Featured Post


Hey everyone! Welcome to my blog! While there isn't much here right now, over the next few months the content will grow as there wi...

Friday, July 14, 2017

Hiroshima and Miyajima

While Hiroshima is obviously most famous for being the first city that nuclear weapons were ever used on, many people fail to realize how much the city has to offer. The city has a variety of places to visit, from places that are incredibly historical, like nearby Miyajima, to its modern downtown where you can shop or eat fantastic food in Okonomimura where they serve a variety of Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki. 

I personally visited Hiroshima during the blooming of the cherry blossoms, and it was one of the most beautiful sights I've experienced. Close to Hiroshima is the island of Itsukushima, better known as Miyajima. It's most famous for what is pictured above, the o-torii, or great torii gate. 

While the gate is a stunning view, it is truly the backdrop that makes it great. The island's location on the Seto Inland Sea gives you a really unique view of Japan and its island geography. When you combine this with the beauty of the island being covered in cherry blossoms, it leads to a truly unforgettable view. 

Back in the city of Hiroshima, there are a couple things that you must see. First, as in many cities in Japan, is the castle. While obviously Hiroshima Castle has been rebuilt, it is still a sight to see. 

But, the final place you must visit in Hiroshima is quite a bit different in tone. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum is one of the most haunting places I've ever been to, and an incredibly moving place. While one cannot imagine the actual experience of those who were there during the bombing, the Museum gives you a better perspective and view of the event than anything else. 

When you add in the A-Bomb Dome, pictured above, as well as the other monuments scattered around the Memorial Park, you will truly feel the weight of the event. The most striking memorial to me was a monument to the estimated 20,000 Korean victims of the bombing. Until I visited the park, I was completely unaware of the other victims of the bombing, as well as the true toll the bomb had on the local population.


So as you've probably noticed, this blog has been blank for awhile. While I apologize about the delay, I felt it better to spend my time out enjoying Japan, with the intention of writing about my adventures later. This post, as such, is the first in a long line of stories and other adventures. 

For those of you who don't know, the city of Nara was the first permanent capital of Japan, from 710-794. It is the capital of the modern prefecture of Nara, located in the Kansai area (as shown below) of Japan. 
Image result for nara map

Due to its ancient origins, the city is famous primarily for its number of temples and shrines. In addition to this, the city is also well-known for its wild deer, which have become well adapted to living in the city parks and interacting with humans on a daily basis. 

I found the city to be incredibly beautiful, and wonderful to get around. Nara was one of a few places in Japan that I think you can really feel close to the older, traditional side of Japan. 

This feeling partially came simply from the history you could feel in the surrounding structures and places, but there was also an intangible feel that came from Nara. The city and its history seemed to surround you as you walked the streets, and it was truly a unique place to see. While the most popular things to do, like feeding the deer, and visiting Todaiji Temple, are more or less tourist traps, they are still great experiences. I would recommend Nara as one of the must see places in Japan. 

Friday, April 7, 2017

Side Quest: Kit Kats

Hey again! 

For this post, I thought I'd touch on a subject very important to me: food. Japan is very well known for its unique variety of excellent culinary experiences, particularly in the areas of seafood and noodles. While these dishes are undoubtedly fantastic and no trip to Japan would be complete without experiencing them, Japanese food culture is unique even in the most common foods, down to things like potato chips and candy.  

While I, for the most part, am not overly fond of the multitude of chocolate bars that are available, there is just something I enjoy about Kit Kats. Lucky for me, Japan is a veritable Kit Kat paradise. 

As such, I decided to make it a personal goal to collect as many different kinds of Kit Kat as I possibly could while in Japan. Look at it this way, if the main quest of my time in Japan is to study, then collecting Kit Kats is one of a multitude of side quests that I'm partaking in. One month in, I have found enough kinds that I thought it apropos to make a blog post about them. As my time here continues, and I (hopefully) find more kinds, I will edit this page to add the new flavors. 

So now to the good part!

For a frame of reference I would give the normal Kit Kat a 9/10 candy bar rating, or CBR.

Also, in the interest of transparency, I would like to note that I have also found dark chocolate Kit Kats here, but as they are very common in the United States as well, I did not feel the need to include them in my findings.

I'll start with the easiest one to find (aside from plain chocolate, of course). 

Green Tea. These are in almost every convenience and grocery store.

These are my personal favorite, so it's lucky for me that they're so easy to find. The flavor is hard to explain, but if you're a fan of tea, I'd recommend giving them a shot. They're not entirely different from the classic Kit Kat, but there's enough of a difference to give you a new flavor experience. 

CBR: 10/10

Next, comes raspberry. 


These are also very common. There is very little need to describe the flavor, as they basically taste like raspberries. They are very sweet, so they feel a bit richer than a traditional 'Kat. 

CBR: 8/10

Third, the other major berry: strawberry.


When I first tried these, I sort of assumed that there would be little difference between these and the raspberry ones. However, there was definitely a unique taste to each. While I can't say what it is in particular that makes me feel this way, I would give the slight edge in taste to raspberry. 

Edit: A brief internet search has led me to believe that I am likely in the minority in my belief that raspberry is better.

CBR: 7/10

Next, white chocolate.

White chocolate and classic mix.

While I believe white chocolate can be found in the States, I do not see it as often. This one, came in a package that was 50% white chocolate and 50% original. Again, the flavor is fairly self-explanatory. Would recommend.

CBR: 7/10

Now, off to the stranger flavors.
First on the list, comes Easter!


While I am aware that Easter is not a flavor, I have not had the chance to figure out what the actual flavor is yet. I will update this when I know. Upon testing it, I was still unable to make a guess as to what it is. This one is not one of my favorites, however. Though, to be fair, I tried it at the same time as some of the odder upcoming flavors, which may have impacted the taste. Wouldn't not recommend, wouldn't recommend either though. 

CBR: 5/10

On to the underdog winner of the group so far, what I can only guess is cherry tomato and almond!

Cherry tomato-almond

I definitely had my doubts about this one before trying it, but I found it to be a delicious surprise. As you can see by the packaging, the tomato and almond are there as a complement to the chocolate rather than a replacement. This allows the pair of ingredients to give a nice savory clash with the normal sweetness of the chocolate. Highly recommend.

CBR: 9/10

Next, ginger!

While I had no idea what this was when I purchased it, I have since been told that it is in fact ginger. Tasting confirms this. In my opinion, this is an average candy bar. While it is no way a bad bar, it seems to lack the greatness of the original Kit Kat. There is only a slight tinge of ginger flavor, not the true bite that comes from eating just ginger.

CBR: 6.5/10

Next, sakura and roasted soy bean.

Sakura and Roasted Soy Bean
This is probably the most conflicting bar of the group. While I quite enjoy the flavor that contributed by the sakura (cherry blossom) half, I do not particularly like the flavor of the soy bean. Unfortunately, the soy bean seems to dominate the flavor and texture, giving this bar the feel of eating an agricultural product rather than a sweet.

CBR: 3/10

Finally, sake.

Japanese Sake
This one is about what you'd expect. It smells just like the real thing, tastes almost like it, and very nearly gives you the headache that results. While I would recommend trying the flavor for the experience, I cannot recommend buying them as a daily sweet. Honestly, I've drank shots that went down easier than this bar. The actual drink is preferable to this in my opinion.

CBR: 1/10

Well, that's all for now! Be sure to check out this post periodically in case more flavors are added! I hope that perhaps this light-hearted post will add a little laughter to your week. :) 

And of course, I must give credit to this page for inspiring me to do my own review of the Kit Kats that I tried: http://kotaku.com/5983276/15-flavors-of-japanese-kit-kats-the-snacktaku-review 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The First Excursion

Hey again!

I know it's been awhile, so this will be the first post of a couple to make up for the missing time.

It's incredible how quickly things transition from being strange and new to normal. Things like riding the subway and sorting the garbage have gone from being confusing new experiences, to part of my daily routine. That said, sometimes I'm still not sure if I'm sorting refuse properly, but I'm not entirely certain that all the Japanese are able to either. The trips into downtown Nagoya that were big, new experiences, complete with guides and a helping hand, are now just day trips that we make when we have a free day. Of course, the reason that all these new things are so easy is really due to the locals. The people here are incredibly welcoming, and it's not uncommon to have strangers start a conversation. Even if you don't speak Japanese very well, just the knowledge that you're attempting to learn and want to visit their country makes many Japanese happy to help you. 

Now, for the actual trips!

Our first school excursion was a day trip to two different places. First, we stopped in Kōka City, Shiga Prefecture, where we painted our own ceramic cups. We are waiting on them to finish them, but as soon as I get mine back I will happily share my lack of art skills. The area is famous for the tanuki (literally, raccoon dog) and its ceramic artwork of the animal. 

Actual tanuki at Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens

Ceramic tanuki in Kōka City

Our lunch after ceramics. The burner on the top right isn't just for keeping your food warm. It's fairly common for food here to be delivered uncooked and you're supposed to cook it while eating

A castle, whose name is unknown to me, that looked particularly scenic along the way. I love the contrast of the modernity of Japan as seen in both the foreground, through the gas station and apartments, and the background, through the windmills, with the older beauty of the forest and castle.
After finishing lunch, we moved onto our second visit of the day at Iga-ryu Ninja Museum in Iga City, Mie Prefecture. While I could not take pictures of the demonstration, it was quite a fun spot to stop. Along with the demonstration, there were many different exhibits with interesting historical items. It's a really great way to spend an afternoon.
A collection of shuriken (throwing stars) at the museum.

The museum itself was quite picturesque
Anyway, thanks again for reading! I'll be adding more soon!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Arrival and First Couple of Days

Hey everyone!

It's been a busy first week here, so this first post will probably be one of the longest. Before I begin I'd like to apologize for my poor photography and writing skills. 
I left Manhattan at 3:45 last Sunday, and spent about 28 hours in transit to Nagoya via O'hare in Chicago and Incheon in South Korea. This put me here at about 10:30 A.M. local time on Tuesday (about 7:30 P.M. Monday back home). 

MHK Regional Airport

Chicago O'hare International Airport

Incheon International Airport
One of the first things you see after arrival at
 Chubu Centrair International Airport in Nagoya

Obligatory Boarding Pass Photo
It was incredible to see the differences between the tiny airport I'd left out of and the vastly different places I stopped along the way. Upon arriving, I had a short journey through Customs and Immigration, where I received my Residency card for staying in Japan. This couldn't have taken more than fifteen minutes before I emerged to two Japanese students with a sign that said "Welcome to Japan." The two students, whose names escape me (I blame it on having barely slept for 40 hours), helped me catch a bus to Fujigaoka, where a couple of other students then helped me get a cab to my dormitory. After unpacking, I managed to stay awake until about five, before I fell asleep and slept until seven the next morning.

The next couple of days were primarily filled with orientations, but there were still some exciting experiences along the way. I had my first actual meal in Japan, which was basically the equivalent of Union food at K-State, as well as my first visit to a Japanese ramen shop. A small (by American standards), but delicious, little restaurant directly across the street from my University. 
First Meal

Ramen at Three Little Pigs

The ode to the fallen pig that made the meal possible

I also visited a Japanese grocery store for the first time, which was surprisingly similar to an American store, aside from me being unable to read the labels.
The Grocery Store
There is a multitude of parks and malls around Nisshin and Nagakute, which means there's always something to do within walking, or biking, distance. I am also very close to the Linimo, an elevated Maglev rail system that connects to the Nagoya Subway and from there (virtually) all of Japan. 
Picture from the Linimo. The train is elevated,
automated, and mostly clear.
While there is quite a bit more to share, I will be making that into another post later on! To sign off, I will leave you with Japanese McDonald's.

The fries are the same, the drinks are smaller, but the burgers are waaaay better than back home!
Good night everyone back home!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017


Hey everyone!

Welcome to my blog! While there isn't much here right now, over the next few months the content will grow as there will be weekly (at least) updates about my time at Nagoya University of Foreign Studies (NUFS). For those of you who are wondering, I'll be back in July. As for those who want to keep in touch while I'm away, you can find me on Line, Skype, Google Duo, Google Allo, Groupme, Snapchat and pretty much any other social media. Also feel free to comment below! I hope you enjoy my posts and thanks for taking the time to check it out!