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Published: November 6th 2006
Never a dull moment in this CRAZY CITY!
July 31, 2005: I arrived in Tokyo Japan wandering the streets in amazement, excited about the life I was about to embark on. I will never forget how scared I was too, nor the look on our faces when we had our first glance at a train schedule written in kanji. A year later, July 31,2006, I found myself again wandering the streets of Tokyo, yet I was no longer like a fish out of water. Walking the same streets that I walked exactly a year before in Shibuya, I couldn't help but be nostalgic over the past year and what has happened between then and now. A full year in Japan! Growing up I never thought I would be living in a foreign country, especially as one as foreign as Japan! Yet here I was, beginning my second year in the Land of the Rising Sun. I knew that I wanted to go back to Tokyo before leaving Japan. It just so happened that timing made it so that I was back in Tokyo, exactly a year later from when I first came to Japan. My second trip to Tokyo was so incredible because of the things I did and
the timing because I got to reflect on an incredible year, meet a bunch of the newbies, and meet up with a bunch of friends while in Tokyo.
Bottom line: Tokyo is absolutely crazy! There is no other city like it in the world. It is so big, so many lights, so much going on, and nothing ever stops moving. Hiroshima, which is considered one of the larger cities in Japan, does not hold a candle to the craziness of Tokyo. From the moment I arrived on Friday night until I left late on Tuesday, I did not stop going, and if I did, Tokyo was going to pass me by! Always so much to see and do! It was so incredible!!
I arrived Friday night. Lisa was doing an internship at the Canadian Embassy so she was up there for a month. She met me at the train station and headed out for a small night on the town. We exited the Shibuya subway station and walked out into utter chaos. People were everywhere! Shibuya has one of the busiest crosswalks in the world. Shibuya is also home to the famous TV screen in the
These were our weird friends, named "Hiro" and we dubbed the other one "Miya" to go along with our Hiroshima Precture idea
movie Lost in Translation. After a quick kombini run, we were picked up by a random group of Japanese boys. J-boys were much more aggressive than the boys in Hiroshima We had a chill night enjoying a bottle of wine and exchanging English and Japanese. There were no limits to the questions asked. It is amazing what sexual questions can be answered after a few drinks! Their number one question that they wanted to know was if gaijin guys had much larger penises than Japanese guys. From there, other questions took off. Two of the guys were named Miya and Hiro- just like Miyajima and Hiroshima! It was fate for us to meet them!
The next morning Merdith, a friend on JET placed up in Miyagi ken, was arriving. We hadn't seen each other for a year yet have kept in contact weekly by email. Here we were meeting again a year later! I was sooo excited to see her in Tokyo before she left. From there we headed out to see the sights of Tokyo. I hadn't seen anything so it was all new to me. We first went to the imperial palace and gardens. They were
Lisa, me, and Meredith checking out the emperor's pad
neat, but nothing in comparison to the sites in places like Kyoto. Tokyo is not necessarily a city to go to and see the sights, but more is just the most amazing city to walk around and take in the energy around you. While in Tokyo I had no desire to eat Japanese food. Instead we indulged heavily on international food since we are deprived of decent stuff down in Hiroshima. For lunch, nice big juicy hamburgers! After lunch we headed to Harajuku to check out the famous Harajuku girls. Unfortunately, they were not out today! Naomi, my friend from Cal and fellow Korea travel partner, met up with us to guide us around her home turf. We walked one of the streets of Harajuku, lined with crazy store with crazy fashion. My favorite item was blood type socks. Your blood type is very important in Japan and determines your personality. So, to let the rest of the world know what type of person you are, you can wear socks telling the world. As tempting as it was to buy some, I have no idea what blood type I am! Instead I indulged in the Harajuku famous food, the crepe.
Running around in the grass I am not supposed to be running around in...at least I took my shoes off!
It was awesome! We wandered all the way until we reached Shibuya. It looked very different than the night before with all the crazy lights, yet still had its energy and craziness. You definitely do not want to find yourself stuck in the middle of the cross walk when the streetlights all turn red!
We headed over to the shopping building called 109. This department building was like nothing I had ever seen. It was 9 floors of j-pop (Japanese pop) clothing stores. Each store has these stick thin, over tanned, bleached haired, makeup clad store clerks, accompanied by LOUD j-pop music. To some complete heaven, to others a nightmare. We were in search of way too short dresses to wear to the club that night. Lisa and Meredith found great dresses. I thought I looked like a stuffed sausage so was against purchasing a dress! It was a blast perusing the many different fashion trends and feaux paxes of the j-pop girls that shopped there. Two hours was enough. We left with our ears ringing and headed back to Lisa's apartment for dinner and quick nap before heading out on the town.
That night Naomi
Gate leading into more of the garden area
was our guide. We headed to Roppongi for a crazy night out of dancing and drinking. Lisa and Meredith were rocking their new dresses, and I opted for a short black shirt. The goal of the night was to look hot. Throughout the night we went to some good clubs, bad clubs, managed to get in a fight with the bouncer at one club, good drinks, bad drinks, drunk Naomi, good dancing, bad dancers, bad music, good music, and a whole lot of fun. One Japanese guy was getting a little too frisky with Meredith's short dress, so to stop him I slapped him across the face, then bowed out as Lisa got in his face. Wonderful showing by the gaijin! Moral of the story, don't mess with us! The morning was spent eating ramen, and spending an extra hour and a half lost on the Tokyo subway. All in all a great night out!
That afternoon we headed over to Shinjuku to drop off stuff for the new JET Bazaar that I would be working at (reason why I got some days off to come to Tokyo!). We stepped out of the huge station (one of the
Us hanging out on the lawn of the Imperial Gardens
busiest stations in the world), and I found myself knowing exactly where I was- three blocks from the Keio Plaza. Man, it felt weird being back there! It felt like we were there only yesterday! New JETs started to arrive that Sunday. I knew exactly how all of them were feeling- wow! After that we headed back to Harajuku and took photos with the crazy girls and guys on the bridge. They were made famous by Gwen Stefani's ablum. Basically these people come out in the most extravagant costumes in hopes that a photographer will take their photo, put it in a magazine, and make them famous. It is a bazaar yet entertaining scene. After that we headed to the shrine. Among all the craziness of Tokyo you can find this park with a shrine in the center, completely shut off from the bustle of city. That night our food of choice: Thai food!
Monday morning Meredith and I got up at the crack of dawn to go to the Tsukiji fish market. This was the one thing I knew I had to go to in Tokyo and it fulfilled all my expectations. We wandered into the heart of
Riding in Style
Who wouldn't want to ride in a bus with hello kitty adorning the sides?
the fish market as all the fishmongers were setting up for the day and local restaurant buyers were getting their ingredients for the daily menus. Being two girls among hundreds of guys, we attracted a lot of attention. There were huge maguro steaks that made my mouth water. There were also eels and random snails that made my stomach curl. It was awesome! we even got fresh maguro for free, literally just cut off the fish. We went to a sushi bar for a sushi breakfast, and realized we were up way way too early. That afternoon I suffered through the JET bazaar, then later that night met all the new JETs at their first enkai. So cool to meet all of them!
Tuesday, the last day, Meredith set off back to America, her JET experience coming to a close. Lord knows what I will do without her this year to email back and forth during all those hours of nothingness during the work day. Lisa set off to work, and I set off on one last sigtseeing extravaganze. I made the mistake of heading out around 8:30- hitting rush hour on the train. I was carrying all
Meredith and I reunited a year later! Checking out the famous street in Harajuku
my stuff with me- backpack and day sachel as well. Needless to say, I was not very popular among the morning commuters. I personally loved it and felt so cool being part of the chaos that goes on every weekday in the Tokyo subway and trains. I love that they actually do have bouncers to push everyone into the train. As I headed south the crowds thinned out and I made my way to Kamakura. This is a famou little town just south of Tokyo. It had some amazing shrines, temples, and one of the largest buddhas in Japan. For you Californians, the town actually reminded me of San Luis Obispo. It was a quaint little beach town. I spent the day wandering through the amazing historical temples and shrines. They had a great hiking path connecting them all so I could walk the entire town. I would highly reccommend Kamakura to anyone visiting Tokyo and wanting a break from the insanity.
I jumped on a train and headed back to Tokyo. For dinner I met up with an old Cal friend Nick Sloman. I consider Nick Sloman my personal Jake Ryan (for all you 16 Candles Fanatics!) and
One of the many outrageous stores in Harajuku
had a huge crush on him all of college. He was that one guy that I loved yet never wanted to touch...I enjoyed having him on his little pedestal. Seeing him and catching up on his life in Tokyo was awesome. Dinner ran a little late and I found myself sprinting through the Shinkansen exit with Nick trying to get to my train on time, weaving in and out of heards of people. I ran up to the train and the doors were closed! I had missed my train! shit! No, not really,they just hadn't opened the doors yet! The ladies in bright pink uniforms were still cleaning the train, making it immaculate for the next passengers. I boarded my train and set off back to Hiroshima, trying to recap and remember all the events of the last 4 days.
I am obsessed with Tokyo. I have so much energy, and I think thats why I like it so much! Round 2 of Japan....here I come!
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