Today was by far, hands down, no questions asked, my favorite day of this trip. Point, blank, period. We got to meet with the Kansai University students today and they were so sweet and excited to meet us that I just don’t know how to form a coherent sentence about how happy this entire experience has made me. Wow. I’m so incredibly grateful to be here.
There was an entire Christmas village outside of the floating gardens. This was part of the carousel. Unfortunately, Jimmy Darling was’t there. I found out from the students that while a lot of Japanese people do not celebrate the religious aspect of Christmas, a lot of people are enthusiastic about the decorations that come with the season.
He was in the Christmas village. He’s adorable.
We started off the day by going into downtown Osaka to visit the floating gardens (spoiler alert- it actually is not even a garden.) It’s a giant building that you ride up in a glass elevator to the 39th floor. When you buy your ticket it comes with a blank silver paper star. It’s actually an ornament and you can write a wish on the back and hang it anywhere in the room. There were easily thousands of stars hanging on the windows, trees, and tables from all over the world. It was like adding your wish to the story of thousands before you. That was a pretty awesome thing.
You get to walk along the floor of the building which opens into a 365 degree open walk with a view of Osaka in its entirety. It was incredible. The view was unbelievable. I really had no idea how enormous Osaka was until I saw it from all the way up there. I’m sure I have a picture or thirty to add but I swear it doesn’t do it justice. Most of the buildings here (at least in Osaka) are modern but also not modern looking. I’m convinced that this city looks like the set of ‘Divergent’. (Again, I don’t have a good enough picture to prove that either.)
This picture just doesn’t do justice to the view on the top of the floating gardens. This is just a little section of Osaka.
My silver star in the floating gardens.
A little section of the silver stars in the floating gardens.
Amy hanging up the stars with the rest.
This was the shot while we were coming down the escalator at the floating gardens.
So after that we made our way to the Osaka Castle, which was stunning. The amount of detail and beauty in the building is honestly breathtaking. We had to hike up to the castle and I was certain I was going to die before I made it to the top. I would have gone out with one of those dramatic lines like “save yourselves” then layed on the pavement with one arm stretched in the air…I watch too many movies.
The Osaka Castle from the walk up to it. The stones and land around the castle is so beautiful. It’s also fall here which makes everything look that much more beautiful.
I’m so convinced this city looks like the ‘Divergent’ set.
I’m not kidding when I said I took thirty pictures of this castle.
Again, the Osaka castle.
What was really funny is that when we were in the castle there were quite a few grade school aged students looking around the inside of the castle. Side note- its not really the kind of castle you probably thing of when you think ‘castle’. The inside was totally renovated and it just looked like an ordinary museum. For me it was the outside that I really loved. So anyways, the students all had different color hats on and I was thinking maybe they wear different color hats for different grade levels? Or maybe it has to do with different schools. I have no idea, but its a unique idea to have the different hats. The kids kept staring at us and they were almost mesmerized with how we looked because we look different. If you would wave or smile at them and they would get so excited and giggle. It really was so cute.
A pond outside of the castle. It looked so peaceful.
I’m no entirely sure what these are but I thought they were interesting.
Some art on the walk to the top of the castle.
The walk towards the castle.
NOW the best for last. We visited Kansai University today to meet with the students we’ve been working with for the first time. As we were walking over there, I was so excited to meet them and then when I actually did it blew all of my expectations to smithereens. All of the students were so friendly and excited to talk to us, I felt like a celebrity. They took us on a quick tour of the university and one of the girls interrupted the tour to ask if she could take a selfie with me. I felt like a big deal! Afterwards we got to hang out with the students for hours and have dinner with them. I’ve learned so much about Japan, the culture, the city, and everything else from them all. Things I couldn’t learn from any book. They told us where to go for all you can eat ramen and how to say things in Japanese (including my name). I actually took a picture of it because I would have never remembered how to say everything.
With some of the Kansai students today at the university!
In the box are three different ways to say ‘Ally’
Some of the words I learned tonight in Japanese.
They’re so sweet I just can’t even.
Most of the students were from Japan, but a few of them were exchange students from Australia and England. I loved talking with them all. Every last second. I came home tonight with 5 Facebook friend requests. Honestly, I loved today so much and I have international friends now. *flips hair* yeah, it’s no big deal.
Found this bridge type thing over shallow water. It was really neat to walk over.
Japan has wild cats just walking around. Moral of the story I am moving to Japan.
I’m telling you. ‘Divergent’.
Tomorrow is the symposium and I am excited to see all of these students again. We’re all set to go for tomorrow and I’m really looking forward to the presentation. Plus, we have plans with our new friends tomorrow night, so whats not to be excited about? I’m really so thankful to be on this trip and just don’t think I can say it enough no matter how many times I say it. Also, Osaka looks like Divergent. I can’t stop saying that either.
Current jam- “Little Machines’ by Lights