OC teen discovers love for Japan during first trip outside the U.S.
Posted: Friday, July 31, 2009 10:18 am
By: By CHRIS MENEES Messenger Staff Reporter
The Messenger 07.31.09
By CHRIS MENEES
Messenger Education Editor
Andrew Berry admits he’d have been happy no matter where he traveled with the People to People Student Ambassador Program.
But he’s certainly glad he had the opportunity to experience the sights and sounds of Japan.
Berry, the 18-year-old son of Chris and Barbara Berry of Obion, is a 2009 graduate of Obion County Central High School. He recently returned from a three-week trip to Japan in June as a participant in the People to People Student Ambassador Program, a Spokane, Wash.-based organization that offers educational international travel opportunities to high school, middle school and elementary school students.
“I had a great time,” Berry said, adding he would highly recommend the travel experience to others.
He received information about the Japan trip as the result of a friend’s having taken a trip abroad through the program and having recommending him as someone who might like to participate in the future. Berry submitted his information and was chosen as one of the participants from Tennessee. Fundraising efforts spearheaded by his family helped fund his travel.
Berry said he had been interested in the Japanese culture for quite a while, so the trip “stuck out” to him.
“I would have liked to have gone anywhere. I think I would have enjoyed it no matter where I went,” he said.
The trip marked his first journey outside the United States. He said he is subject to motion sickness and had concerns about how he would do on the 11-hour flight from San Francisco to Osaka, Japan.
“But it was alright, except for the long hours,” he said.
The group flew straight to Japan and spent the full three weeks touring only Japan, staying in hotels and a guest house similar to a youth hostel for travelers.
In preparation, Berry’s travel group learned some very basic Japanese phrases. However, he found that many Japanese people know quite a bit of English and “could have gotten by in the states.”
He found the people of Japan to be very friendly.
“The people were very, very polite, very nice people,” he said.
Tokyo was the most modern city, he said, adding that he even noticed quite a few McDonald’s restaurants and a few KFC restaurants. He said the traditional kimonos of Japan are “more of a thing for tourists” — admitting that he purchased one while there — and said the people there mostly dress like Americans.
Berry said his favorite parts of the trip were viewing the shrines and a folk village.
His Japanese experience included visits to Kyoto, where he saw a Nijo castle, the Golden Pavilion and a tea ceremony and calligraphy workshop; Hiroshima, where he saw Peace Memorial Park, the Peace Museum and Miyajima Island, as well as Itsukushima shrine; Gifu, where he stayed at Nagaragawa Sports Plaza, where he enjoyed Japanese-style beds, a Taiko drum performance and a Cormorant fishing demonstration, as well as a visit to a Hida folk village; Hakone, where highlights included a Fuji-Hakone guest house, climbing Mount Fuji and visiting a volcanic hot springs that had unique black eggs; and Tokyo, where the sights included Tokyo Tower, the Tokyo metropolitan government building, Emperor Square Park and a double bridge and Meiji shrine.
Berry also enjoyed the food in Japan.
“I really miss the food,” he said. “A lot of the people (with the tour group) weren’t very fond of it, but I thought it was pretty good.”
He said sushi is really more of a snack in Japan and he enjoyed some purchased from a convenience store there. White rice was served for every meal, which also included lots of vegetables, according to Berry.
“The food tasted different, but it was healthier,” he added.
Another interesting outing involved picking tea at a tea farm between Gifu and Hakone. Berry said he also discovered he liked the Japanese tea, which was served hot and without sugar.
“I have eclectic tastes, I guess,” he said.
Berry said he doesn’t yet know his career path and is still undecided on his college major, but he hasn’t ruled out Japan or other international travel possibly playing a role in his future. He plans to attend Murray (Ky.) State University.
One thing he knows for certain is that he would someday like to visit Japan again.
“It made me want to go back sometime in the future if I can fund the trip back,” he said. “I loved Japan.”