Almost Forgot...

DSCN0705 Sharing my love for Japanese drink machines almost slipped my mind until I found this picture hiding in my photo files. The idea is the same: you put money in, push a button, then a drink dispenses. But oh how the experiences differ between America and Japan! The variety, color, and aesthetic design of the beverage machines make quenching your thirst far more interesting and entertaining. Good job Japanese marketers: you convinced a girl who swears by her bobble water bottle to cave and buy some sugary drinks.

Sayonara

DSC_0196 I am back in China now, but my great time in Japan will be impossible to forget.

It had been five years since I had been back to see my grandma and my aunt in Osaka, and I am so blessed that I had the opportunity to take this initially unplanned trip to see them. A lot of things happen in a five year span--I had gone from an immature middle schooler to a young woman who had completed her first year of college. And in a grandmother's eyes, it's these sorts of changes that bring tears and also attest to how quickly time passes.

With that said, here is a post wrapping up my trip in Japan. I rounded up a bunch of signs of places I went to, restaurants I ate at, and also the supermarket that I frequented everyday.

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From Up Above

DSC_0129 Cities at night are beautiful, and so we went to the Osaka tower with hopes of getting a good shot of Osaka in the evening. We underestimated what time the sun set though,  and I didn't quite get the twinkling lights picture that I wanted. However, I did get this warm summer glow over the city of Osaka as dusk began to fall.

 

Kobe

Upon my, "I would like to be near the ocean" request, my aunt took us to Kobe via a ~20min shinkansen ride. Kobe is a large city that houses 1.5 million, yet feels like a quaint little ocean side town. Swimming isn't allowed, but after being landlocked for so long (Harbin and Osaka are not costal cities), it truly was nice to just be by the seaside. We spent the day walking along the coastline and through the city.

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Summers in Japan mean two things: lots and lots of sweat, and lots and lots of festivals. A Japanese festival, or 祭 (matsuri), celebrates many things ranging from the seasons, good harvests, and children. Adorned with beautiful lanterns, these festivals are filled with are dancers and singers from all ages, happily wearing their kimonos despite the sweltering heat. DSC_0153 DSC_0140 DSC_0125

Nippon!

My Asian heritage spans not just a Chinese mother and a Korean father, but also a Japanese birthplace. Before I moved to the states, I spoke only in Japanese and loved traditional Japanese foods like natto. Though I have largely forgotten the language, I still very much love the culture and try to stay connected to it. I eat copious amounts of sushi, udon, and seafood, and frequently rock a peace sign in my pictures. I flew into the Kansai airport yesterday, and after a long restful sleep, explored some of Osaka's larger shopping districts. Shinsaibashi is one of Osaka's most frequented areas, with a 600+ meter stretch of both Japanese and foreign stores. We spent a few hours there, exploring shops with prices ranging from Forever 21 cheap to Louis Vuitton luxurious.

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Urbanization

Big media networks always tout how China is rapidly changing, and with my grandpa's new home right next to a new train station, I can't help but feel the truth in those claims. I find it amazing, shocking even, at how fast China has grown in the past decade. The China that I visit now is completely different than the China that I visited as a small child--and for my parents, this feeling is magnified exponentially. Here are some pictures from the partially opened Harbin West Station, already trying its hand at high-speed bullet trains. DSC_0018

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Beginnings of My Month in China

I have finally exhausted my pictures from my weekend out east, and can now move onto sharing my month-long trip to China. Much planning and attention to detail goes into figuring out a month-long vacation for a family of five with many different schedules, so it is always a very hard-fought victory for my parents when we finally embark on this biennial trip. By how the tickets worked out, I flew alone on the long 13-hour flight. I was quite content with this arrangement, as my little siblings are quite annoying to be locked with for a 13 hour flight  traveling alone internationally is an exhilarating experience that I love. With a seemingly bottomless glass of wine and many free in-flight TV episodes/movies at my disposal, the 13 hours didn't seem as long as I remembered.

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