Monday, February 18, 2013

1/28—Day 2 Tokyo, Japan

After not much sleep, we woke up early and some people wanted to book a hotel closer to the heart of Tokyo. I went with the flow, but it was really frustrating how unorganized this trip was. This port was definitely a learning process for a lot of us… I’m use to my parents planning what we do for the day when traveling, but I had to learn how to do that myself and I also had to learn what kind of people I wanted to travel with.
Once we got going, trying to find our way through the metro was extremely difficult. Majority of the signs are written in both Japanese and English, but not knowing exactly where we were going, having 6 different opinions of which way to go, and not having access to a GPS made it a lot harder than anyone expect it to be.
It was such a relief once we found our way to the hotel. When people say that Tokyo is sister cities with New York City, they are not kidding. I seriously did not feel like I was in Japan when I walked out of the metro station. Calling Tokyo and NYC sister cities is an understatement… they are twin cities. The biggest difference between the two cities would be the amount of people. As we walked to the hotel, we crossed the World’s busiest crosswalk. It was seriously insane. I have never seen so many people crossing the stress at one time! We checked into the hotel and dropped our bags off in the room. Next stop: Harajuku, Tokyo, where all the shopping is!
During the fall semester I took Principles of Marketing and we talked about the Nike store in Tokyo. So I really wanted to see the store and what made it so successful. Of course, no one really wanted to go there and “learn” something. But I dragged everyone into the store and it was so worth it. It was three stories and on the 2nd floor they had the Nike logo made out of neon running sneakers. I can’t explain what was so great about the marketing of this particular Nike store, but I absolutely love neon and running shoes, so their marketing worked on me! Even though I was the only one who wanted to see the Nike store, I’m really glad I went. Especially since the rest of the shopping wasn’t really my style. While shopping, we stopped at a crape place and it was amazing. I don’t know if it was the whipped cream or the big scoop of ice cream, but it was really good.
After the amount of walking we did today, some people were ready to go back to the hotel and rest before going out tonight. I wanted to go back to the hotel, but as my mom says “you can sleep when you’re dead!” And she’s right… I’m in Japan; there is no need to rest. Juan, Brooke, Andrea, and I headed to a temple. By the time we got there, I was the only one who was still interested in actually seeing the temple. While everyone was going to the bathroom, I walked down to the temple and I’m so glad I took the time to do that. The buildings were built in a square with an open space in the middle and the temple at the back. So I walked in, facing the temple and it was so quiet and peaceful. There were Japanese characters written on the walls and the architecture was beautiful.
After hanging out in the hotel room and getting ready, we headed out to see what the nightlife was like in Tokyo. We headed to the Ritz where some people were staying so we could all go out as one big group. Let me just say WOW. The two girls who were staying there had a suite on the 53rd floor. The view was spectacular.
Side note: Japan is known for having great water. To me, water is water… there isn’t really anything special about it.  While out, I had a bottle of water and I was completely amazed by how great it was. I can’t even describe what made it so great, but it was the best water I’ve ever had and it was like that all throughout Japan. I seriously will never look at water the same way.
We finally decided to leave the hotel and head to one of the worlds best bars, The Womb. We all jumped in taxis and headed over there. It was extremely sketchy since it was in this small back alley that the Taxi couldn’t fit down. Once we got inside it wasn’t weird at all, but in my opinion it was not the worlds best bar. It was basically a giant SAS frat party with bad music. Which was not what a lot of us were looking to do. A bunch of us ended up leaving and though it was 1:30 am, we still were looking for something to do.
The big thing in Tokyo is Karaoke. With the people who were left in our group, we decided to head to a karaoke bar and it was a blast. I’m an awful singer and tend to get embarrassed since I know I’m not great. But I stopped caring what people thought of me and just sang and had a good time. It was a great feeling to let go of that pointless embarrassment and just have fun.
Around 3 am we found this underground restaurant where another SAS student was hanging out with 5 University of Tokyo students. Though it may not have been the safest decision to wonder into this bar/restaurant at 3 am and hang out with locals, it was the best experience. It was another one of those once in a lifetime experiences that no one else on the trip was going to have. It was really cool to hang out with five Japanese college students. I would have assumed that college would be very different in Japan, but I learned there are very small differences. As we sat there for almost 3 hours talking, we taught each other different games and socialized just like I would have had I met a new group of people at a party. It really proves that even though we may speak different languages and come from different cultures, we are all exactly the same, which I think is awesome.

“It is only possible to live happily ever after on a day-to-day basis”
-Margaret Bonnano

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