Hello (dripping with sarcasm), traveling is only for the rich, spoiled, or retired.
I used to believe that, too, I mean, that’s the idea. You work hard so one day you can retire and do all the traveling you’ve always dreamed of. Or we hope our future will look like the #lifegoals posts with the huge houses, and multiple sports cars and implied luxury trips to anywhere.
But you don’t need to find yourself in one of these scenarios to travel. Look, here I am with my university classmates, studying abroad in Japan!
So, come along with me as I tell you about our first full day in Tokyo.
Waking up, still jet lagged from the flight before, we scrambled ourselves together to head out! And, oh wait, did I mention there was a 100% chance of rain? Well yes, there was a 100% chance and, boy oh boy, did the rain persist. In fact, they did say it was the rainy season in Japan, and they weren’t kidding.
Presses play. Cues music. And we were off!
Even so, it didn’t hold back our eager souls. We were in Tokyo and nothing was going to rain on our day. Pun very much intended.
One of the most important and iconic sights in all of Japan, off the cusp of modern city Tokyo, surrounded in a forest of 100,000 trees, was Meiji Jingu. The shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji, the emperor known for opening Japan up to the world after years of isolation during the Edo Period, and Empress Shōken in 1920. As we watched visitors take a bow at the captivating torii (traditional Japanese gate), we knew we had entered sacred ground.
Out of respect for the shrine, we didn’t photograph the inner grounds of Meiji Jingu. The walk there, however, was just as serene as it was on the main grounds.
Now, a little something for all my bold-hearted, anime-loving, pop culture fanatic fashionistas – I present to you Takeshita Street! What kind of journalist would I be to leave out such a funky location? It is home to every animal café you can think of and surrounded by colors and fashion galore. Needless to say, if you have seen pictures or videos, this is not a place you can simply cover in a day or, like us, an hour in the rain.
I think I spent the entire hour trying to process every color and every set of items I could all at one time. The next battle was deciding whether to choose this store or to see what lies around the corner. Should I get this crepe? Or maybe this giant cotton candy?
I think that says a lot on its own because, let us not forget, it was still raining and we still managed to be late to our meeting spot anyway!
Please, please don’t stop reading after I tell you we went to a fish market. Okay, it sounded absurd to me, too, when I found out it was literally a market of fish, but I’ve heard time and time again that “to understand one’s culture is to understand their food.” Maybe if I say we tried some of the freshest sea food straight from the source of so many major restaurants here in Japan, it will persuade you to read a little more.
The famous Tsukiji Outer Market has been thriving for years, even after enduring an earthquake that led to its destruction and rebuilding. From the baby octopus to the sea urchin, to a sweet egg called tamago yakiu, this market is a gem in its own right.
What Dr. Martinez has continuously expressed to us was how thankful he is about the reconnection he has had with his family from Okinawa since the passing of his mother.
Coincidentally, the Asia Institute, which handled the lodging and excursions for our trip, arranged a welcome dinner at a restaurant that featured Okinawan dishes. Whether or not that was a coincidence… well, I’ll leave that up to you to decide. We, personally, think not.
I wish I could tell you every little detail of this day; truly, I do. But the way my time is set up in Japan, I only have two weeks and well, you see my dilemma. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be on next year’s SJMC trip to Japan or planning your own trip to Japan.
Until next time, oyasumi nasai (good night).