JAPAN TRIP - By Anthony Tucker

My name is Anthony Tucker and I participated in the 2nd Annual Japanese speech Contest in southern Nevada, co-hosted by Southern Nevada Teachers Association and Consulate General of Japan. I won first place in the contest and won a ticket to Japan, donated by Japan Airlines.

As I gave my speech I wanted to tell everyone the reason I decided to study Japanese. My speech established the feeling I had when I met my first exchange student. Thanks to the generosity of JAL I was able to experience Japan, which has always been a dream of mine. After the competition, I spent a few months trying to find my exchange student in Japan; unfortunately I had no luck finding him.

For a while now, I have been thinking about applying for the JET program after I graduate. This trip helped me decide that being a part of the JET program is something I want to do. I decided to go to Japan in May and stayed for two weeks. Carl Sage, who was also in the speech contest, came with me. The flight was excellent. JAL had some of the nicest flight attendants that I ever met. Once we arrived in Narita airport we had to find the subway and get to Asakusa, Tokyo. Carl and I had been awake since the day before and stayed awake during the 15 hour flight. By the time we landed we were very tired. It took us a while to find our hostel because the directions we received from the police box were for another hostel with the same name. After we found our hostel, at 9:30 pm, I passed out. The next day I woke up at 6:00am and decided it was the perfect time to start seeing the sites of Tokyo.

The first place I wanted to see was Akihabara because I love electronics. So I took the subway and got lost and wound up in Ginza. Instead of getting back on the subway and going to Akihabara, I decided to explore Ginza. All though I have been studying Japanese for a while, I really didn't want to talk the first day because I was scared. While I was in Ginza I got really hungry so decided to try real ramen. I found a little shop and walked in, I was so hungry that without thinking I started ordering my food in Japanese. The Japanese cook was shocked that I spoke Japanese. All he could say is "nihongo o shaberu (he speaks Japanese)." After that talking to people was easy and a lot of fun. When I started to talk to people in Japanese they would try to talk to me in English. They would all say the same thing that, the only reason they don't speak English is because they don't want someone to misunderstand them.

Emerging myself into the Japanese culture was a lot of fun. I also felt that I got a little extra attention since I was an African-American male who could speak Japanese. It was a great feeling and a lot of fun. I can't wait until I go to Japan again.

The next two weeks went by quickly. I spoke with people from all over the world, and it was great. I ate so much curry that I thought I was going to die. I tried lots of different foods that I had never even heard of such as, okonomiyaki, takoyaki and many others. I was also able to see a friend that I haven't seen for a couple years. He has become an English teacher in Numazu. The best thing about this trip was the friends I made. I went to Japan to find one and came back with many. This trip has shown me that I really want to join the JET program. I want to enjoy the Japanese culture and master the language. This was my first time out of the states and an experience that I will never forget. From the bottom of my heart thank you all for letting me enjoy Japan.

日本は、とても楽しかったです。私はまた日本へ行きたいです。日本での経験は私を変えました。私にとって、とても大切な思い出です。日本で漢字をよく見たので、これからもっと漢字を学ばなければならないと思いました。旅行は楽しかったですが、東京で電車に乗る時、何回もまよってしまいました。
JAL、スピーチコンテストのみなさま、人生で最高の経験をさせてくださって、どうもありがとうございました。

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