Saturday, September 05, 2009

Sayonara Japan, and Hello DC!

Aaaaaaand I'm back! Hopefully I'll be able to blog more regularly after a rather long hiatus. So what happened from May through September? Well, I ended up spending the summer juggling an internship, summer school, and quite a bit of travel. The internship and summer school aren't the most exciting topics, so instead I wanted to share a few photos and thoughts from my trip to Japan.

I spent 8 days traveling in Japan. For the first three days, I stayed in Awaji Island at this beautiful mixed-use complex that houses a Westin hotel, conference center, terraced gardens, retail stores, and restaurants. The site was designed by the Japanese architect Tadao Ando. Despite never receiving formal training as an architect, his work has become internationally renowned for its innovative use of natural light. I found this slideshow online that showcases beautiful photographs from his work on Awaji Island. Below are also some of my own photographs from Awaji Island.

After Awaji, I headed to Nagoya which is the third largest city in Japan. It's an extremely modern and industrialized city. Nagoya is also one of Japan's largest port cities. Unfortunately, much of the city was destroyed in WWII so little remains from the city's past. Even the city's most prized landmark, the Nagoya Castle, is a replica of the original castle that once sat on the site. Today the city has super highways rising above residential and commercial spaces, large skyscrapers, upscale shopping districts, grand parks, and quietier residential neighborhoods. The city doesn't see a lot of Americans traversing its streets so I certainly stood out. Here are some photos from my trip to Nagoya.

A photo of Nagoya Castle taken from the castle grounds.

An intersecting crosswalk in a busy district of the city.

This photo was taken in a park in the Sakae neighborhood. The Nagoya TV tower is in the background.

Superhighways overhead!

This is a shot from ouside the Nagoya train station, which was probably the busiest and most overwhelming place I've ever been!

Since this blog is focused on DC, I've created a comparison of what I missed about DC while in Japan and what I miss about Japan now that I'm back home in DC.

What I missed about DC...

- Clean(er) air.
- Being able to speak the language.
- Sandwiches. I don't know why, but I craved sandwiches the entire time I was in Japan. Want to try some of DC's best sandwiches - check out Cafe Philips in the Mt. Vernon/Chinatown area for a wonderfully fresh and delicious sandwich!
- The simplicity of the public transportation system. Perhaps the language barrier applies to this as well.

What I miss about Japan...

- How polite everyone is!
- Cleanliness. The streets were absolutely spotless.
- Recycling everywhere and the limited amount of waste people produce.
- Multimodal transportaion options. Nagoya was truly a bikable and walkable city.

Japan was certainly a wonderful experience and I can't wait to travel abroad again in the future. Until then, it's back to blogging about the City of Southern Efficiency and Northern Charm!

Until next time,

The Sassy Hen

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