Our Japan study trip officially began on June 9th, when the instructors and a slew of students arrived at the airport, excited to begin their journey to explore Japanese culture firsthand. Unfortunately the weather wasn't on our side: a two-hour delay on the Chicago end turned into a disappointing overnight layover in San Francisco for half the group. The other half, which had taken other flights, got things started with a trip to the Osaka Castle and Museum led by our trip coordinator Hiroko Saito. Luckily, the Bay Area wasn't the worst place to be stuck. Once we'd sorted out hotel arrangements we made the most of our unexpected detour, and soon we were back in the air, headed for Osaka.
After a good night's sleep, the whole group reunited and caught the train to the small town of Takarazuka to check out the museum dedicated to Osamu Tezuka, the prolific "godfather of manga".
After that, we hit the Namba art walk, and then on to the big hair, flashing lights, and amazing spectacle of technology and excess that is Osaka's famous Shinsaibashi area. It's really impossible to do the place justice in photos.
Soon we'll be off to Hiroshima to reflect on the impact of war and atomic power here, and tomorrow Kyoto, where we'll see an entirely different side of Japan. Until then....