22 May 2013
From Yokohama we travelled north to Tokyo, where an acquaintance would host us for a few days. I don’t have many pictures of these days (which eventually became two and a half weeks), since I actually didn’t see much of Tokyo. The busy metropolitan capital doesn’t attract me in any way.
Instead I did some volunteering, which was really the purest form of volunteering if I may call it so. I offered to help out at the office where my host mother, father and a few other members of the family worked. They ran a real estate agency in Koiwa, a small town in West-Tokyo. More on that in the next post!
Before volunteering, I did visit a few parts of busy Tokyo. The first day my Canadian friend whom I was travelling with met up with a friend of hers, while I met up with a friend of mine. We went to a park near Meiji Jingu, I’m not sure if it was Yoyogi Park (but I’ll just call it that) and afterwards Meiji Jingu itself. We were lucky to witness a traditional Japanese wedding ceremony going on there.
The next day my Canadian friend -who had slept in a typical Japanese ryokan that night- and I met up at Asakusa. After waiting for her for what seemed eternity, I started checking the maps around me, and it turned out we got kind of mixed up with the subway stations: there were two stations named Asakusa, and we were both waiting at a different one. As soon as I realized this, I hurried to the other station, checking every single map I could find, since I had no clue how to get there. My poor friend was incredibly reliefed to finally see me. She had already had problems to just get to that station, getting help from -once again- a few kind Japanese girls.
From Asakusa we went to Shibuya, with the famous Shibuya crossing and the statue of Hachiko.
And before going to a shrine to see a theatre performance of my friend’s Fukuokan host family, we quickly checked out Tokyo Tower from a nearby temple.
As we were heading back to the station, an odd (foreign) man started talking to us. He kept following us around, while we told us that we needed to hurry to the station (my friend and I were getting really annoyed and didn’t know how to get rid of him, so we were getting a bit scared too… You know, two young girls in a big foreign city!). We were saved by an (un)luckily placed little pole, which he ran into so he got hurt in the right spot. We made sure he was alright, and we hurriedly left him there.
Although we told that odd man that we had to hurry, we arrived well in time for the theatre performance. There was a little playground next to the temple (/venue) so we had fun being children again. The performance was incredible, starting outside the temple, and then continuing inside, due to which we had to move in the middle of the performance. We had a hard time understanding what was going on with the movement to the inside of the venue, since it was all in Japanese, but we survived. But even if our Japanese wasn’t really of a high level, we still enjoyed the marvelous performance which ended with a lot of water and people in front rows getting wet. 😉 If I recall correctly, there were even fireworks during the performance! Unfortunately we were asked to not take pictures so I can’t show you anything at all.
The last day of my friend’s stay in Tokyo, our host mother took us out. We went to a place called Odaiba, some kind of artificial island in Tokyo Bay. There were huge shopping malls and arcades, and also a showroom of Toyota with the most awesome Pokemon-inspired cars ever.
And then, for another Pokemon reference, we went to Palette Town.
Palette Town was the name of the huge Ferris wheel.
Also in Odaiba, there’s a huge Gundam statue, which they’re apparantly going to make into an actual moving robot some time soon, or so I’ve heard.
In the evening we returned to our host’s home and made delicious brownie cake with real Belgian chocolate, by special request. After that we had fun babysitting the two grandchildren of our hosts.
The next morning my friend returned to Fukuoka, while I stayed for another two weeks in Koiwa. But that story is for the next update.