The Experiences of a Lifetime

Although I’ve only been in Japan for a week, I feel like I’ve been here for a month. 

I have been able to do a lot of sightseeing at different shrines, the Kyoto Imperial Palace, a Bamboo Forest, and much more. The land here is so beautiful and even though I am in a big city, I am still able to see the mountains, especially from my school’s overlook. I am studying at Kyoto School of Art and Design (KUAD) in Kyoto, Japan. 

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IU Overseas Study group

In addition to a Japanese class, I am in a photography class with Mariko Takeuchi and her students. Earlier this week, we were all able to share our portfolios with each other. After showing our work, we had some time to talk to the Japanese students and it was really cool because we were all excited about each other’s work. Aside from our schoolwork, it was really fun to get to know the students and see them go from shy to outgoing. A lot of the Japanese students were interested in collaborating with the IU students, so I am looking forward to working with some of them!

It is my first time in Japan and I already love it. The culture is so friendly, respectful and trusting. There are definitely a lot of things in daily life that set Japan apart from America. For example, it is so clean here; I have yet to see any trash on the street. Everything is taken care of with pride. As I ride my bike home in the evening, I always see the shop owners dumping buckets of water outside their shops and sweeping the sidewalk. To me, it seems unnecessary because the sidewalks are already very clean, but the shop owners take such care in how their shops are perceived by passersby. 

Left: Hiroyuki Shindo demonstrating his indigo dyeing process at his house/The Little Indigo Museum. (The museum and his studio are both inside his house.) Right: Miyama, Japan. Bottom: View from the highest point of Kyoto University of Art and Design. 

From what I’ve seen, Japan is a very hard-working country. The people here are always working to do their tasks in a perfect and well-done manner. It is very encouraging because seeing such hard work in every aspect of daily life, makes me always want to be the best I can be.

Now that I’ve settled in, I am able to really begin my photography work. At the end of the program, I get to display my work in a gallery and I’m already looking forward to it! In just one week, I have had the experiences of a lifetime. I can’t wait to see what the rest of my time here brings!

Top: The countryside of Miyama, Japan. Left: The best ramen I’ve ever had from a local restaurant. Right: View from the balcony at my house!