Center for International Programs

Gabriella Tamayo '23 chose to study in Japan because of her fascination with anime (Japanese animation). Now that she's in Japan, she's learning about a different Japanese artform: Sake.

Gabriella has immersed herself in the Japanese culture by exploring, tasting, and trying everything she can. She's eaten octopus (outstanding experience) and taken a wrong turn up Mount Fushimi which led to a face-to-face encounter with a wild boar (frightening experience). She also met a deer who bows for cookies and visited the Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum where she discovered that producing alcohol from fermented rice is more than spirits and science.

"Sake is an artform here. There were so many different kinds to try. It was incredible. Also, they have the best ramen ever here. It's so much better than what I'm used to."

Gabriella has also toured shrines with her class, and soon she'll take a trip off the mainland to Shodo Island, located in the Inland Sea of Japan. But for all of the excursions and planned adventures, her favorite moments are the unscripted ones.

"A lot of the interactions with the culture come from shopping or just getting lost and communicating with the locals." 

When she was younger, Gabriella always felt pulled to Japanese animation. There was something about the culture that, even from afar, inspired her. And now that's she's living it?      

"The craziest part is that I know I'm in a different place, but it feels like I was meant to be here, and I'm home."