My first day in Ashikaga, Japan was incredible! I saw so many new things that I had never expected to see in my life. The day was spent mainly as a bus tour of the city, where we made multiple stops at some of the city’s hallmark locations. First, we went to Ashikaga University, which seemed at first glance quite similar to American universities! From there we went to Ashikaga Gakko, the oldest school in Japan, which had at one point suffered some fire damage but was still absolutely gorgeous, and the architecture was truly something to behold; a testament to Japan’s long legacy of the emphasis on the importance of education, knowledge, and wisdom. One of the most interesting buildings I noticed there was what was once a dormitory where students would sit and copy books by hand. Such a stark contrast to today when we can download our textbooks online in a matter of minutes!
After visiting Ashikaga Gakko, we then went to a shrine, which consisted of walking 200 some steps to get to the top, but the view was absolutely breathtaking! My favorite part of the day, however, was visiting the Ashikaga Flower Park. The park is most famous for its wisteria trees, some of which are over 100 years old, with their branches supported by massive wire frames that create incredible canopies overhead. I saw many flowers I was not familiar with, as well as some lizards and fish in the park’s many ponds.
The language barrier here can be tough to get through at times, but the people are so understanding and incredibly helpful, even when there are translation issues. I have traveled abroad in the past, but I have never before felt so welcomed in a country that is not my own. I am so much looking forward to what the rest of my stay here will bring me!