For the past two weeks I had the pleasure of having my parents here with me in Osaka! Therefore, these weeks were a little more touristy than the previous ones. It was great to show them everything I’ve learned so far. From my favorite restaurants, beautiful temples and shrines to my favorite cafe.
I spent most of my time with my parents, but not every day. On one of these days, Ms. Wada (chairwoman of JDG Osaka) took me to see Koya-san. The area is located about 60 km south of Osaka in Wakayama Prefecture and was developed by a Buddhist monk over 1,200 years ago. There were numerous temples and pagodas there. But what impressed me most was the huge cemetery. Various old Japanese families maintain a grave here, but some companies such as Nissan and Kirin also have a grave in memory of the employees of these companies. The graves are largely covered by a thick layer of moss, which, in combination with the huge coniferous trees up to three meters thick, gives the entire cemetery a mystical atmosphere.
During my parents’ stay we were able to use the Schinkansen several times. It is truly a pleasure to travel with a functioning rail system. In comparison to Germany, where only 52% of ICE and IC trains reached their destination on time in November, trains here run every 10 minutes to the second to Tokyo. This will definitely be one of the many things I will miss about Japan.
It was my first time in Tokyo with my parents. The city is much larger and more densely populated than Osaka. Nevertheless, there are significantly more green spaces in the cityscape, such as the park around the Imperial Palace. The Shibuya district and especially Shibuya Crossing were particularly impressive. Over 2.4 million people pass through this intersection every day, or 2,500 people per green phase. And at the same time in all directions and also diagonally. In my last few weeks here I will try to come to Tokyo again to see more of the city.
Finally, my mother wrote a few lines about her experiences here:
“How lucky for our son Philipp that he was able to spend three months in Japan with the Grünwald Foundation and of course we wanted to visit him there too! In the two weeks of our trip we had a lot of time to get explore Osaka and especially get to know the Okamoto family. Mr. Okamoto has launched a great initiative with the Grünwald Foundation to introduce young people to Japan – country – people – language – culture. Thank you very much for your hospitality! The reports from the scholarship holders make it clear how special this is experiences and what impact they have on young people.
We were able to experience a lot during our time there and I don’t even know where to start – Kyoto, the former imperial city with the golden temple and the historic Gion district, modern, lively Tokyo with the venerable imperial palace and colorful neon signs around the Shibuya intersection, Hiroshima with its more than depressing fate, the Japanese Alps with tranquil mountain villages or the holy island of Miyajima with Torji floating above the water. What impressed us most, however, were the people themselves. They are warmly friendly and polite, and living together is characterized by mutual consideration and respectful interaction. A gentleman got into the elevator with us and bowed to everyone who was already in the elevator, the conductors in the Shinkansen bow to their fellow passengers when they enter a carriage, boarding a full train, everything happens with the utmost calm and very respectful. Whoever got there first gets on first, needless to say that you let the other passengers get off in peace first. The people’s choreography seems to follow the motto: I show the greatest possible consideration and hold back. Unfortunately we weren’t able to discover and see everything in such a short time, so we’re sure we’ll be back!!!”
Dinner with the Okamoto family: Mr. Okamoto hired a young chef who cooked a fusion of Japanese and Italian. We were also treated to good German wine and excellent Japanese sake.
Golden Temple in Kyoto