Discovering Japan through the Eyes of a Tourist

My fiancee was dying to write a post about travel, and the both of us just couldn’t get memories of our trip to Japan out of our heads (and trust me, Japan tends to do that to people), so he offered to write a great piece on Japan.  Unlike me, my fiancee has yet to live or study in Japan, so it has been fascinating to read his account of discovering Japan through the eyes of a tourist.  Enjoy!  (PS, if you enjoy my fiancee’s writing take a look at his finance blog, Millennial Lifehacker).

Mary has already written a fabulous article on Japan, but aside from the one week that we spent together there, I also wandered across part of the country with my parents while she acted as a tour guide for some other friends. Here are some things that I noted. Apologies in advance as I am not nearly as captivating a writer as Mary.

1. There are so many Chinese in Japan

Can you tell who is Chinese?

Yeah, I know, Mary made this observation already, I know, but I still could not get over it.  Seriously, everywhere you go in Japan has tons of stealth Chinese people. One particularly memorable encounter was at the hotel. After we checked in, there was a maid who came by with extra sheets and to do some supplemental cleaning. She was Chinese! I guess Chinese maids are the equivalent to Hispanic maids in southern California; they’re everywhere! Apparently they all have the same story as well. They moved to Japan after China started to open up but was still kind of poor (think most of the 1990s). They usually worked in low skill employment but stayed on even as China became wealthy because they got used to the environment and made their circle of friends.

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Job Hunting, The United Incident, and The Girl Who Escaped ISIS

I know, the title of this blog post seems strangely unrelated–and actually, it probably is.  The only common link between job hunting, the controversial United incident of this week and the Girl Who Escaped ISIS is my mental state of being.

So let’s delve right into that:

The United Incident

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you should know about the United incident.  A United flight from Chicago O’Hare to Louisville was overbooked and, despite offering an $800 voucher, no one volunteered to leave the plane and make room for four crew members who needed to staff a connecting flight.  United felt that the only remaining option was to “randomly” select four people to forcibly vacate the plane.

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5 Reasons To Visit Washington DC

This week, I just traveled to my nation’s capital for the very first time.  Despite traversing most of East Asia, I have yet to explore much of my own country–in fact, my trip to DC was only the second time in my entire life I set foot on the East Coast.

Although I was only there a mere five days, I have to say that I enjoyed the city immensely… and here’s why:

  1. The architecture

This is what 90% of the US West Coast looks like

The West Coast is ugly.  I’m sorry, it’s the truth.  Much of the American west looks post-apocalyptic with its vast swaths of deserts, strip malls, and architecture that makes a Soviet commune look beautiful.  There are few, if any places in the west where one can take a city stroll and honestly say it’s charming.

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In Honor of Women’s Day: Women Studying International Relations

Ok, I’m biased about this subject matter (international relations being my main area of focus, and me being a woman), but since entering my graduate international relations program I’ve noticed something quite striking:

Males outnumber females.  By a very large number.

In my Chinese International Relations and Security Class, there are 5 females and perhaps 15 males.  My other classes also hold the same demographic.  I always imagined international relations to be a relatively balance degree of gender (it’s not engineering), but I was alarmed by the contrast.  International Relations (IR) is basically an extension of politics–and there are no women in it.

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Finding Inspiring, Powerful Female Leads in Asian Media

Image courtesy of Lord of the Rings Wiki

If you couldn’t tell, I grew up a fantasy nerd.  My brother loved fantasy books and passed the tradition onto me–which meant that in 5th grade I was reading the Hobbit, and by the end of the 6th grade I had already finished the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy.

After reading Lord of the Rings, I was a diehard Eowyn fan.  She was the only female in the entire series to kill a nazgul.  Not only that, but she disguised herself as a male to participate in the war to prove herself.  What. a. badass.

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What a Trump Presidency Means for US-Japan-China Relations

Two Chinese girls looking out at Tokyo with a faux statue of liberty. The US-China-Japan all in one photo.

It’s only been one day and we are already starting to see the damage.  The repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  The disappearance of the Climate Change page on whitehouse.org.  Re-negotiations of NAFTA.  It’s all really happening.

Yesterday, in a truly humbling event, scores of Women’s Marches were held around the world. Women (and those who support women and diversity) stood in solidarity for equality, love, and women’s rights.  I was rooting for all of you.

Although these marches spanned the globe, they mostly represented a fight for U.S. domestic policies.  Planned Parenthood, immigration, education, healthcare–Americans turned out in record numbers to fight for these rights.

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The Ruby Ronin’s 2016 Year in Review

newyearcover

As social media and the internet have already proclaimed, 2016 was not exactly a great year.  Dozens of amazing, life-changing and truly respectable celebrities passed away–and most of them, in my opinion, left this world too soon (Carrie Fisher, Alan Rickman, David Bowie, Prince… just to name a few).

The most devastating public tragedy to occur in 2016, in my personal opinion, is the election of Donald Trump.  I’m in disbelief that a bigoted, low-intelligence, tax-evading, rapist could become president.  I go into 2017 with a heavy heart and sincere concern about the U.S. and the world.  As someone studying foreign policy day-in, day-out, I am extremely aware of the damage an unpredictable president like Trump will do, and it is very frightening indeed.  I went into graduate school with the high hopes of graduating, working hard to get a job in the federal government and serve under the first female president–and now everything has changed.  My future looks uncertain.

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Teaching Christmas in the Japanese Countryside

winterinniigata

Winter at one of my schools.

Many people often ask me what the most difficult part of teaching in Japan was.  The JET Program had a mandatory, two day orientation to teach us about the long, English teaching road ahead. They rattled on and on about isolation, language barriers, and cultural clashes.

Yet they forgot the most important thing of all:

Actually instructing us on how to teach English.

winterniigatame

Never showed this face to my students, but man did I feel like this many-a-time (especially during blizzards)

The most difficult part of JET for me was standing in front of 40 middle school students and entertaining educating them for one hour.  I was a journalism and Japanese major–I knew absolutely nothing about education.

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My First Time in Latin America: Spending One Week in Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Years ago, my boyfriend (now fiancee) approached me and said: “Let’s go to Costa Rica in December 2016.”

Knowing absolutely nothing about the country, I said “Sure.  Why not.”

Since boyfriend planned our previous trip, he said Costa Rica planning was up to me.

As I mentioned before, I knew jack shit about Costa Rica.  To be perfectly honest–I had to look the country up on Google Maps.

Where does one go in Costa Rica?  How do we get there?  How do we get around?  Do we rent a car?  Can we drink the local tap water?  What’s worth seeing, what’s not?  How’s the weather?

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3 Reasons Chinese People Like Trump

Chineseliketrump

Like most of America, I was devastated on the morning of Wednesday, November 9th 2016.  The impossible happened.  The United States elected a KKK endorsed rapist to the most powerful position in this country.  As a minority, I was horrified; and as a woman, I was absolutely disgusted.

Ill with a hangover and still in a state of shock, I rolled over in bed and reached for my phone.  I had a slew of frustrated and hopeless texts from friends around the states.  My Facebook feed was awash in anger, denial and filled with dispute.  I opened my WeChat account to find…

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