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Archive for March, 2010

TRAVEL BLOG: Japanese Concerts

29 Mar

Hello, readers! So this time, I’m going to blog about Japanese concerts. Due to the fact that I will miss out on Springfest this year, I chose to find a concert to make up for it. As it turned out, one of my favorite Japanese groups, Capsule, played in Nagoya this past Saturday. Capsule comprises of two people: one DJ and one singer. Think of them as Japan’s answer to Daft Punk. Anyway, I promised my mentor for this that I wouldn’t talk about parties here, so I focused on other aspects of the concert. Although I tried to get pictures, the workers here were very strict about not allowing us to take any photos. One of the first things I noticed about this concert was how polite the audience was. Never have I seen a crowd with so many manners. Nobody here used beach-balls to float around, crowded close together, or even screamed in between songs. I will say the big difference between Springfest and the concert I attended is the length of time the opening acts played. At the concert here, the opening act went on for about four hours! It seemed like an eternity waiting for the main act, even though the acts themselves were very talented. The main act played for about an hour-and-a-half, playing one incredible song after another. Now in the US, one might shout their loyalty to the group while they play or maybe bounce around the area. Here, the crowd just moved from side-to-side, waving their arms back and forth, only applauding when the next song started. I just found it amusing that the polite culture associated with Japan could even be found in a pop concert! That being said, I hope you all enjoy Springfest this year. That about sums up this week’s blog. Next week will be about Spring in Nagoya (It sounds boring, but I already have pictures and an outline, so it won’t be as unstructured as this blog was). 皆お休み (Goodnight, everybody!)

 
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TRAVEL BLOG: Nagoya

15 Mar

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Hello, Readers. I’m sorry again about the last post, but this time will be better. I realized that I hadn’t yet described the most important part of my study abroad experience: the city itself. Nagoya, a city of about 2.3 million people, sits in between Kyoto and Tokyo. It’s actually a pretty old city, despite the abundance of department stores, skyscrapers and multi-level clubs. It traces its roots back to the 1600’s, however World War II destroyed virtually everything from the old times. Even the “historical” spots in this city are recreations built in the 1950’s through the 1990’s. In terms of relating this city to a US one, I found out that Nagoya is a “sister city” with Los Angeles. I assumed that Nagoya’s port location and population related it to Boston, but I feel that the Los Angeles relation makes more sense. For one, if you happen to be traveling to Japan, Nagoya wouldn’t really be a place you would know about unless you planned some event there. The same can be said for LA as well. Most people want to see NYC or Orlando. Nagoya doesn’t seem to have the established “International” city title that Tokyo and Kyoto carry. Also, I’m sure many people have heard that English is widely spoken in Japanese cities. While that certainly seemed true in Tokyo, I have found that only a handful of people in Nagoya know basic English. Also, like Los Angeles (perk up shopaholics), Nagoya is known for having one of the more famous shopping areas in the country. Sakae has lots of designer brands, multi-level Coach and Gucci stores and restaurants, as well as museums, nightclubs and landmarks, like Nagoya Tower and Oasis 21 (a strangely-designed bus terminal). If shopping and nightlife isn’t your thing, you can visit Kakuozan, a district known for historic temples and sights. Here, you can see the Nittaiji (Japanese-Thai temple). I have a picture attached above of this temple. It really is like nothing you will see in this city. Also, you might never have expected such a quiet, serene place in the middle of hectic Nagoya city. If you ever get the chance to visit Nagoya, visit this temple. It really is remarkable. “But I like museums! What about museums?” you might ask. I personally don’t care for museums, but if you so desperately want to spend hours inside, the Toyota plant and museum are very close to the city and easily accessed by train. Here, you can see older Toyota models and even some models yet-to-come. But hold the brakes! (or in Toyota’s case, don’t. Bad joke), there’s more. Near the city center, Ossu-kannon has a temple/museum that originated in the 14th century! Needless to say, this city has lots to do for people with various interests and backgrounds. I hope you liked this week’s blog and next week, I intend to blog about school food… I know that doesn’t sound too exiting, but I’m going to relate it to UVM. Don’t miss it and Jaa, ne!

 
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TRAVEL BLOG: Naked Festival

01 Mar

Hello again, readers and yes, you read right. Before you get too excited, let me explain: This festival is a Shinto (one of Japan’s two official religion, the other being Buddhism) festival. According to Wikipedia, the festival deals with purification by means of the removal of clothing. That being said, I had never even heard of this event until the day when everyone wanted to go. I was invited by a friend and, thinking what most people who are reading this are thinking, decided to go along for this potentially bizarre and hilarious event. I blame myself for not even doing so much as a Google search beforehand, as I was a bit disappointed by what occurred. Let me ask you this: would you go to the Naked Bike ride if you knew everyone would be in their underwear? Of course not! That’s part of the fun. But aside from that, it was pretty amusing to see a giant hoard of loincloth-wearing men shouting “Washoi!” (I can’t seem to translate this word, but the closest that I can get is ‘Fantastic’”. Basically, what happened was a bunch of these men ran around the area we were in and just shouted “Washoi” over and over. Not at all what I expected, and certainly a little more than misleading, given the name of the festival. I apologize for this blog being fairly uneventful, but this week’s blog didn’t really turn out the way I planned. That and you all deserve an honest blogger. Having said that last part, I realize that the first initial blogs seem a bit boring, so I’m going to try to wow you with future blogs. Next week will be my take on the city of Nagoya, since for some reason I completely overlooked describing the place where I am studying. Don’t worry, I’ll make this next one really good! Don’t miss it!

 
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