An ode to the students of IC

The students of Ibaraki Christian University are a truly remarkable bunch. Their love, kindness and hospitality made living and teaching, over the course of these 3-months, in Japan an unforgettable and rewarding experience. They have made me feel so at home, that Ibaraki became my second home.

And as I leave IC and finish my internship, I have a written a poem to express my sincere gratitude to all the IC students who have touched me so dearly:

As I gaze deep into the night sky

From the window of this plane

I cannot help but remember

Remember those first few steps I took

Through the doors of 5100

Imagining a room full of little saplings

Eager to practice their English

To which I could help nurture

But instead you saw a little sapling within myself

Whom you showered with warmth and joy

Nurturing me and helping me to grow

And as these months passed by

I basked and grew from this love

And for this I will be forever grateful

And I eagerly await the day when we can meet again.

Oh students of 5100.

Thank you to all the students at IC for making this internship a truly rewarding experience.

Joy From Soy: The Guide to Kikkoman Milk

Before coming to Japan, I was sure that soy-milk could only come in five flavours; unflavoured, vanilla, chocolate, coffee and, if you’re lucky, strawberry. But oh boy I was wrong. 

Kikkoman (yes, the brand that makes soy sauce) is not just a condiment creator. The manufacturer also makes a variety of soy-milk flavours. So, over the last three months, my mission was to find the good, the bad and the down-right-dirty flavours and give you the scoop hereImage result for kikkoman soy milk

17. Yomogi (Mugwort): This is just not enjoyable. Nope. Bitter and grassy tasting in soy-milk – it is no wonder that the herb is typically used in beauty products.

16. Mixed Fruits: I have no idea what fruits they were thinking about when making this flavour, but the taste is incredibly ambiguous. The fruit flavour was somewhat overshadowed by the soy-milk flavour.

15. Red Bean Soup: Slightly salty, slightly sweet, this flavour is probably best enjoyed in the summer. It really is a liquid version of the real thing!

14. Amazake: This is probably the one flavour that doesn’t really need to exist; Amazake is a Japanese rice drink, so this is literally a milk trying to be a different ‘milk’!

13. Strawberry/Melon/Black Sesame Seed: These were all delicious, but to me they ranked at roughly the same level. Their consistencies felt a little watery, but the taste was true to the label each time.

12. Chocolate/Green Tea: These two cartoons are probably the most easily found, and also tasted as one may expect. However, I must say Alpro (the UK’s leading soy-milk brand), does a better job with producing a chocolate beverage.

11. Cherry Blossom : This variety is based on preserved cherry blossoms, rather than the fresh sort. The sweet and salty combination can only be compared to pickled plums, but somehow works better than some of the other slightly savoury soy milks on this list.

10. Malted Coffee: It is not as clean cut tasting as coffee itself, but offers a nice change!

9. Annin-tofu (Chinese-style almond jelly)/Black Tea: These two types of soy-milk tasted really similar, but not bad! Although I have never had annin-tofu, I definitely want to try it now!

8. Mango: After the disappointing mixed fruits experience, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the mango taste is like a less thick mango lassi, an Indian drink.

7. Chestnut: As a lover of chestnuts, this flavour was a bit of a disappointment. It is better described as “sugar with a hint of chestnut”, but it is saved by the lingering chestnut aftertaste. Yummy, yummy, chestnut.

6. Banana: A delightful, banana-y flavour that isn’t as overpowering as I initially anticipated.

5. Coffee: I must confess, my favourite drink is coffee. Ever. The only reason this isn’t higher on the list is because of the noticeable lack of caffeine.

4. Cinnamon: This is a flavour which was released this winter, so I was very lucky to be able to try it! This would immediately get the number one place if it was piping hot.

3. Sweet Potato: Cinnamon is followed by another seasonal (but less festive) flavour which is only available during the autumn season. Sweet potatoes are often used in Japanese confectionary, and not without good reason – they are delicious!

2. Vanilla Ice Cream/Almond: These are only a hair’s length behind my number one flavour due to their excessive sweetness. Plus, the Vanilla cartoon is a wicked, intense blue colour!

1. Coconut: This flavour is simply phenomenal. The level of sweetness is just right; the coconut taste is soft yet present, but it is thick and creamy. Nothing short of sheer bliss. This is absolutely something I wish existed in the UK. Maybe I will have to write a letter to Alpro in England…

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By Amy Furney