Independence at Last

January 17, 2018

in Academic Year 2017-2018, Chloe Kirk, Japan, Spring 2018

This first week has been very busy and full of me trying to learn Japanese culture. It has been so packed full of events that I haven’t had any time to decompress from it all. Everyone is extremely friendly but unfortunately not many people speak English and, because I don’t speak Japanese yet, there is a lot of bowing and hand gesturing involved in my daily interactions with people. This is my first weekend in Japan and I do not have any obligations until Monday morning when I go to work so I plan to make the most of it!

Today I went to explore downtown Osaka! I am on the fringe of Osaka, by train lines but still a 20 minute train ride to Osaka Station (downtown Osaka). The other intern for Osaka Gas who is living with me, Anna, took the train with me into downtown Osaka to explore. We had taken the train before and had passed through Osaka station, but had never been able to take in all the views the station provided because we were busy going from one meeting to the next.

Upon arrival we were lost where to start. Immediately exiting the train station itself, you are bombarded with endless rows of shops from grocery stores to 100 yen stores (like the dollar store but a million times better) to clothing shops to restaurants. To even get outside the building the station was a feat in of itself. Technically the station is outside and you can feel the cold air as you walk through all the shops, but you cannot see any sky or exit. We finally found ourselves on a walkway between Osaka Station and other shops and had a minute to take in the jaw dropping views. Osaka Station alone was a skyscraper

More walking revealed endless buildings filled with shopping, restaurants and games

After hours of shopping, I felt like I had enough new clothes to dress to the local fashion and so we proceeded to our last stop for Anna to get a SIM card: the electronic superstore.

This building is another mall itself, selling everything you could possibly imagine with floor after floor of products. The building was more crowded than the Mall of America!

Coming back to the dormitory where we are living after that and everything sounded so quiet. While I enjoyed seeing that side of Osaka very much, it also made me appreciate that I am living somewhere residential during my stay in Osaka which doesn’t have the constant hustle and bustle downtown Osaka did. All 2.7 million people who live in Osaka all seem to go to downtown Osaka on Saturdays! With all of that being said, I got some great new clothes to fit in better while in Japan. I stand out enough being the only 5’8” curly haired blonde in a building, but no longer dressing in skinny jeans and sweatshirts will help me at least look like I know what I am doing here even when I am still learning the ropes of life in Japan. Throwing myself out from hiding in my dormitory and learning the train system to Osaka Station taught me I am more capable than I give myself credit for and not to talk myself out of exploring just because I don’t have a detailed itinerary of every store and building I need to see.

Hopefully tomorrow I can go back down to Osaka Station with a bit more confidence and explore further than I did today! But for now I am going to try to practice some Japanese phrases. Sayonara!

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