The End!

My dorm group ended up going to the airport together even though only two of  us had a morning flight.

It was nice to look back on the semester during the hour or so long train ride. And so many of our friends were waiting for us to see us off! I couldn’t believe it.

 We planned to have a lot of time to say goodbye, but due to complications with baggage check we really only got about 10 minutes.

Saying farewell was extremely difficult. Especially to Komal who started sobbing into my arms.

But.

Before we knew it Bruns and I said our last goodbyes and were on a plane back to the US. Shame though, we didn’t get to move our seats next to eachother.

I’m hoooooooome!

It was strange walking through an airport and hearing English everywhere again. And the rude airport clerks. Yep, definitely back in America! Lolol.

But I was ecstatic to see my sister and parents for the first time after so long!

Now here I am sitting in Chicago. It feels as if nothing has changed. The thought that I was in another country just 24 hours ago is absurd.

I’ll never forget the people I met and the memories I made on this trip.

Thanks to everyone this semester who made it unforgettable!

——————EPILOGUE——————

Over the course of its run, this blog accumulated over 5,000 hits from countries all over the world.
Maybe some of you were veteran readers, or maybe just a google search gone awry.
Whatever the case,
I thank all of you for taking the time to scroll through my adventures.
It’s been an incredible experience: one that I’m sure will feel like a giant dream in a few short years to come.
I can’t predict what the world will be like in 10 or 20 years but I’ll always be able to look back and remember that at one point in time I spent a quarter of my 19th age running carelessly around Tokyo.
For all those who come to stumble upon this page in the future, I invite you to click back to the BEGINNING and experience Japan through my eyes.

Until then,

Best wishes!

By Misukun

Odaiba!

The Higashi-Funabashi crew decided to spend its last day in Odaiba: a sattelite city near Tokyo. It’s gorgeous.

Looks kinda like New York…

Neat buildings in Odaiba too!

But really, aside from the nice view Odaiba is just like any other shopping district in Tokyo. There were 4 giant malls that were all in walking distance of eachother, so we tried to get some last minute gift-shopping done.

It was weird, a lot of shops felt like they were plucked right out of the states, which didn’t help at all with trying to find souvenirs. Even harder, my family both lives in Chicago’s Chinatown and has no particular interest in Japanese culture. A lot of typical Japanese souvenir, stuff like chopsticks, ornate fans, little figurines etc, are extremely similar to the Chinese souvenirs that my family sees everyday in Chicago. Siiiiiigh.

Oh, Odaiba’s pretty well known for having this:

Cool right? It’s a 1:1 scale replica of a Gundam.

After Odaiba the dormmates and I went out for one final “Kanpai!” at an izakaya.

So lucky to have you guys in the same dorm! It was an amazing semester.

I leave for the airport with Bruns in 6 hours and I haven’t packed at all yet lolol.

A bunch of people, including the dorm bros are coming along to see us off.

The saving grace of this 12-hour flight home is that Bruns and I are on the same plane to Chicago. Not looking forward to saying goodbye to everyone at the airport though…

It was sad. It’s STILL sad. But somehow I think I’ve found the strength to leave Japan with a smile. If I end up living in Tokyo ever again, it’ll be in another life. Maybe I’ll come back to visit someday!

Welp.

In the wise words of Dr. Seuss: “don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

—-

And I guess that’s it!

My final post will be from Chicago.

Until next time!

By Misukun

Sayonara Party!

Walked to Kanda University for the last time this morning. Not going to miss that hour commute, especially in the rising heat! It’ll be nice to move back onto my home campus where I can walk to my classes within 10 minutes.

Bruns and I had our last Japanese sessions today, but with all finals finished, it was really just farewell activities. Like calligraphy!

And of course, saying goodbye to our teachers:

;-;

Atarashii Sekai: “New World”

Thinking back on the semester makes it seem like I’ve lived in Japan for years, but in reality it was just a few short months. Japanese class with Bruns was sooo much fun, I’ll really miss it.

So ended a semester at Kanda University. またありがとうございます!

——–

After that Bruns and I left to go help the rest of the council set up the sayonara party. The restaurant had a gorgeous view overlooking Kaihin-Makuhari and the ocean.

The party was just as sad as I thought it’d be. That being said, it did provide really nice closure. The program director said this semester had been the best he’d experienced. Yaaaaaaay!

After the party we went to the beach to do fireworks. It was fun except there was a constant strong wind coming off the sea, which felt great on such a humid night but it made things difficult haha.

And that’s that! It was a long way back to the station from the beach. I said goodbye to a lot of my friends tonight. There’s an awful feeling in the pit of my stomach.

I miss Chicago, and my friends and family at home, but I still feel as though I`m being dragged away too soon. Like that feeling when you put the last piece of your chocolate bar down on the kitchen counter and it disappears before you get the chance to finish it. Or those melancholic Sundays when you glance at the clock and it’s already 9:00 PM.

I find myself completely torn between my home and Japan. I’m dying to wake up Monday morning in my own bed in Chicago, to my sister, parents, and cats. But how can I leave the great bonds I’ve formed here, much less Tokyo itself?

I can only hope that one day I’ll get a chance to return to Japan and see them again. But no matter what happens, these last three-or-so months have been the most fulfilling of my life.

I sit here trying to convince myself that all good things must come to an end, but I’ve never been one to accredit truth to that statement. Sigh. Have to start packing tonight. Last day with my dormmates tomorrow.

I suspect I won’t be getting much sleep tonight..

Until next time!

By Misukun

Student Council lunch and Ghibli Museum!

Today was our last council meeting/ goodbye lunch:

MORE SHABU SHABU. Gout. Definately getting gout.

;-;

Further sad conversation. The program director and IES staff thanked us for a great semester and talked about how this particular semester went off without a hitch.

I know all these things are supposed to provide closure but they’re only making me more hesitant to leave…

 

BUT! After lunch Bruns and I met up with Brian and Brandon to go to the Ghibli museum in Mitaka. Ghibli is Miyazaki’s animation studio. Totoro, Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, Kiki’s Delivery Service, etc: they’re all Ghibli.

And it was increeeeeeeeeeeedible.

Photos were not allowed in the museum, and there were attendants literally every 5 or so feet so I apologize for the quality of the following pictures and videos lolol.

The first room was filled with old-school animation setups. Really intricate stuff featuring a bunch of Miyazaki’s characters. Framework animation is beautiful, it’s a shame not many studios use it anymore.

Here’s a video of this guy:

 

It’s the robot from Laputa: Castle in the Sky with frames of birds circling it as the machine spins. Soooooo cool.

This next one was the biggest in the room. It’s actually dozens of figurines on a stand spinning all at once with a strobe light, giving the illusion of 3D animation:

 

 

Aaaaaaaaaah. The rest of the museum was just as neat.

 

Miyazaki’s workplace.

Walls and walls covered with Miyazaki’s sketches for all of his movies. They were gorgeous and I wish so badly that they had postcards or prints of some of the sketches. Sigh.

ohgod ohgod not you not you.

The museum has a theater where they show hand-animated Miyazaki features. These shorts can only ever be seen in the museum (I’ve tried looking on the internet lolol). Fortunately in July the museum airs the only short to have a full story. It was sooooooooo good!

 

星を買った日: The Day I Bought a Star

And probably the most iconic feature of the museum is what they’ve got stowed away on the roof:

It was fun, even though Mitaka is an hour or so past Tokyo haha.

3 days left…

Until next time!

By Misukun

Y’s Bar Finale!

Tonight we had a huge student-organized farewell party:

The venue was a place called “Y’s Bar” which is another great creation that cannot exist in the US. You pay 20 dollars for an all you can eat buffet and self-serve alcohol. That’s right, self-serve. They open bottles of vodka, gin, rum, every alcohol under the sun and let you go right at it and mix your own drinks. So the night quickly turned into this:

 

 

BUT! After a while people started going on the microphone and saying really nice closing remarks about the program/ the people. It got pretty sad after a while but it was a warm closing touch to the semester.

 

 

The first night I got to Japan, I went to the park in Kaihin-Makuhari and met most everyone in the program. Tonight, with four days until I leave Japan we did the same thing! How nostalgic!

And also this happened:

The ensuing walk home was filled with chaos.
I’ll miss these summer nights in Tokyo.

Friday is the IES program sponsored farewell party. I expect it to be at least twice as sad as this one.

Siiiiiiiigh.

Tomorrow I’m going to the Ghibli Museum!

Until next time!

By Misukun

Yokohama!

Another busy weekend! Not surprising since I leave in a week..

Anyway, Saturday I went to Yokohama with Bruns, Brian, Kaede, and Komal.

Yohohama’s notorious for having the largest Chinatown in Japan. They ain’t kiddin’!

IT’S LIKE WE’RE ACTUALLY IN CHINA

But all jokes aside it was really cool. Packed and hectic with all sorts of smells floating through the air. 10x bigger than the Chinatown in Chicago. After trudging through the streets for a while we decided to get some lunch. All you can eat Chinese food! It was my first time eating Chinese food in Japan, can you believe it? And it was GREAT.

There’s a museum at the center of Yokohama’s Chinatown that is filled with shops and “traditional” method healing. This included acupuncture, massages, and fish therapy. Well I’m sure that’s not what it was called but:

The idea was that they’d eat the dead skin cells off your…skin. AND BOY DID THEY. Here’s a video:

Eventually I plopped my feet in because after all, we paid for it. I can feel them again when I look at the pictures. /shudder

Lolol. After that we headed into Yokohama proper.

Yokohama is definately my favorite scenic spot in Japan. It felt SO much like Chicago it was insane. Wait, does that make me biased? Anyway, the only weird thing about Yokohama, and probably most of Japan, is that the Japanese have terrible eye for spotting bad street performers:

“no wait what are you people doing don’t clap at that.”

The Japanese are too nice.

Then we walked by the old warehouse district, which they’ve turned into a shopping center and event plaza.

Red brick is always beautiful.

Though, as we were walking through the tents the wind started to pick up with the rain and it felt like there was going to be a hurricane….again. But fortunately it cleared off and we contined onto Cosmoworld, the mini-theme park in Yokohama.

It was pretty pricey but Bruns and I got to ride this bad boy:

It goes under the water. SO COOL. TO ATLANTIIIIIIIIS!

Oh! The day we went to Yokohama was also Tanabata, the day of the Star Festival in Japan. Legend says that long ago two deity lovers in the stars were split apart by a king and cast on either side of the Milky Way. However, on the 7th each year, the Milky Way appears bright enough to bridge the two stars that represent these deities. So on the 7th, people write wishes on slips of paper, tie them to bamboo branches, and point them towards said stars. Like so:

So of course we had to write something! Well, Komal and I did at least.

Here’s Komal’s:

It says, “I wish Kaede, Brian, Bruns, Choy and I can play in Japan together again someday.”

SO SAD. ;n;

I didn’t read hers before writing mine so mine turned out to be significanly more selfish LOL.

But still the thing I want most!

You’ve gotta’ do some work to decipher this one. Hop on over to google translate and paste in: “えいえんに わかい ままで いたい!”

After that we all grabbed some ice cream before heading back towards Tokyo. Oh, Yokohama’s just over an hour away by local trains. We ended the night at an izakaya:

Stay classy, Bruns

Aaaaaah. Good weekend! Here are more pictures of Yokohama:

https://plus.google.com/photos/103541324928087801761/albums/5762804072346898065?banner=pwa&authkey=CNH6-erb2OaguQE

 

6 days and 3 finals left. And also everything I’ve yet to do in Tokyo. Fffffffff.

Until next time!

By Misukun

Tokyo Skytree, Jimbocho, and Tokyo Tower!

LONG DAY.

And it’s starting to get HOT here, I’m surprised I was even able to get myself out of my nicely air-conditioned room. That goes double for Bruns.

But we shipped out at 2pm for a long day planned by yours truly.

It was the 4th of July here today. Interestingly enough, KFC has an all-you-can eat event on the 4th every year. The line was out the dooooooor. What’s with this country and KFC?

Anyway, the commute to Skytree was supposed to take 40 minutes but Bruns and I got HELLA lost and we didn’t end up getting there until 4:00 PM or so. Goooooood times lolol.

Skytree is a weird…thing. I get that it’s the second largest structure in the world, Japan markets it waaaaaaaaay too heavily. I mean this in a couple ways. First of all, Skytree is plastered everywhere in Tokyo now, to an annoying extent. Second, Japan reveres Skytree as if it’s a world monument, like the pyramids. NOT THE CASE. It’s really… tall but nothing special really. Tokyo Tower was way more fulfilling at the end of the day. But I’ll get to that later.

So yeah they remapped a bunch of Tokyo to accommodate this thing. Now there’s a Tokyo Skytree subway line that takes you to Skytree town. Nice, right? Noooooope. The area surrounding Skytree is bland, making the tower look even more out of place. And what happens when you force marketing and cutesy mascots onto something like this? Well, this:

 

SCARY DAYS AHEAD, BOYS.

 

And then, the tower itself:

 

It was neat. Not open to the public yet. Not to say I would have laid down the hefty 2,000 yen to go up the thing either. Maybe. We weren’t captivated for long, so we moved onto our next stop.

Jimbocho!

DEAR LORD

Not too famous a district but as long as it was on the way from Skytree to Tokyo Tower we decided to get off the train and poke around. Jimbocho is probably the published literature capital of Tokyo. Some stores were 3x more cluttered than the one pictured above. This went on for a couple city-blocks. I hear tell that this book district is dying out with the rise of technology though. Shame!

We got to Tokyo Tower just as they lit it up.

8D

Here’s a video of us going up!

Waaaaaaaay better looking than Skytree. It’s base is surrounded by a forested park and a gorgeous temple. And from the top you get a panoramic view of Tokyo’s nightlife:

 

Absolutely beautiful. And for the first time I felt tangibly upset about having to leave Tokyo in two weeks. Ugh, I love cities.

What was really cool was that there was a music venue called Club 333 on the observatory deck. Best violin sets I’ve ever heard in person. Here’s a video:

The lighting was kickass too!

 

A looooooong and exhausting day but definately worth the commute(s). Plus I got to cross off a couple things from my to-do list in Japan. More photos here: https://plus.google.com/photos/103541324928087801761/albums/5761356516346646913?banner=pwa&authkey=CIzYoYXw1s34FQ

My adventures are winding to an end…

Hmm.

Until next time!

By Misukun

Omotesando!

14 days left. Nooooooooooooooo.

Getting anxious about going home.

I’ll probably love it for about a week before lying in bed at night thinking about what I’d be doing in Japan at that time…

I cannot fathom anything more exciting than being 19 in Tokyo. Sigh.

Last friday I went to Omotesando with my architecture class.

It’s a really, REALLY upscale neighborhood. Prada, Dior, etc all on the same street. It didn’t feel cluttered like the rest of Tokyo. The streets were wider and there were TREES, it felt like I could have been back in Chicago, or on 5th Avenue in New York, even.

Buncha neat architecture too.

 

More pictures of Omotesando: https://plus.google.com/photos/103541324928087801761/albums/5759801392691303905?banner=pwa&authkey=CMmi6N2Bg7niKQ

Probably my favorite aesthetic place in Tokyo so far (if I can’t give that spot to Disneyland. 8D) But I always feel out of place walking around in places like this, and Ginza, and sometimes Harajuku since I don’t own any super expensive clothes haha.

Anybody visiting Tokyo should come to Omotesando. Yoyogi Park, Meiji Jingu Shrine, and Harajuku are all within walking distance. Great place to spend a couple days.

And today I met up with my pop culture class in Shin-Okubo for a Korean-pop show. It was…interesting. The band we were supposed to watch prepared an hour-long documentary that followed their roots. You could tell our teacher did NOT expect it at all bahaha. It was kind of painful to sit through, but the live performances were great!

 

So much to do still, I wish they’d stop assigning so much work for finals.

I just want to explore Tokyo more.  ;n;

Until next time!

By Misukun

Akihabara!

17-days left and I’ve finally been to Akihabara proper!

Bruns and I took a trip there today.

 

ANIMU AND MANGO.

 

It was pretty overwhelming.

To those that’ve never heard of Akihabara, it is the otaku capital of the world. I may have explained before but otaku are those obsessed with anime/manga etc. There were arcades, electronic shops, and maid cafes as far as you could see.

 

 

Yes, maid cafes. Teenage girls in maid outfits beckoning you to come into their shops! Insaaaaaane. The Japanese attraction to pre-pubescent girls disturbs me sometimes.

We wandered around looking for a store called “super potato,” as it’s known on the internet for being the best store in Akihabara. And I’d have to say it was!

It was three floors of really old-school video game…stuff. Games, systems, controllers, books, etc. The top floor even had a vintage arcade set up. Neat stuff!

 

 

Here are some more photos: https://picasaweb.google.com/103541324928087801761/Akihabara?authkey=Gv1sRgCO39r4Ln1bDt5gE

 

Though the worst thing about Akihabara were the looks we got from other gaijin who were actually otaku and weeaboos. No! No head-nods! We’re not one of you!

 

Definately not my favorite spot in Tokyo, but it was fun.

 

Until next time!

By Misukun

Last call: Tokyo DisneySea!

Went back to DisneySea tonight with some friends, probably for the last time in my life! (Crazy to think about, right?)

This one just re-opened after maiming some guy. It was alright.

 

We went after 6PM so the tickets were way cheaper, and we were able to see all the things that were closed the first time we went. The park is so much more beautiful at night. And we had a really good group of people!

 

CLASSIC.

 

The Indiana Jones ride they have is AWESOME. I was able to catch one of the best parts of the ride on video this time:

 

 

The camera is closer to my lap but that gust of orange fog actually looks like an explosion that envelops you. SO COOL.

 

8D

 

We were also able to catch the fireworks show:

 

 

They lit up the European architecture and shined across the bay while playing really light Italian/French waltz music. It felt like I could have really been strolling through Venice. I could have stayed forever! But the park was closing and we were shoo’d out.

 

Here be more pictures: https://picasaweb.google.com/103541324928087801761/TokyoDisneySeaPart2?authkey=Gv1sRgCLD-oLSr06-OaQ

 

I’ll have to make it back to Disneyland once more before I leave as well.

 

Until next time!