First few days back in Japan

I have arrived back in Japan after only a 14-hour flight.  Not nearly as bad as my three-flight trip last time.  This post is mostly going to be pictures, since I've got a lot of catching up to do and I've taken 440 already.  So first we landed in Narita airport, then took a bus to Shinjuku.

Rice paddies + orange and white electric tower = Japan

First glimpse of Tokyo Sky Tree.

Beautiful bridge and skyscraper scene.

We drove right by the Square-Enix headquarters.  I was about to take a picture of it because of the cool brick design, then looked up and saw the logo.
Once in Shinjuku, we dropped off our stuff at the Prince Hotel, and then moved out en masse to a nearby restaurant on foot.

The shop had a bread buffet, so I collected several varieties.

Our school occupied one whole wing of booths.  25 people.
Everyone's meals.  This was a fairly western-style menu, but obviously with a Japanese take on it.

And, of course... Calpis Water!! I realized that I have not been making it strong enough with my mix back home.  This is a lot stronger than I remembered, and therefore better.

On our way out of the restaurant, I decided this would make a cool shot.
A lot of the others decided to explore straight after eating, but I didn't remember the way back to the hotel, so my roommate and I went back there first with the guide before wandering around some more.

The only thing consistent about the architecture in Tokyo is that the buildings look cool.  There is no unifying design element besides that.

A karaoke tower.
We got free slippers.  They let us take them home.  I read the Japanese to make sure I was interpreting that part of their translation correctly before deciding to keep them.

You should never Slippers.  Especially not outside of your room.
We went out again and explored the area a bit more after that, but quickly decided to return to the room after we were both made well aware that the area across the street from the hotel is a red-light district.  It took us about two streets in before we fully realized it.  Since we couldn't see much in any of the other directions, we decided to give up for the moment and go to bed.

Nothing like fresh smog in the morning.  This was taken looking out the hotel window.
We went to orientation at the Youth Olympic Center, which seemed a lot like a college campus from what I could see, but had more tours.  Orientation was long and boring, and it was really hard to stay awake during the 2+ hour lecture on Japanese-American relations.  The fact that this was on our first full day didn't help.

Lunch at the cafeteria.  I couldn't eat the barely-not-raw egg, but I finished the rest.  The melon gelatin was pretty good.

Just a friendly airport limousine.

We can't actually stand up in the back of the bus.  For some reason it slopes up almost a foot in the last few rows.
We next visited the Tokyo National Museum for a couple hours.  They had a lot of Buddhist statues, some swords, and a lot of writings and paintings.  We didn't get to see everything since it was a pretty short visit.  Self-guided tour, though, which was the first time we got to really get out on our own (unless you count the night before).

At the museum.

Four-season folding painting.  From right to left, it has scenes from spring, summer, autumn, and winter, all in a continuous set.  This was a common style.

Detail on the same painting section above.

A very, very long scroll.  There are lots of these.

A music stand.  I mean, reading stand.  But it's the same basic idea.  Only this one's gold (or looks like it at least).

One of many swords on display.  This one had a cool engraving in the base of the blade.
After the museum, we went to Kappabashi Dougu Street, which is the largest concentration of shops dedicated to cooking goods, primarily for restaurants and such.  They had lots of huge knives, pots, etc.  I also saw a taiyaki maker, which would be pretty cool to have if it weren't 20,000 yen or something.

A kappa on Kappabashi street.  Kappa are water spirits.  There are lots of weird stories and ideas about them, so you can look them up if you're interested.
We next went to Sensou-ji, an ancient temple.  I've seen and posted about many of those before, so I didn't take all that many pictures this time.  Just the main buildings, mostly, and they look basically like all the others I've already posted about.

Another shot of Tokyo Sky Tree from the temple grounds.

Don't feed the pigeons.  Feeding pigeons makes them sad.  Pigeons can get their food by themselves.

On our way to dinner after the temple.  The building just looked cool with all the ivy.
Dinner wasn't great.  Tempura of all sorts, but I think we got there a little late, so it was all a little colder than it should have been, and I wasn't a big fan of the stuff anyway.  I heard later that some of the others at least agreed that it wasn't good as tempura goes.  I don't remember having any before, so I can't really say.

That night, I went with a larger group, 5 or 6 of us, to better explore the area and buy stuff at Book Off.  We stopped at several shops along the way and lost a few people who decided they'd walked far enough, so only 3 of us made it there, but I ended up buying 3 manga I'd never heard of before in hopes of practicing my reading and improving my vocabulary.  I don't really have any idea what they're about.  Didn't have enough time to try to figure it out beyond the titles and quick skimming of the pictures inside before deciding.

Today, we moved to Yokohama National University, where we had more lessons on Japanese culture.  This time, though, it was actually fun and interesting.  We learned about the cultural emphasis on work, various opinions on different topics, seasonal foods, and other things, most of which I already knew but were still kind of interesting.  Then we had lunch.

A friend poses with a ridiculously large bite of ramen.
On our way out of the cafeteria, I saw one girl outside talking to her friend pointing in at all of us (I think at me specifically at the moment, because I happened to be right in front of her).  When she saw me look at her, she started laughing and waved, so I waved back.  It's weird being looked at as a foreigner again, but it doesn't happen nearly as much in Tokyo as it did around Izumichuo.  Most people ignore us.

We had our pictures taken in front of the school emblem.

And then we climbed up to the roof.  Well, I did.  Everyone else took the elevator.

Most of us then climbed the ladder to the top of the little building on top of the roof.  Because why not.

It was a pretty long way down, though only maybe 15 feet to the roof below.

My roommate and his new Japanese friend pose on the rooftop.
After that adventure, we headed inside to learn how to put on yukata.  This time we all actually did it for real, unlike last summer where we just kind of messed around with it until we got something that looked almost sort of right or gave up.  I think I could actually remember the knots well enough that I could do it again if I had one.

Some of the men in their yukata inside.

All the men in yukata and geta by the university's emblem.  Walking out there we got a lot of looks from the college students.

And suddenly, color.  The women always get the better-looking outfits.

The instructor and Japanese students who helped with the presentation and lesson.

Then we learned how to properly fold the kimono.
After a little while waiting for the bus, we went to our new hotel, the Heiwa Plaza Hotel.  The rooms here are bigger and more spacious than the other ones (which were absolutely tiny), but the beds, doors, and bathrooms are smaller.  But now we have internet.  Some of the guys promptly opened the windows and walked outside to the other people's rooms.  I stepped out to see what was there.

My roommate at the next room over.

Looking down from our "balcony"

Another ostensibly western-style meal for dinner.  Bread, chicken with cheese and tomatoes/tomato sauce on top, corn, and potato wedges.  And of course Calpis Water, but this time I also changed it up and got Melon Fanta, which was actually pretty good, too.

The bread was just too cute.  It's like a whole loaf from the store, but it fits in the palm of your hand.
We had plenty of time after dinner tonight to explore, so we went to the Landmark Tower Sky Garden.

Some cool buildings along the way.

The tower itself.  The tallest building and third tallest structure in Japan.

I just thought this was a cool shot.

It wasn't actually this light outside, but I thought the framing of the bridge, buildings, and grass around the water was nice.

We had many adventures along the way.  The 15-minute walk took us almost an hour and a half.

Japan.  The vending machine capital of the world.

Some possibly famous sculpture near the tower.  We don't know what it is.

Riding the escalator down right after going up because no one else followed.

In the mall between us and the tower, I found the Pokemon Center.

Now that all our pokemon were back to full health, we continued to the actual tower.  This is the ceiling of the fastest elevator in Japan, reaching the top of the 69-story building in just 40 seconds, with a max speed of 750 m/min (45 km/hr or about 28 mph).

The vast city as seen from the observation deck.  It looked about like this no matter which direction I took a picture of.

Bridges of light seemingly over nothing.

A subset of our group at the top of the tower.  The girl taking the picture didn't want to be in any of the pictures herself, so my roommate and I made it our mission to get good pictures of her.  Then I realized when I got back to do this blog that I already had a few (on the escalator).

This is the Nippon Maru, at the Nippon Maru Memorial Park just at the base of the tower.  I don't know anything else about it.
So now I'm back at the hotel, and that concludes the recap.  I can elaborate on anything if there are questions, but I'll only have internet for a few more days, then nothing until I get back to the States.

1 comment:

  1. セイン! 日本にいるんだね! 横浜の夜景きれいだね