Monday, February 18, 2013

1/27—Day 1 Yokohama, Japan

Realize that now is the time, here is the place. Take a breath and feel the pleasure.

After an adventurous night I’ve made it to JAPAN!!
I woke up early to see the sunrise and was able to see Mt. Fuji. It was amazing to see the snow covered mountain, the surrounding city, and the ocean all at once. Though pictures don’t even begin to show the beauty of the view, I will attach a picture if I’m able too. After breakfast and getting ready, my roommate and I realized that the people of Yokohama were standing at the port greeting us. We grabbed our cameras and ran upstairs. It was in the low 40s, but I ran upstairs with wet hair, flip-flops, and a t-shirt. I was too excited to care that I was freezing… I made it to Japan!
There was a band and many Japanese greeting us as we pulled into the dock. I’m not going to lie; it brought tears of excitement and disbelief to my eyes. I seriously could not wrap my head around the fact that I was on the other side of the world and about to get off the ship in Japan. As I looked around the city from the ship it reminded me a lot of home. It was really weird to think about how even though I was in another country, thousands of miles away from home, it didn’t feel much different.
Once we finally were able to get off the ship, a group of about 6 of us started exploring the city of Yokohama! We somehow found our way to a Nissan car show… cars are a big deal in Japan. The coolest part about looking at these cars was how everything was “backwards”. The driver’s seat is on the right side and they drive on the left side of the road.
We of course found our way to Starbucks, which had different drinks and different sizes. I didn’t get anything, but someone had a small drink and at home it would have been a kiddy size. During my freshman year of college, I took a class called Obesity in America. We had discussed in that class how in other countries our small is there large. I never really understood how that could be possible, but it is completely true. From a health standpoint, it explains a lot as to why America is such a large country.
A few of us started to get a little frustrated, since we were walking around the city with no plan on what we were doing. I felt like it was wasting the day, I started looking at a map on what there was to do. We ended up splitting into two groups, and my group went to this little amusement park with an underground roller coaster and one of the world’s largest Farris wheels.
The roller coaster was definitely talked up a lot among the students on the ship, but it is cool to say that I went on a roller coaster in Japan. The Farris wheel was definitely an experience though. Rumor on the ship was that it was the World’s largest Farris wheel. But after a little research just now, it was the World’s largest Farris wheel in 1989. After being relocated in 1999, it is now has an overall height of 369 feet.* That is pretty high for a person who has a fear of heights like myself… But I willingly got on and was fine until I realized how high up we were. I became really quiet and was gripping the seat for dear life. My friends asked me why I wasn’t saying anything and I explained. So they started messing with me, which surprisingly helped me relax and enjoy the view. It was beautiful to be able to see the whole city of Yokohama. We were even able to see the ship!
After getting a birds eye view of the city, we headed to the Cup of Noodles museum. Cup of Noodles (AKA Ramen) is totally half of a college student’s diet, so I figured we had to check it out. We weren’t able to make our own cup of noodles, but we were able to see all the different kinds of noodles and how it differs in each country. I found that really cool, since I was able to look at the countries we would be traveling too.
After grabbing a drink and eating dinner on the ship, Andrea and I got ready to head to Tokyo. We thankfully met up with three other people and traveled with them, since we didn’t know what we were doing. I guess the T is only a Boston thing… so after an extremely long metro ride and the help of some locals we made it to Shinjuku, Tokyo. Jessie, Andrea, and I were able to find our hotel with the help of a local. The people here are really quiet, but extremely nice and friendly. Even when they don’t speak that great of English, they are so willing to help. Sometimes I found it a little scary, since they will walk you to where you need to go. In Boston, if a person walked me to my hotel, I would be a little sketched out. But that is the norm here. And being in a foreign country it was really helpful!
We met up with Juan and Brooke, who had found this hole in the wall bar. So we had a drink and hung out with 6 or 7 locals. Some people were not happy with the decision and wanted to go clubbing, but I was thrilled with the experience. It was definitely a night that I won’t forget and an experience that no one else on the ship will have. They were very interested in learning about America and the trip we were all on. And at the same time we were interested in learning about their culture and finding out the best places to go.
As the owner was cleaning up, he dropped a glass and Jessie yelled “Opa!” and they were all so confused. There was that awkward moment of silence where no one knows what to say. So Jessie explained how in Greece people say Opa after breaking a dish. They started saying Opa for the rest of the night and they really liked learning something new. I definitely was really impressed with my first experience in Japan.
We finally headed back to the hotel and talked about what we all wanted from this trip and what our plans were once we got off the ship in Spain. Around 3:30 am, I was laying in bed not able to sleep when I felt the bed shaking. I rolled over to see if anyone else was awake, when I noticed a shadow on the ceiling shaking. I forgot to mention something to my friends the next day, but once I got back on the ship I learned it was an earthquake.

“This is your time, your world, your pleasure”
-William Stafford

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