Thursday, October 30, 2014

Walking by the beach at Kamogawa, Chiba + Josai International University

I left for Japan about a month ago and I’m still not totally over the whole trip. Editing all these photos isn’t helping either, not that I’m complaining, I have only happy memories from that trip! J

Now, I’m sort of struggling with the photos and the order so I guess it’s easier to post them according to certain events. Our schedules were crazy packed , so there are days when I have no photos. These photos were taken in Kamogawa city, Chiba prefecture (prefecture means something like province). Kamogawa is a quiet seaside city. It’s quiet and the perfect place to relax. When I say quiet, I mean it. We Filipinos were probably the only noise there after 8.

On our first day in Kamogawa, we went to Josai International University’s Tourism Department. It’s a truly amazing campus built for 400 students enrolled in the program. (Amazing, I know.) We spent the morning with a few students who showed us around and asked us to sit in a few classes.( I was most excited about lunch though. I was pretty curious about what their college students ate for lunch. ) Hanging out in JIU was a really great bonding experience, It really got my mind me thinking about education in Japan and the quality and method of teaching. I noticed a smaller teacher-student ratio which really appealed to me since that obviously means that students get more attention from teachers. 

After JIU, we were moved to Kamogawa civic center where we got to meet our Foster Parent/s. More of that tomorrow!

 It does not get any more comfortable than this! Sweatpants are just winning right now.

 So thats what a Japanese student lunch looks like :)
 H&M top, Uniqlo pants and Converse shoes.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Sensoji, Asakusa Square.

 I got up pretty early on our second day. Aside from the fact that I knew we were having a buffet breakfast,(Okay, side note. I am crazy about breakfast. I am crazier about breakfast buffets. Its seriously one of the only reasons I get up early in hotels, just to see what they would serve. Lol)  it was our first full day in Tokyo! And our Itinerary said we were going to Asakusa, where Senso-ji Temple is located. Asakusa is in old town Tokyo.  The night before, I actually did my research and found out that Asakusa has 45 working geisha and is one of Tokyo’s older districts. (Yes, I did look for geisha. But didn’t spot one)
I didn’t really know what to expect when we arrived. But I was blown away by what I saw. I couldn’t fixate on just one sight. There was too much to see! So much red! Sensoji was too beautiful! Everything was so finely detailed and designed. It also helped that we were there on a perfect day.
Right in front of the temple is Nakamise. A shopping strip that has been selling local goods for centuries. There were stores selling Samurai outfits, kimonos, Japanese bread , candy, handmade masks and many others. Basically, I hit the cultural marketplace. I fell in love with the old-meets-new feel of the place, there were these beautiful red alleys (which I couldn’t stop photographing and posing in.) and  lively sales people. I felt so deeply rooted in the culture (and the shopping) that I spent a good amount of time just walking, looking around and buying anything I could eat (matcha included) .

Being in Asakusa showed me something about Japan, it’s that no matter how extremely modern a place can get, there’s still space for culture to thrive.

 Philip Lim 3.1 jacket, Rayban aviators, Mango top, Forever 21 jeans, Tonic boots and Bershka bag.

 Thats a sort of snow-cone. In a cup. So, a snow-cup. Its got sweet syrup and sweet milk on it. 

 This is a sign outside a store selling samurai clothes. If I had the space (and the money, these were insanely expensive!) I would've picked up some for my two brothers!

  They are 13- year old students from a school nearby. They over heard us speaking English and practiced their skills on us. Japanese students learn English at age 12 and carry on till their University days.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Konnichiwa Japan!

About a month back, I received an email saying I got accepted  in to the JENESYS 2.0 program for mass media. The program, in a nugget, basically entails sending students from all over the world to Japan on a learning trip. I got chosen along with 111 others from all over the nation. We were invited to see and experience Japan at all levels. To see the cities, the province, dine, sleep and basically live Japanese style. We did this for a good 9 days. Honestly, I just cant get over it! I’m still so hung up on my experience and I can’t believe I’m already at that point where I’m sharing it with all of you on my blog!

(I kept everyone pretty updated via social media most especially via my instagram: @itsmiadurano)

It took me a while to figure out how I’m going to start writing about this, since it was a pretty lengthy trip with a lot of events. But I figured the best way is to take it one day and one post at a time. So, forgive me if the Japan-related posts run for a while.

To start off, we left for Narita on a Japan Airlines flight. I’ve travelled a lot in my life so I figured that my usual method of dressing comfortably would still apply to this flight. Usually when I travel domestic I travel in shorts. But since the weather in upon our arrival was slightly cooler than in our tropical nation, I decided that a sweater and a pair of jeans was the most comfortable option. I know, you’re thinking “Her bag is gigantic.” True, it is. I needed a bag big enough for everything that I couldn’t fit into my check-in luggage (laptop, dslr,makeup,papers,vanity…et al). I love Longchamp bags, always so functional and chic, no matter what size!
True enough, It was about 23°C when we arrived! A far cry from the 33°C heat we left. I gave myself a pat on the back for a great job on dressing for the weather! Narita is about an hour’s drive from Tokyo, we piled on to the bus, chatted the drive away, got to our hotel, settled in and got briefed. 

After all the formalities, we were given an hour or so to go around. A friend and I used the short time to explore the area around our hotel. We went in and out of the many convenience stores, lucky enough I found what I wanted! A Matcha latte! (I had Matcha everyday while I was there.) We took pictures of everything! It was just all new and interesting. Honestly, that first night it didn’t sink in yet. Not till I was in my bed and I saw that my phone had adjusted itself to the time. It was at that point where I said “Wow, I’m in Japan.”

 Yes, in case you were wondering. My hair is Blue! It faded out slowly while I was on the trip.

Thrifted sweater, Uniqlo jeans, Longchamp bag and Converse sneakers.

 Here I am with Farrah Garcia a dear friend and the reason I applied for this trip!
 Mia's Matcha fix day 1. haha

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Swimming with the Whale Sharks.

I am captivated by the ocean. I am amazed by the vastly undiscovered world that lies below. When we heard that the whale sharks were only 3 hours away from the hotel, we cleared a whole day to go and see them. The 30 minutes we spent with them was well worth the long drive. My whale shark experience was INCREDIBLE. Now, I’m a diver and I’ve seen many great things on dive trips, but seeing  these gentle creatures up close just blew my mind! They are massive! I’m not lying when I say they are as big as buses. The first time I dived in, I was so amazed that I didn’t notice that they were coming really close. Since guests aren’t allowed to touch them, I had to be pulled up and reminded.  I took note of the instructions and stayed down for 20 more minutes. It was unforgettable. 

Now, if you wanna go on a whale shark adventure, I suggest you leave early. The sharks are only usually there till noon. So the earlier you leave Cebu City, the better. And oh! Pack a Waterproof camera or a GoPro. All the guides there know how to use them!