Friday, September 19, 2008


It has been an interesting week. I spent the 3 day weekend in Tokyo with Jenny (see pictures at – there is a link on the left side of this page). We frolicked off into the big city, dreaming of Starbucks and people under the age of 25 or maybe for Jenny I should say 27 :). We planned to meet at one of the exits of Tokyo station, oblivious to the fact that Tokyo station is HUGE and Jenny doesn’t have a cell phone. An hour later after both of us lurking in the same places and still missing each other, I saw her across the bus platform and was shouting her name and waving frantically. We bustled off to the subway, excited to finally be in Tokyo and finally find each other. We found the right line, and hopped into the crowded subway car. We were good to go. But wait…the train stops at the next major station and all of a sudden a sea of people is trying to break free from the subway – and the blonde Gaijin from America get pushed off the train walking backwards like a fish trying to swim upstream. Finally the girls get the hint and step off the train themselves, allowing people to get off and then enter into the much emptier car. “Welcome to Tokyo” the gods said.

Come to find out, this somewhat traumatizing episode was nothing compared to Tokyo rush hour during the week. They have a job here for a person called a “pusher.” Their job is to hang out on the platforms during rush hour, and when the train is packed, there are still usually 30-40 people standing on the platform. The pusher’s job is to push those 30 people onto the train by literally pushing and packing them into the subway car. I didn’t actually see this happen, although I was on some pretty full subways. Dave, a friend/sorta relative of Jenny’s that lives in Tokyo, is the one that told us about this, and he said that literally you can stand on the subway, pick up your feet, and you will go up, not down. I still can’t wrap my head around this and will not be ever riding the subway during rush hour in Tokyo! Insane! After finally making it to our hostel after 11 pm, Jenny and I devoured some Domino’s pizza with Christina, another JET from Shizuoka that we randomly ran Tokyo, the largest city in the world.... Fate brought us together into the same hostel at the same exact time. Weird.

Saturday it seemed we didn’t get a lot accomplished. We went to Senso-Ji, one of the temples right near our hostel. Conveniently, this website has a brief summary.

We walked down the Nakamise shopping street and headed over to buy our sumo tickets. When purchasing our sumo tickets, interestingly enough we were approached by a Japanese musician with long hair and glasses. He introduced himself and proceeded to try to convince us to buy a box with him in the Japanese-style seating where you are so close you can “hear the wrestler’s breathe” (which, by the way was a total lie, we were so not that close haha). We gave in, deciding that if we were gonna go, it would be better to get the better seats than pay what was still sorta a lot of money for nosebleed section seats. We got our tickets and parted ways with the mysterious Japanese man who apparently owns a house in Seville. Intriguing. After that we headed out to the Imperial Gardens, got some authentic Japanese cuisine (so hard to find here), and then headed over to Shiba Park and the Tokyo Tower. The Tokyo Tower is constructed after the Eiffel Tower, but not quite as cool and much more commercialized (we’re talking about an amusement park, wax museum and Guinness World Records Museum…) and it also has tons of satellites on it for companies around Tokyo. We spent the night with Dave’s family, who apparently lives next to some big music star which Dave’s 11-year-old son referred to as “the Brad Pitt of Japan.” Wow. Talk about classy Tokyo :)

Sunday we stopped at Shibuya crossing for some Starbucks (and to watch the sea of people cross the street while traffic sat still on all sides) and then headed off to Meiji-jingu, “Tokyo’s most splendid shrine” according to Lonely Planet Guidebook…I didn’t think it was all that special, although it was quite large and had about 4 weddings going on while we were there. I think I am going to definitely be shrined and templed out before I leave here since I am already kinda like “meh…” We tried unsuccessfully to do the Goth watching at Yoyogi Park (maybe because it was a holiday weekend and quite hot out, no one wanted to come?) and headed off to Sumo. Sumo was alright, our company (the Japanese musician and his friend) was interesting and sumo was pretty fun to watch. There is a lot of ritual involved and the ratio of ritual to fighting is like 10 to 1. The bouts only last about 20 seconds, and then there is like 5 minutes of stuff in between that gets a little boring after watching for an hour. Either way, it was cool to say we did it. We went up to the top of Tokyo Tower at night and then explored the area around Shibuya crossing, returning later to Dave’s families’ house exhausted.

Before coming home on Monday, we again explored Shibuya, heading into the 109, a popular store among the younger crowd (maybe like 25 and under). The fashion here is crazy, lots of high heels, fur, overalls, and more weird stuff I can’t think of right now. So that was our trip. Sorry if that bored you too much :)

At school it was a short week for me since we had Monday off and I actually got to leave 3 hours early yesterday. Today I have to stay after school for English Club who are having a welcome party for me, then I am helping a student who is in the English speech contest, and then tonight is my Welcome Enkai with the Japanese Teachers of English. It should be interesting, I am a little nervous to be in a social situation with all these coworkers. Apparently welcome enkais are usually a good time to get chummy with the other teachers and that people get pretty friendly and talkative after they have had a few drinks. A time for release because all the people do here is overwork themselves it seems. One of the teachers just said to me "Tonight we drink at our own risk" because there is a typhoon approaching. Hilarious. I don’t have a lot on the agenda this weekend, so you could try to call me on my new number if you have free time :) I will try to leave my computer on at all times! Sayonara!

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