A Rat in the Rafters and Life Behind the Slow Beat Lounge (Anna's Homestay)
Lindsey's Homestay + Okonomiyaki recipe
Yellow Cats (Tara's Free Week)
Safa's Free Week
Todd's Free Week
"The Asuka bike riding field trip." – Karen
"Public transportation and free travel week." - Tara
"I really like how everyone paid attention to aesthetics on themselves and in daily life. It made everything really nice to look at. I liked how there was a little bit of nature in everything." – Rachael J.
"The sushi, the mochi, the caramel sweet potatoes and the delicious, delicious udon. I also liked the steamy baths, the snow and the generosity of strangers." – Lindsey
"For me, it was sitting in a sauna at my host mom's gym, talking with a bunch of Japanese grandmas. Also when I almost missed my train and all the Japanese grandmas sitting near me stood up with surprising vigor and sent me on my way with a chorus of concern. I also thought it was funny when my host mom compared my morning hair to their French poodle." - Norah
"Walking through the sleepy, snowy Japanese alp towns. I also loved walking down by the river to the center of Kyoto, watching people play football. My favorite food was okonomyaki." – Kelsey
"For me, living with a family and having a daily routine and more culturally immersed lifestyle." – Nat
"Clear umbrellas on a rainy day. Train rides" – Allison
"The food was up there, and the hipsters at the college we are at were amusing, my homestay father's BS, general Kyoto beauty (leaves changing and all that)." – Rachael M.
"Displays of traditional Japanese culture, women in kimonos in Kyoto, and how clean and efficient everything was." – Anna
"The baked goods. I didn't like baked goods before Japan, but now I realize it's just American baked goods." – Jane
"The Asian mullet." – Zen, the man with the mullet
"The homestay." – Todd
"Udon and sushi, biking in Asuka" – Marlene
"Nishin soba, Japanese baths and vending machines everywhere." - Jess
Nat: We traveled almost daily to a new part of Honshu, experimented with some new foods, and went to many a beachside onsen.
Zen: I rode of a lot of trains, skinny-dipped on the beach that was covered with imported white sand, then went back to Kyoto and failed to meet my professor Scott. I really liked the Fugu, the dead fish, which was $60 and mediocre in taste.
Jane: Visited a friend of mine in Hokkaido. Did karaoke, watched bad anime. It was fun.
Kaitlin: I was hanging around with my mom and dad, and we spent a day in Osaka and a day in Kyoto meeting my host parents, exchanging gifts and celebrating my birthday. Then we went to Fuji and Tokyo.
Allison: I didn’t stay in the same place twice. I started off with Kelsey in this town west of Kyoto and went to the Momo museum, and then we went to this ninja village and then to some Japanese alps to a town called Takayama (high mountain). After that, Kelsey and I split and I continued north through the alps and some coastal cities and then made my way to Tokyo. Stayed there for a day and then went south through Kyoto all the way down to Okayama. Then I went south to the Shikoku islands and stayed outside of Matsuyama. Walked around Matsuyama all day and visited a pottery studio, and later got lost in some orange groves on the mountainside. Then I went back to Okayama and stayed there again and returned to Kyoto the next day. In Kyoto, I went to the famous Tori temple, took a turn off the path and went for a small hike in the bamboo forest, passing a lot of shrines and graveyards on the way. It was the thickest bamboo grove I’d ever seen, and it was raining the entire time. Time ran out so I had to meet up with the group, so I started running and I got lost and had to run up all these wet Shinto shrine stairs trying to find the direction I needed to go without taking the same path I’d taken there. I ended up nowhere near the bus stops I had arrived on, so I had to take a train to Osaka.
Anna and Rachael J.: I went to Hiroshima with Lisa and a few other people and we hung the 1000 cranes our group had made and went to the Peace museum there. Then Rachael J. and I went to Tottori, a small coastal town and visited some sand dunes and hung out on the beach. Then we went to Nagano for a couple days and went ice skating at the Olympic arena.
Rachael M.: I traveled with my boyfriend Daniel. We left Kyoto and went to Tokyo for a day and a night, where our main event was that we woke up early and went to the Tsukji fish market and had fresh sushi for breakfast while we watched the men throwing fish. Then we took shinkansen up to a town called Morioka, which is famous for a lake Tazewako. But the lake is really famous during summer, but we went there when it was snowing so it was really, really eerie because no one was there. After staying a few days in Morioka, we took the train to Osaka where we visited the aquarium there. Then Daniel continued to China and I continued to Osaka to meet up with the group.
Jessica: Went to Kyushu, the southernmost island, and visited an onsen in Beppu and monkey mountain, climbed a volcano, took a train for 6 hours in a loop and ended up right back where I started.
Marlene: I visited my sister in Mie prefecture and my old host family in Kobe.
Reed and Safa: First we visited Kobe to have dinner with Jessica, a friend of Reed’s aunt, before moving on to the peace museum in Hiroshima, and then down to one of the southern-most ports of Japan, Kagoshima where we stayed at a Ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) and visited an onsen (Japanese hot spring). Then we left for a two night camp out on Yakushima, a National Park and stayed in a free cabin provided by the government.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japan - Wikipedia page, general information on history and culture, links to several other useful pages, some of which are included below
https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ja.html - CIA World Factbook, geographical, demographical, economic, and political data
http://www.state.gov/p/eap/ci/ja/ - US State Department page
http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/jptoc.html - Library of Congress country study
http://www.lonelyplanet.com/worldguide/japan/ - Lonely Planet travel facts, forums
http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/japan.html - Maps
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_language - Wikipedia page
http://www.ethnologue.com/show_country.asp?name=Japan - Ethnologue, languages by number of speakers, dialect breakdowns
http://www.omniglot.com/writing/japanese.htm - Omniglot, brief overview of kanji and the two kana writing systems
http://www.omniglot.com/language/phrases/japanese.php - Useful phrases from Omniglot
http://www.ichigo.se/kanaflash/ - Learn hiragana and katakana
http://www.japanesepod101.com/ - Downloadable audio lessons (have to create a free account first - other content is available only to paying subscribers
http://www.ajalt.org/sfyj/ - Supplements to the popular Japanese for Busy People series
http://www.mlcjapanese.co.jp/Download.htm - Handy resources for JLPT vocabulary
http://www.nhk.or.jp/lesson/english/ - Audio and flash lessons from NHK
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/columns/0002/ - One-off PDF lessons, usually pertaining to idioms and colloquialisms
http://www.geocities.com/Tokyo/Flats/1090/slang.html - Slang phrases
http://www.guidetojapanese.org/ - Succinct, well-written guide to Japanese grammar
http://www.jgram.org/ - Japanese grammar database
http://www.popjisyo.com/WebHint/Portal_e.aspx - Filter Japanese webpages (or words/sentences) to include popups with pronunciation and translation
http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jwb/cgi-bin/wwwjdic.cgi?1C - Jim Breen's WWWJDIC
http://www.nuthatch.com/kanji/ - Kiki's kanji dictionary
http://artsedge.kennedy-center.org/ipass/about.html - An overview of different art forms in Japan, from manga to dance and theater
http://ndl.go.jp/nature/thum/s02.html - Edo-period fish illustrations
http://www.midnighteye.com/index.php - Everything to do with Japanese cinema
http://www.vgmuseum.com/ - Video Game Museum, principally focusing on systems originating in Japan
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manga - Wikipedia page on manga, the ever-prevalent Japanese comics
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anime - Wikipedia page on anime, the ever-prevalent Japanese cartoons
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_cuisine - Wikipedia page
http://www.bento.com/tokyofood.html - Guide to restaurants and groceries in the Tokyo and Kansai areas
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_history - Wikipedia page
http://www.sengokudaimyo.com/ - Collection of several interesting guides on topics pertinent to Japanese history
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Japan - Wikipedia page
http://www.virtualjapan.com/wiki/Japanese_pop_culture - A wiki about Japanese pop culture
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Japan - Wikipedia page
http://www.fsmitha.com/h2/ch27jp.htm - An essay about Japan's recovery from the war
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_of_Japan - For a more general scope, good ol' Wikipedia does it again
http://jpcentral.virginia.edu/index.htm - All you ever wanted to know about Japanese politics, and more!
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0XPQ - A source page for recent and past articles pertaining to Japan politics and government.
http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41644.htm - US Department of State reports
http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/japan - Amnesty International on Japan
http://www.who.int/countries/jpn/en/ - World Health Organization profile
http://www.nationmaster.com/country/ja-japan/hea-health - More statistics
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/environment_education.html - Recent news articles about the environment
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news.html - "The World's Window on Japan"
http://www.japantoday.com - "Japan News and Discussion"
http://www.seekjapan.jp - Good source of news, views and humour, primarily targeted at foreign citizens living in Japan.
http://www.japanbloglist.com - "The Unoffical List of Japan Blogs on the Internet," a listing of blogs written by English-speaking people in Japan