Sunday, April 20, 2008

Winding down

No pictures this time, sorry :)

 Well, my time here is coming to a close, I'm leaving on May 9, which is 19 days from today, April 20. My parents arrive in three days, classes are over, and I am turning in my last final on the 23rd, and I give my last speech on that day too. Semesters always sneak up on me like that. Before I know it the semester is over and it's been another three months. 

This semester has been far from normal and I've enjoyed it very much.  I've learned a lot of Japanese, and a great deal about Japanese politics, but what I learned about the most wasn't something I got from the classroom. I know it sounds cliche and trite, but I really have learned a lot, mostly about myself and other people. 

The experience has been very empowering for me on the whole and I think it has been worth all the time and effort I've put into it. I don't really have any regrets, except that I don't know Japanese better. I wish I knew the language better so that I could communicate better with the people on a personal level. I've had no trouble visiting, going to school, buying food and necessities, and having a good time. It would be a might more difficult if I didn't have a social group pre-constructed by my university, and if I had to find my own housing and work. Though, on the whole, what I've done was a good match for me.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Daily, and random, Tokyo sights

Every day I see a good portion of the city, I've seen it through the screen of different weather, such as snow, rain, clouds, sun, wind, and even sakura season. I've gotten used to a good part of the city. I'm not quite a resident, but I'm not quite a tourist either. I'm a hybrid. I do touristy things, like take pictures, and go out just to see the sights, but I also do residential things, like purchase essentials, sleep in, and be bored. It's an interesting experience, for sure, to feel like a place that is different from everything I've known and have done as a "home."

This is the Mizuho bank building outside of Tamachi station. I pass it every day. Trust me, it's not always this pretty.

I cross this street every day on the way to school. I cross by bridge, but beneath you can cross on the crosswalks. Every time the little man turns green a very creepy song plays, it reminds me of something I saw in a horror movie once. There generally is very little traffic in Tokyo, it's mostly foot traffic or bike traffic. 

The view from the other side of the same bridge. I hardly ever explore this area, but when I did I found an interesting street with a lot of restaurants on it, the campus of Keio University, and lots of business buildings.

I see Tokyo Tower every day at the second big intersection I cross. Keio University is down this way, as is the tasty restaurant street.

Bento boxes for sale out on the street. I pass many tables like this as I go to school. I usually don't buy any (they're a bit too rich for my blood). If I don't eat a packed bento, I grab a cheap sandwich from 7/11, Lawsons, or AM/PM. 

This is the corner ramen shop I pass on the way to school that is always very busy. I've never eaten there because the line is too long. I took this picture at 9 a.m. or so, the lunch rush doesn't even start until 11 a.m. or 12 noon.

My favorite conbini (convenience store), 7/11. I like it because it's on the same block as TUJ.

Myself and Uncle Jerry in Ginza when he came to visit March 27.

I took this at the train station that I use to leave the dorms and to get to the dorms (Ontakesan[おんたけさん]). I like it.

Japanese words, and Japanese braille. It says, koko wa, gotanda something,something,something,something guchi desu. From what I can guess it means that this side of the tracks is bound for Gotanda station.

This is a Japanese crow. It's very weird looking. I think it's a cross between a toucan and a crow or raven. I just don't understand.

Tiny little watermelons for sale. They're wrapped up in foam protector cases, and they cost about $12 each.

Garbage here has to be separated into burnable, non burnable, PET bottles, and other. This is the schedule that they're picked up by in my neighborhood.

I took this picture outside the Museum of Emerging Sciences, I think it's the first field trip for middle school. The Japanese school year starts in mid April.

Tokyo is home to an odd version of the future. This building is in Odaiba, which is a district of Tokyo built on, according to Lauren's Fodor's guidebook, the world's largest landfill.

It's an interesting place. It was empty and inhuman like, there weren't any people there, and I wish that it was a little more populated, not crowded, I just wish I saw more than one or two people once we left the museum. It was like I was wandering London during the first few scenes of 28 Days Later.

A Panamanian ship. I took a picture because I represented Panama in the Harvard World MUN 2007.

Uncle Dan has these exact drink stirrers, I've seen them many times in his shop. I decided not to get them because I know that he's trying to get rid of a lot of his stuff.

So, I wandered into this mall in Odaiba, it was like an indoor version of a stereotypical conglomerated European street. I don't know how to describe it, other than it was a really expensive looking place.

They did have some nice stores and good soup. I think it was called Venus Fort or something like that.

Any Pokemon fans sitting in the wings? Venus Fort was in Palette Town. 

Tuesday April 15, 2007: Tokyo Disneyland!

Monday April 14th was the last day of classes, and I can surely tell you that was the longest class day of my life (I had class from 11:30 a.m. until 10:10 p.m. on Mondays) So I was dying to get out of school and go do something fun, so I cam back home and went to bed straight away so I could get up early and go to Disneyland on Tuesday the 15th.

I like Disney Sea better, Disneyland seemed to be made by people who were on some kind of hallucinogenic drug. At more than one point it was incredibly creepy and very very disturbing. Like something out of a comedy/horror, not a children's theme park.

The gateway! April 15th was the exact day of the 25th Tokyo Disney Anniversary. It was a very crowded day, even still, we were able to avoid the lines by getting fast passes and enjoying ourselves. 

Cinderella's Castle by day. It wasn't as impressive as I was hoping. Nothing was inside, really, and it was a small thing. It should be more imposing.

The Star Tours ride, it's a Star Wars themed ride that looks like it escaped the 1970's. 

You can take a Star Tour to Bespin! (Not really)

C-3PO was speaking in Japanese, telling us how to be safe on our Star Tour.

I got to drive in Tokyo. Granted it was slow, and on a metal track and it was only one gear.

I think lawn tractors could've gone faster than these race cars.

Here we are, waiting for the Star Jet to take us to school, it's how you get around in Japan these days. (Not!) Left to Right: Jen, Lauren, Lisa.
Sometimes I just don't understand the English shirts I see.

Buzz Lightyear! This is from the ride where you get to shoot aliens! It was a lot of fun!

I eat ice cubes with tiny spoons in alien shirts.

Cinderella's castle was cooler by night.

I like this photo because it makes the Disney landmark look looming, imposing, and scary.

The Mickey Mouse Review was possibly the creepiest thing I've ever witnessed. Bad animatronics sang old Disney songs on a large stage set up for a large audience in Japanese. There were over 50 robots just going at their little song and dance routine. I wanted to seriously cry, or walk out.

I think Space Mountain was the best roller coaster there, which isn't saying much, but it was really cool. It spun around in a corkscrew several times in the dark with lights acting like stars spinning around. It was pretty cool.

Interior of the Space Mountain ride, this is what you get to look at while you wait.

Seriously, that is my spaceship, hands off.

I don't know what I'd do with a spaceship if I got one besides go somewhere that isn't on this planet.

It may not be much, but it is still pretty.

And Disney does like pretty. Now if only the fireworks weren't cancelled and we had some flavored popcorn (there were many flavors, including chocolate, honey, caramel, curry, soda, and salt) I had honey popcorn earlier, and at the other park (Disney Sea) they had salt, caramel, cappuccino, and strawberry popcorn. 

Here we are! Night all through, it was a lot of fun and worth the time and money. Left to Right: Me, Lauren, Jen, and Lisa.

Saturday April 12, Tokyo Disney Sea!

Well, I'm finally caught up with my blogging! It wasn't too terrible to blog like that, I just did it instead of doing homework. My long tradition of procrastination has served me well. Sunday the 13th I went to Tokyo Disney Sea with a few of my Temple University Japan campus friends. I don't remember the last time I went to Disney, but I think I have been. It was a great day of play. 

Tokyo Disney resort is celebrating it's 25th year anniversary this year. This is the monorail that connects the parks and the hotels to each other. It has Mickey-shaped windows!

Janet and Lauren looking at one of the many hotels at Tokyo Disney Resort through the Mickey-shaped window on the monorail.

I was expecting to see a lot more foreigners at Tokyo Disney, but it was mostly Japanese people. Check out the Mickey-shaped handles.

We're at Disney! Right to Left, Lauren, Lisa, Me, Jen, and on top: Janet. Jane came too, but she's taking the picture :(

The entrance to Disney Sea. That globe turns and the blue parts actually have water running over them. It's a fountain!

Japan is a part of the Disney globe!

We came right before the 15th, which is the start of the 25th anniversary spring carnival. This is Minnie made of ivy.

A lot of the park was really well done, but the Mediterranean harbor had buildings surrounding it with painted windows.
The best-done part of the park was the Mysterious Island, which was home of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Journey to the Center of the Earth. It almost looked real, and it was incredibly cool.

This is one of my favorite books. I don't think I have ever seen the Disney version, but I do like the book.

At the Little Mermaid part of the park there was a ride, and at that ride there was a sign that told me that fish weren't allowed to smoke in the ride.

In the Indiana Jones part of the park there all the attendants were dressed like Indiana Jones! It really made me happy to see Japanese Indy. All the Disney attendants were dressed to match the area where they were working. And, they were friendly, waving and talking and helpful.

I really liked the sign, it looked like lava to me. The ride was pretty cool, it had really cool visuals and an interesting thrill.

We ran all over the park, one way then the other, and back again. That's why my pictures are all split up like this. This is the top of the Indy part of the park, which is themed like the new movie, which I cannot wait for! It comes out May 22 in the states, and I'm really looking forward to watching it. Going to Indiana Jones at Disney made me incredibly happy.

Jen and I are sacrificing Lauren to the gods. I intend to Photoshop this and add knives and blood. I'll probably get around to that right before my Friday final, or maybe my Wednesday final. Procrastination is a wonderful tool.

Outside the hotdog stand there was a little boy dressed as Stitch, he's really cute, and looks just like the adorable character. I don't know which Disney princess he's chasing.

This is for one of the two Indiana Jones rides, it's the roller coaster. It says "Loading Area Ahead. Unsecured belongings may become offerings to the raging spirits, so please place cameras, phones, and other loose items in your pockets or bags before boarding." Raging Spirits was the name of the ride. 

Disney Sea was a lot of fun, and the areas were really well done, and exceptionally realistic, and it was a great theme park, however its mastery of the roller coaster is limited. I really want to go to Cedar Point now because those roller coasters are the best I've ever ridden.

See what I mean? Really well themed, this is the inside of the second Indy ride, it was Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which is similar to the new movie's title. If I wasn't in line with a bunch of other people I would've believed I was in a movie.

P.S. people die on these rides ;) No, actually this is a skeleton that was at the base of the big statue. I love my flash, this was probably a good 20-30 feet away, and it caught it perfectly. I will never complain about how long it takes my flash to charge again. 

This is the Mediterranean harbor from outside.

McDuck's Department Store was a souvenir shop, and I guess he's a super-rich character, and it made sense for me to see a whole bunch of well dressed salaryman types in front of the store.

This pretend poster was in the American Waterfront part of the park, I took a picture because Molly Brown was one of my favorite stories as a kid, I even still have my picture book. The story was about a woman who took the Titanic and when it sunk she saved a bunch of people on a lifeboat and kept everyone going and hopeful. 

We caught the tail end of a Disney dance show where everyone was lip-syncing and dancing like crazy. They played some Madonna and other songs that only us six Americans knew the lyrics to.

We ate dinner in the boat that was pretend docked at the American Waterfront. This is my dinner, it cost a pretty penny, but at least it was delicious. I got it because I had never had lobster before.

The Tower of Terror! The story was very different from that in the American Tower of Terror. I don't want to ruin it for anyone, but it was really cool and different. On the ride we had an older woman who joined us for the ride, she even had a walker, but she really wanted to ride, and she had such a good time.

Disney Sea just changed its look at night, and it was beautiful.

Isn't it intimidating? It wasn't that scary, but it was fun and thrilling.

It is a fun ride. I really enjoyed the whole thing.

There was an excellent carousel in the Arabian land part. It had genies on it!