Being new to the country, the Navy requires us to go through an Intercultural Relations Course where we learn the basic customs and manners of the country, including some language, and helpful things like how to use the train systems and order food at restaurants.  It was a week long course, including a field trip on the fourth day of class.  For the field trip, we had to plan where we wanted to go in small groups, and our group (James and two of his coworkers) decided to go see the Great Buddha in Kamakura.  Kamakura is only about a 45 minute train ride away, yet it feels like you have traveled across the world.  It was the first time I realized we were in a totally different country, in a place where the culture, beliefs, history, and tradition are entirely different from ours.  In Ayase city, you notice the signs being in a different language, and a few things that are slightly different, but for the most part, it’s very similar to the US.  People wear similar clothes, the stores are pretty much the same, and so are the roads, lights, and 7-11’s.  Really, everything kind of feels like home.  But when you start to venture out to the shrines and historical sites, the Japan you read about in books comes to life in front of your very eyes.  This was definitely my experience during the field trip.  It was very exciting!  We only got lost once, trying to switch train lines, which somehow took us wandering around inside of a mall, and when we got off the train in Kamakura, we were transformed into a little oceanfront Japanese town.   It seemed like we were worlds away from our congested metropolitan suburb.  On our field trip, we had to do various things like interact with a local, visit a place and write about it, use a Japanese pay phone, and fill out a report sheet that discussed our experiences, impressions, and questions.  We visited the Hasadera Temple, The Great Buddha, another small shrine, and a Soba noodle shop.  There were many Japanese students on field trips as well, and I felt like we had been transformed to the 3rd grade (like many of these students) as we filled out our three page report sheet.

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