Naomi at Akita: Not the Full Foreigner

Hello everyone! My name is Naomi and I’m a junior at the University of Richmond. I’m majoring in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing (although that may change) and minoring in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. On campus at UR, I’m involved with APO (co-ed voluntary fraternity), Camp Kesem (a national non-profit for kids who are affected by a parents’ cancer), WILL* (a national organization exploring gender and diversity issues), and I try to attend basketball club practices in my free time. Oh, I’m also a cook at the Cellar! This semester I am studying abroad at Akita International University in Japan.

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I was afraid I was going to go over the weight limit. My mom even brought three bags to the airport, in case we needed to lighten my check-in bag.

Now, there’s something you should know, I actually attended high school in Okinawa, Japan. BUT, I went to a DoDD school, which is basically any other American high school with the exception of it being on a military base. Okinawa is a tropical island south of Honshu (mainland Japan). Okinawa, a tourist destination, is completely different from Akita, as well. Actually, the other day, my mom told me that Akita is the least visited prefecture in Japan. That may sound sad, as most of my friends have said, “it sounds like you’ll be in the middle of nowhere.” However, I was actually excited to hear that. I want to be in the middle of nowhere and adventure around. I like the nature! The peace will be nice.

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Adventuring around Okinawa one last time. I climbed that rock in front of me at Cape Zanpa. I know it doesn’t look that big but wow, I had a very hard time climbing back down.

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I walked outisde, ran back inside to grab my phone, and snapped this picture of one of my last sunsets in Okinawa. I was in awe.

Okay, another thing I must confess – I am half-Japanese. My mom is Japanese and I have family members that are indeed, Japanese. Now, I know when you study abroad you should be adventurous and go somewhere you’ve never been before, somewhere new and exciting, right? The thing is though; this is new and exciting to me! I only know a little bit of Japanese. I can read the hiragana, katakana, and a few kanji characters; I can pick up certain words and phrases – enough to understand what some conversations are about. I very much want to learn how to speak it fluently though. I want to be able to hold a conversation with my Obaa (grandma) without things getting lost in translation. That’s the main reason I wanted to study abroad in Japan, to finally be able to speak to family and friends.

I also want to travel around Japan since I’ve only lived in Okinawa, the tropical island I mentioned, and to Tokyo during long layovers. Osaka and Kyoto are my two main destinations. A friend from high school that just recently moved to Osaka and said she would be willing to show me around. Namba is a popular destination with the athlete positioned with his arms raised up high…that sounds funny. I’ll end up posting a picture of that later so you understand. Kyoto has the Fushimi Inari-taisha (Temple with 1,000 gates)! I hope to thrive in Akita and learn enough Japanese to get around these places.

Well, that’s a little bit about me and what I’ll be up to these next four months. I’m sad to say goodbye to Okinawa but am very excited for what Akita holds for me. I’m thrilled to share my experience with you all through my photos. I also hope to learn more about photography and pick up skills/tricks as I go along with my T5 Canon and iPhone 5S.

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My mom’s friend’s son was also at the airport going to another prefecture (I can’t recall) for vacation. She wanted to take a picture of the three of us. I’m sure you can tell which one my brother is, after all, everyone claims that we look like twins. I don’t see it.

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