Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Backtracking: July 30th with the Okano family

On Friday, July 30, I went to Kasai station to meet Sachi’s host family and hang out. It was a ton of fun! We had some drinks (Sachi’s host mom loves the booze :D), watched some viral videos on Youtube, and ate a fabulous lunch.

The Okano family is so cute!

Sachi’s host cat, lol. It runs away a lot so they keep it on a leash.

Then we went to the fireworks show in Asakusa! It was extremely crowded, even on the train on the way there.

More crowds! People were wearing traditional yukata dress because the fireworks are a beloved Japanese tradition. I was dying of the heat so I don’t know how they managed in the hot yukata. I wanted to wear mine but I was worried about making it gross with sweat, and about not being able to run if there was a crowd stampede for some reason.

Sachi’s host sister by the bridge.

The best place to view the fireworks is from a tour boat in the middle of the river, because you can see the fireworks from both sources (one up-river, one down-river) and the reflections in the water, with no one in your way. But you have to make a reservation at least a year in advance and I think Okano-san said it was like ~$300.

More crowds! There were ~1 million people there but thankfully it was pretty safe.

I videotaped/stalked some college students who were singing and playing drinking games with a HUGE bottle of sake. Thought it was pretty funny. :)

Here are some videos I took of the fireworks show. Some of them are only about 10 or so seconds long, but definitely worth seeing. These are my favorites of the dozen or so videos I took that night. :)

Backtracking: July 29 in Ueno

On Thursday, July 29, I went with Yuwa, her mom, and her mom’s Chinese friend to eat a fancy lunch and see Ueno Park.

We had planned to see the Tokyo National Museum, but because we woke up late and lingered in the house instead, we went into two free art museums. I really enjoyed them! One was a collection of high school artists’ work from around the world. It was awesome to see the differences.

The pond/lake in Ueno Park was really beautiful.

In the Ameyoko market, I got my favorite kind of Japanese soft serve ice cream: purple sweet potato!

I also saw a building run by Obama’s and Amit’s lovechild/clone, Obmit.

We ate SO much food. My mom told me not to eat seafood in case that’s what was making my allergy not go away, but I did anyway because it was soooo delicious. :)

Yuwa's mom and her friend from China/Osaka:
The world’s tiniest cake for dessert.

When we came out of the restaurant, there were 12 or 13 firetrucks lined up and a huge area blocked off from access. Apparently Tokyo dwellers have studied their history well: fires spread fast in densely-populated areas, so they are taken VERY seriously in Japan. We didn’t actually see a fire or any evidence of one, but there were dozens and dozens of firefighters, huge hoses, and more firetrucks on the way all the time. Yuwa had to go back to Oji, so Yuwa’s mom, her friend, and I joined the gawkers for a brief time. No one seemed embarrassed to be taking pictures of the firetrucks or staring, hoping to see something interesting.

One of the best Engrish shirts out there.

I shopped around in Ameyoko for awhile, trying to find gifts for friends but I didn’t end up buying anything. Maybe that’s for the best, because my luggage was too full anyway. The next trip I go on, I am taking one huge bag that is halfway full, a smaller carryon, and that’s IT. I hate dragging around a ton of stuff; I’m not that big of a person and on this trip, my luggage outweighs me.

The lovely entrance to Ameyoko Market.

Ouch, my allergy rash that night. It never stayed in one spot, which was good for avoiding scars but bad because I couldn't really put cream on it without having to cream up my whole body!

 The view from Ueno station. 

Sunday, August 1, 2010


It's 9am in Tokyo on my last day here, and I'm quite sad to be leaving soon. I need to go get ready now, so I'll have to write my blog for the past few days while I'm on the plane. I have a lot of great photos and videos to share!