Thursday, May 5, 2011

Golden Week: Tokyo

The Golden Week break started last Friday, and three of the other exchange students and I went to Tokyo on Saturday. We left on bus at about noon and arrived in Tokyo at around 7pm, it was a long trip and it would have been far too disorientating to try to sleep, as the bus made stops about every ten or fifteen minutes. It wasn't entirely unenjoyable, though; I'm fairly used to long trips car rides and the scenery was fairly nice.

We were all really tired when we got there and it was a long subway ride from the Tokyo station to 浅草 where we were staying, and a good thirty minute meandering through the dark streets of Tokyo to find our hostel. We shared a single room with two sets of bunk beds and was really nice, especially for about 4千円 for two nights. After we checked in, we met up with one of the other international student's friends in 新橋.

At about 2 a.m., I felt what I thought was the person in the lower bunk shaking the bed, but would later find out to be an earthquake (3.0 振動), the first I've ever encountered.

The next morning we went to Denny's for breakfast and, after stopping off in 六本木, I went to 新宿 to re-unite with Akihito with a Swedish-Iraqi exchange student, but of course being the same 方向音痴 that I always have been, we got really lost and he had to come find us in front of 吉野家. It was good to see him again and we went to the famous Tokyo municipal building, 都庁, and took some photos of the area.

We then went to 池袋 for a bit and then headed to a small shop that I really wanted to visit, おりがみはうす. They had a small, yet really amazing and awe aspiring, at least to me, gallery of masterpieces from some of the world's greatest origami enthusiasts, such as Kamiya Satoshi and Eric Joisel. This was probably the highlight of the trip for me and I wound up dropping over a hundred bucks on books and paper.

From their we went to 渋谷 and sought refuge from the rain in a 焼肉 restaurant, another first for me. It was delicious, although we did almost set the place on fire due to some over enthusiasm on the part of some of the others. Akihito and I then went off from the others who went clubbing and went to play darts; we were both pretty lousy, especially me, but we still had a great time.

On the way back to the hostel, I got really lost again; at first on purpose, as I wandered through a temple in the dead of night and it was really peaceful and practically magical, with almost no-one else around. But, eventually I got really lost and wound up in the next district over, but eventually, through sheer stubbornness and will-power, found the hostel again.

The next morning, Monday, we were all exhausted from our respective adventures, but had several hours to kill until the bus departed. So, we went to 東京タワー and went up to the first observation deck. The bus back seemed so much longer and more arduous and I think that everyone agrees that the bus is 二度とだめ.

It was a great, but exhaustive trip. I was actually surprised at how seemingly few people there were, given the vast amount of build-up that Tokyo is given as one of the world's most densely populated cities, but that may have been due to the rain and the vacation period.


  1. Too cool, Mark. I meant to leave you a comment earlier but since Blogger is a HATEFULBITCH and deleted my comment, I procrastinated. (The original message was like essay-length, of course =.=)

    Anyway, your schedule at Nagoya sounds amazing. I wish I could've taken courses other than Japanese language in Japanese at Sophia.. that wasn't really an option. Although my 15-hr a week intensive program didn't leave me much room to take any classes anyway @.@

    I'm so excited for you to get back so I can mine your brain for information!!! It sounds like you're having a good-time minus annoying Chinese exchange students who congregate in Asian katamari formation (Boooo)

    I'm trying to get Saturday morning sessions started back up so that when you get back we'll have a good group going. I've moved to the Royal Bean cafe which is across the street from Meredith. It's nice. (They have couches!!)

    We all miss you tons!

  2. And after browsing through your photos..... I see you discovered the penis-and-one-ball-shaped skyscraper in Shinjuku. AHAHAHAAH (Yes, I am 7 years old :P)

    Sorry I couldn't email bomb you before Golden Week! I had a long list of suggestions for possible spots to visit in Tokyo but just as well I suppose. I didn't realize you only had 2 days and you hit up all the important touristy things anyway.

    No comment on the sparsity of population during Golden Week. I actually spent mine in Nikko when I went in 2009, though that doesn't surprise me. I'm sure a lot of people who work in Tokyo take the opportunity to leave Tokyo during the break.

  3. I think the tsunami/nuclear tragedy also significantly reduced the number of people visiting Tokyo, and those who were willing to stay.


  4. The origami museum looked pretty awesome. I looked at the links you posted and those were amazing too. When I think origami, I usually only think of polygon shaped objects, but those were curved and smooth which made it look like it wasn't made from paper. My favorite were the dragons!

    Your trip to Tokyo looked like it was really fun besides getting lost (better in Japan than in the U.S.). How was Tokyo tower? Did you go all the way to the top? I went as a kid and didn't go past the first level because I was too scared...

    Have there been any earthquakes since then? My grandparents were saying that there are small ones everyday now.

    When are we going to see a new post? Looking forward to see what else you've been up to.