Joining the “Throwback Thursday” bandwagon, I decided it’s finally time for me to make good on my promised Sumo blog post.
Posts Tagged With: Tokyo
If you remember, Nick and I traveled to Tokyo a few weeks ago for our winter vacation. We had a great time while we were there, but right now, I want to tell you about our experience with the trains. Having been to Taipei several times, we felt like we could confidently navigate the train system in Tokyo just like we do in Taipei, and then we looked at the train map.
At first we were taken aback, but then decided that we were confident enough in
our Nick’s navigating skills, that we could conquer it.
After arriving in Tokyo, we headed to the train station to start the journey to our hostel. With map in hand, we got on the train, only to find out that the particular train we got on did not announce stops in English! We freaked out for a moment, but then realized that we could look out of the windows and see which stop we were at, so that calmed us down. After riding for some time, we realized that the route the train was taking was different from what was on the map. None of the stations were the same, and
we I once again resorted to freak out mode. Nick, however, kept his cool and figured out what was going on. Soon enough he realized where we were and where the train was headed and successfully navigated us to the hostel with no more problems. To our relief, as soon as we got on the newer trains inside the city, English announcements were made on every train. After that, it was smooth sailing navigating the train system.
If you’ve never been to Tokyo, or a city with an expansive train system, you wouldn’t know how big the train stations are, but let me just tell you, most of them are the size of a large shopping mall, and a lot of them have a shopping mall inside of them, so you need to know your exits. Train stations can have anywhere from 2 exits to 5, 6, 7, (a million?). Thankfully, my master navigator thought of these tricky train traps ahead of time and planned ahead. He found a very helpful website that gave a layout of each train station and surrounding and area pointed out what exit to take to get to certain attractions. If you’re interested, you can view that website here. Needless to say, that saved us tons of time and prevented us from getting lost for days inside a train station. 😉
One more thing, as Americans we are used to personal space, but on the trains in Tokyo, personal space is not a commodity. There were so many people packed into some of those trains, that no one could move. It was very overwhelming to me, but the native people didn’t seem to mind if they were practically leaning up against a complete stranger. Some people would call this culture shock, but I prefer the term cultural experience. I enjoy getting to learn about how people from different countries around the world interact and live, and riding the trains in Tokyo added to my cultural experience.
Nick said that he read that out of a city of roughly 35 million people, 20 million of them use the train system everyday. That is a lot of people, and it makes me smile to think that for just a few days, there were 20,000,002 people riding those trains. 🙂
We just got back from Japan this morning! Thankfully we did not get lost in the busy metropolis that is Tokyo, in fact, we only got on the wrong train once!!! We realized it as the doors were closing, so we had to get off at the next stop, not too bad for our first solo trip in a foreign country. 🙂
We had a great time and got to see and do so much in the short time that we were there. Here’s a quick overview of our trip; we’ll have more posts with more details and pictures in the posts to come. We went to a zoo to see Giant Pandas (a life-long dream of mine), rode the rides at Tokyo DisneySea (multiple times), saw the final day of the Sumo tournament (some of those guys are huge!), went to the busiest crosswalk and Starbucks in the world at Shibuya station (there were so many people), saw Tokyo from above at an observatory (what a great view), walked the streets of Harajuku and Akihabara (electric town), saw snow, and basically had a blast.
Here’s a quick story to hold you over for the next post.
As you know, we’ve been living in Taiwan for almost 6 months now, so we’ve gotten used to saying 謝謝 and 對不起 (thank you and excuse me in Chinese). When we arrived in Tokyo, Nick kept saying these things to people at the store. We couldn’t stop laughing each time we realized he did this. Also, when we got back to Taiwan, I was confused about what language to speak in (by speak, I mean say thank you and excuse me). Traveling to different countries sure is tiring for the mind.
Another quick thing that interested us. When we got back to Taiwan, we both thought, “Finally, we are somewhere familiar.” We are still relatively new to Taiwan, yet we view it as our home and are pretty comfortable here. I also thought, “Finally I can understand the language again,” which I can’t really, but I can pick out some words here and there. All these things just made me think how interesting our brains are, and how at home we feel in Taiwan.
Our school gets a four week winter vacation from January 18 to February 18, and Nick and I decided to spend some of that time in Tokyo, Japan. We are so pumped! We bought our plane tickets about a month ago and reserved a room at a hostel, and now we’re just planning our trip. Normally we’re just fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants people, but for this trip, we are planning everything (for the most part). We’ve gone to Taipei a couple of times and have very successfully and fairly easily navigated their metro rail system, but the system in Tokyo is about 10 times as big, and Nick, our dedicated navigator, is feeling overwhelmed just looking at the map. So, in order to not get lost in one of the busiest cities in the world, we are doing our research and planning carefully (including back up plans and back up plans for our back up plans).
Some things on our to-see list are:
-Sumo Wrestling- we were lucky enough to plan our trip at the very end of a month-long tournament! The tournaments only happen about 2-3 times a year.
-The Imperial Palace- while it’s difficult to get tickets into the palace, the east gardens are open to the public!
-Akibara AKA Electric Town- this place is full of every kind of electronic you could ever want.
-Shibuya- this is home to the biggest/busiest crossing in the world, so naturally, it’s a must see.
-Disney Land- need I say more?
-Ueno Zoo- the oldest zoo in Japan, and home to Giant (or maybe just great?) Pandas!!!
Those are the major attractions. We’ll let you know what our favorite things were once we get back! Wish us luck, and if you don’t hear from us soon after our trip, send a search party!
Do you have any suggestions for our trip?