The past three months have been such a whirlwind that I don’t even know where to start. I’m really loving my life here in Japan because even though I’m working, I just feel like I’m on a really long vacation. My days off here are a lot more exciting than my days off in America. There is just so much to see and explore here that I’m never bored. Reflecting on the past few months, I am really happy with the way everything has gone.
Let’s start with the family visit. I’ve wanted my family to come and see Japan for the longest time. I’ve been talking their ears off about it ever since I studied here back in 2014. So I was thrilled for them to be able to come and experience it for themselves. They came in August which is actually the worst time to come to Japan, but these were the dates that worked best for me so it couldn’t be helped. Despite the brutal humidity and constant sweating, I think everyone really enjoyed themselves. It was such a great experience to see my family step out of their comfort zones because the Braca family does beach vacations (Florida, Ocean City, Mexico, St. Lucia) and not so much cultural vacations. Some of the highlights of our trip included: the robot restaurant, riding around Tokyo in go-karts dressed in Mario Kart/Nintendo costumes, mini bar hopping, a baseball game, deer feeding, and karaoke. Here are some of my favorite pictures from their time here:
Then in September I was able to go on weekend trip to Fuji-Q Highland (an amusement park at the base of Mt. Fuji) and Yokohama, a major city located about an hour outside Tokyo. Fuji-Q is known for their record holding roller coasters as well as a 45 minute haunted hospital attraction called the “Super Scary Labyrinth of Fear.”
Here was my favorite attraction, the Takabisha. It holds the Guinness world record for the steepest roller coaster in the world!
This 900 meter long haunted attraction was my second favorite. I went in with my friends, Todd and Savannah, and these Chinese girls we met on line. The girls spoke almost no English but insisted that we go in together because we were “strong.” As you enter, they hand you one flashlight per group. I led our group throughout the hospital with one of our new friends clinging onto my arm. As we entered each new room, I shined the light around trying to figure out where someone would pop out from. I felt like we were real life Mystery Inc. from Scooby Doo and I was playing the role of Fred. Meanwhile Todd and Savannah were definitely Shaggy and Scooby while the Chinese girls were just a group of Daphnes.
Yokohama was a city that is very similar to Kobe: a chinatown, a harbor with a ferris wheel, great shopping, and an international vibe. We went up “Landmark Tower” to get a nice view of the city and did two hours of all you can drink as we watched the sun set over this Japanese metropolis.
We also visited Yokohama’s Ramen Museum. It consisted of 3 floors: the first being a gift shop/educational museum and the bottom two floors being a ramen food court. They set the food court up to look like old Japan. There were 9 different ramen shops that were carefully selected from different regions of Japan, all offering a unique style of ramen. The one we tried was a miso/pork ramen from Kumamoto that was delicious!
Now more recently in October, I went to Mt. Rokko to see an outdoor art exhibit and check out the mountain views. Before taking the cable car up the mountain, we were able to try on some conductor outfits which was pretty fun. Walking around the mountains and eating ice cream while checking out the views was so nice. You could actually smell the fresh air up there which made me love living so close to the mountains even more. We also found out that there is a place where you can go skiing in the winter as well, so we definitely plan on coming back once it gets colder.