Getting there: In the morning everyone--everyone who was going--was buzzing with excitement for the trip to Tokyo. People were in various stages of packing (from Dr. Velikova who was already done to people like me who had yet to put their belongings in a bag). Anyway, in class, we had a cultural presentation about anime by Shannon, introducing Hayao Miyazaki to a couple of people. Then Annalise gave her presentation on sushi: the origins, types, & even how to make it. Actually, she has some personal experience rolling sushi for a restaurant. Then class discussion turned to Japanese economy after the WWII. After which, we ran in our respective directions, along the way running into Hunter who missed class because he wasn’t feeling well. As a side note, Pepto Bismol is hard to find in Otsu. Anyway, we discovered that there was a misunderstanding about the meeting time since we reserved a train ride from Kyoto, not Otsu. Annalise was concerned about making her friend wait. Thus with the time of departure creeping up, we had to find the few people left behind and make a mad dash through Kyoto station with Dr. Velikova leading the way. I personally found the whole rush thrilling but only because we actually made the train—had we missed the train, the dash would have been stressful. Everyone went to Tokyo except Dr. Bisson (whom we left in Kyoto), Shannon (who went to see the Leis family In Shizuoka) and Hunter & James (who went to visit Nagasaki).
The arrival: After searching for Sarah, Annalise’s friend, we ate lunch in the station. As a side note, Annalise’s friend rocks! She was able to help us navigate Tokyo public transportation; she spoke to people for us; and she acted as our tour guide!!! I’m just saying. Anyway, we met some of Sarah’s friends at her university. Together, we all went to “Tocho” tower where we could see the cityscape of Tokyo. Upon walking through the streets, Brenda declared that Tokyo was very much “a Japanese New York.” After seeing the cityscape, Ryan noted that Tokyo is surprisingly flat, as in not as many high raisers as New York, but the city does have a lot of people. Like Aaron was saying, Tokyo is definitely metropolitan; we saw a lot more non Japanese people than we saw in Otsu. After leaving the Tower, we went to Ikebukuro to the place we were staying: Sakura Hotel. (Thanks to Dr. Velikova’s brilliant perseverance in getting us cheap lodging!) Our Japanese room was super cool with futons on the floor of the main room. Brenda and Aaron opted to take the double, which is hilarious when we found that there was only one bed in the room. They would have to figure out that sleeping arrangement for themselves.
Soaking it in: Before we even left for Tokyo, Brenda expressed that she wanted to go dancing. Thus, we headed to Shinjuku for dinner and to experience some of the night life. Yes, I finally got my bowl of ramen! I was so satiated:) We explored the streets with all its bright lights and hosts on the streets. Yes, hosts!—tall guys in black suits with spiked, orange hair. Anyway, if nothing else, we decided that we had to stick together as a group, especially at night and with all the people on the streets. Anyway, we had to catch the last train to Ikebukuro so we left early and were not able to go dancing. We would have to make that up to Brenda later before we left Tokyo.
Plans for tomorrow: In addition to finding somewhere to dance, there were plans of going to the fish market—the largest in Japan—at five in the morning, even though we got in after midnight. Instead of staying with Sarah’s family, Annalise stayed in the Japanese room with us to so she could see the fish market too. After which, we would meet up at 9 with everyone who didn’t go to the fish market at Ueno station. That was the plan. . .