With a few of my classmates also visiting Tokyo this summer, we decided to get together and practice our Japanese skills, much to the chagrin of the locals who were less than impressed with us gaijin (foreigners). And what nicer way to slaughter the pronunciation of such a beautiful language than over wagashi (Japanese sweets) and matcha served in exquisite hand-crafted bowls at Tokyo’s high-end fashion boutique – United Arrows.
With the famed original branch of Gion based in Kyoto, we decided to stay a little closer to home – in Shibuya. The rich, velvet-like matcha took forever to arrive as it needed to be whisked into a frothy mass of light liquid and served at the ideal temperature. As we waited, relaxing on tatami mats with, naturally, our shoes off and our hearts truly captivated by Japanese life, I realised that my academic life hasn’t just improved my understanding of a language and culture, it has brought me together with a lovely and interesting group of people I normally wouldn’t have met. It took me a long time to realise but shared experiences are so incredibly meaningful, and I am grateful for each one of them both at home and in far more exotic locations.