It seems that my college life took me to Everland of Peter Pan where I could fly or jump to such and such places in all moods of joy and pride. Indeed, I have flown to several promised lands and one of them which has deeply rooted in my memory and inspired me to write first words in this Travel category is such Japan, the country of rising sun, the land of sakura, the land of fat wrestlers Sumo and the land of sake.
It was 1-week Japan trip for participating in Japan-ASEAN Student Conference in November, 2009. The trip brought me a lot of pros, for example, transnational friendship, new awareness of Asia, a very good chance to explore Japanese culture, etc.
I had 1 week to be in Japan but just a very few days in Tokyo, other time in Sendai. Both of these places contain part of my memory, my love and my life. I’d like to tell about them all, one by one. Firstly, Tokyo in my eyes.
- First impression: First scenes of Tokyo in my eyes were very bright signs along the lobbies in airport building. They all looked gorgeous with attractive words and images. But more interesting point was Japanese bakeries decorated by colorful cakes and cake boxes. I totally had a crush on them all due to a starving stomach after a night long flying in East Asian sky (:
After check-in procedures, I met my group guide and one of the first things she asked me to do was wearing a medical mask in public in order to prevent the disease Influenza A (H1N1) which, at that time, was a global dangerous disease. Alright, then I could finally start exploring the city… with a mask.
From the bus window, Tokyo in my eyes was grey skyscrapers, Toyota cars lining up in streets and a gloomy sky.
In the very first morning in Tokyo, having only 30 minutes of break before lunchtime at hotel, I decided to take a walk around the hotel and snap some pictures of one small corner in Tokyo. I stayed at Asakusa View Hotel, on 17th floor. Just a few steps crossing a road, there was a small market where traditional stuff was sold, such as kimono and its accessories, symbolic things like the lucky cat and Japanese souvenirs. Pass the market, there was a temple with specific architectural characteristic of Japan. That was such a peaceful place at which my tiredness of the jet lag disappeared. Wow, started to love it.
- Scenes: During days in Tokyo, I used the subway and went on foot to some places such as Asakusa Temple which was near the hotel I stayed, Harajuku area – very famous area of the young, Yodobashi – a shopping centre, Ministry of Foreign Affair where I attended conferences, Tokyo Tower, Prince Hotel and some places I can’t rememer their names.
I love Tokyo scene at night. It was beautiful by fine lights and colorful shops and restaurants. Also, I love the animated atmosphere of the streets. Everybody around just walked in a rush or even ran but me standing and watching them to feel and touch the pace of life. What an enjoyable moment!
- People: One of unforgetable points in here is the people. In my eyes, Tokyo people were very gentle, polite, punctual, considerate but nearly always in a hurry.
There is one memory I always bear in mind. It was at the subway station where some friends and I were trying to pose some photos, we lost sight of other friends who were with us on that night. There were only 5 seconds that we couldn’t see them anymore. The subway station was very crowded. We decided to stay still and hoped that our friends could realize our absence and come back to find us. We were very lucky to see our handsome Japanese friend coming back to find us. He was gently smiling at us and did not forget to tell us always to stay in group with him, otherwise we might get lost because the station was extremely crowded. So when you travel to Tokyo with a group of friends, be always together unless you don’t want to see your friends just in the blink of an eye.
- Food: I’m a pescetarian, a fish-eating vegetarian, so of course I did ignore all of Japanese food with meat ingredient, they looked fantastic though. Whatever, it doesn’t make any sense to me, as always haha. My eyes and my “eating soul” just concentrated on fish, fish and fish. One of Japanese food I could not never ever overlook was sushi. At home, I do love sushi. In here, right in sushiland, I did love it more. It was so fresh and yummy. Besides, the group guide took my group to some typical Japanese restaurant where the first time I knew Japanese had tempura (天ぷら), a Japanese dish of seafood or vegetables that have been battered and deep fried, which was often cooked at home by me or my mom. Funny!
I also had a chance to have lunch at one Iran restaurant where I just enjoyed the pizza and chatted with my new foreign friends. The Iran food might taste good but my taste was quite particular. For this reason, I used to wish I could have been easier. But so what, I’m a color of life.
Finding a restaurant or something to eat in Tokyo was just a small thing. Having worked hard for all day long, I always felt hungry at midnight. Hence, I asked my friends to enjoy Tokyo by night food with me. Walking around the hotel, I could find many a convenient store and ramen restaurant. But I chose convenient stores at last because ramen restaurants only served meat ramen, a kind of noodle cooked with meat in Japanese style. In convenient stores, I could easily find a box of temaki sushi, a form of rolled sushi created in a cone or roll shape, with a fair price. Taste? Totally acceptable!
- Shopping: Tokyo in my eyes is also the place for buying cosmetics. I could 100% trust in the quality of Japanese product in general and cosmetics in particular. Especially, when talking about Japan, there would be a shortcoming if I didn’t mention Shisedo, a well-known Japanese cosmetic brand. However, with a very limited purse in hand, I, a student, could only afford to buy some Shisedo Perfect Whip Foam and a set of Tsubaki hair care which were strongly recommended by my lovely Japanese friend. Thanks my dear, I satisfied with them.
One convenient point in Japan is I could entirely enjoy happy shopping time at 100 yen shops. Almost everything was very easy to be found and sold at very beautiful price. The shop name said it all. I love this chain of retail stores.
Do you think my life is enjoyable? See my next post about Sendai. See you! Sayonara! XOXO