During the week I have two Japanese classes per day before lunch. For some reason, it is unacceptable to eat in any class in Japanese society. I have grown accustomed to being able to at least snack on something and to having my classes spaced out throughout the day and week back in the US, so by lunch time I am more than ready to take a break and get some food.
Today though, I literally made a run for it from class to the train station, bag “lunch” in hand, in order to catch the train into Tokyo for my History of Tokyo field trip.
As we sat on the train, reinforcing all kinds of stereotypes about gaijin, we actually met a friend! We were just sitting there, minding our own business, and a young Japanese guy came over and asked us if we were exchange students. We said yes, wondering where this was going, but as it turns out he was on his way to an English speaking exam and goes to Kanda—our university!
There was also a young Japanese woman who was sitting across from me and next to a friend of mine, and nearly the entire ride into Tokyo she was obviously staring at him as he worked on his homework! Quite hilarious.
We eventually arrived in Harajuku, and when the entire class had gathered we set off on our History Tour, beginning at the Meiji Shrine.
The history tour was enjoyable and I learned some really cool things, but it was hot, I had my backpack full of textbooks, and we walked…for hours.
We literally walked from Harajuku to Shinjuku. For those of you not familiar with the area, this is a long walk. It took about 2 hours. >.<
Luckily our teacher let us take a pit stop for ice cream and crepes in Harajuku after seeing the Meiji Shrine and before booking it to the next locations. I got Melon Soft Crème, which was delicious! I adore how many melon flavored things you can get here in Japan.
On the tour we went to a few shrines and walked along roads that have been in place since the Meiji Era or prior to that.
After a very exhausting three hours, several of us headed back toward Makuhari in order to meet some of our Japanese friends for dinner. Because of some of them having class, and us finishing earlier than we thought, we ended up sitting at one of the stations for awhile.
Remember the guy we met on the train earlier in the day while going into Tokyo? Well, he appeared at the Makuhari station while we were waiting there! Maybe this isn’t impressive to you readers, but to me this was the hugest coincidence ever. How on earth were we possibly in the same place at the same time twice in one day, in two completely different locations?!
We met up with our friends and went to Tsudanuma Station, 2 stops or about 6 minutes from Makuhari. One of the girls had made a reservation at an Izakaya—a Japanese bar/restaurant. It was actually one of the coolest restaurants I have been to yet in Japan. It was traditional in a retro sort of way, with a bunch of separate rooms, each slightly different from the others. Our room had a tatami mat floor, walls covered in old, colorful posters, and an old TV in the corner playing old Japanese black and white movies.
The restaurant was “nomihodai” and “tabehodai” –or “all you can drink” and “all you can eat.” It was fantastic because we could try a little bit of everything—and we did! Over a three hour period we ate so much food…honestly I don’t know how we did it!
As always, thanks for reading! I am currently working on more posts to discuss Japanese and American stereotypes, linguistics, and things I have learned so far. I am also going to Kanazawa soon for 4 days, so look out for exciting posts to come!