Saturday, November 24, 2012


So for my school's last field trip we went to Nikko; a town north of Tokyo that is famous for its temples and waterfalls.

Our first destination was the Toshogu shrine and temple.  This area was the home of the once powerful Tokugawa Shogunate that ruled Japan for many years.  This place is unique as it has both a Shinto shrine and a Buddhist temple right next to each other.

The shrine is breathtaking.  The intricate carvings and woodworking is astounding.  How these people built such complicated structures before any modern technology baffles my mind.

This place is a must see for any architecture or wood carving enthusiasts.  Or anyone who just likes pretty things. I took nearly a 100 pictures there alone.

For that night we stayed at a really nice hotel that had a natural onsen (hot spring).  At first getting naked in front of a bunch of other people can feel daunting  but since everyone else is naked, it doesn't really feel so strange after a while.  Of course the men and women onsen are separate.  The water feels greats and they put special bath salts in some of them to make your skin feel really soft.  I really like onsen.  Though I don't know if I can convince my family to go to one, lol

The following day we went to a natural ravine.  It had a beautiful waterfall, but boy it was a climb! My legs were pretty sore after that trip.

Then we went to a wood-carving studio where we each got to carve a design into our own little wooden mirrors   I did the monkey design, though I gave him a scar to look more cool. Because scars are always cool, lol

And an earthquake just happened while typing this blog.  It was the strongest one yet!  Rather scary, but nothing fell off my shelves so it wasn't too terrible.

Anyway, today I went to Asakusa to paint my own lantern! It turned out alright I think, though not nearly as pretty as some other people's.  I just wrote my kanji name and painted the sides red.  A very traditional look.

Only three weeks left here in Japan, before I go home for Christmas break.  But I'll be back here in the spring.

Time flies by so quickly!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Maid Cafe

So yesterday my friend and I went to a maid cafe in Akihabara.  A maid cafe is where young girls dress up in maid outfits and serve really cute food and drinks and often talk in a very cutesy way to their customers.

Maid cafes are popular among the male crowd, but females and families can be found in them as well.

So my friend and I decided to go to on and see what it's like.

Of course it's rather expensive (around $26), but it's worth going to at least once.

We got the parfait set where we got a delicious (and adorable) chocolate bear shaped parfait ice cream, a photo taken with one of the maids, and a souvenir key chain.

Oftentimes the maids would come to your table and ask you to do cutesy things with them, like "make a heart with your hands with me! YAY!!!!"

it was a fun and worthwhile experience.  I know that there are butler cafes as well where it's geared toward the female audience, with handsome men dressed as butlers.  But I haven't yet found one.

I heard they are in Shinjuku, but I haven't gone yet.

We shall see....

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Phantom of the Opera and Tokyo Tower

Yesterday I met my friend Masumi at Hamamotsucho station for a day of fun.

She had ordered tickets to see the musical "The Phantom of Opera" for that day so we decided to go out before the show started.  We were going to go to the Pokemon Center, which was right next to the station, but it was PACKED! Literally the wait just to get in the store was 1 hour.  Since there's a Pokemon Center in Nagoya as well, it wasn't a top priority for me that day.  So instead we went to Tokyo Tower, which used to be the tallest building in Tokyo, until the new Skytree was built.

On our way we passed through a Buddhist temple, which was really beautiful and was full of activity because today was a special holiday, 3,5,7 Day.  This is a day were children ages 3, 5, ad 7 are celebrated and usually dress up in traditional Japanese clothes and head to the local shrine or temple.  I didn't really see any children, but a service was going on inside the shrine.  Also there was an area that was FILLED with cute god statues.  Each god had a name, and Masumi told me that they were individual families' gods.  They all wore hats, but some had other accessories and toys placed there by their family.  There was also a monkey handler having his monkey do tricks outside the temple, very cool to see.

When we made it to Tokyo Tower, it was still morning, which was a great time to go; it wasn't crowded and we were able to just hop into the elevator and head straight up.

It was a gorgeous day so the view was BEAUTIFUL!  We got our picture taken together there.

When we were done, we went back down, where a small carnival like area was set up with all sorts of games and small rides for children.  I saw an old lady riding an electronic panda.  Funniest thing I've seen in awhile.

After we got back inside, we went shopping.  I had no intention of visiting Tokyo Tower when I first came here, but after shopping there I highly recommend it for people wanting souvenirs   There were tons of stuff, and all relatively cheap.  And I was able to nearly finish out all of my souvenir shopping for everyone back home.

Then we went to the musical, which was... AMAZING! I never had a chance to see the show in America, and I always wanted to.  I love the movie and know the story and music very well, so despite being in Japanese I had no trouble understanding.  The music still sounded great in Japanese, but I'm definitely biased for the English versions of the songs.  The characters' acting was superb, they acted and sounded just like they did in the English version, and the Phantom's voice was still sexy in Japanese. <3

It was a great day and I thank Masumi so much for taking me, she's such a sweetheart!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Ghibli Museum and Aladdin

So this past week has been rather busy for me.

First my class performed a skit of "Aladdin" for the Meikai School Festival yesterday. So this whole week was devoted to rehearsing, which I didn't complain about because the teachers gave us little homework all week.

On Thursday, I finally fulfilled my otaku dream of going to the Studio Ghibli museum in Mitaka.  I went with my friend Thuong, and it was AMAZING!

The museum itself is not very big, just 4 floors, but each floor is packed with stuff to look at and narrow hallways and doors of all different shapes and sizes, which makes navigating an interesting task.

The stain glass windows everywhere were beautiful, each depicting a different Ghibli movie, I was able to take a few pictures of them, but photography was not allowed inside the museum.

Basically the 1st floor of the museum covers the history of animation and a timeline of the Ghibli movies produced.  The 2nd floor had a replica of a Studio Ghibli animation room, where frames are drawn and how they are colored.  It was nifty to see the process.  Of course all the explanations were in Japanese, so I couldn't read much as I know only a few kanji characters.

The 3rd and 4th floors kind of mix together, I cant really remember what was on each, but I know that there was a giant cat bus for children to play on (I wanted to play in it soooo badly).  And of course there was a gift shop on the 4th floor, which was PACKED! even more crowded than the galleries! XP

I bought more things than I should have, of course. But I regret nothing.  My favorite item I purchased was a Howl's Moving Castle calender.  It is a statue of Howl's castle, where dice with the date, month, and day of the week are displayed on various parts of the castle. It's really cool and can be used indefinably.

In the museum's garden there is a cafe, the Straw Hat Cafe, that has all organic foods. The food there was DELICIOUS! and not terribly expensive.  My friend and I shared a chocolate parfait, which was like a foot tall with layers of fruits, cake, and ice cream. It was sooo good.

Then we both had "here come the sun" cream soda.  It starts out as purple on the bottom and yellow on the top, with blood orange ice cream on top.  But once you mix the colors, they turn pink! and it was really sweet and wonderful.

Then on Saturday was the Aladdin skit, which went pretty well I thought.  The crowd was small, but I didn't mind a small crowd (I'm sure we made tons of mistakes in our Japanese XP)  I was villain #2, not really Iago, not Jafar, just some evil guy in a witch's hat and sparkling red cape.

If there's one thing I learned, I learned that  Japanese people love taking pictures. After the play, I swear we had like a 30 minute photo session where people just crowded around and took our picture.  I mean our costumes were nothing spectacular, just a random hodgepodge of various items that one can find at home relatively easy.  But still they wanted our pictures anyway, with little girls crowding around Jasmine and Aladdin.  It was really cute.

Tomorrow I'll be going to Tokyo Disneyland with two friends of mine. I'm really looking forward to it!

I guess I better squeeze in some school into my busy XD