Day 102: The Final Day

And here we are. The last day in Japan. 102 days living in a completely different country, surrounded by sights, sounds, people, cultures, beautiful anime things, delicious sushi, NOT delicious squid tentacles, and altogether the most incredible experience of my life and one I will never, ever forget.

The last few hours were a bit of a rush. We had to load up all the luggage, say the many goodbyes, weep, forget things and run back, and all that good stuff.

I made good on my promise. I sang For Good to Kerry as we left. It was a beautiful moment. Like those scenes when two lovers sing in perfect harmony and realize that they’re always meant to be with each other because they’re soul mates…….*nodnod*

We actually almost missed our flight. It took a /little/ longer to get through everything then we thought. A few last rushed goodbyes and we were running through the airport. The sword umbrella we bought on Fuji was too big to fit in the suitcase so we had to have it sticking out of my big one and tape it it down and pray it didn’t break (it didn’t).

To make us later, I had to get my residency card punched to prove that I was leaving the country and the card was no longer valid. Just as I got that all taken care of, we heard our flight be announced over the PA. Thank the Lord the terminal was close by and we made it in time.

On the flight. 13 straight hours. My mom pulled some fancy dancy things and managed to get on the same flight as me, right across the aisle. Many, many movies later (and good food!) we landed in Detroit. 3 months and back on US soil. Of course this is Michigan and it gave me a proper greeting! December weather: everything was dead and the snow was on the way. *sigh*

Not going to lie. When we were going through customs and the airport people were talking to me in ENGLISH, I started to tear up. I could understand what everyone was saying! *sniffle* It’s such a wonderful feeling… You never realize how much you can miss a language…

My dad picked us up and we went home. I snuggled with my kitties for hours on end. /Still/ (writing this in June) haven’t unpacked everything… heh heh heh…

For days afterwards I just laid on the couch and suffered through jet lag. Coming back home was a LOT easier than going to Japan. Mainly I just watched movies, in ENGLISH, and ate every and any American food I could get my hands on. When I had pizza…. almost cried again. It was beautiful. I was up at like 3am and falling asleep by 5pm. My mom and I tried to do a Lord of the Rings marathon to keep us busy and ended up falling asleep halfway through each one. But hey, I watched the sunrise just about every day for a week.

2013-12-07 08.10.342013-12-07 08.10.22

 

And so ends this blog. I might have a few more pictures scattered around so I’ll put them one once I gather then up, but this is the end of the tale. I still keep in touch with a few of the EAI peeps. We’ve been trying to plan a meet-up for a while now but every time something keeps happening. But now that it’s summer, hopefully that can change.

Hey.

I went to Japan.

And you know, it was nothing like I thought it would be.

It was so much more.

~Demi

A Tour of Mt. Fuji Part 2

Thurs. December 5th. The day of exploring! We had passes to go anywhere in the city and so we went to see it all.

At first we just wandered around by the hotel (because we really didn’t know what we were doing).Our hotel had a garden and we walked around there for a little bit. The important thing here is… it’s December. December. And it’s still /this/ green. It was insanely cold, but since we were on top of a mountain I think that had something to do with it.

IMG_6138 IMG_6130 IMG_6134 IMG_6137 IMG_6133 IMG_6135 IMG_6140 2013-12-05 10.27.10 2013-12-05 10.28.34 2013-12-05 10.30.22 2013-12-05 10.30.41 2013-12-05 10.31.03 2013-12-05 10.32.22 2013-12-05 10.32.57 2013-12-05 10.34.28 2013-12-05 10.36.03

There was another hotel across the street that had an awesome water park and coolness…. and we couldn’t get in. But it had a little shop and we had lunch there plus some souvenirs.

IMG_6139IMG_6142

 

We started going around the town. There was this ‘path’ you could take that went around the whole lake that went by bus, gondola, boat, more buses, and then train. we had the entire day to spend here and just went to see the sights.

2013-12-05 10.45.57 2013-12-05 12.33.26 2013-12-05 13.05.49 2013-12-05 13.09.02 2013-12-05 13.11.05 2013-12-05 13.13.50 2013-12-05 13.14.43 2013-12-05 13.15.08 2013-12-05 13.16.24 2013-12-05 13.16.33 2013-12-05 13.18.34 2013-12-05 13.18.52

The mountain was SMOKING! Like volcano mountain smoking. Though whether it’s from hot springs or lava, I don’t know…

2013-12-05 13.19.25 2013-12-05 13.19.37 2013-12-05 13.20.46

You could see Fuji from there!

2013-12-05 13.20.16  2013-12-05 13.22.29 2013-12-05 13.24.17 2013-12-05 13.27.17 2013-12-05 13.27.27 2013-12-05 13.27.39 2013-12-05 13.27.51 2013-12-05 13.31.02 2013-12-05 13.32.29 2013-12-05 13.36.15 IMG_6145 IMG_6147 IMG_6154 IMG_6156 IMG_6157 IMG_6158 IMG_6159 IMG_6160 IMG_6161 IMG_6162 IMG_6165

 

After the gondola, we got on the boat. A ship. A /pirate/ ship!

2013-12-05 13.44.10 2013-12-05 13.55.59 2013-12-05 13.56.31 2013-12-05 13.57.17 2013-12-05 13.57.55 2013-12-05 14.02.50 2013-12-05 14.06.50 2013-12-05 14.07.01 2013-12-05 14.08.18  2013-12-05 14.17.59 IMG_6170 IMG_6172 IMG_6175 IMG_6176 IMG_6178 IMG_6187 IMG_6189

 

It was REALLY cold on the ship!!

 

2013-12-05 14.09.152013-12-05 14.02.352013-12-05 14.06.422013-12-05 14.02.262013-12-05 14.02.29

We tried to find something to eat but it turned out all the places had closed like 20 minutes before hand. We walked around the small collection of buildings while we waited for our next bus and ended up getting just some baked foods and convenience store stuff.

IMG_6191  IMG_6197 2013-12-05 14.52.50 2013-12-05 15.23.34 2013-12-05 15.24.06 IMG_61962013-12-05 16.00.36

 

So ended the time at Fuji. We got on our bus and headed to the main station to go back home.

But there’s one last cool thing. We weren’t going back by any normal train. We were going back by bullet train, the Shinkansen. Turns out we were about 2 hours early and had to wait.

With Fuji water!

2013-12-05 17.07.45

 

So as we wait, there’s this really strange sound. Like thunder. The entire train station would shake and the sound would roar but then it would be done in a few seconds. It was really strange. Finally the time comes for us to go up to the station for the bullet train and we figure out really fast what the sound was.

IMG_6218 IMG_6219 IMG_6227 2013-12-05 17.46.23 2013-12-05 17.46.38 2013-12-05 17.46.43 2013-12-05 17.46.46 2013-12-05 17.46.47 2013-12-05 17.46.49 2013-12-05 17.46.50 2013-12-05 17.46.51 2013-12-05 17.46.52 2013-12-05 17.46.54 2013-12-05 18.07.42 2013-12-05 18.12.28

The trip that took 3+ hours by bus took 30 minutes by bullet train. And we stopped twice. It was cool 😀

So we now had to get back to the school. It’s late and we were pretty tired. We were in Tokyo and I’ve gone back and forth from TCU to Tokyo many, many times but for some reason this time was… not nice. I got the brilliant idea to take the express train that I knew stopped at Chiba Newhouse Chou to get off for TCU. Well… it turns out that train is this super special train for the airport and we didn’t have the right ticket. This train guard came up to us and we got yelled at for trying to get on xP  It took a while, but we /did/ get to the right train, it just took a little longer but we did get back. Eventually.

So ends Fuji. Two jam packed day full of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen in my life. It made up for missing the class trip to Nikko and not going to Kyoto. Plus I spent two pretty awesome days with my crazy mother and that was pretty cool.

A Tour of Mt. Fuji Part 1

THE DAY OF FUJI!!! Since there was a big trip to Kyoto that got canceled, we were a bit bummed. With a few free days left, we wanted to do SOMETHING. So my mom and I searched the glorious miracle of the internet and found this 2 day tour of Mt. Fuji. Wasn’t too expensive and completely 100% worth it. So to Fuji we went!!

Wednesday, Dec. 4th:

We had to be at the bus stop at 7am so we had to leave at an even earlier, ungodly hour. 4:30 am. *twitch* With the going-away party the previous night and lots of packing to be done, I got about 5 seconds of sleep. *twitch* But still, FUJI!!

Me and my mom were ready to go. Stumbled along to the train station, got sort of lost figuring out the right train, and prayed we could find this bus station we needed to get to (we really had no idea where we were going). We knew it was by Tokyo Station, but that was about it.

Isn’t the sunrise so purty?

2013-12-04 06.47.49 2013-12-04 06.53.48

 

Finding the bus was an adventure and a half! It’s the wonderful task of trying to find something in country where you can’t ask anyone ANYTHING because you don’t know a word of their language. It makes life fun! We got off at the right station but neither of us know anything about bus stations. I’ve never been a Japanese bus before. We followed the signs pretty well and got out of the train station only to find…. there’s about 230984 bus stations and we have NO idea which one we need to get to. Now, the tour was set up to accommodate people who stay at certain hotels (we said we were from this one hotel near Tokyo Station because I knew where that was and thought it would be easy to get to and find this mythical bus station). We go to the hotel to ask but they have no idea what we’re talking about. But these lovely Japanese people are so kind and we have this whole team looking up what this tour is and what the bus station is and calling the Japanese CIA… They were going to find this station if it was the last thing they did! And, bless them, they found it. A very nice man actually walked us there (it wasn’t even close to where we were looking). We made it /just/ in time and got on the bus!

Though it turns out… that was a bus that took us to another bus station… where we had to wait… for our REAL bus that would take us to Fuji. Complicated stuff!

But we made it!! Now, this is important for later: I don’t do well on moving vehicles in Japan so I didn’t eat anything because I didn’t want to get sick on a 3+ hour bus ride. My mom also had no food. This is important. The bus ride itself was great. The tour guide was actually really funny. Corny funny. My mom and I were laughing like dorks. At first it was uneventful, but as we started getting closer to Fuji, the beautiful landscapes came out.

2013-12-04 09.55.39 2013-12-04 09.57.30 2013-12-04 09.57.33 2013-12-04 10.01.27 2013-12-04 10.03.45 2013-12-04 10.06.01 2013-12-04 10.10.04 2013-12-04 10.19.53  2013-12-04 10.31.10

 

Now, I’ve NEVER seen mountains before. Ever. In my life. And everywhere you look now, it’s beautiful mountains as far as the eye could see. I wished I had 29342309 more eyes to see it all. And then, of course, Mt. Fuji itself. My mom and I were waiting breathlessly the entire time. It became the running joke of the rest of the trip: “Fuji coming! Fuji coming!” (After the previous “Typhoon is coming” incident that happened to me before.)

At first was just a peek…

2013-12-04 10.25.102013-12-04 10.33.08

 

As we got closer, we passed this place called Fuji-Q. It’s an amusement part right next to Mt. Fuji. I wanted to go so bad…… but it wasn’t in the tour. *sigh*

 

 

2013-12-04 10.35.522013-12-04 10.36.112013-12-04 12.52.112013-12-04 13.29.472013-12-04 13.41.32

 

We reach Mt. Fuji! At it’s base there’s a little museum-type-place. And we walked around there for a little bit. Mt. Fuji lava! O_O Didn’t know it was a volcano….

2013-12-04 10.55.07

 

We had the best view so far from that museum. There was a special little balcony where you could take pictures.

2013-12-04 10.55.58 2013-12-04 10.56.04IMG_6155IMG_6164IMG_6166

And then back on the bus! It was such a nice day, the bus was allowed to go up to Station 5, which is the HIGHEST point a bus can go. That was awesome. It’s about halfway up the mountain itself. And boy was the road TWISTY! There were a few times I was certain we were all going to die.

2013-12-04 11.10.42 2013-12-04 11.10.56 2013-12-04 11.11.45 2013-12-04 11.14.39 2013-12-04 11.19.29

Being unfamiliar with mountains, I really did expect just a flat space and then BAM! FUJI! Well, no… Duh… There’s a whole mountain range there! And it was absolutely breathtaking. We get up to Station 5 and I couldn’t believe it.

2013-12-04 11.28.31 2013-12-04 11.36.49 2013-12-04 11.44.49 2013-12-04 11.58.18 2013-12-04 12.13.52 2013-12-04 12.22.33 2013-12-04 12.23.38 2013-12-04 12.23.45 2013-12-04 12.25.48 2013-12-04 12.27.14

 

So, remember the food situation? No one has eaten all day! And it’s about… 3-4pm. We’re STARVING! Weeping! Gnashing teeth! Falling on our knees and praying “LORD!!! Send us Mana from Heaven!!”

And the Lord granted us our prayer.

I declare it now: In 20+ years of my life, I have never had any food, nor do I believe that there is any food better on this earth, than the baked potatoes of Mt. Fuji. Truth. 100% absolute truth. They were made by the hands of the Lord and given to us in our time of desperation. And they were beautiful. Slathered with like a pound of butter, we got baked potatoes and corn on the cob and were weeping with joy as we ate FOOD.

2013-12-04 11.52.24 2013-12-04 11.52.33

They had a little store there where we bought a sword umbrella for my father and Fuji air. Yes. They were selling Fuji air. In a bottle.

2013-12-04 12.08.02

 

Funny story time. As we get off the bus, our tour guide gives us these coupons for a ‘free gift.’ Pretty cool. Free souvenirs! After we eat and we’re looking around at the shiny objects in the store, I take the coupons to get the gifts. It turns out to be a little bell with a nice little sign that says Mt. Fuji, Japan. It’s free and a nice little token. Now I thought they were some kind of sacred bells. You know, Japan, land of the ceremonial… stuff. Ring the bell, get good luck. Something like that. I ask about it because I’m curious and the bells have NO sacredness things at all. They’re for the BEARS. BEARS!!! You shake these teeny, tiny, jingly bells at BEARS to SCARE them away.

We’re all going to die.

Finally the time on Fuji came to a close. We descended down the perilous road to a little hotel next to Fuji-Q where we were to have lunch.

2013-12-04 12.54.54  2013-12-04 13.16.24

 

So remember the food situation. We’re starving. Had a baked potato and corn, which was enough to keep us alive, but still wasn’t much. When they declare they’re going to feed us, we’re ecstatic. The tour says it’s going to be a Japanese lunch. No idea what that meant. It turns out… it was our doom.

2013-12-04 12.56.29 2013-12-04 13.00.35

It was really gross. It really was. I’m already queazy because of being on these twisting roads in a bus and this food just wasn’t going down. Both my mom and I couldn’t do it. I think I had some of the lettuce… made a piece of fruit too.

And more Fuji because you can’t get enough 😀

2013-12-04 13.25.19 2013-12-04 13.46.22

It was time to move to the next part of our tour: a small little town by a small lake next to Fuji.

2013-12-04 13.50.31 2013-12-04 14.30.48

We reached the lake and moved from the bus to a big boat. We took the boat to the other side of the lake where we would get onto a gondola that would take us up one of the mountains.

2013-12-04 14.46.29 2013-12-04 14.46.33 2013-12-04 14.47.02 2013-12-04 14.53.41

If you look reeeeeeeeeeeeally closely at the next one, you can see a tiny little red torii gate. There’s a cool story that tells of a dragon that lived in the lake and caused havoc for the people who lived there. One day a priest came to the lake and did his priestly chantings and the dragon suddenly realized the error of his ways, converted, and became the protector of the lake. The people built this torii gate and a temple in commemoration of this.

2013-12-04 14.56.46 2013-12-04 15.02.20

ALLLLLLL the way on the top of the mountain was our next destination xD

2013-12-04 15.03.28 2013-12-04 15.04.32 2013-12-04 15.06.35

We passed a few interesting things on the way to the gondola.

2013-12-04 15.08.00 2013-12-04 15.09.15

Then up, up, UP the mountain we go. What made it even cooler was the sun was just setting (which means tons of pictures). There was a temple on top of the mountain, covered in mist, and of course I had to go. My mom wasn’t too interested, but we went anyway xP

 

2013-12-04 15.12.28 2013-12-04 15.14.40 2013-12-04 15.14.512013-12-04 15.38.332013-12-04 15.39.53IMG_6120IMG_6125IMG_6127IMG_6116IMG_61462013-12-04 15.40.162013-12-04 15.58.022013-12-04 16.05.552013-12-04 16.06.042013-12-04 16.10.202013-12-04 16.10.362013-12-04 16.12.012013-12-04 16.12.502013-12-04 16.13.232013-12-04 16.15.342013-12-04 16.19.33

2013-12-04 15.31.10 2013-12-04 15.34.53 2013-12-04 15.35.03 2013-12-04 15.35.16 2013-12-04 15.36.46 2013-12-04 15.37.03 2013-12-04 15.37.17

So ended the tour. Once back on the ground we said goodbye to our lovely bus people and tour guide and got in a cab to our hotel. We were the only people who got the special 2 Day package. We got about 9203843 pieces of paperwork that explained hotel things and special coupon things we got and tourist places to visit and all that special stuff that comes with a paid tour. We could use any bus/train/gondola for free. After a long day we finally arrived at the hotel. It was nice to get in there and finally chill.

2013-12-04 17.06.58 2013-12-05 09.04.02 2013-12-05 09.04.36 2013-12-05 09.04.52

And the view was pretty spectacular too.

2013-12-05 10.10.46 2013-12-05 10.10.54 2013-12-05 10.11.00

Starving at this point, we NEEDED food or we were going to wither away and die. The hotel had all these restaurants, none of them too cheap. We went to the all-you-can-eat one and it was AMAZING! All you can eat crab legs!!! And so much other beautiful food. There was this strange cheese stuff… still don’t know what it was… but it was wonderful. But the best part: all you can eat dessert complete with chocolate fountain. Heaven. Absolute heaven. There was much happiness in my tummy.

2013-12-04 18.26.31 2013-12-04 18.37.55

Sadly, I have no pictures of one of the best parts of the entire trip. For obvious reason: it was the ofuro, the bath. It. Was. Amazing. Never mind I was the youngest person there by like 40 years…. but there were two baths, the indoor and the outdoor. The outdoor bath… was… heavenly. The air was freezing cold but the water was boiling hot. Which made it perfect. Outside surrounded by the mountains and trees and stars in a glorious rocky hot tub…. There’s nothing else like it.

The hotel even cleans your slippers while you’re in the bath!

So ended the first day of Fujiness. Day 2 coming soon!

Day 100 & 101: Fuji Coming

OKAY!! Like 6 months later….. Forgive me for taking so long! *kowtows* ごめんなさい!!! It’s been a while…. but it’s worth it, I swear!

Because of course the last three days were the biggest and most packed and perhaps the most epic of all. Why, you ask? Because I went to MOUNT FUJI!!!

There was much awesomeness. Since there’s about 23908423098420983094 pictures, I’m going to make another post under the Pictures. This may take a while… but it will be finished today! This Japan blog will be finished!!!

Let’s take a time machine back to December 4th & 5th…

Fuji is coming…

~The Incredibly-Late One

Day 98: Farewell Party

Really gotta gets these posts done…. Only four days to write up!

Tuesday was the last true day spent completely at TCU. Mom and I were leaving for Fuji the next day, and would be gone for two days, so I had to have EVERYTHING packed by this day. It was, however, quite a busy day.

This was the date of our final presentation. It wasn’t for any specific class, but for the EAI program in general. We had to give a ten minute presentation on absolutely anything that we learned about in Japan with five minutes afterward for questions. Truthfully, I only got the idea for my presentation a few days before and hurriedly created slides to go with it 😛  But it turned out alright! I talked about the stories of Japan and how they really don’t have happy endings. It gives them a lot more realism and I know I’ve learned a lot from them. The speech went good, I think.

There was only one tiny problem. We were told we had to go to city hall to turn in our residency card and tell them that we were leaving the country. However, this day was the ONLY day I had to do it because of Fuji. So I /had/ to go. So I asked if I could present first and then leave afterwards to get this taken care of. However in the middle of it I found out that the office closed later than originally thought so I could stay and watch other people present. Kerry was esspecially happy XD

2013-12-03 14.10.49

 

I did end up leaving early and went to the office to take care of some immigration papers. It turns out that the school just found out for the first time that day that students /didn’t/ need to go to city hall to turn in their residency card, but instead all that was taken care of at the airport. Okay then… That made life a little easier.

Still hadn’t done any packing yet. It was about 5pm. But there was one last thing to do before I began. The last sushi trip of Japan. I asked everyone I could to come but I never expected the outcome. Everyone but two people showed up. I felt loved 🙂 It was the last great hurrah and it was so much fun 😀

2013-12-03 17.03.41 2013-12-03 17.09.51 2013-12-03 17.09.52

The last eating of the sushi. It was the best sushi I’ve ever had in Japan. And the company was the best ^_^

2013-12-03 17.49.08 2013-12-03 17.49.16 2013-12-03 17.49.22 2013-12-03 17.49.28 2013-12-03 17.49.34-2 2013-12-03 17.49.52 2013-12-03 17.49.59 2013-12-03 17.50.03 2013-12-03 17.50.06 2013-12-03 17.50.14 2013-12-03 17.50.20 2013-12-03 17.51.50 2013-12-03 17.51.59 2013-12-03 17.52.11 2013-12-03 17.59.57 2013-12-03 18.00.04 2013-12-03 18.11.16 2013-12-03 18.11.25

 

Love these people. That’s been the best part of Japan. I have met the craziest, possibly mental unstable, most amazing people on the face of the planet here. I may never see a few of them ever again, but I know that there will be lots and lots of stalking over Facebook *insert evil laugh here*

It was time for packing now! I had to return to the creepy, dark, abandoned hallway to find the room where my suitcases were stored. It was a mass packing adventure from there on out. Put on some good music and proceeded to play the ultimate game of Tetris. I had four bags: my huge red one for all the clothes, a smaller one that previously held all the gifts I brought from home, my carry-on, and a backpack. Don’t ask me how I managed to fit in EVERYTHING that I’ve collected over these three months into those bags. I still don’t know. It was close though. Reeeeally close. A few things had to go. I put them in a plastic bag and gave them to Shiori to give to the Japanese girls if they wanted them.

Even the llama came!! I stuffed him into my backpack /just/ enough to fit!!! I was really happy at that one. Love that llama…

It took several hours, but I finally managed to pack everything up. I was quite impressed with myself 😛 I was ready to settle in to bed early (we had to wake up at 4:30am to leave for Fuji!!) when there was a knock at the door.

Turns out the dorm was having a farewell party for all the girls! I almost didn’t go, but they persuaded me to anyway and I’m glad I did. We played some crazy games and then the weeping came. All the roommates of us EAI girls came up and said farewell. There were lots of feels going on and sniffling. We got presents and a little board. That was the cool part for me. I got two boards that night. They were just like school yearbooks. The first was from the girls of the dorm covered with writing on how they’ll miss me and I have to come back to visit. The second was from the ACT-ES and EAI people telling me how crazy I am XD

It was perfect day of peeps. These are the people I’ll miss, the people I’ve grown to love. Japan wasn’t letting me go easily.

~The Feeling-So-Very-Much-Loved One

Day 96 & 97: Yasukuni Shrine And Tokyo

Sunday was a wonderful ‘chill day.’ Mom went to a church at 2:45pm and so I had the whole day to myself. I ran through my presentation a little bit, wrote a ton of book, and watched my shows. Katie came to my room at one point to interview me. That’s been happening a lot lately. I feel so famous!!

It was a very nice and much needed relaxation day. The last one….

Monday was the last trip to Tokyo for me. And my mom’s first, ironically. It was a class trip to the Yasukuni Shrine. We woke up way too early for this thing, but that’s how it’s done in Japan. My mom joined us on this one, which marked her first outing to Tokyo. We all mobbed together, got a little lost in the trains, but got there in one piece. Eventually.

2013-12-02 09.56.18 2013-12-02 10.00.35 2013-12-02 10.01.09

Now, this place is actually a big deal in Japan. There’s a huge controversy over this shrine for several reasons. The main one though, from what I understand, comes from the concept that anyone whose ashes are here (the Japanese are not allowed to be buried (except the Emperor), only cremated) have all of their sins completely purified. Any bad things they did when they were alive are just washed away. The thing is, there are some not nice people enshrined here and a lot of people don’t like that including big, not-so-happy countries like Korea and other east Asia countries. There’s more things too…. but it’s mostly politics from what I gathered.

But, whatever the problems with the shrine, it was a very beautiful place. And everything there was HUGE! Japan has the wonderful ability to make me feel very, very, very tiny. At least, more than usual.

2013-12-02 10.58.33 2013-12-02 10.58.51 2013-12-02 10.58.56

The picture really doesn’t do this thing justice. I actually don’t have the ability to mentally measure things so I can’t even make a good guess but it’s HUGE!!! Way taller than a house. More feelings of tininess… It’s called a torii gate. If you see one, you know you’re in a Shinto shrine because they all have them. If you don’t see one, then it’s a Buddhist temple. Easy way to tell the difference between the two.

2013-12-02 11.00.10 2013-12-02 11.00.28 2013-12-02 11.01.55 2013-12-02 11.02.20 2013-12-02 11.04.10 2013-12-02 11.06.12 2013-12-02 11.06.18

Giant monument with etchings of war pictures on it.

2013-12-02 11.08.402013-12-02 11.09.01 2013-12-02 11.09.12 2013-12-02 11.09.20 2013-12-02 11.09.28 2013-12-02 11.09.39 2013-12-02 11.09.47 2013-12-02 11.09.56 2013-12-02 11.11.53 2013-12-02 11.13.43

This is the washing station where you wash your hands and mouth to purify yourself before entering the actual shrine. It’s really pretty…

2013-12-02 11.13.59 2013-12-02 11.14.30 2013-12-02 11.15.062013-12-02 11.15.13 2013-12-02 11.15.31

Watching people do the offerings was really interesting.

There was a whole section next to the actual shrine devoted to flower arranging. I never knew it was so acclaimed…

2013-12-02 11.23.29 2013-12-02 11.23.34 2013-12-02 11.23.45 2013-12-02 11.24.02 2013-12-02 11.24.09 2013-12-02 11.24.28 2013-12-02 11.32.59 2013-12-02 11.35.21 2013-12-02 11.36.56

We walked around on the outside. We didn’t really have a plan…. just walking. When we all walked around this thing…. I was pretty sure we weren’t supposed to be there…. but we just walked along anyway XPPPP

2013-12-02 11.37.01

The pond was the most beautiful part of the shrine. There was a vending machine where you could buy fish food for 100 yen and we all jumped at that. The only problem was….. the fish were either comatose or just not interested. We threw all kinds of food in there and they just didn’t move. Kind of a bummer and a bit funny 😛

2013-12-02 11.37.40 2013-12-02 11.37.45 2013-12-02 11.38.04 2013-12-02 11.39.35 2013-12-02 11.39.46 2013-12-02 11.41.35 2013-12-02 11.42.00 2013-12-02 11.42.36 2013-12-02 11.43.00 2013-12-02 11.44.09

This statue scared me a little…

2013-12-02 11.47.09

And a mummy tree!!!! I tried to pass a ‘Are you my mummy?’ joke…. but no one got it…..

2013-12-02 11.48.47

The last place on the list was a little war museum. There was lots of rooms but you had to pay to get in there. The plane, train, and giant tank/gun were pretty cool to look at.

2013-12-02 11.56.47 2013-12-02 11.55.33 2013-12-02 11.55.11 2013-12-02 11.54.54 2013-12-02 11.54.37 2013-12-02 11.54.29 2013-12-02 11.53.49 2013-12-02 11.52.37 2013-12-02 11.51.06 2013-12-02 11.49.47

So ended the shrine trip. Everyone split up into groups. Corey, Sireno, my mother, and I wanted to explore Tokyo some more. So we did! Starving, we found this little Indian restaurant. I had naan. Cheese naan. It was beautiful.

Across the street was the Imperial Palace and so off we went!

2013-12-02 13.31.00 2013-12-02 13.31.03 2013-12-02 13.34.08 2013-12-02 13.35.26 2013-12-02 13.37.54 2013-12-02 13.37.59 2013-12-02 13.38.44 2013-12-02 13.48.11 2013-12-02 13.49.28 2013-12-02 13.49.58 2013-12-02 13.53.39 2013-12-02 13.54.34 2013-12-02 14.01.45 2013-12-02 14.12.27 2013-12-02 14.14.00 2013-12-02 14.24.53

In a sad twist, it was closed. Turns out the Imperial Palace is closed on Mondays. Monday is just a bad day….

2013-12-02 14.26.38

So we moved on and went to Harujuku instead. Showed my mom where I got my tattoo and wandered the market street.

2013-12-02 16.00.04

Sireno showed us this place called the Oriental Bazaar. It’s really ‘The Tourist Store,’ but we were complaining. Three floors of everything Japanese-y that you could ever imagine. We got SOOOO many presents! Including something that I searched Japan for three months for. Though I can’t reveal the secret yet…. maybe later xD

Night was falling. As a late hurrah, we headed to Akihabara. I missed this wonderful place. We just had a field day going to every single arcade that we saw. I tried REEEEEEALY hard to win a figurine I desperately wanted….. but failed. *sigh*  Hehehe, the funny story of the arcades came from Corey. We had to be at this one machine for at /least/ a half hour trying to get this one little stuffed animal. We were cheering for him and everything. We hoped for help from the arcade workers….. but they weren’t too friendly, sadly enough. The ones at the mall always helped us out, but not these ones.

The craziest thing came from this one kid. There was an arcade where you could get a SWORD! Admittedly, not real, but still, full-sized, metal, and beautiful. It was set on the tip of a platform and you had to rock it to knock it off. This kid had to have put hundreds of dollars into this thing. No joke. He had it RIGHT on the edge. There was a crowd gathering and everything and we were all cheering for him. And then….. the workers came. I don’t know what exactly was said, but I think the kid was asking for advice and the worker opens the machine…. and moves the sword. We thought he might put it somewhere easier to get…. but really it looked like he just put it back. We couldn’t believe it. All that hard work….. We were so shocked. We left after that. It was sad.

All in all, the arcades were so much fun. Played crazy games, kicked Sireno’s butt at this button/rhythm game, got my butt kicked at the drum game, played the craziest version of air hockey that has ever been invented, AND found Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World keychains!!! There was much happiness.

2013-12-02 20.46.18 2013-12-02 20.46.22 2013-12-02 20.47.37

But it was late and we really did ned to get back. Our feet were beginning to leave trails of fire as we walked. We really needed to get back.

Last story of the day and perhaps the greatest. We’re on the trains and it’s packed because EVERYONE is trying to get home. We can’t even sit. 2983747392874 shoved in a tiny train car.

We stop at a station. We’re all stuffed together. All of a sudden, this tiny, little Japanese woman just BLASTS her way from one side of the car to the other to get off. Doesn’t say a word, no little mutters of apologies or anything. Just WHAM!!! Like a bull doser! This tiny woman!

And my mom lost it. This was suddenly the funniest thing in the entire world. Now, even though we’re jam packed in a train car, it’s dead silent because you’re not supposed to talk out of curtesy. And now you have my mother laughing VERY loudly. And that gets the boys starts and suddenly there’s a really loud group of crazy Americans dying in the middle of a train car.

2013-12-02 21.24.45 2013-12-02 21.24.46

Crazy people xPPPPP

We were so tired that we just said ‘forget it’ and got a taxi off the train station. The bed was a very welcome sight and we went straight for it.

~The Needs-To-Start-An-Arcade-Revolution-In-America One

Catching Up

I am aware at how terribly behind I am. Pretty sure a whole week’s worth…. But this last week has been the craziest of all! Shrines and Tokyo and FUJI!!! Plus a crazy plane ride…. So I’ll try to do it in chunks. Currently at home and there’s STILL tons of stuff to do with unpacking. It’s always the greatest moment when you’re unpacking and you go, “I’ve been looking for this for weeks!!” But more on that later. Jetlag is beating me over the head with a metal pole but I don’t have anything better to do at 3am than to write some blog posts so let’s jump into the TARDIS and go back in time to Sunday, December 1st!