1. the mental capacity or faculty of retaining and reviving facts, events, impressions, etc., or of recalling or recognizing previous experiences.
2.the length of time over which recollection extends
Friday, July 15, 2011: Heading Home
Being bored in the Tokyo Narita airport led to wandering around taking pictures of the airport:
|This is where I sat and wrote my blog entry.|
There was a store with an exhibit where everything was made of origami:
|A Japanese festival.|
|A heard of cattle or something.|
I’m currently sitting in the Narita airport in front of my gate. I checked out of my hotel at 9:30am for a flight that departs at 2:55pm, with the intention of getting lost. And, in fact, I did get a little lost. I took the train to the Ueno-Okachimachi station where I had to get off and walk to the Keisei Ueno station. This is where I first got lost. I started walking in the complete opposite direction. Luckily, there are maps everywhere in Tokyo, so I found my way instantly.
My next dilemma was at the train station. There are about six different trains that can take you from the Keisei Ueno station to the Narita airport. They all vary in cost and transportation time. Since I had so much time, I decided to take the cheapest train with the longest transportation as opposed to the fastest train that I took when I arrived, which was also twice the cost. As a foreigner, it is really easy for the attendants to make you pay the most expensive option since I had no idea how to get around, but this time I didn’t want to get tricked into that option. However, the cheapest tickets were much more difficult to figure out. I met a girl from New York who was also having trouble figuring out the different train lines to the airport, so we collaborated and eventually figured it out together.
I finally arrived at the airport, still with three hours to spare so I went around to all of the little shops and spent the rest of my yen and now I am sitting here, thinking about all of the great moments I have had in Japan that I will miss dearly.
Things I will miss about Tokyo:
1. The public transportation system- I still remember preparing for this trip, looking at all of the maps of different train lines, trying to figure out how I was going to get to my hotel on the first day. The maps just looked like a bunch of colorful lines in a tangled mess, but now it is very familiar. Getting around in Tokyo was much easier than I expected. There are trains everywhere. You can get anywhere and everywhere you want in Tokyo with their train system and you never have to wait for a train as they come every few minutes. Everybody uses the train system routinely in Tokyo. Around 6:00pm everyday after people get off work, there is not one train that is not completely packed to the limit.
2. The people’s interest in foreigners- If you don’t look Asian in Tokyo, the people will be so interested in you as if you were a celebrity. Or at least that is what my experience was like along with the other students in my group. Everywhere I went, there would be Japanese people coming up to me with huge smiles on their faces asking where I was from, how long I was staying in Japan, what I was doing here, etc.
3. Festivities and culture- My expectations of a Japanese festival were no where close to what the real experience is like. After visiting so many shrines and temples, I thought I had seen enough. It was all very interesting the first time, but after so many times, it was all the same. I had a few opportunities to go to a Japanese festival, but I turned down the first two as I didn’t think it would be that exciting. When I finally ended up going, I realized that I would never regret my decision. Everybody was all dressed up in kimonos, the streets were lined with walls of lanterns, there were shows going on everywhere, people were playing all kinds of games, and there was the greatest variety of food vendors. It was probably my favorite experience in Tokyo.
4. Friendly people- From the very first day, I experienced a welcoming friendliness from Tokyo that I have never seen in any other place I have visited. When you look lost or when you look like you have any kind of questions, there is always someone that will come up to you and try to help you. The people are always cheerful and happy and they always greet each other and bow to each other politely. I never experienced or witnessed a negative interaction between any of the people while I was here.
5. City life- I know it is not that exciting, but I have never really stayed in a huge city before. The towering buildings, the colorful lights, and the huge street crossings with tons of people really left me in awe.
6. Tiny restaurants- Most of the quality food in Japan seemed to be at little tiny restaurants that looked like what we would call “holes in the wall” in California. They were very cute and you really got a “Japanese” feeling from them, but it was often quite a problem when traveling with a group of eight or nine. We often had to split up and go to separate restaurants. There were even several traditional Japanese restaurants that we went to where you could take your shoes off and sit on the floor and if you wanted the “real” Japanese experience, you would sit on your knees for the entire meal.
7. Lost in translation- I was always quite amused by signs that were translated to English from Japanese, whether it was the way the words were spelled, the awkward grammar usage, or just the weird expressions that would never be used in the U.S.
8. Vending machines everywhere- On average, about every ten steps you take, there is a vending machine, whether it is in front of a shop, a house, a classroom, or anywhere. And you can buy all kinds of things from them apparently. A lot of restaurants even use vending machines to place food orders, where you select the button for the food you want, you get a ticket receipt, and then pick up your food.
9. Removing shoes- Before I came to Japan, I read up on some “important stuff to know when traveling to Japan.” One thing I read was that people don’t wear flip-flops because the Japanese consider your feet dirty if you wear them. There were a lot of people wearing flip-flops though, so I wore mine anyway. There were numerous times though that we were asked to remove our shoes. Most of those times were when my group went on lab tours. Out of all places, I never expected that we would be asked to remove our shoes in a lab, but I guess that’s what they do in Japan.
10. Crazy toilets- Japan’s bathrooms were quite an experience. Most bathrooms has stalls for squatting toilets and stalls for butt-washing toilets. The squatting toilets are pretty much just holes in the ground. They kind of freaked me out a bit and I never attempted to use one. So I ended up using the normal toilets that could play music and wash your butt in different ways. I usually just used them normally, but I thought I should try pressing all the buttons once, so I did. It was an interesting experience.
11. Mosquito Bites (not)- I got way too many mosquito bites while I was here and I was one of the only two people in my group that got them. It wasn’t so fun, but in order to see the beautiful gardens, parks, and lakes, I was undoubtedly going to get mosquito bites no matter what.
12. My IARU GSP group and all of our memories and inside jokes that most people reading this blog will most likely not understand- going on adventures (aka getting lost), nighttime rooftop chats, having conversations with random Japanese people, watching crazy Japanese guys fountain hopping and shouting “I am Samurai,” saying “Bibbidy bobbidy boo” in high pitched voices when taking pictures, sugar shots, thong blisters, learning phrases from the lonely planet phrase book such as “coco o sawate”
This is probably the first time goodbyes weren’t too difficult. In these last 2 weeks, I had a lot of fun with my group, but I never got too close to them partially because of my mentality that I would probably never see any of these people again since they are from countries all over the world. But we know that it won’t be too hard to stay in touch these days in the world of Facebook.
It’s been a good two weeks, Tokyo. Sayonara.
p.s. This whole blog thing is starting to grow on me.