Winter Break, Part the Second.


宇多田ヒカル – traveling (Utada Hikaru)

Yes… It’s me. I had big plans to update a long time ago, but that clearly didn’t happen; I assure you, though, that this isn’t a result of my laziness, but rather a consequence of my ridiculous workload and ever-present weekend activities. It’s finally slowed down a bit, but this is really just the calm before the storm that is finals, haha. But I am going to take this opportunity to write about everything of consequence I’ve done since the last time I posted–starting with the second part of the winter break I spent with Halona.

Part 2: Tokyo

Thankfully, I took notes when we were in Tokyo… otherwise I wouldn’t remember a thing, I think. XD

12/21: Day of departure for Tokyo. Not very remarkable, except for an awkward encounter at this swank soba/udon restaurant; arriving several hours early for the bus and sitting right in front of the door that people kept coming in and out of–that is to say, we were freezing the entire time. For the first few hours of the bus ride, I couldn’t put my seat back so it was really uncomfortable. )’:

12/22: Odaiba. It’s a man-made island in Tokyo city; the train ride there is really pretty, and there are a lot of malls with American stores, among others, as well as the headquarters for one of Japan’s broadcasting buildings that’s architecturally interesting. We went to Odaiba right after arriving in Tokyo and dropping off our things, so, needless to say, as soon as we got back to the hostel, we passed out, haha.

12/23: A friend of mine had asked me to visit the SMAP Shop for her (TBS (Japanese broadcasting company) changes its merchandise store into a store that sells SMAP (very famous & influential Japanese pop group) goods for about two weeks every year), but when we got there, they had already run out of tickets (you have to go and get a ticket that tells you the time slot during which you can come back and buy goods/see the shop–that is how famous/influential this group is). At first I almost couldn’t believe it, but the staff member I spoke to alerted me to the fact that that day was actually a national holiday, and that’s why the tickets had run out so fast.

After deciding to come back a different day, we went to Yoyogi Park, which I suppose is comparable to Tokyo’s Central Park. It was nice, but also a minefield of bird poop. I spent the entire time terrified a crow would poop on me. Yoyogi Park is very close to the Harajuku area of Tokyo, so we went there afterward and walked down Takeshita Doori (Takeshita Street), which is a block of cheap clothing stores and unofficial idol goods, haha. We also went to Omotesando (Takeshita Doori’s higher class counterpart), partially just to see it, and partially because Halona wanted to visit the Bape store. Also, as we were leaving Takeshita Doori to head to Omotesando, we ran into a friend of mine from one of my classes! What are the chances? Haha.

That evening we also partook of the hostel’s Christmas party (free food!), and made some friends. It was really fun, actually. (:

12/24: We went to Shinjuku, one of Tokyo’s business areas, to see it and to look for the bus terminal where we would be departing from after a few days, haha. We went to Isetan, one of Japan’s first department stores, but it was a bit of a letdown because all the stores there were so expensive. :\ I think my idea of a department store and Japan’s idea of a department store might be a bit different, haha. So we went back to Shinjuku station and looked around Kinokuniya, a bookstore chain, and then walked all the way to Shin-Okubo for Koreatown… which was really just overrun with kpop paraphernalia, ha. It was also incredibly crowded. x:

12/25: Arguably the worst day of the trip, ha. First, the subway ate our tickets so we had to buy new ones–that is to say, we lost money. :\ We went to Tokyo Tower, but it costs money to go up so we ended up not going up. We then walked to the Pokémon Center (sells Pokémon merchandise), and since we had a lot of time, we tried and failed to find a movie theater where we could watch the Tin Tin movie Halona had won tickets for. After finding several movie theaters that weren’t playing it, we gave up. And then that night a new girl moved into the room we were staying in at the hostel, and she snored so loudly that neither Halona nor I slept a wink.

12/26: First we went to the SMAP Shop to get our tickets to go in, and then we went back to the Bape store because Halona’s brother (I think?) wanted something, and walked down Takeshita Doori again. Then we walked from Harajuku to Shibuya to see the Hachiko statue (that dog that waited for its owner every day even after the owner died) so Halona could take a picture of it for her mother, and wandered around Shibuya 109 (famous mall). After finishing up there, we went to Asakusa to eat lunch and wait for our time to enter the SMAP Shop…at which time Kimura Takuya (one of the most famous members of the group, one of the most influential people in Japan, and my favorite talent) showed up! The SMAP members all come to the SMAP Shop randomly throughout the time that it’s open to sign the signboard behind the registers, and it just so happened that that was the day that Kimura came! 😀 I saw him. ♥ I was so happy that I almost cried, haha.

12/27: We went to Akihabara, which was honestly a bit of a letdown. Well, I had an opportunity to geek over Dragon Ball Z, so I guess it wasn’t a total waste. Then, because Halona wanted to go to a maid café, we went to one… which was unremarkable and way too expensive. Our food was cute though. I think, also, our experience was hindered by the fact that the staff didn’t think I could speak Japanese, and therefore didn’t spend that much time interacting with us. Ah well.

12/28: We left our nice hostel to go to a capsule hotel because Halona wanted to stay there for at least one night. It was gross. But, after dropping all our stuff off, we went back to Takeshita Doori to look at the idol shops, stumbled upon poster sales, Halona bought a shirt she had regretted not buying a few days earlier, and it was nice. That evening I met up with a good chunk of the UF cohort, and we saw some of the Christmas illuminations together.

12/29: Last day in Tokyo. First we had to drop our things off at the bus terminal, and by some miracle were able to fit everything into two coin lockers. After that we wandered around for over an hour searching for a movie theater that was playing the Tin Tin movie, found it, and then realized that it was playing the subtitled version at one in the morning. The staff at the theater was very helpful, though, and looked up a theater that was playing it in the afternoon. So the staff member gave us very bad directions, we got lost, but were eventually able to find the theater and watch the movie. Once that finished, we had burgers (mine was incredibly delicious *__*), and then waited four and a half hours before we could board our bus back to Osaka.

Miscellaneous

We arrived back in Osaka on the thirtieth, and Halona helped me clean up my apartment a bit and we just passed out. XD The thirty-first was the Kanjani8 concert, which my speaking partner took me to. 😀 It was amazing! Halona stayed at my apartment for three more days, and Julia also stayed at my apartment for two days, but I got sick so we ended up not doing anything. Halona went back to Shinsaibashi/Nanba on the third, I believe, though. After they left, I didn’t do much of anything. I went to a Takarazuka show at the end of January; some friends came over and we watched an idol concert; and I went a friend’s house party. I also spent two days in Shiga with my speaking partner at her family’s house, which was a lot of fun. (:

Then school started, haha. I suppose the next post will be about spring break? Until then.

adieu!

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