Archive for the ‘Tokyo’ Tag
Ok, so I’ve been home for over a month now. So many things to update anyone who’s interested on.
Leaving Japan was rough.
Saying goodbye to my office and co-workers was so sad! I didn’t expect it to be so emotional, but it was embarrassingly so. Everyone in the office helped make my transition and life there that much easier. Sure, it was difficult to conversate with them at first, but afterwards, I had so much fun. My Japanese is still terrible (and only getting worse), but being able to still have basic conversations makes me really happy.
One week before I left, I shipped two boxes of *stuff* and packed my suitcase full of everything else I could fit. I was rather peeved, when customs opened one of my boxes. I wouldn’t have been if they had managed to re-pack it so that my things were not destroyed, but they could not. I came home one day to find that my box had been opened, and poorly retaped with clothes bursting out of the seems. They managed to bend several of my books ways that they should not be bent! (I like to keep my books in pristine condition, and they were not longer that).
My last days in Matsumoto were great. I finally realized that I truly enjoy being outgoing and meeting new people. One night I managed to encounter a traveller passing through Matsumoto. We talked a lot about his travels and adventures around the world and I offered to try and show him around the city the next day. Apparently I’m a terrible tour guide, since I really didn’t know much of Matsumoto regretably. At any rate, his travels should take him to North America sometime, and perhaps I can show off Toronto a lot better!
Travelling to the airport was rather easy. I shipped my larger luggage to the airport the day before so I wouldn’t have to carry it on the train and around Tokyo with me (why don’t we have services like this in Toronto? If we do, why is it so unknown?) I spent my last weekend in Tokyo with my friends, Megumi and Maya. It was a very relaxing weekend. We went to some nice restaurants, met with Isaac, and went clubbing. No more shopping (I had no space to carry anything else home). At the airport, Maya and I had some farewell sushi and then I left.
I was incredibly excited to go home and eat everything in sight. That is exactly what happened too. Being home now, though, I miss Japan terribly! It was much more relaxing there. This is partly due to my freedom and lack of resposibilities and obligations. Living alone was a big plus as well. There are also so many little things that made living there that much easier.
Everyone asks me if I’ll ever go back to live and I seriously want to, but I’m not sure if I could live and work there forever. Job opportunities and work environment might drive me crazy. I enjoy living in a country of ‘equal’-er opportunities for women.
After seeing friends and family again, I’ve realized how much I’ve changed. Someone once told me that the friendships I make in Japan are only temporary, but I really don’t think so. I intend to make them last and I miss them dearly.
- ROM – Terra Cotta Warrior exhibit
Wonderland The Ex – Must go shopping
- Jersey Boys
Rain the Beatles Experience
- Miss Saigon
- New York/Boston/California – anywhere really…I want a *real* vacation
Taste of the Danforth
Some ongoing things for the summer:
- Going to the beach
- Working out
- Work (still at EPSON)
- Summer school – Intro to Psychology
- Spend time with friends and family
- Trying new restaurants in and around the city
Okay, it’s definitely been a while since my last post. Tons have happened since then though! This is just an update on what I’ve been up to.
- Christmas with Yukari at her church. Met some JETs from Shiojiri and American missionaries.
- Skiing at Gala Yuzawa with Isaac and friends. Most convenient ski resort I’d ever been to followed by first Onsen experience. Very relaxing.
- New Years in Tokyo with Megumi and Yuuka. Went to a Shinto shrine for wishes and fortunes. New years shopping in Shibuya and Harajuku (Crazy Madness!). Of course no trip with them is complete without at least one night on the town in Roppongi.
- Tokyo Disney Land and Disney Sea with Aoyagi-san and her family. Made me feel like a kid again. It was so much fun! I LOVE Disney!
- Skiing around Nagano-ken with Aoyagi-san and her family. Watching kids ski is the cutest thing ever!
- Skiing in Niseko, Hokkaido and a bit of the Snow festival. Back country and tree skiing in the best powder ever. Skiing followed by outdoor Onsen is blissful.
- Skiing in Hakuba. More relaxing, more nice weather.
- Sake Festival in Niigata. Drank so much sake and met english teachers from Niigata. Partied with them until around 2 in the morning, then woke up and drank more sake the next day. I bought a grape flavoured sake and Amazake infused with Sakura. They are both delicious.
- More trips to Tokyo, this time with new English teaching friends, Andy and Rachel. Stayed at a strange friend’s place. Went to cool art show where I met a Torontonian who used to draw for Marvel (secretly admired him) and another Torontonian who used to dance on Electric Circus (Who remembers that?). Saw a closed Tsukiji Market (Boo).
Work is chugging along. Only 2 months left and it feels like there’s still so much to do. Not just finishing up things here and taking care of logistic things, but also so many festivals and things to do! My weekends are booked for April and probably May.
- April 2-3: Onbashira bringing down of the log (Yamadashi). This is where crazy Japanese people ride logs down a mountain. There are reports of people dying and many people getting injured in the past. This festival only happens once every 6 years. So I’m so excited!
- April 10-17: Osaka, Himeji, and Hiroshima with Jen. It’s going to be fun times and lots of eating.
- April 24-25: Clam picking in Nagoya with Aoyagi-san, her family, and her family friends. That’s going to be interesting.
As of yet, I have no plans for Golden Week. Not many vacation days, so probably can’t go too far. Maybe Tokyo, or Nagoya. This is also the time for the second part of Onbashira, Satobiki, which is the raising of the pillars at the shrines. Definitely must see the Cherry Blossoms in the Kiso Valley. It’s supposed to be famous. I’m going to try and see if I can arrange to go to Shiga-ken to see Akina (my Japanese exchange partner from high school).
I hope I can survive the rest of the craziness here in Japan. It’s going to be a busy couple of months.
I seem to be spending lots of time in Tokyo. I just love it so much! I was supposed to go to Osaka, but last minute change of plans landed me back in that big city. No big deal, I’ll see Osaka another time. This was definitely a good food trip. Spent 3 days with my brother’s girlfriend and her sister and slept on their hotel room floor since it was actually a semi-double room and I had to be snuck in. They really love their food, which was a huge benefit to me, since I’m usually too cheap to spend that much on anything (including good food). Did some shopping in Harajuku, Shibuya, and Shinjuku. I think I know the Shinjuku area pretty well now. While they slept in saturday morning, I went wandering the area. Our hotel was north of the station, past the red light district. We got to walk through there everytime we went to or from the hotel. Good times. Brother’s GF bought a typical Harajuku dress: frilly, short, baby-doll-ish. It does have a japanese theme to it and was definitely more tame than the other dresses they had there. There was even a Sailor Moon costume. I’m pretty sure EVERY foreigner that went in there, picked it up and pretended to model it. Me included. I might go there to get a halloween costume before I leave. Just for kicks. The dresses are only around $60, so it’s not so bad.
Also went to Kappabashi Street. It’s about 2 or 3 blocks of wholesale cookware on either side. It was interesting because you could get really nice and cheap japanese style flatware and utensils. There were also an assortment of expensive japanese knives as well. We ended up spending most our time in a little packaging store. My brother’s girlfriend is starting a bakery/pastry business and so she bought all kinds of little cups with lids for her little treats. (Ohh how I miss her cheesecakes…*drool*)
I spent one night with my friends and we went out clubbing in Roppongi! TONS of fun! Don’t know the name of the club, but there were lots of foreigners there and they played really good music. Actually made me forget I was in Japan. Good times. I thought it was especially cool how the club stays open until 5am because when everyone is kicked out, the trains are open again! Score 1 for convenience. I’m supposed to go back in October when a friend of mine will move back to Tokyo from Osaka so let the fun continue.
Went to the Gyoza museum in Namja Town. It’s a theme park with a gyoza and ice cream museum inside. It was definitely interesting. We weren’t quite sure what was going on, but there were people running around looking for ghosts possibly? They had head-phones and “tracking devices”. We were just there for the food and ice cream. I got an ice cream in the shape of Rock Lee’s head. He’s a character from the anime Naruto with really thick eyebrows for those who don’t know who he is. I thought it was really funny becuase my brother has the same eyebrows…Needless to say we had to take a picture for him.
I really love being in Tokyo. It made me miss big city life and convenient public transit. I was definitely sad to leave. But I’ll be back!
Over the weekend I went to Tokyo to visit some friends. I arrived on Friday night and was met by Megumi at Shinjuku station. we went to a Japanese restaurant to grab a bite to eat and then promptly went home. i was pretty tired from a full day of work followed by a 3 hour bus ride. the next morning we got to wake up at 4:30am! ohh the joy. there was good reason for it though. we were going to Tsukiji (the largest fish market in japan). It was such a busy place even as we arrived at 6am. there were people driving carts of Styrofoam packed goods in every possible direction moving at relatively high speeds. if you weren’t careful to see where you were going you could get run over by one of these carts. outside the main building was a mountain of Styrofoam. Environmentalists of old must have been turning in their graves. as we entered the fish market, we saw two giant tunas. they were bigger than me! we saw two men trying to saw one in half on a trolly and they were having quite a difficult time. walking through the isles of the fish market, there is water everywhere from the vendors trying to keep their seafood fresh. buckets of ice being thrown into vats of water and shellfish. there were salted crabs, dried fish, live fish, live shrimp, live sea urchin (uni), large freezers of tuna. everybody was doing something and just by standing there, you can feel the energy of it all. i found it exhilarating. we didn’t get any fresh fish to eat, but we did buy a whole bag of live sea urchin to eat later.
after wandering the fish market we went outside to the "outside fish market" to find some breakfast. we ate a small shop that served sashimi-don. i had salmon sashimi-don (sake-don) and it was delicious. it was served with egg (tamago-yaki), seaweed (nori), pickled vegetables, and caviar (roe) all on rice with miso soup and cold tea on the side. i love japanese food.
After tsukigi it was around 7:30 when we left and no stores or anything else was open. it wasnt until we got back in the car that i realized how incredibly tired i was. so we went back home to ake a nap. after napping, we went to asakuza. there were SOOOO many people. they had police officers directing traffic IN the subway station. When we got out of the subway, we got some ice cream and headed for the giant lantern that is a landmark of the area. apparently there was some sort of festival happening that day because people we lined up and down the street waiting for the parade. it was near to impossible to walk anywhere. we managed to get to the lantern, wandered down the "indoor/outdoor" market place and went into the shrine. the market place was interesting because it was outdoors, but they had canopies over head to provide shade. thank goodness they did too because it was ridiculously hot that day. the shrine was beautiful with ancie nt artworks painted on the walls and ceilings of dragons and other mythical creatures. it is also customary to give a small donation when you enter and after you pray. some people couldnt get up close to the donation boxes, so they threw their donations at the box. it was a large box and you can hear when they get it in, but you can also hear when they miss. i wouldnt be surprised if people got hit in the process either.
after asakuza, we headed for ginza to see all the high class stores and window shop. there was no way i was going to buy anything on that street full of stores like louis vuitton and donna karren. we did go into a mall that i thought was really nice. the floors were slanted, and the main walkway was a sort of spiral. i wanted to take a picture, but there were distinct signs of "no photos" posted. too bad, it was quite a design.
after having had enough of window shopping, it was time to do real shopping so we headed to harajuku. it was really busy there as well, but there were many shops having sales. i managed to buy a coupld articles of clothing myself and was very satisfied with the prices. we also got a snack since we didnt have a real lunch. we went to a little pancake cafe that made the cutest little pancakes that smiled back at you. they were really cute.
after harajuku we went back to shinjuku to meet with our other friends for a class reunion. there were only 7 of us in total, but thats ok. it was tons of fun! we went for dinner at a japanese restaurant and ate good food, had good converstation, and had an overall good time. that is, until near the end of dinner when we noticed a cockroach crawling down the wall. a private room full of girls makes a lot of noise when a giant cockroach is spotted. we ended up having our meal compensated (damn straight!) and left shortly after. of course after that we had to go karaoke so we did. 2 hours of japanese and english pop music. it was awesome! after that, we went to an arcade where there were rows and rows of claw grab games and プリクラ (purikura) machines. i hadnt taken a プリクラ photo in ages! it was fun and the girls an noted the pictures afterwards. we also got digital copies sent via email. i think that was the most fun i had since arriving here. being able to spend a night with people my own age doing "young people" things. it was great.
the next day (sunday), we woke up late, so we went to shinjuku to wander before meeting David (one of the other interns this year who works at the Hino branch) we went to lunch with him and then dragged him along shopping in shibuya. we didnt actually buy anything, but i did see a lot of interesting things that i could have bought. and would have been great gifts for people. I also went ot eh disney store. i couldnt resist (i miss being in it all the time). i did notice a large difference though. this disney store carried *useful* products. stationary, bento boxes, clothes, dishes, luggage, and basically anything you could think of. Thats when i realized why: its because in north america, most people picture disney as a kids place and only for kids. its frowned upon for an adult to wear disney becayse it makes you seem "childish". Here, however, its *OK* for adults to love and embrace disney in everything they do because its "kawaii". i also realized that i know way too much about disney when i saw a Scrump plush doll and instantly wanted it. I had to describe to Megumi and David where it was from (lilos home made doll) and i also noticed a bear sitting on a desk and instantly identified it as michael’s bear from peter pan. after wandering shibyua, we went back to shinjuku, grabbed a coffee, went to the bathroom and just managed to catch my bus. i was really sad to go. i had such a wonderful time in tokyo thanks to Megumi (best tour guide ever)!
Anyways, next time i go, we’re going clubbing and tokyo disney. Yay! I have to say, though, i miss big city life. just being able to wander around and always have something interesting to see, being able to hop on a train or bus at almost any corner, hundreds of restaurants, cafes, karaoke bars, and arcades to choose from. I really had a good time and cant wait til next time!