During the mid-program break, I had the chance to travel to Sapporo! It was a really neat city, and I got to visit the famous zoo, stroll through the beautiful Odori Park, see the TV tower, and even experience the Japanese “game center”. Japanese game centers, or arcades, are absolutely full of claw machines, except unlike in the US, they’re actually winnable! As a result, claw machines have become a huge part of Japanese culture. I can see why people get addicted – they are winnable but only just barely, in such a way that one always feels as though they will succeed with just one more try, one more try! Eventually, you will win, but only after you’ve spent way more money than the prize is worth. But perhaps it’s worth it to try it out once for the experience and the fun! It took me more tries than I’m willing to admit, but I was able to win myself a huge, adorable hamster. Japanese cute culture continues to amaze me – I don’t know how they can make so many random products so darn cute!
Also in Sapporo we were able to try my host family’s #1 favorite ramen place, where we ordered Sapporo’s specialty – butter corn miso ramen. It was a completely different experience from eating ramen in the US! Even though ramen is originally from China, and even thought of as “Chinese food” to people in Japan, it has been highly “Japanicised”, and these kinds are definitely types of ramen you could only find in this country!