Last week was part 1 of my vacation with my family in Japan. This post is all about what I really liked. There were some places we visited where my family expressed their feelings clearly, so I’ll write a bit about their impressions when I can.
Akihabara – This is basically the electronic district of Tokyo, or at least that’s what I was told. It’s a very lively place full of lights and gadgets. This place also has a lot of anime stores. A friend informed me that it has changed a lot over the past few years and the quantity of anime stores has been increasing. When my family and I went, it was really crowded. I like anime and electronics, so I highly enjoyed it. We didn’t do too much exploring unfortunately, because we got there rather late. We went to a few anime stores and passed by many small electronic havens. After we finished eating dinner, places were starting to close. It was very interesting to walk around in an eight-floor anime store. Hannah also likes anime, but the store was too much. Although there were many floors, each floor wasn’t so spacious. There were many customers, so it was a bit hard to move around.
Shibuya – I’m sure many of you know about the very populated intersection in Tokyo, which at one time was the busiest intersection in the world. It may in fact still be the busiest, but I’m not too sure. It was amazing to see the amount of people crossing this one intersection that is just outside the Shibuya train station. This area is also known for the statue of Hachiko, which represents possibly one of the most faithful dogs. Some people use the story of Hachiko as the best example of dogs as man’s best friend. It goes something like this. There was a dog and his master, who was a commuting professor. Hachiko accompanied his master to the train station every work day. At the end of the day, the master would return to find Hachiko waiting. After two years of this routine, the master died before returning. So for about the next ten years, Hachiko would wait at the Shibuya train station for his master who would never again return. Sometimes he wouldn’t go home for days at a time. Dogs rule and cats drool!
Harajuku – This is probably Sarah’s favorite place. It’s the hip and youthful area of Tokyo. I hear that crazy fashion can sometimes be seen here. However, there wasn't much when we were there. I think the more muted fashion came from the fact that it is winter. In cold weather, I feel that people would choose function over looking avant-garde. My eyes did catch were maybe three people whom I noticed with very big brightly colored hair with matching bizarre outfits. Other than the eye-catching fashion setters, what I found really interesting about the increasing popular trends is a move more towards hip-hop. Well, this is the direction Japanese fashion seems to be heading. I don’t think hip-hop has reached its peak here yet, but I just hope that people don't start speaking “ghetto.” Besides this, I also really liked Harajuku. It’s a very interesting mix of the new and old as one of the oldest shrines is also in the area. I must say that I really liked the fun cafés. My mom definitely liked this place more for the three-story 100 yen store (sort of like the dollar store in America only with comparatively much higher quality products). I love 100 yen stores too. They’re amazing. Maybe I’ll talk a bit about them another time.
Asakusa – This was by far my favorite place. I knew of the place, but I didn’t originally plan to go there with my family until it was suggested to me by my former Japanese professor. It was great! There’s a lot of culture and history packed here. Even after an entire afternoon, we didn’t get to fully explore all that Asakusa had to offer. Because we went just a few days before New Year’s Day, Asakusa was packed and busy. There were tons of stalls set up. I’m not sure if they were just for the festivities or if they were permanent. My parents were really happy to get most of the souvenirs for people there. My father, Hannah, and I really enjoyed a lot of the food. We ate dango, and I also had some soft serve ice cream. Delicious! We didn’t participate in the Buddhist rituals that other people were doing, but we did see them. It was really good for us to see. We didn’t take pictures inside the temple considering there are idols.
Nagoya and Mito – For a few days, my family stayed in my apartment. We didn’t really have much time to sightsee, because many places were closed due to all the new year’s festivities. We had dinner with one of the Mito SHS English teachers and his family. Another night, we had dinner with the church pastor and his family. The rest of the time was spent walking around my town and going to Nagoya. We only had about four hours in Nagoya, so I introduced my family to my favorite area, Osu Kannon. It was incredibly crowded as many people gathered for 初詣 (はつもうで - hatsumode), the first visit to a shrine or temple for the year.
Overall, I had a fabulous time. Probably the most difficult thing for me was to act as a translator for my family. The experience has motivated me more to keep up with my studies. I’m happy that I will celebrate another type of new year in a little less than a month, which is the Lunar New Year (in America a.k.a. Chinese New Year).
Stay tuned next week for another update!
今週の聖書の詩: “You shall have no other gods before me.”
- Exodus 20:3 (NIV)
Pray for Japan. It is a mission’s field here.
今週の写真: Family in Japan (Part 2)
Shibuya intersection with buildings in the shot