Saturday, October 27, 2012

Tokyo Disney Sea!

So yesterday I went to Tokyo Disney Sea for the first time, and it was great!!

Tokyo Disney Sea doesn't have many big rides (and only one of them was actually a coaster) but they're so many shows and shopping to do that you could easily spend a whole day there without riding a single ride.  Tokyo Disneyland is the place you wanna go if you're looking for rides.

And I've never been to Disneyland in California, but I have gone to DisneyWorld several times, and I can say that the Tokyo version is basically a smaller version of it.  The main differences are language (but all announcements are made in both Japanese and English, plus English maps, so the language wasn't an issue at all) and the many more Japanese people (I only saw like 3 other white people, lol).

The Disney characters are all there, Mickey, Minnie, the Princesses, etc; and really their voices in Japanese are very similar to their English counterparts.

The food is amazing there. I have Italian gelato and a Mexican dish for lunch and it was delicious. They also had very fun and interesting Halloween specials (like sweet potato sticks and skull candy and such).

One thing I found interesting was the many popcorn stands they had. You could buy a souvenir bucket and keep refilling them for $5 at any popcorn stand.

But a warning, they DO NOT have normal popcorn.  Indeed you will not find simple butter popcorn.  They had caramel corn, black pepper, sea salt, curry, and strawberry popcorn.  I had caramel corn myself, but if I had more time I would've been more adventurous to try the strawberry popcorn.

Another fun fact: Japanese people find the American flag to be very cool looking, so I often see it on clothes and accessories.  I find this quite humorous as I can find more American flag goods here than I would in America (I think). So I bought a hat with Mickey ears in the American flag colors of stars and stripes.

Coming to Japan has certainly given me a new found appreciation for my country. Of course we have heaps of flaws, but so does everyone else.  Not even Japan is perfect.

But I feel like I had to leave my country first to really appreciate it and see it from an outside perspective.  I know that I'm really growing as an open-minded person here.

I plan on going to Tokyo Disnyland here soon, so then I can make some more comparisons. And I really want Bambi ears, I saw someone wearing them but I couldn't find them. Maybe they are in Tokyo Disneyland. I'll be on the hunt.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Kanazawa Trip

So for four days and three nights the Tokyo IES students took a long field trip to Kanazawa, the "marshes of gold" - a historical city on the opposite side of the big island from Tokyo famous for its gold leaf production and ancient buildings.

The first place on our list was the Ninja-Temple. No, this temple was not for Ninja, but it received that name due to its many traps and secret staircases   The temple was actually the home of a lord Daiymo, who worked under the shogunate.  There is a secret tunnel under the floorboards behind the main shrine that allows one to escape to the nearby castle.  There are stairs with white paper on the backboards, concealing square holes that guards in a room underneath the stairs, when shadows of intruders are spotted on the white paper, can thrust their spears through the paper to stab the enemy's feet.  There is also a room with 4 tatami mats (the number 4 has the same sound as the word for death "shi") and a door that locks automatically when you close it.  This room was for seppuku, or ritual suicide   There are 29 rooms and 23 staircases, when one really thinks about it, that is a ton a staircases!!  Many rooms have many openings and secret doors to allow those living in the castle to move freely and quickly in times of invasion, meanwhile confusing the intruders.  I wish I had pictures to show, but because it is a place of worship picture taking was not allowed.  Have to respect the shrine.

Next we went to a beautiful Japanese garden.  Inside the garden we went to a tea-house and watched Sado, or tea ceremony.  The tea was super gross (I dislike tea of any kind - it all just tastes like leafy water to me), but I drank it all out of respect.  The anko dessert served with the tea was really sweet and helped me finish the tea.

Next we went to a Gold Leaf studio, and created our very own gold leaf chopsticks! I chose a simple design   of a simple gold spiral, mainly because I could actually execute it relatively well.  A lot of students tried complicated design that usually failed because of their inability to properly execute them.  I learned that the hard way many years ago during ceramics.  Sometimes simple is always better.

The next day I ate at a sushi-go-round for the first time.  I never ate sushi back home, but here I really love it! Although I do still worry about contracting a parasite, but I feel like the Japanese know their fish so I trust their judgment and preparations.  Though I don't think I'll ever have the balls to try fugu (poisonous blowfish).

At the ryokan (Japanese style inn) I went to the public bath for the first time.  I was a bit nervous getting naked in front of people, but since it was just the female students (no Japanese were using it at the time) it wasn't so bad.  Actually the bath was very relaxing!!

It was a very tiring, but awesome trip!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Akihabara: Anime Paradise

So I went to Akihabara for the first time last night. and I was in heaven.

The beautiful city lights flashing anime on giant TV screens, stores packed with anything anime my little heart could desire.

And the coffee I had at the cafe was also very good.

I actually got into a bit of trouble in the anime store I was shopping in.

You see the store is 7 stories tall, and each floor had its own cashier station.

I merely thought this was for the convenience of the costumer to pay on any floor they wanted.

But as I got to the top floor, carrying everything I picked up from all the previous floors, a man pointed a sign to me saying that you must pay for any goods you pick up on the respective floor you got it from.

This doesn't make any sense to me! if I did that I would have to carry so many annoying little bags instead of the nice big one I got at the end!  Also, WHY DIDN'T ANYONE TELL ME SOONER?

I love Japan, but man it can be frustrating at times.

But I had a great time. and now I know the rules. They really need to make that sign bigger. Why would I look at it amongst all of the beautiful anime goods before me??

Friday, October 5, 2012

First Sickness..bleh

So finally a week of little sleep has caught up to me. I think I caught a very mild cold. I had a slight fever yesterday, and my throat is sore.

But they fever is gone now, and my throat doesnt hurt, but it still feels dry and uncomfortable.

Hopefully a weekend filled with sleep will help.

Though I cant relax too much, I have a take-home exam to do...sigh XP

I wish I had less homework so that I could explore Japan more, but I guess school was the main point in coming here. :P

Anyway back to work!