Thursday, March 13, 2014

Throwback Thursday (way, way, back)

It's my 100th post! I know I don't post much, so I consider that as an achievement. Today, I'm going back to the year 2009. For me, it was a year of opportunities and misfortunes. I was a senior in college and president of our professional organization. I was handling an organization whilst juggling thesis writing and other school responsibilities. In addition to that, I also have my personal life and relationships that I was trying to hold on to. During that time, I was given a chance to visit Japan for 10 days to attend a seminar at Fukuoka University. For ten days, I was one of the happiest people on Earth. However, when I came back, reality slapped - nay - kicked me so hard, that I didn't know how to get up at once. Our thesis was in a stalemate; I got betrayed by someone I trust my life with; and responsibilities from the organization came crashing in like a tsunami. I was miserable. I was heart broken. Thus, I wasn't really able to fully share my Fukuoka experience to anyone, except some of my family and some friends. I didn't even posted it in Facebook! But now that I'm out of that awful past, now that I've moved on from that, and now that I've learned my lessons, perhaps it's time I look back on those wonderful ten days.

Hello Japan!
 Disclaimer: What you're about to see are photos taken using a digital camera in 2009. I know. They're a bit bad. But hey, they're worth it. Also, you will also see a clueless thin version of me.

A peaceful neigborhood | View from our dorm
 Fukuoka Computer Building | Start of the Fall Season
During our welcome ceremony, the president of Fukuoka University gave each of us a Hakata Ningyo, which is a traditional Japanese clay dolls. I loved it. I loved it more when I found out that they usually cost 2000 yen (P1000) or above! Because of that, I didn't have to shell out extra money for buying souvenirs!
 We were also able to visit the Fukuoka branch of NHK (Nippon Housou Kyoukai).
For a few minutes, our group was featured by the end of a morning show (too bad I didn't have a picture of that). I was in Japanese TV! I remember being nervous because they might interview someone in the front row, where all girls were seated. During that time, I was really really poor in Japanese!
 I got to pose with Domo-kun and the gang.
We also visited the Kyushu National Museum. Like most museums, picture taking is not allowed in most exhibits. But the ones in the lobby are already breathtaking.

After that, we went to the Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine
I look so nene (little girl) back then.
This street is where I ate my first authentic red bean mochi. If I remembered it correctly, it was 110 yen (P55).
Part of our itinerary was a one day field trip to Nagasaki, which was roughly a 3 hour bus ride from Fukuoka. We first went to the Nagasaki Peace Park, dedicated to the victims of the atomic bombing in 1945.

Origami cranes were all over the place.
We also visited the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum. We were not allowed to take pictures inside, so I just took a picture of this statue outside. After going there, I am now fully aware of what a nuclear war could cause the world: its end. #antinuclearweapons
We were also given tickets to the yearly Sumo Tournament held at the Fukuoka Convention Center. I was a bit shocked by the ticket price, because it was around 5000 yen (P2500), even though we were at the farthest seats. Still, the view was good enough, and going up the seats were kind of funny for me, because we were almost squished while passing through the actual wrestlers! Unfortunately, I didn't have a decent picture of the sumo wrestlers.
Biggest Karaage I've ever eaten. There was a nearby family owned restaurant near our dorm called Yamaato. The restaurant was run by the whole family. The father, the cook, was so cool because he befriends every student, even the foreigners!
Lastly, we were also given various classes, such as Ikebana (flower arrangement) and Shamisen!
Not to brag or anything, but I was quite good with Shamisen. The teacher kept saying in Japanese "So good! So good!" It was my redeeming moment because I was the poorest in Japanese in our batch. Maybe it was because I really love music, played the piano for a while when I was little, and attempted to play the guitar. Unfortunately, all musical talents in our family was given to my kuya (big brother).

These were just some of the things that I got to experience in Japan. I was also able to play in a game center, visit a nuclear power plant (Genkai Nuclaer Power Plant), ride Japan's efficient trains, eat ramen at an actual yatai in the middle of the city, and many more. I also made friends, who unfortunately I wasn't able to keep contact with. Somehow, contacting them was buried under all the difficulties that welcomed me back home. Still, I was able to e-mail some of them. Either way, that ten day seminar was really a life-changing experience for me. I knew, from then on, that Japan will always be part of my future. So I'm working really hard to get there, and even stay there for a while. I'm not planning to live there forever. I love the Philippines, because all the people I care about is here. Philippines is home. But for now, Japan seems to be the land of opportunities for me. It's a bit cliche, but I believe in holding on to what we think are important of us, whether it'd be relationships, places, or fragmented dreams. My ten days in Fukuoka was just a start. I'm pretty sure that there's a continuation. Cheers to dreams-in-the-making!

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