Who knew that two and a half weeks would pass by so soon? I love Japan, everything about it. This was definitely an item on the bucket list and an experience of a lifetime. I love how the program was structure and how many cities and places we visited. If money wasn’t an issue I would have loved to stay a little longer. I feel if I had visited Japan on my own I would not have seen or experience all that I have in two weeks. I also made great new friends, without this program I would have probably never met this people and they all attend MSU.
My trip home was smooth as ever, other than me having to forfeit my tripod (tear). Customs was easy and polite and the flight seem a less in time than going. Landing back in America, reality had set in, I’m home. While glad to be home, I was already missing Japan. Landing in Detroit Metro Airport I felt this wave of different vibe than the Japanese gave off. It was quite sad; going through customs the workers looked depressed and uninterested in serving you. We then had a layover from Detroit to Lansing and I notice other things too. Like how overweight the country is and how much we eat here and America but don’t exercise. Also the levels of happiness seem lower.
From Tokyo to Osaka and back, Japan has taught me so much about their culture, technology, and lifestyles. It put American in a light I had never seen before, because I had never be out of the country and only heard stories. Japan has to be one of the best countries there is to visit, and I haven’t even traveled the world yet, but hopeful I will after college. But honestly, I don’t think any other international trip will compare with Japan. I had so much love for Japan even before landing on its land, and every day the love grew stronger, that I know one day I will be back.
I really do miss Japan.
Back in America I would never get excited to go to a baseball game, but in Japan I was. Dr. C made it sound like it was way better than the baseball at home. This would be my first baseball game I’ve ever been to, go figure it’s in another country. I don’t know what it is like to be at an American baseball game so it is hard to compare, but I had a great time in Japan.
It was the home team, Tokyo Giants against the underdogs, Orix Buffalos playing in the Tokyo Dome. Dr. C told us that he expected this to be a blow out game with the Giants winning with far more points than the Buffalos. We had really good seat in between home and first plate and very close. We were seated by the older crowd and they didn’t cheer as much. The game started off slow with Giants having a run in the first inning and Buffalos didn’t get their first point till the fourth inning. Both teams’ crowds cheering sections were live the whole game. They didn’t stop cheering the whole time, they even had special chants, I wish we learned at least one. The Giants section even brought out a huge sign with pictures of star Giant players.
They even had beer girls walking around serving the many types of beer in Japan. And something the Americans do have it cheerleaders! Yes the Tokyo Giants have a team of cheerleaders to cheer them on.
As the game progress, the Buffalos out of nowhere in the ninth inning start scoring run after run and the underdogs win the game! The final score was Tokyo Giants 1 to Orix Buffalos 4. I had a very fun time at the game and after this; I am willing to go catch a game at Tigers Stadium to see what American baseball is all about.
Walk? Bike? Car? Subway? Which way would you move around Japan? The clear winner is: Subway! Throughout all my travels in Japan I rode the subways for most of it. Everywhere we traveled the subway took us there, company visits, malls, restaurants, clubs, we were everywhere.
When first arriving and taking the trains I was a little confused and lost, but after the fourth day, I was riding the subway like I lived there my whole life. The subway is like an underground city. Once you walk down the stairs it’s a place of its own. There are shops, fast food, restaurants, and businesses.
When traveling on the subway we use little cards (credit card size) to enter and exit the trains. Japan Rail (JR) is the owner of all trains in Japan and each section holds their own cards. In Tokyo they are called “Mo Mo Pasmo” or “Suica” cards. While in Osaka we used “ICOCA” cards.
It made things much faster and much easier, all you had to do is scan the card at the ticket gate on the way in to the trains, and scan on the way out of the trains. You could even scan the card while still in your wallet. There’s no fuss with money and tickets, or losing them. When low on balance the ticket gate will tell you and there are designated areas for refilling your card. You can even use them for buses and above ground trains.
From sun up to sun down we were either riding a bus or a train to travel, I became so use to it, and it was like a way of life. But I did miss my car back in America and driving. Being in another country and using their main use of transportation made me see how different it is for Japanese and Americans. When Japanese need to be places they will take the subway, but if I needed somewhere to be I would get in my car and go. The other subway I have used was in Washington D.C. and the volume of people will never amount to the number of people in Japan.
I would never in Detroit, Pontiac or in East Lansing take public transportation, unless it was extreme emergencies. But in Japan, I wouldn’t own a car; I would ride the subway or ride a bike.
Having a free day in the program is a great thing. It gives us time to explore Japan on our own, find things were curious about and go places we’ve never seen. Good thing our free day was sunny and hot, a nice cool pool to swim in is just what the group and I had in mind.
A few days ago Allan and Zach went on a search for a pool, so that we could swim and relax on our free days and nights. They found the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium. The group and I were so excited we’d found a pool to finally swim in, so we thought. The gymnasium was only one stop away on the train from our hotel so the trip was short and we would have two hours to spend there for only 600 yen.
When we first arrived we had a little problem in that with a group of nine we thought we needed reservations, but everything worked out we purchased out tickets and were one step away from pool and fun. After entering, like usual there’s a side for men and women to change, that’s when culture shock set in.
In American gyms and locker rooms while still sectioned off, males and females still keep to themselves and cover up their bodies. Not in Japan, the women and children walked around naked so freely through the locker room, showers and bathhouses. The girls and I tried to get in the hot bath when an old lady told us we can’t be in there, unless we strip down. After that, we knew it was time to go. I even felt bad for the boys and what they went through on the other side.
Apart from the locker room show, we never got to swim, because it’s a MUST to have goggles and a swim cap in the pool. Also, because it was not a leisure pool, but all laps (something I don’t do). So the day was a fail, but it turned out neutral for the fact they gave us a refund without us even asking. For the Japanese culture being so conservative, I didn’t expect what we witnesses at the gymnasium; I would actually expect Americans to be more open to being fully naked in the lockers rooms.
Of course being 21 years old and in a new country, I must check out the nightlife. And I will you, some of the best nights I’ve ever had at a club. There night life is amazing, and the party doesn’t stop for anyone.
First Friday night in Tokyo was a must for partying. So me and a couple other students got dressed and headed to Shibuya to check out a Club Vuenos. When arrived around 11pm, cover charge was 3000 yen (ouch) and you received a voucher for a drink at the bar. It was dead at the club around 11pm, I was getting upset because I thought we’d pick the wrong place to be, but we were mistaken. Partying in Japan doesn’t start til 1am and ends around 5am in the morning. Once people started showing up, best night out, I danced the whole time I was there.
While in Osaka, I also went to a club, ladies got in free (with a friends help) and guys were 1500 yen to get in. At the beginning of the night it was boring because there DJ (who let us in free), was playing horrible mixes, but after he left things got better.
In comparison, American clubs start at 11pm and end at 2am. People are not as friendly when it comes to dancing with others, but the cover fee is a lot lower and the bar prices are about the same. Overall, my nightlife experience was great and I would love to party it up in Japan again.
Here are a few tips for Japan Nightlife:
- Bring lots of cash. Cover charges are from $20 to $40 American.
- You receive a free drink with cover charge.
- Drinks are all 500 yen ($6 American)
- Bring money for taxi home (if leaving before subways open).
- Parties don’t start till 1am (so get a nap in lol).
- Japanese are very friendly and will dance with anyone and everyone.