Most of my family lives in Taiwan. I am always very excited to see them when I visit in the summer. Even when we go back they are busy and often can’t spend that much time with us. I was very ecstatic when I heard that my mom, brother and I were going to Japan with my grandma, her sister’s family, my three aunts, and their children. This year, we traveled to Karuizawa and Tokyo. Japan is very close to Taiwan, so many Taiwanese people go there a lot. The last time I traveled to Tokyo was when I was five and I got lost in Disney World. But that’s another story. This time in Japan, Our trip this time was more relaxed; we didn’t go to many places, but everywhere we went was enjoyable.


    We took part of making blueberry jam at a jam factory in Karuizawa. It was pretty special because we had to put on aprons, masks, and hairnets to experience what it was like working there. Two people worked together on one pot. First we added the sugar, then the blueberries and turned on the mini stove and stirred until the little blue spheres turned into a magenta concoction with a sugary fragrance.  After we finished making the jam the factory workers and owners of the jam store gave every “pot group” a bowl of crackers to try the jam. The jam was so delicious! I was so surprised that it was that easy to make jam. When my cousins and relatives walked out of the factory and into the factory store, there were different flavors of jam (matcha, pear, plum, rose, raspberry, etc.) and another bowl of crackers so we could try some unique flavors. All the flavors were delectable, but my favorite was pear. I could taste the freshness and juiciness of the pear, and it was almost like picking one off a tree and and biting into it.  The crackers were gone in a couple minutes. Some of my relatives were more interested in the crackers than the jam because they tasted so great. When we got back to Cleveland, my mom decided to make jam one day. This was a fun experience and I think I will still remember it for a long time. Of course, that’s not all that we did in Japan.


     Another day we journeyed to visit the Fujio F. Fujiko Museum, where we got to see how the character Doraemon was created. Doraemon was part of many Taiwanese people’s childhood (including my mom), so even though I didn’t watch the anime a lot, I knew a lot about it, as Doraemon is popular in Asia. The exhibits were interesting to look at and there was a fun area where we took pictures with some iconic figures in the anime, such as a magic door Doraemon uses  to teleport. There was another day where we arrived at the Railway Museum, to learn about the history of Japan’s trains. It was amusing because there were live interactions and actual models of trains that you could board and experience what it was like sitting on one.


     After that we hiked in a forest with some shops at the end of the walkways in a park. The green leaves were soaked with sunshine and the weather was perfect. We visited a shrine and I loved walking through the main gates with the sun shining on the wooden posts. Many people probably don’t feel anything as they walk through these gates, but it was truly a special experience for me. As I walked in, there were prayer boards. The boards were interesting because people all over the world had written their prayers on them. A shrine seems boring, and they usually are, but this time it was actually really enjoyable! Maybe it was because of all the people there, it was not quiet but at a respectful volume. There were also loud moments on this trip, though.


    We also stepped into Tokyo, which I adored. Since I live in the suburbs, experiencing city life is something I only do in Taiwan. The sparkling lights of the skyscrapers were so different from the cities in Taiwan, and even more different than the cities in the US. We walked into many great shops and outlets. The food was delicious and I tried some interesting items, such as a jelly drink and a clear yogurt drink. I really loved the ramen, rice with sashimi and avocado, and the breakfasts there as well.


    On the last night, our tour guide took us to a nice restaurant. The restaurant had the kind of tables where you need to take off your shoes. There were many courses, and they were all delicious. We ate slowly, savoring the meal. It was a nice moment; with my family gathered around me as we had a pleasant time and talked. I became closer with the family members that I rarely saw. On the bus on our way back to the hotel, I looked at all the photos from the past few days from the lush forest park to the bustling cities to the creamy desserts. I’m glad and grateful that I had the chance to go on this special trip. To me, it wasn’t just an entertaining trip with beautiful scenery, but also a great chance to connect with my family.