Photos by Lowell Feldhahn, (University of Minnesota) Student Correspondent CET Japan, Fall 2018

Constant reminders that being 6’7” (or ni me-toru ijou) in Japan is indeed rare. Entering a bathroom, any train or subway, or most doorways in general requires constant vigilance. While my height isn’t exactly common worldwide, the amount of times I hear “Ee! Se ga takai!” (Woah, so tall!) and “Dekai na!” (He’s big!) in a day has made it clear that it’s especially uncommon *here*.

The courtyard of my University (Osaka Gakuin Daigaku) that beautifully juxtaposes Osaka’s abundant greenery with geometric, brick-centric architecture. This courtyard connects only 4 of many buildings on the 7 block campus and is located directly across from the international center where international student classes are held.

Sushi & Pizza Party at my sharehouse “Vivian” to celebrate CET Osaka student’s first night in Osaka. Us Americans were surprised to see “COSTCO” written on the boxes of the food, unaware that the company’s reach is international.

Bikes in Namba, a particularly lively district within Osaka full of multi-level stores, restaurants, bars, and pachinko (slots) parlors that is popular among young people. I debated buying a bike for many days before deciding to stick to metro transit services like buses, trains, and subways due to the rather unnerving nature of riding a bike and driving in Japan occurring in a fashion completely opposite from that of America. On roads and sidewalks alike, progressing traffic stays to the *left* side of the pavement while oncoming traffic passes by on the right side. I’m still not quite accustomed to how unnatural this feels.

Dōtonbori (the most popular tourist destination in Namba) at night time, with Guriko (The Running Man) serving as the photo’s focal point. I’ve been to Namba at noon, at night, and around 5am when returning home after a night of clubbing and have yet to see it not completely packed with humans. Reputable foreign brands like H&M and Forever 21 as well as highly popular Japanese brands like WeGo and Sanrio all have large stores in this area due to its popularity, with Taco Bell even planting one of it’s 7 Japanese locations on the edge of the river for easy access.

Singing nostalgic hits at an intimate karaoke bar in the Shojaku district of Osaka. Karaoke bars typically remain open until 4am- with some operating on a 24 hour schedule- and have rooms available at an hourly rate. An unlimited number of songs can be chosen within the time frame purchased and food and beverages can be ordered off a menu via a corded phone hanging from the wall.

Everyone must sing at least one song when we go out for karaoke, though some rising stars opt for more (as they should).

The 300 level Japanese class took a field trip to Himeji-jou (Himeji Castle) in Himeji city, a well-preserved town within the Hyōgo Prefecture of Japan. This 6 story castle is mostly wooden and is said to be the most beautiful castle in all of Japan. While it’s beauty is irrefutable, it’s history is not quite as pretty; upon touring the castle, one can see etches of colonialism via Christian crosses embedded into the castle’s exterior as well as hundreds of triangle, circle, or square shaped openings that provided archers defending the castle with a protected window to fire arrows from during times of war.

Scenic view of the historic town of Himeji from within Himeji-jou (Himeji Castle). Himeji is especially unique for the way in which its old style houses and stores remain nestled between newer buildings and tourist attractions.

Me and three housemates waiting at a train station in Kyoto after visiting Koryu-ji (Koryu temple). This station was the first outdoor station I encountered in Japan and featured an on-train payment system rather than the typical system that requires riders to buy a ticket and scan it prior to entering the station.

Osaka’s famous dishes okonomiyaki (a Japanese style pancake with cabbage, meat, and a variety of condiments- left) and takoyaki (breaded octopus balls- right).

Yodogawa, a long, peaceful river 3 blocks away from my sharehouse. I’ve spent several afternoons soaking in the sun on the river’s bank while reading the work of author Haruki Murakami or going for an afternoon run. Thanks to conveniently placed stone slabs, the Aikawa side of the river is also a great place to enjoy a meal with friends.

My housemate Paola immersed in reading across from me as we studied intensively for our first exam. The homework load is as rigorous as the content is challenging but putting in the 3-5 daily hours it requires manifests tangible results in Japanese language skill development. When paired with the natural language acquisition that comes from being constantly surrounded by spoken Japanese, homework provides a necessary balance through reading and the written components of the language that lead to true mastery.

A furugi (thrift store) with everything from clothing to cell phones to (highly affordable) Louis Vuitton called 2nd Street in the Kishibe district of Osaka. Since thrift stores are my main source of fashion back in Minneapolis, I’ve made it a priority to visit as many in Japan as I can during my time here. Although they are reminiscent of the Goodwills and Savers I love so dearly, I was quite taken aback by the designer brands and high quality electronics that furugi in Japan have stocked at unbeatable prices.

A lovely 1 year old pup named Yume (dream) not-so-patiently awaiting a treat while her 12 year old senior Misaki (beautiful bloom) waits behind her on all-fours. Two of eleven pugs that inhabit the blessed pug cafe called “Living Room” in Kyoto, only 35 minutes away by train.

Me and my housemate Paola surrounded by adorable pugs ranging from 9 months to 13 years old at a pug cafe called “Living Room” in Kyoto after we were handed “The Ultimate Feast,” a dish containing pugs’ favorite snacks. We happened to go on a special day, which occurs on the first of each month, so we paid a flat rate of 3000 yen (about $27) upon entry for unlimited time with the pugs, several bowls of snacks, and even received a gift bag memorabilia before leaving… 3 hours later.

The exterior of Koryu-ji (Koryu temple) in Kyoto featuring written blessings and prayers. Due to its spiritual nature, pictures of the inside of the temple of the temple are forbidden.

Various manga at the Shonen Jump store within “Hep 5,” a 9-story mall in the heart of Umeda- one of the busiest districts of Osaka with nightlife and shopping galore. The Jump store featured displays of the current 10 most popular anime as well as shelves stocked with issues of the world famous magazine dating back to its conception and manga specials that couldn’t be found anywhere else.