Well I made it to Tokyo from Kyoto with relative ease. I took the super-duper fast bullet train called the Shinkansen. I fell asleep as soon as I got on the train, but woke up, luckily, right as we were passing Mt. Fuji. Wow--what a site. It just shoots into the sky out of nowhere--no other mountains around. It looks like an actual volcano, the way it is shaped and it was still covered with snow at the peak. Breathtaking.
My friend Drew told me that it good luck to see Fuji from the train because its often to hazy to get a good view. And based on my time in Tokyo so far, he`s been right.
Drew and I went to OU together, so it`s been really, really nice to have a familiar face around. He`s been a great guide so far since he`s lived in Japan for almost 4 years, and we`ve been going non-stop since Friday evening. I am staying at a hostel (my first ever!) and I have a really cool roommate from Singapore named Mei. There are also 2 Russian girls and an Australian living in the next room. Some guys are a floor below us but I haven`t met them yet. I am right in the heart of the city, in an area called Azabu-juban . It`s within walking distance from Roppongi a shopping/eating/nightlife area that`s well known.
Tokyo and Kyoto are extremely different from one another. Kyoto is quieter, and has such a rich history with all of the temples and shrines in the area. It recently passed a law that no buildings being built can be over 7 stories high. In Tokyo there doesn`t seem to be buildings under 7 stories high. There are probably more tourist activities in Kyoto, but Tokyo is my kind of city. It is so alive, vibrant, loud--real.
Upon my arrival, I talked with the Australian girl for a bit...she is here hostessing. (a different kind of hostessing than in the US...shes NOT seating people at a restaurant) Look it up if you`re interested... Drew and I then met up and went out on the town. He took me to a very cool underground club, where they had live art being created--graffiti, sculpting, etc. I met people from all over the place (a very drunk Australian actor that acts in low budget Japanese films was pretty fond of me. He told me at least 37 times that he was going to be in a new movie and that his grandma just turned 100). When we walked out of the club it was daylight. Apparently that's a norm here. I don`t think I could hang on a regular basis.
The next day we went to a cookout by a river. It was fun, I got to meet more of Drew`s friends. The food was kinda weird though. They made spaghetti...? And put bananas on the grill. We played frisbee and just chilled, very much like a cookout at home (aside from the bananas).
That night we went to a dinner part and watched the movie Babel. Yesterday we went to a Thai Food Festival in a park in the Shibuya area. It`s kinda like the Central Park of Tokyo. We listened to some Thai rock bands, and ate some fantastic food--made me ready to get to Thailand!
However, I don`t want to rush out of Japan, as I`ve been loving observing the Japanese culture. It is SO different. The people are so incredible hospitable and friendly. Everything they do, they do 100% and then some. But, its apparent that I am different to them, and there is definitely a feeling of us v. them. Not negatively, but the difference is recognized constantly. It isn't "we`re all human", its more "we`re Japanese...and you are whatever it is you are" You know in the states, pretty much anyone can be American despite their background, skin color, etc. Here no one can be Japanese, unless of course you are Japanese. Does that make sense?
I am a bit of a commodity though. I`ve been told by more than one Japanese woman that I am lovely (pronounced lovery). And the reason I am lovery? Because I have a small face. Yes. A small face. Is that a compliment? Ha! I'm not sure, but it seems to be. A group of Junior High aged girls were pointing and smiling and waving at me at the train station the other day. At first I thought they must be looking at something behind me, but then I realized it was me that they were talking about. So I smiled and waved back. They got excited, clapped, talked amongst themselves and waved some more. It was causing a little bit of a commotion. An Italian guy standing next to be said "you have blue eyes." But I can`t imagine that`s what it was. Most likely, my zipper was down, or I had rice stuck on my face or something. But, I definitely don`t fit in, so I get lots of stares. It`s cool though. Everyone should be out of their comfort zone every once in a while.
A couple things that suck--my camera isn`t working. I have the WORST luck with digital cameras, this is my 4th one in 2 years. I have to try to find an Olympus store to see if they can help fix it. Uhhh...what a pain. And trying to explain the problem when all I know how to say in Japanese is Hi and Thank you makes it even more fun...
Second thing that sucks--my parents are shipping my books to me for this semester and they said they are really heavy. Great. Another 10 lbs to lug around Asia with me.
I have posted some pictures from Kyoto so far. They were from Mike`s camera. Its some of the mountain climb and the night out in Shisaibashi. Haven`t had time to do captions because school started on Thursday, so most of my time on the computer is focused on that. I will though...one of these days.
Alright. I think this was a boring blog. Sorry! Im tired of being in the internet cafe. Going to meet Mei for lunch. I`ll be much more interesting (and hilarious) next time around.
Oh! I almost forgot! We saw an old Japanese women yesterday in the train station wearing an Ohio State hat. We are everywhere. I thought about yelling O-H! to see if she`d respond...