Goodbye Onishi, It’s Been Real…


Coming down to my last week herein Onishi, Japan!  This has been an experience of a lifetime, and I am extremely blessed to have been able to have this incredible opportunity! I want to start by giving a huge thank you to the Freeman Asia Foundation for funding this trip! I also want to thank Dr. Almoloza, and Stacey Shimizu for all of the help organizing this trip!  This would not have been possible without them.  I figured I would end my series of blog posts with a post about everything that I have learned about Onishi, Japan from my time here.  So here we go….

#1) Clothes are hung up and dried outside. (Drying machines do not exist around here)

#2) You greet everyone you see!  Even if you have never seen them before. (Everyone is insanely kind here)

#3) The best way to get around is a bicycle. (Highway tolls are extremely expensive!)

#4) The grocery store lowers their price on meet throughout the day.  Someone with a sticker gun comes by and puts on a 10% sale every few hours as it becomes less fresh.

#5) Tofu is made from soy beans.

#6) Instead of waving, people usually nod when acknowledging each other

.#7) Cars drive on the left side of the road.

#8) The sun comes up around 4:30 in the morning.

#9) Futons should be put out in the sun daily to get from getting moist.

#10) My favorite meal here is Oyokodon. (which means parent and child) This meal consists of chicken and egg mixed together.

#11) Every meal at just about every restaurant comes with miso soup, picked vegetables, and a bowl of white rice.

#12) People in Japan love their Karaoke.

#13) People are insanely generous here and will invite you over for dinner after just meeting you.

#14) Onsen’s are the most relaxing places ever created.

#15) Drumming in the festival is quite the adrenaline rush.

#16) Onishi is a family atmosphere, and everyone wants to see each other succeed!

#17) Dishes are washed by hand here.

#18) Arigato gozaimasu and sumimasen can never be used too much here. (Thank you and I’m sorry/ excuse me.

#19) Life can be a lot less stressful without wifi, tv, and other electronics. (It becomes a lot easier to stay in the moment, and be fully present in conversations!

#20) There are five words that can change your mood in an instant… Let’s Go To The River!

These are just a few of the many things that I have learned during my time here! Thank you to our incredible colleagues/ housemates/ family Yoji and Kjell for the incredible generosity and making every day at work an absolute blast, no matter what the task was! This trip has far exceeded my already high expectations. This town is full of the sweetest people! It will truly be missed! Goodbye, Onishi…






Dance Workshop


Over the course of my time here, I have had the great privilege to be able to participate in many incredible workshops from many talented artists.  Some of these workshops included animation, making traditional foods, and most recently a dance/yoga workshop!

Now, this workshop was wayyyyy out my comfort zone!  At the same time, I wanted to get the most out of this internship/experience by taking part in all of the opportunities that I have been provided! This workshop opened my eyes in a whole new way!  We started off with some yoga to stretch out which felt absolutely incredible!  Then, we followed that up with a partner activity!  This consisted of one partner being blind folded, while the other partner lead them around!  The partner not blindfolded could take you anywhere they wanted!  I thought this would be easy, but it was crazy how uncomfortable it was to let go and trust the other person.  After a while, I started getting more and more comfortable and started really enjoying the activity!  It brought back some great memories from my entire life!  We then followed that activity with a partner dancing activity where one person was still blindfolded!  The other person would give them a movement by positioning their body in a certain way which would turn into a fluid motion!  It was interesting how easy it was to move without even thinking about it!  For something so unnatural… it felt really easy!  It was by far one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had!

Festival Time!

A few posts back, you may have recalled that I talked about taiko drumming! Well, after drumming night in and night out for the past two and a half weeks, it was time to put it to use!

The summer festival in Onishi consisted of five different neighborhoods pulling these huge shrines with some of the community members playing drums and flutes on top of it!  People are chanting, singing, and dancing the whole day! The amount of energy was insane! The streets were lined with people having a great time!

After hours upon hours of pulling this huge shrine… it was finally our chance to play the drums!  The experience was absolutely out of this world! I messed up a few times in the process, but it didn’t even matter! Just being a part of this great tradition was incredible! This by far was the highlight of the trip so far, and like I’ve saying… it just keeps getting better and better!

Painting with Onishi Elementary School


I struggle to call interning here actually working! In theory we are have work here from 9-5 almost every day.  However, the people we work for are amazing, and we are provided with tons of unique opportunities in the community!  For example, today we were given the opportunity to volunteer at the local elementary school!

The activity that we did with the kids involved using tons of creativity!  We were told that the kids are provided a strict curriculum and it is rare that they are able to use their imagination!  So today, we spread out this lonnnng piece of paper for the kids to draw, color, and be creative! Fifth graders were helping show some of the second graders the ropes.  The activity consisted of tracing each others bodies with crayons! Once that was finished they had the chance to mix two paints together and fill their tracing with the paint!  After that was all finished, they were asked to describe the emotion they felt coincided with their choice of color! It was incredible to see how much joy this activity brought to the kids!  I truly am blessed to be able to be a part of this community for these few months!  Each week keeps getting better and better!

Tofu Factory


My time in Japan has opened my eyes in more ways that I can count!  One of the biggest moments for me came when I tried tofu for the first time last week!  Now I’m not saying that I’m becoming a vegetarian any time soon… However, I was pleasantly surprised by how incredible the taste was! Interestingly enough, after that ah hah moment, a week later I found out that there was a tofu factory nearby! So, of course I had to go and see how this rectangular white piece of goodness was produced!

When we arrived it smelled absolutely incredible! We came in and we were greeted with a gift shop full of delicious samples of tofu! Then after that we had a chance to make our own! We started out with a cup of boiled soy milk! Then to that we added salt water and stirred! Boom, just like that we had our own tofu in the palm of our hands! We added  little soy sauce to it, and consumed it! (a little soy on soy action) All in all, I would say it was a pretty great day! In coming months when I find myself at home, I will definitely be adding this to my list of go to snacks!


My Training Partner!


Being up in the mountains, long stretches of grass have been hard to come by!  With that being said, running up the mountains has provided me with a great way for me to stay in shape for football!

After the first few days of being here a met a guy named Kazu! (in the middle of the picture)  One of the most friendly people that the world has to offer!  After our conversation I found out that on the weekends, he referees soccer!  He told me about how grueling it can be to be running around refereeing three games in a row in the hot sun.  To prepare for this he runs throughout the week to stay in shape. So after that, he invited me to meet him at 7am the next day to run with him! He took me through some of the most scenic views that Onishi has to offer! It was absolutely incredible! I was struggling to keep up because this guy is in incredible shape! He also seemed to have an remarkable ability to find the steepest (and most exhausting) routes to go! After about half and hour of running we finally finished! The whole route totaled around 6 km. (longest distance that I’ve ran since high school) Ever since then we have been running in the mornings ever since. Each day he has a new route for us to go, and they just keep getting better and better! I’m also somewhat keeping up with him now!

Taiko Drumming


This week has been incredible!

This little old town of Onishi is really starting to feel like home!  Everyone has been extremely welcoming! To go along with that, I was invited to be a part of the town festival!

A big portion of the town festival consists of Taiko drumming.  Practice takes place every night, and I just started my first few lessons this week!  I’m as much of a beginner as they come but it was still a blast! Some of the locals have been playing since they were young children. They were putting me to shame! For the first few practices I have been starting off practicing on tires! I am hoping in the near future I will be good enough to graduate to the real drums, but for now I will try my best to progress on the tire!  I look forward to the rest of the festivities to come leading up to the festival and I will be sure to keep you guys posted! Until then, I will do my absolute best to improve on these drums…

Much Love,


Starting Point…

First week underway…

After a hectic week in Tokyo, it has been relaxing to switch it up to the mountains of Onishi, Japan.  To start off my first day on the job, we headed up a trail in a smaller truck.  I was lucky enough to be able to sit in the bed of the truck to see the insane views the whole way up the mountain!  About half way up we stopped to look around! This was one of the views we came away with. As crazy as this sounds, this picture does not do the sight any justice!  As we continued up the mountain, we met up with some of the artists at the kiln.  They had just finished firing up the kiln and were taking out their artwork.  There were artists from all over the world!  They all met up with the purpose of creating an art exhibition for the whole town of Onishi to see! To their surprise, they kiln had tipped over, and lots of their artwork was ruined.  However a majority of their pieces survived, and they made the best out what they had!  I look forward to seeing these pieces finalized and in the art exhibition which will be held at the end of the week!  I will keep you posted on how the show turns out!

Much Love,