Virtual Journey Abroad to Japan

by Jennifer Blonder-Cacciarelli

I am not sure where to begin, this past week has been full of excitement and exploration as we toured the streets of Tokyo and Kyoto.  Starting off our days in Japan at 9 a.m. put us at 8 p.m. back here in the states.  Due to such an extreme time difference many of us were feeling a bit turned around and tired, but all the culture and eagerness to explore this new land more than made up for it.  Our journey started on Monday with an interactive tour of Sensoji Temple, which was founded on a legend of two brothers dating back over 1400 years ago.  As we walked through the streets of Tokyo we learned of different customs and even participated in some ourselves.  

As day two rolled around we took part in a Qi Gong class and later toured through the Arashiyama Bamboo forest.  The next day we arrived in Kyoto, we spent much of our time in the Gion district exploring shrines, monuments and visiting local shops.  We found ourselves completely immersed in the Japanese culture as our eye darted from one thing to the next.  A monk on a bicycle passed us, we witnessed SEVEN weddings, got to see traditionally dressed women in kimonos, found out it is bad manners to walk the streets and eat, who knew there are endless flavors of KitKats found only in Japan, as well as the color white being sacred.  I could go on and on, but hopefully this gives you a small snapshot of such a neat and exciting experience.  There was so much to see and learn that I would need much more time to elaborate on this memorable excursion abroad.  I have to admit when I first thought about traveling abroad virtually, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I must say it far exceeded my expectations.  It not only gave me a sense of being in the land but sparked even more interest and excitement to be harnessed until we can go in person.   

As if our adventure through Japan had not been enough, days three and four were filled with additional connections to Japan and our GCU community right here at home.  As the week unfolded, I found myself enjoying Matcha tea and seeking out Japanese dishes.  My travels through Japan seemed to continue as I shopped for my ingredients to make “Spinach and Bacon Shoyu Pasta,” which by the way, was fabulous!  My son even wanted to know if I would be able to make it again without the help of Dr. Komagata telling me what to do, I assured him I will do my best.  Stay tuned to see how I do on my own.  

As our trip came to an end, we all joined in on a tour of our very own Japanese garden and tea house here at GCU, we learned about the traditional tea ceremonies in Japan and Dr. Komagata took us through our very own.  Dr. Gross gave us a wonderful tour of the garden.  I had no idea of the history of this Gem we have right here on our campus, I will be back with my children to enjoy this beautiful peaceful space.  I have also traded in my Matcha tea, for Ceremonial Matcha tea at Dr. Komagata’s instruction, and it’s so GOOD!

As our trip winded down, the exhilaration from our travels left me feeling fulfilled, but also a bit sad as I always feel when my adventures come to a close…not to worry…all this is easily healed when the thoughts of your next adventure begin to take form. 

Thank you Laura, Dr. Vento and Dr. Komagata for putting together such a wonderful week for all of us!  I can’t wait for next May when we go in person! 

You must join in on the next adventure to see for yourself!


1 thought on “Virtual Journey Abroad to Japan”

  1. I was so amazed at all the incredible things Japan has to offer! I think the most incredible part of the trip was seeing all the weddings take place. Even with everything going on in the world, everyone was trying to celebrate this magical day as much as possible! I loved seeing all the amazing stores especially the Pokémon store and Studio Ghibli store! The Cherry Blossoms were so amazing! We had perfect weather everyday we were there! I was also fascinated by the food.
    I love to eat ramen and there were many ramen shops. I’m also a huge fan of sweeties so seeing all the candy made me happy. I loved seeing all the shrines and how much respect everyone has for them in their culture. Everything was clean and stunningly beautiful! I’m hoping to go to Japan in 2022


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