Photos by Rina Lindenmayer, (Soka University of America) Student Correspondent CET Japan, Fall 2017
A group of CET students, local roommates, and language partners visited Fushimi Inari-taisha in Kyoto! Fushimi Inari (as called by the locals) is a very well known tourist spot, and the crowds definitely proved this true, even a day before a typhoon was predicted to hit the area. Inari, the god of the shrine, is the god of rice, as well as business. You can climb up to the summit of the shrine, but it takes about two hours so be sure to wear some comfortable shoes!
The CET students and local roommates were able to try a traditional tea-making class in Uji! We served three types of tea: Gyokura, Matcha, and Sencha. It was fun trying out new tastes and even learning the math behind serving a single cup of tea. But be warned: the caffeine in these teas, especially Matcha, is very strong! If you are weak to caffeine, pick and choose your battles–at the very least, make sure to eat something beforehand!
After learning how to serve tea, the group took a walk to Uji’s shopping district for a quick lunch. On our way, we walked over one of the huge bridges crossing the Uji River. The mountains in the distance are very relaxing to look at, and we were even able to hear someone playing the saxophone by the river, adding to the peaceful atmosphere.
Some of the housemates in our share house got together and made temaki sushi together! Temaki sushi is basically rice and some ingredients (which can include sashimi, avocado, corn, imitation crab, and/or cucumber) wrapped in roasted seaweed and eaten with your hands. Thus, it is called Te (hand) maki (wrap) sushi!
For CET’s semester project, students choose a topic of their choice and conduct interviews to learn more about their subject, and then present it at the end of the year. We were fortunate to have many volunteers come in to participate in our first interview experience, and patiently answer our questions as we practiced using keigo, a polite form of Japanese speech.
There are many three-day weekends where students can go out on trips with either other students or by themselves. I was able to take a boat tour up the Uji River to visit the Misukomon, or Misu Canal, located on the Uji River in Fushimi. The Misukomon was used for passing boats between Kyoto and Osaka. It is no longer used today, but visitors can walk atop the gate and visit the small museum and see diagrams explaining its history.
Tenjimbashi-Suji is known as the longest shopping street in Japan. It spans a whopping 2.5 kilometers and is segregated into 6 zones! This shopping district is much less known to tourists, so you’ll find it’s not very crowded and you can shop at ease, and at reasonable prices.
A few of the housemates got together and ate conveyor belt sushi, or kaitenzushi. The sushi at many of these places are sold at low prices, and you can often get two sushi for the super cheap price of 100 yen! It was fun grabbing all the plates before they passed by, and having a rare night out with friends amidst our busy schedules. If sushi isn’t to your taste, some kaitenzushi restaurants serve noodles, and they even have dessert!