few students have expressed their intensified excitement about tomorrow’s activities. Among the anticipated highlights are visiting Harajuku to experience and explore pop culture, fashion and shopping. Others are looking forward to going to the Tsukiji Outer Market to try fresh fish and see the different items and food presented by the vendors.

To see posts from tonight’s adventures make sure to check out @sjmcjapan on Instagram!

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