We arrived in Kobe, Japan early on January 24th after 12 days of sailing. My first day in Kobe I had a Kobe City orientation with SAS (semester at sea) and we went to a Sake Distillery. Afterwards me and a couple of friends went off to explore the city. We stopped and ate at a local ramen restaurant, which was amazing.

We went back to the ship for dinner but afterwards we went back out and walked around more and took pictures with some of the statues. We found a tiny restaurant and it held maybe 15 people. The staff spoke zero English but luckily there was a local Japanese man who had lived in North Carolina for a couple years so he helped us order hot sake (which is horrible).

We walked around some more and met up with SAS people and met a Japanese student about our age who spoke really good English and we went to an arcade to play some games. The second day I had a field class for my Money and Banking class. We went to the Central Bank of Japan, ate a traditional Japanese lunch, which I enjoyed, and while we ate lunch the Consulate of Japan came and spoke with us.

Afterwards we visited the Osaka Stock Exchange and afterwards went to Kobe University and met with a few Japanese Econ students. The next day I had an overnight field program with SAS. On the first day we drove to Himeji and went to the Himeji Castle, which is the largest castle in Japan, and also went to the Koko-En Gardens. After that we took a bullet train to Hiroshima, which took about an hour.

We checked into our hotel, ate some type of noodle pancake (which was amazing), then went to karaoke after. (Fun fact: karaoke was invented in Japan) The next morning we ate at the incredible buffet the hotel had provided and then headed to Miyajima.

To get to Miyajima we took a ferry which had a beautiful view on the short ride over to the island. We got to see the floating Torii gate, the Itsukusima shrine, and some deer that were very friendly. Then we went to the Hiroshima Peace Park and visited the Museum.

We heard stories from one of the survivors daughters and saw the effects of the atomic bomb in pictures and video demonstrations. It was a very humbling experience and I now see why they are trying to end nuclear warfare. Afterwards we took the bullet train back to Kobe and returned to the ship.

On my last day I went to visit a Hot Spring which was the Arima Onsen, one of the oldest and most popular hot spring in Japan. It was very relaxing and my body was actually warm for the whole rest of the day.

I would say that Japan is one of my top favorite places I have been to. The people are very friendly and were very excited to see American people, and some even wanted to take pictures with us. Overall Japan was so much fun!! I loved every minute of it!! next stop: China! 

A few things I learned:

  • How clean the city was but there were no public trash cans!! It was hard to find one, I would be carrying around my trash for hours.
  • How much cash was used over card. There were lots of places that would not accept my card.
  • How to bow in regards of respect.
  • Hello in Japanese – Konnichiwa
  • Thank you in Japanese -Arigatō