Author Archives: Chance in Japan

About Chance in Japan

I'll be studying abroad in Japan for the entirety of my junior year. My first semester will be in Tokyo at Sophia University and the second will be in Kyoto at Ritsumeikan University.

343 Days Later: The Return to the U.S.

The year I spent in Japan was one of, if not the best, year of my life. I learned and experienced more than I ever thought was possible in that amount of time. I met a lot of great people and formed many wonderful connections. Despite all this, I was excited to return back the the U.S. It had been nearly an entire year since I left, and I was ready to get back to my roots. There was a lot of stuff I missed about America while I was in Japan and I was really looking forward to all of it.

I’ve been back in the U.S. for almost four days now and there are a ton of differences that I have noticed. No matter what I’m doing or where I am, I constantly compare Japan and America. The very first thing I noticed, after arriving in Dallas for my connecting flight, was the size of the people. I mean, Americans are huge. I was average size/height in Japan at 5 feet and 6 inches, but over here in the states, I’m tiny. I then flew to Cincinnati and while on my way home, realized how spacious America is. There are fields that go on and on, and a lot of it isn’t being used at all, not for farming, housing, anything. This was surprising to see since, due to how mountainous Japan is, all arable land is put to use whether it be housing or agriculture.

Not only are the people bigger and the country more spacious, but just about everything in America is bigger and more spacious than in Japan: houses, cars, supermarkets, portion sizes, everything. I went to Walmart with my mother and it was the biggest supermarket I’ve ever seen. I mean it was actually almost unbelievable. Coming from the tiny supermarkets with narrow aisles in Japan to this super Walmart in America, I had a huge moment of culture shock. Not only this, but all the signs and product information was in English. I could actually read all of it! We went to a restaurant too, and I was surprised to be able to understand all the conversations around me. In Japan, I couldn’t fully comprehend all the speaking around me, especially when it was all jumbled together, so it was easy to ignore it; however, I found it difficult to ignore all the chatter around me at the restaurant. That’s something I never thought I’d experience.

Now that I’m back home, I will be finishing my final year of university. I plan to continue studying Japanese in my free time and while I’m not completely sure what I will do after I graduate, applying to graduate school in Japan is one option. I have also considered teaching English there as well. I’ve gained a lot of experience and abilities since my time in Japan and I feel that it has better prepared me for the real world. I grew a lot and am very grateful for everything I learned. I had a wonderful time and Japan and I am ready to finish up my schooling in America. Both culture shock and reverse culture shock affected me, and I recommend to anyone else experiencing these to fully embrace it and run with it, don’t try to fight it.

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The Next Chapter: Kyoto

The next chapter of Japan has begun. After an amazing 6 months in the big city of Tokyo, I’m now attending Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto. I’m also now living in a dorm rather than a home stay. I arrived in Kyoto about 6 weeks ago now and I think I have finally adjusted for the most part. The transition was and still is difficult, but some great things have come out of it.


Ritsumeikan’s campus is gorgeous. It’s much larger than Sophia’s (of course Kyoto is much more spacious) and the environment is pleasing.

This is my favorite spot on campus. It’s usually packed with students eating lunch as you’ll see later. This was also during sakura season. What a beautiful time.

Me and some friends going to the gym, which is really nice actually.

This was on club fair day, when all the clubs and circles came out to introduce what their club/circle is all about. The atmosphere was awesome.

Believe it or not, this is what a normal day of lunch looks like. The acapella club isn’t always performing, but there is always this many people. That’s why I love eating here.

And of course, there’s always funny sights like this which make it that much better.


To be honest, I like Tokyo a lot more. That’s because I love the big and busy city life. Kyoto is quite the opposite. It is pretty large but much less compacted, and it’s very quiet. There are also a lot more older people compared to Tokyo’s “youngness.” It is a beautiful city though.

This is くろちゃん, Kurochan or Kuchan. He’s the neighborhood dog who is outside almost every day. We always pet him on our way to school. He’s adorable and very relaxed.


The dorm is awesome. Homestay was great but I missed the freedom that comes with living alone. All rooms in the dorm are singles, so everyone has their privacy. There are 4 floors total with an LDK on each floor. It’s very updated as well, and each room even has its own sink! There’s a beautiful courtyard in the middle too.

The one downside of the dorm is that everyone is an international student besides the RM’s, which are Japanese (there are eight or so RM’s). The international students come from all around the world, though, which is pretty cool for learning about cultures and ideals of countries other than Japan. I’ve also met a lot of great people. I have two language partners as well, so Japanese practice will still happen, in addition to meeting Japanese friends at school.

Overall, I do like Kyoto a lot. There’s a lot back in Tokyo that I miss dearly, which makes it hard, but it’s definitely a great experience and I’m glad that I chose to come here for my second semester. There are also many sights around Kyoto to see, though I have only been to one major one thus far. I’ll most likely write about that for my next blog so stay tuned!

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Integrating into Culture/Becoming a Global Citizen – Japan

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Hiroshima Excursion and Miyajima Island

On the last weekend of November I visited Hiroshima with my exchange program. We got the opportunity to learn more about the history of WWII and the atomic bomb, as well as hearing from an atomic bomb survivor. I learned a lot of new things and it really opened my eyes. With history, you generally only hear one side of the story; however, there are two sides to every story. Being able to hear a first person account of the incident was incredibly moving.

From Tokyo Station Hiroshima is about a four hour shinkansen ride, each way. This was a good time to catch up on sleep, do homework, or talk with friends. Upon arriving in Hiroshima we took a street car to the hotel where we stayed for the night. In the morning we made our way over to the Peace Memorial Museum. We also got to walk around the the Peace Park.

Here’s a famous structure in the Peace Park. The view under the arch encompasses the dome that was destroyed.

Here’s a closeup photo of the dome.

The Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims is where we listened to the bomb survivor. As I said, it was a great experience learning about the history of the bomb and hearing a first-person account. That wasn’t all there was to the trip, however. On Sunday (the next day) we rode a ferry over to Miyajima Island, which is very famous for this iconic shrine along the beach. When the tide is high, it’s as if the shrine is floating.

There were also a ton of friendly deer that let us pet them!

I’ve always grown up with the idea that deer are wild animals, and while these ones are indeed wild, they are used to all the people and enjoy the attention (although they mostly just want food). Miyajima Island is one of the most beautiful places I have visited in Japan, probably second after Chichibu, Saitama. We were also able to take a rope-way up a mountain!

The rope-way ride was incredible and something I’ll never forget. The fall colors were beautiful and it was really relaxing. The rope-way didn’t take us all the way to the top, though. After the rope-way ride, we hiked about thirty minutes to the very top. Here are two photos from the top.

As cliche as it is, no photo can truly capture how incredible the view from the top was. Unfortunately, it was a little foggy that day, but the view was breathtaking. There are no mountains in Ohio, so actually standing on top of a tall mountain and looking down over all the trees and ocean was a truly rewarding experience. I’m very thankful to have been able to go on this excursion with my exchange program. Hiroshima is a great city that has recovered tremendously well. Hiroshima is full of history, and Miyajima Island is just off the coast, full of its own history and beauty. I highly recommend visiting Hiroshima, especially Miyajima Island, if given the opportunity.

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Chance in Japan – My Life in Tokyo, Japan

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