Saturday, June 18, 2011


After a rather comfortable 13 hour flight (more leg room on an economy ride than I've ever experienced), I finally landed in the land of the rising sun. It's funny because I've been to Narita Airport to transfer to go to other countries in Asia so many times yet it was the first time I've actually set foot out into Tokyo! Sorting out the 宅急便 service (which delivers your luggage to where you're staying) and buying a bus ticket for the Shinjuku Washington Hotel was much easier than I thought it would be. I could have sworn I heard them say the ride would be 二十分 (20 minutes), but as I was told by Somin later, that's the distance from Haneda airport. Instead, the ride turned out to be 100 minutes, just about as long as it takes to get from New York to Yale. Quite the challenge trying to stave off sleep.

Well I made it to the hotel, luckily not missing my stop, and after being rerouted twice (the first floor reception was apparently the lobby of the building, while the lobby of the hotel was on the third floor, and I thought the "foreign visitors" desk would have my name from Sun or something, but it turned out I had to go to the front desk anyway), I got into my room without too much trouble. Yay for awesome Level 1/2 Japanese at Yale!

Met up with Somin, had a dinner of ramen, turned in early, and then the orientation today. Already the teaching system seems like it'll be a lot like that of Sogang, which is familiar and awesome! Meeting the teachers, my "buddies" (basically like language partners), and host family was nice. Already feels like a really tight-knit community. My host mom appears to like pink a lot, as the living room is covered in pink, her bedroom's all pink, the sink outside the bathroom is pink, even the toilet paper is pink, and the house's outside is pink as well...I'll be sure to get a picture of the living room some day without seeming too creepy ;).

A cute stitch calendar up in my room.

Also they have four turtles, who are cutely named Michelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo, and Raphael (yay for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reference!). One of them is humongous. I have never seen a turtle that's probably about 1/2 feet by a foot or so. My host mom was going to open the door to the turtles' room to let me see them but the humongous turtle was in the way so we had to give up haha.

They took me to a sushi dinner yum yum with the grandfather coming along as well. He also insisted on speaking to me in English even when I responded in Japanese. Not to mention I got the question of "do you know how to use chopsticks?" He also explained to me that the small dish in front of me was for soy sauce. And that one of the sushi on the conveyor belt was shrimp. Of course it was all in good intent though :).

One thing I couldn't help but do was notice some similarities and differences with Seoul and New York. Immediately, I could sense that there was something familiar in the atmosphere but still alien. Seeing a lot of people wait on the street corner for one thing is something I rarely see anywhere else. Like New York, there are a lot of skyscrapers, but it looks much more modern, like Seoul. A lot of this was due to the fact that I was in Shinjuku though, which is supposed to be a really popular place for people to go. Seeing my host family's home nested in a smaller street definitely brought back memories of Seoul. Oh and the subway system is huge and really intricate. It looks like a denser version of Seoul's subway system or a wrapped up version of that of New York's system.

I'll leave on a note about money. I can already tell that Tokyo is going to be expensive to live in. You know a country's currency is worth a lot when something that's value is similar to the equivalent of about $6 is a coin. Yep that's right, imagine our $5 and $1 bills being coins (and not rare like the dollar coin but the only thing available).

This is almost $10 worth of coins.

Til next time!

1 comment:

  1. Looking forward to being part of the adventure. =)