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Published: October 23rd 2011
Well, after a year of sitting around at home I decided that it was time to move on with my life and go back to school. That's right, grad school was the next step for me.
A little background information might help some of you on this. I did my undergraduate studies in Asian Studies with a concentration in Japanese Studies. After being in Osaka for a study abroad, I graduated and moved myself to Sendai, Miyagi for 3 years. I didn't just live in Japan, I became apart of Japan. I traveled extensively, made Japanese friends, and studied Japanese. While I'm a little embarrassed about the fact that I'm not as fluent as I feel I should be, I'm getting there.
So when it was time to get back to school I decided that I wanted to continue my Japanese studies and start moving up the ladder. I picked Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, or APU for short, in Beppu, Japan. What better place to study about Japanese culture than IN Japan? I'm in the Contemporary Japanese Studies program and starting my research.
Let me explain a little about Beppu. It's a famous hotspring, or onsen
Japan. It receives thousands of visitors each year to sit around and relax, some in mud and some in hot volcanic sand, but it's a pretty low key type of town. Completely opposite of Sendai and it's 1.6 million population. Beppu is located right between the sea and a mountain range, which is where APU is.
APU is placed way up above Beppu in the mountains and it commands a beautiful view of the city. The first 3 days I was here though, it rained and you would have believed that I was living in a cloud. Could hardly see the bike parking decks below my window, let alone the surrounding mountains and the sea views. Being all the way up on a mountain we don't have a real grocery store up here by campus, so we are forced to take the super expensive bus down to one.
First time I rode the bus into town, I dragged this poor girl with me trying to spot a grocery store that I recognized......and failed miserably. When my adventure partner finally asked this cute little old women where we could find a grocery store. Yeah, one failed tour. It was
pouring rain and we both had bags of food to take back to school and no umbrella between the 2 of us. Talk about a gambatte gaijin
, or good luck foreigner, moment.
Thankfully the rain didn't last for longer than 3 days because I was ready to get out and actually see what Beppu was like. Since the bus is so expensive I decided to take the bus down the mountain and than walk into town. This turned out to be really smart because now I know where the closest post office, train station, used comic book store (which is the most important place in town), and just about everything else. It takes well over an hour of walking to get to the true "downtown" part of Beppu, but now I know where a lot of other stuff is as well.
The main road into town runs parallel to the ocean and you can see the other towns that cling to the bay and the mountains that cradle it from the other side. There are parks and ocean paths all along the ocean. Some lead you to onsen and some just keep going. Fishermen dot the breakers and
families play around on the fake green grass.
As you look up toward the hills and mountains I can see the onsen steam rising up. There are over 100 onsen in Beppu and from a good viewing spot, you can see dozens of steam spikes rising up into the sky.
All in All, not a bad place to live at all.
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