Wednesday, 15 October 2014

JENESYS JAPAN 2.0 Experience: Day 4

It was finally time for all the teams to head out to their designated areas!!! My team was destined for Kagoshima, located on the most southern island of Japan, Kyuushuu. (This was my first time visiting Kyuushuu!!!)

In order to reach Kagoshima, we needed to take a plane from Narita Airport to Kagoshima Airport. 

On the plane we received a bento box for lunch ~
The flight only took about 2 hours. After landing, we boarded a bus which would take us to Kanoya City! 

As soon as we got outside, I could tell how different this area was in comparison to the bustling Tokyo. Thousands of green trees surrounding us, the area was just so lush! 

Kyuushuu Soy Sauce flavoured chips

Our bus trip was quite lengthy, so along the way we stopped by a conbini. Even in the middle of no where, they have conbinis everywhere!!! I found a packet of Calbee chips which were Kyuushuu Soy Sauce flavoured, and I just had to try them. (Every region of Japan has different flavoured snacks/foods) The flavour was quite nice, I hope I'll be able to find them outside of Kyuushuu to eat them again!

Finally we reached Kanoya City and we were welcomed to the city by the Local Government/Council officials at their centre. As we walked into the room, the members of the government stood around waving all our countries flags like crazy, celebrating our arrival. It was so adorable! Even the mascots of Kanoya joined in! (There are mascots for everything in Japan-cities, companies, sporting events)  A few speeches were said by Japanese officials and one of my team mates, and then it was time to take a few photos with the mascots and head off again.

Our next stop was the Kanoya Asia Pacific International Centre, otherwise known as the KAPIC Centre. This centre hosts international students and introduced them to Japanese culture. Our team would be spending 1 night here. 

As soon as we arrived, we were taken to a room where a lady performed the traditional dance used during Kanoya's summer festival. We all watched a video of the dance during last years summer festival. The lady told us they dance during that festival continuously for hours on end!! Apparently everyone in Kanoya knew this dance, so we had to learn it too!

Everyone stood up in a circle as the lady kindly taught us all the moves and eventually we all got the hang of it in the end.

After we finished dancing, we were placed into cabin groups.

These were the views from outside our bedrooms! Isn't it beautiful!? I really love the country area in Japan.. ♡

For the bedrooms, I was paired up with a lovely girl from Brunei. Honestly, I didn't know much about her culture or country, so it was super interesting to learn so much about it!! Her and I got along very well, so we didn't sleep until 1 or 2am since we were talking all night. (๑′ᴗ'๑)ღ

That's pretty much all we did that day, because a lot of time was taken up by travelling around. Tomorrow we had a huge day ahead of us

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

JENESYS 2.0 Japan Experience - Day 3

Day 3

Our third day in Japan was a very busy one, as we were scheduled to visit the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, Asakusa and Harajuku all in the one day.

Once again we woke up early, had breakfast at the huge buffet and boarded the bus. Our first stop was the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (未来館).
Photo from:日本科学未来館

Outside the museum was a beautiful, green park. (Not super common to find this in the middle of Tokyo)

I'm not really a huge science fan, so I wasn't really interested in many of the displays at the museum. However despite that, the museum was very hands on and interactive, making the visit more enjoyable. Also for this reason, there were quite a few primary school children on excursion visiting. Look at their adorable uniforms?! They were so kawaii♡

The museum was quite large and had a few floors. In the main area was a gigantic earth hanging from the ceiling, which looked rather spectacular. There was a long walk way which curved right around the globe and that took us to the next level.

There were various scientific designs, informative pictures, games and more on display. A special section focused on the machines used in space, and explained how astronauts lived while they were up living in space. 

My friends and I explored the top level of the museum, which is where we found a room where we could view 3D photos. That was a little bit of extra fun ~

My absolute favourite part of the museum expedition was the definitely the special 10 minute robot show held at the end. The Asimo Robot is a Humanoid Robot designed and developed by Honda. This robot has the ability to interact with humans, walk, roll a ball, sprint a few meters and wave. That's pretty impressive, huh?  

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

JENESYS 2.0 Japan Experience Day 2

Day 2 of Jenesys 2.0 

Every morning our hotel provided a buffet for breakfast from 6:30am-7:30am, which included Western and Japanese food. A traditional Japanese breakfast often consists of miso soup, fried fish, vegetables, green tea and a bowl of rice. These were all available, however eggs, toast, bread, croissants, muffins, juices and so on were available too. 

Australia was one of the first countries to arrive in Japan, so we had an opportunity to practice our cultural dance for the upcoming Jenesys Festival! We all boarded our buses and headed out to a sports centre nearby. 
The Australian team decided to perform a traditional bush dance, called the 'heel toe polka'. Us Australians did not have an opportunity prior to coming to Japan to practice dancing/organising the routine, so this is when it all happened! For about 2 hours we just practiced our dance.

After dance practice, we headed back onto the bus and we were taken to a huge dining hall. This was where we met everyone from all the other countries and had lunch!! 

For lunch we were given traditional Japanese bento boxes! Inside each bento was an assortment of food. I actually have no idea what any of it was, but you can see quite a lot of effort was put into making it! Very beautiful. 

After a satisfying meal we were given a bit of free time to explore the area. I headed off in search of a book store in hopes of buying some doraemon manga. Luckily I found a book store nearby, so I happily purchased  a few doraemon manga, in order to study and improve my Japanese!!! Manga cost approximately $4.50 in Japan, so very affordable. (429円)

I also came across the stationary section of the store. Take note: Japan LOVES stationary items. Although there were hundreds of pens to choose from, I knew of a special pen, a pen with ink which can be erased! The brand is very popular, it is called FRIXON. You can choose from many colours and different ballpoint sizes. I also came across an interesting item. It was the base for the pens which have 4 different colours, but it didn't include any colour ink inserts, it was just the base with a pretty and cute pattern. I was so confused, I asked the clerk if it was broken! But she told me I choose the colour/size I want individually and insert them inside later myself!!! I love it, SO ingenious.  

After finishing up in the book store, I wandered around and found myself munching on this AMAZING, DELICIOUS snack: a watermelon Ice-block (スイカバー)

I have seen this ice block countless times on tumblr and had been dying to try it. It had a very nice flavour, wasn't too sickly sweet and had yummy chocolate pieces as the watermelon seeds. This item is another one the seasonal foods I mentioned in the previous post, so it can only be bought in summer/spring time! (So eat lots while you still can (^_^) )

Shortly afterwards, a briefing was held to inform all the Jenesys participants about the program.

The briefing went for about 1-2 hours, so everyone was super excited when it was finally time for DINNER~!!!!!!! We drove through Tokyo and arrived at a very fun restaurant. The restaurant was all you can eat YAKINIKU. ♡ Yakiniku means grilling meat and is the Japanese BBQ. 

COOL JAPAN #4: Yakiniku (焼き肉)
  • In Japan there any many restaurants where YOU need to COOK the food YOURSELF at your table. 
    • Yakiniku, Okonomiyaki, Yakisoba, Monja are all foods you cook yourself 
  • At Yakiniku you often pay $20 (2000円) and you can eat/order as much as you like, for 90 minutes
    • You can order a variety of meats- beef, pork, chicken 
    • From these meats, you can choose what part of the animal you want - tongue, bottom, leg, etc (it is very extensive in Japan)
    • Vegetables such as pumpkin are also available
    • Rice and other side dishes like kimchi are often options too
    • Deserts are also included in the price as well 
    • Drink bar (unlimited drinks) however is extra
  • After you've ordered your meat, it's time to place it in the grilling area!!! Time to cook! 
  • It takes about 5 minutes for meat to cook usually
  • This way of eating is very social, relaxing and surprisingly quite enjoyable   
  • Take note: be careful not to OVER EAT!!! (Very easy to do so, since it is all you can eat, hehe)

Everyone on the Jenesys trip was thrilled and absolutely LOVED this restaurant. I'm pretty sure everyone over eat though, and felt a little sick afterwards (I sure did.. haha). Now that everyone was satisfied from their dinner, it was time to return back to our hotel.

It was about 8pm when we arrived, so there was still time to head on over to AEON mall. I have quite a few Japanese friends who live in Chiba (near Tokyo), so I planned to hang out with them that evening. Nozomi and Hinako were my host sisters during my 2012-2013 Japan exchange, and they hung out with me that night!!! I hadn't seen them for 4 months, so I was very very very excited to meet them again!!!!!!!

I met them at the station and we took the bus to AEON mall. Together we had a look around at some shops, took purikura and ate dinner together. It was really great catching up with them... (I miss these girls so much)

Every time I'm in Japan, I ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS take TONS of purikura

Cool Japan #5: Purikura (プリクラ)
  • Purikura is a photo booth where you take photos, edit them with writing/stamps and receive them as stickers
  • One purikura photo shoot is $4 (400円)
  • There are a variety of different booths available, each with different features such as writing fonts/stamps and what type of beauty you want
  • You take about 5-6 photos and then you need to edit them afterwards
  • Editing features include
    • Adding false eyelashes, blush, lipstick, enlarging one's eyes and changing hair colour
    • Various fonts to write with
    • Stamps to put on your photos 
  • These photo booths make everyone look extra beautiful and model-like 
    • It enhances your features
    • Makes everyone look super thin
    • Removes blemishes such as pimples
  • After you've finished editing you receive your photos as stickers, and there is an option to email your photos (Japanese residents only)
  • You can find purikura in game centres & these are usually on the top floor of a shopping centre or near the station

Below are what purikura photos look like:

Can you see how beautiful our skin is and thin we all look!!! We are actually all models!!! ;))  (haha, only in purikura pics)

After hanging out at AEON mall, it was time to head back over towards the station where we ate at Saizeriya (サイゼリヤ). Saizeriya is a super cheap chain family restaurant in Japan serving delicious Italian dishes. I often go to this place to eat, since it is SUPER cheap and REALLY delicious! About $5 for a main meal, which fills me right up. After that it was time to part ways...

I was sad to say farewell to Nozomi & Hinako, but I knew we were going to meet again the next time I visit Japan!!!! 

I love you girls♡

Once I got back to the hotel room, I used the wifi a bit and chatted with my room mates for a long time. The next day we had an even bigger day ahead of us, so we called it quits a bit earlier that night. (Was still late though, 1am!!) 

And that was day 2 of my incredible Jenesys 2.0 experience. Stay tuned for more soon! :)

Monday, 28 July 2014

JENESYS 2.0 Japan Experience: Day 1

Jenesys 2.0 Adventure :ニッポンへ行きます!

In March 2014, I was selected to be a cultural ambassador for the Jenesys 2.0 program which was held from May-June 2014. This program aims to promote potential interest abroad about Japan, including the campaign 'cool Japan', in order to increase tourism and visitors.

Candidates for the Jenesys 2.0 were selected from various ASEAN countries, New Zealand and Australia. In total there were approximately 380 people on the program. Everyone travelled to Tokyo where we stayed for 9 days in total.

As a Jenesys 2.0 candidate, I have a responsibility to promote Japanese culture to my family, friends and others through social media. I hope you enjoy discovering Japan through my posts and visit Japan one day too. I promise that you will absolutely love it!

Day 1: The beginning of our Jenesys adventure

Australian delegates travelled to Sydney Airport to catch our flight with Japan Airlines, to Japan at 7am. Approximately 80 delegates from all over Australia were on the program, some were high-school students, while others uni or TAFE students and 2 teachers as supervisors. Everyone was super excited to be going to Japan, and even though it was our first time meeting one another, we all knew by the end of the trip we were going to become good friends.

We boarded the flight and the fact that we were going to Japan was finally starting to sink in!! The flight would only be about 9 hours long, so we would be landing in Japan in no time at all!!!!

Immediately after lift off hot green tea and Japanese rice crackers were served as an entree meal.

My choice for the main meal was a chicken curry, which came with one of my favourite Japanese noodles; soba. (Pictured below) Japan Airlines is a very reputable airline, and the food has always been delicious when I've flown with them. 

 We flew over some beautiful areas where the water looked incredible..

Finally after 9 hours we had arrived at Narita Airport in Tokyo, Japan! Woo!! I was sooooo excited to finally be back in Japan... I had missed Japan so much... (ToT) 

We were welcomed by some lovely Jenesys staff members at the airport. Seeing the sign 'Jenesys 2.0' and knowing it was meant for us, was such an exhilarating feeling!!! After everyone had gathered together, we were then sorted into either the bus A or bus B group. I was placed into bus B. :) 

As we boarded the bus, the two helpers handed us an origami crane as a small gift. We had just arrived in Japan, and we were already experiencing a small aspect of Japanese culture!

 #1 Cool Japan: Origami (the traditional Japanese art of paper folding♡) 

As we all boarded bus B, we each received a coloured lanyard with our names, country and the prefecture we would be visiting in Japan on it. My lanyard was black, so I was part of the Kagoshima A team! For most of the Jenesys 2.0 trip, we would be travelling together as the Australian Bus B group, and get to know each other intimately! 

So our first stop as the official Australian Bus B group was to our dinner at a Japanese restaurant. 

This restaurant had a very 'Japanese feel' to it! We went downstairs to find our reserved room. In this area we needed to remove our shoes and leave them outside, as we are not allowed to ever walk in shoes on tatami mats! (Very important rule to remember!!) The interior was very nicely done, and was the perfect location to introduce everyone to Japanese food culture. Why? Because we ate sitting cross legged on cushions in a Japanese styled room, and were served traditional food: sashimi! (raw fish) Also, before we all began eating our meals, we all cried 'Kanpai' in unison. (cheers in Japanese)

After everyone had finished dinner, we all headed off to the nearby conbini to buy some snacks (convenience store in Japanese), which happened to be a Lawson store. Conbini in Japan are very very very awesome, seriously. Why? They have EVERYTHING and ANYTHING you will you ever need. Not only that, they are almost on every corner. 

Cool Japan #2: Conbini
  • Very reasonably priced (cheap, really)
  • In big cities, they are usually open 24/7
  • From drinks to snacks, stockings, magazines, toys, ice cream, instant meals, ingredients for cooking, they will have anything you want to buy (Also have interesting seasonal products)
  • Provide free access to toilets quite often (hard to come by public toilets in Japan)
  • Easy to find since there are so many

*In Japan there are a few major conbini stores: 7eleven, Family Mart, Lawson. 

After our little expedition to the nearby conbini, we all boarded the bus and headed to our hotel: New Otani Hotel Makuhari, located in the Chiba prefecture. (40 minutes to Tokyo by train) After we arrived, everyone from Bus B was placed in a room with a couple of others, and I finally met my 2 roommates !!!! My roommate Brie was from Newcastle while Samara was from a city in Western Australia!! I've never met anyone from either of those areas, so it was interesting learning about their lives and cities :) 
*Picture from:
We were all quite exhausted, however that didn't stop us from exploring the nearby area. Chiba isn't near central Tokyo, but it was still quite lively! Near the hotel we were staying at, was a MASSIVE shopping centre called AEON mall, which only took 10 minutes to reach by foot. In the other direction, was the a train station, lots of restaurants, a game centre and more. Since it was raining and we were quite exhausted, we headed back shortly after. 

On our way back, we stopped by another conbini which is where I bought soba noodles! This is a traditional Japanese food eaten year round, but this style soba is especially popular in Spring/Summer! This packet only cost about $2, plus it was super fresh and delicious. 

Cool Japan #3: Seasonal foods
  • Each season summer, winter, autumn & spring has its own special foods
  • Places such as conbinis, restaurants and supermarkets will change the foods served depending on the season
  • For example fresh soba noodles are only sold in spring/summer and are not available during the winter season
  • In spring time 'sakura' flavoured foods are very popular
    •  McDonalds this spring released a sakura burger & drink
    • Haagen Dazs also released a sakura ice cream flavour (which was DELICIOUS)

After we returned back to our hotel room, us girls had some girl talk and I watched a bit of Japanese TV before sleeping. 

That's about it for my first day on the Jenesys 2.0 trip. Stay tuned for more posts soon! :-)

Extra Information:

Countries participating in the cultural batch of the Jenesys 2.0 trip:

  • Brunei
  • Cambodia
  • Indonesia
  • Lao
  • Malaysia
  • Myanmar
  • Philippines
  • Singapore
  • Thailland
  • Vietnam 
  • Timor-Leste
  • Australia
  • New Zealand

Areas teams visited in Japan:

  • Yamagata
  • Fukushima
  • Ibaraki
  • Chiba
  • Nagano
  • Kochi
  • Kagoshima (my area)
  • Shizuoka
  • Shimane