Monday, August 15, 2011

Japan, May 2011: Yokohama to Tokyo

 (I wrote this as I went along :)  Please note that these were written when I was still in Japan, but I was slow posting them here on blogger. XD  They have been up on Deviant Art since I wrote them though. I wish I could post pictures, but I only have them uploaded to facebook at the moment.  When I get them up to photobucket or flickr then I will get these blogs updated!)

Sooo! It is soooo cool here! :D And it is very easy to get around! Most people know English, so we can stop and ask for directions. ^^ Also, most every important sign is translated to English. :D The airport is the easiest place to navigate, and the security is sooo nice! There are police boxes (kaban) here that we go to if we get lost, and they direct us where we should go. Security and police are everywhere! The police are wonderful. They are very helpful when you need them!

Most people are very nice. But every now and then you get someone who does not like foreigners. We have had several people make comments in Yokohama...But Tokyo is so different.

Sooo...we took the trains on the 20th to get to Yokohama....

But the older gentlemen seem to get a kick out of us. lol On the night of the 20th we were standing on the sidewalk, and this old guy came up smiling. lol He looked at me and bowed, and I bowed back (cause its polite) and he nodded and smiled again. The others were blocking the way, and so he pointed to let me know he wanted through (still smiling lol) and so I let everyone know. Then he bowed again smiling. lol He figured that none of us could understand Japanese, so he used hand gestures. A lot of the citizens who don't know English are like that. They use gestures politely to try and communicate, and it works. We haven't had a problem at all yet.

We were next to China town too. Its right down the street from us as well as a convenient store. The store is soo neat! All the Japanese foods we buy in the states are like, $5 cheaper! As well as drinks. Got some water and tea and a cup noodle to eat and drink yesterday. I will have to bring you home some snacks! :D They are like, only .50 here. ^^

There was this bottle of water that was 2 liters, and only cost 105 yen!!  SO CHEAP! :D

I forgot my flat iron. :( My hair is going to FRIIIIIIIZZZZ!!! T.T

We had a cat follow us from the train station in Yokohama to the hostel. LOL Miranda was telling us about the animals in Japan. Apparently the animals are "sketch". lol Like they are more than just animals. XD Like the cat that followed us about a mile, ravens that follow and caw like they are trying to be sexy, and dogs that understand more than we think. XD She says it can be creepy sometimes.

Saw some women wearing kimono too! It is so nice to see people so involved in traditional culture. It keeps it alive and living. ^_^

I am not too worried about navigating the airport alone. Staff is super nice and speak excellent English, and EVERYTHING is translated, including terminal directions. If I can't get hold of Masako, I am thinking I may take a taxi to the airport, so I don't have to worry about getting lost or changing trains or being by myself getting there. I was talking to the hotel manager here about it, and he said that taxis are cheaper than the bus, but a little more than the train, but not by much. So I may just do that. It solves the getting lost or being late part easily. Plus, I can call them a day ahead of time and schedule a taxi to arrive at a certain time. So this way I won't be late either. ^_^

Since I have been here (only 3 days), we have already had several tiny tremors from earthquakes. They are so normal in Japan though. It was pretty neat. My first ones that I didn't sleep through ever. lol

Been talking to some of the Japanese about the disaster too, since it IS the research project. The radiation in Tokyo is not as much as an x-ray. Everyday, we are all exposed to radiation. Whether we realize it or not. This situation is really no different, it is just KNOWN that the radiation is there. Western media tends to take Japanese and translate it wrong sometimes, or interpret it wrong, so it does not come out the way it actually is. Recently, there was an article about the standards for children and schools when it comes to radiation. The English article covers that the standards have been raised to where children must go to school under extreme radiation. But the original Japanese article is not like that. Originally, there was NO standards regarding children and radiation and when they should go to school. So finally, the government needed to create standards because there was none. These standards can only be based off of the standards for people who work in radioactive areas, because these are the only standards to base on. School properties and playgrounds are measured, as well as measured for radiation. If they are at a certain level, then they are not fit for people or children.

In an interview I had earlier, she told me that Japan should focus on making English an official language, because most of the world speaks it. This way, when media is done on certain things, there are no misunderstandings or misinterpretations. She feels that it is highly important for this to be done.

(anyway...back to my blogging. xD)

We didn't go to Kamakura.D: But we did get to see a little bit of Yokohama! :D It was fun! Went to China Town, and there was sooo many cute little shops. I bought a hand towel at one of the shops! ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY CUTE! It has Sakura on it! And it is pink! <3 Most public restrooms don't have hand dryers or paper towels because it can be unsanitary, so people bring their own means of drying their hands and even tissue for using the toilet. Japan is very clean and very focused on sanitation.

On the sidewalks, there are huge, yellow lines with bumps and other things. These are to help the blind and those who can't see very well navigate. It is so wonderful! And definitely helpful to those who can't see! :D

There are a lot of Male/Female restrooms! They are very common, and I have seen them everywhere so far. There are Male and Female restrooms too, but also just as many Male/Female. NEAT! :D

What else...hmmm...

OH! AND THERE WAS ALSO A LOLITA!! Been seeing a lot of gyaru. This is just in Yokohama! I couldn't wait until we get to Tokyo where the fashions boom! :D OMG I am very excited!
I have a pic of the lolita. (Im pretty sure it was a guy). It's wesome!

I had this one guy come up to me to practice his english. lol He was so nice. ^_^

We are going to go find a hyaku en ya (hyakuin). Its the Japanese equivalent of the dollar tree. We need some stuff for the research that we have to go get.

Converted some of the money. Conversion rate sucks. Lost about $200 due to the conversion rate. But I have at least $100000 yen on me. Also, their machine couldn't take some of the money cause of the bills (because they had ink on them). So I have an extra $60 in US cash. I can exchange some of the other bills if I need it for the hotel or cab. But I am going to hang on to it for now and use what I have.

I had my first REAL Japanese dish! I had gyoza. It was delicious! I even ate the sauteed onions and the rice! I actually ate a huge bowl of rice! Instead of water, they give us Mugicha to drink. I love mugicha! The bowl of gyoza was pretty big, and only cost 280 yen for a big bowl. It was really filling. I think I am going to do just fine. ^_^

Been practicing some of my Japanese. I have to when we go to the store or at a restaurant. Most of them speak English, but its nice to practice Japanese anyway. ^_^

One of the cafes in Tokyo was where we went to relax. Here is how the conversation went with the cashier.

M: aisu tei-- ga arimasu ka?
H: Hai arimasu.
M: aisu tei--onegai shimasu.
H: saizu?
M: mijiem.
H: Hai. san hyaku ju (310) en.
M: *hands money*
H: *gives change* arigatou gozaimasu!
M: arigatou gozaimasu!

So basic...but it is amazing that I can really get around and talk to people better now. ^_^ Makes me super happy to be able to use Japanese IN Japan, rather than back home. Here, we are FORCED to use Japanese, because it is only right. ^_^ In the US, we have all these expectations of foreigners. Here, they don't EXPECT us to know Japanese though, so when we DO speak it, many tend to be impressed and a little happy. It is a good feeling to know that you can communicate cross-culturally. ^_^

We went to the Imperial Palace gardens today!!! So SO beautiful!! I think we are going to do a tour of the palace sometime next week. We had a nice dinner tonight at a restaurant.

A lot of things are actually pretty cheap. I got a full course meal (salad, big pork chop, miso soup, drink, sauce and big bowl of rice) for 810 yen. About $8 if you want to think of it as US money. Also, there is no additional tax added to the prices. The price is what you see. So if something is 100 yen, its 100 yen, not 107 yen. It seems like the tax is already included, so you get prices such as 810 and 105 yen. Its awesome. There was a HUGE 2 liter bottle of water for only 105 yen! THATS SO CHEAP COMPARED TO US 2 LITER BOTTLES! O.O Its crazy! lol I'm loving it. ^^

I have noticed a HUGE difference in culture and fashion from Yokohama to Tokyo. In Yokohama, we had some Anti-foreigner comments from people, and not as many people spoke English. Here, we see MANY foreigners and more people are more kind to us. There is a huge cultural difference. But Tokyo is very international too, so they are more used to dealing with foreigners on a regular basis.

As for fashion..As soon as we got to Tokyo, we saw young people everywhere! Couples booming and fashion! :D We immediately saw a girl with BRIGHT orange hair and wearing punk lolita clothing! :D There is so much to see here! At night, there is a lot of lights! :D Its lovely!
I also got to see Tokyo tower from a distance! :D

I am getting used to some of the food. Earlier, we went to a Chinese restaurant in China Town in Yokohama, but I didn't eat there. The food didn't even look good. >.< And it was SUPER expensive. Like 1200-10000 yen. Crazy. And the waitress sucked. She made a rude comment about foreigners (even though she was Chinese), and treated us a bit with the cold shoulder. Miranda got so mad. >.< The girl was Chinese, and had no right to talk about foreigners. But it happens.

You know, being here made me realize...that in the US, we have so much privilege being White. We don't realize the things we do or how we treat those who are not white, until WE become the minority. This is the reality in every country though. But I am not unhappy here. I am really loving it, and I am starting to feel more comfortable with the culture and speaking in Japanese.

I hope to hang out with my friends soon! I haven't seen Junko or Manami or Masako in a long time! Manami, Junko and I are already planning! ^__^ I miss them all so much!

This is all I have for now. ^_^ I will probably blog more in a day or two!!! :D


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