On January 9, the majority of the group woke up bright and early to get to the airport at 7:30 a.m. After we got our tickets, we made it through security without a hitch (well, except for the professors...) While we waited, our group began to talk about what we were most excited about on the trip. People were excited about everything, ranging from the new foods we would experience to Eiheiji, the temple we would be staying at for a portion of our trip. Once we had boarded the plane, the trip really set in. We were about to embark on a trip of a lifetime!
Personally, the flight to Japan was the longest I had ever been on. Countless hours of movies, attempting to sleep, and playing games allowed us to keep our sanity. 14 hours, thousands of miles, and an ocean later, we finally arrived in Japan. Many of us were thoroughly jetlagged, and we hoped to get to the hotel to rest a bit before our evening class meeting. However, we first needed to navigate the Japanese train systems to get to the hotel.
Having never experienced public transit before, this part of the trip was quite a shocker. Our first train, the Narita Express, was no issue as it originated from the airport and there weren't a lot of people. Once we hit the Japan Railway, we arrived to find the evening rush in full swing. Being pushed into other people was not uncommon, but at the same time it was also accepted by everyone on board the train. Coming from an area where personal space is an implied rule, this was surprising. Being okay with being pushed around by other people was a new experience to me and to many of my classmates.
After a 30 minute walk, we reached our hotel. Expecting something like the Chicago hotel we had stayed in the night before, the rooms were much smaller with the beds taking up the entirety of the room. With nothing but the four beds for the people staying in the room, the trip is becoming a great way to bond with other people on the trip. A few other surprises included shared sinks and shower stalls for the entire floor. It seems like we can never get away from resident hall living...
Now that our group is safely in Japan, we've started focusing on the ideas of religion and business that this course promotes. We've already begun discussing how several religions have played a large role in Japanese ethics, including Shinto, Buddhism, and Confucianism. With a lot of activities scheduled for tomorrow, we hope to gain a better insight of typical Japanese businesses and beliefs.