Amanda J.
Today is Monday July 16. We are now riding on the nozomi shinkansen, which is the fastest bullet train in Japan, heading towards Kyoto. For the past three days, we were staying in Tokyo, the capital city, and it was amazing. It was a huge transition from Iwate, where it was extremely rural and filled with farmlands. Tokyo is more like New York, but I think it’s a lot cleaner and prettier (though I might be biased).

The first day, we went to a place to learn how to safely deal with natural disasters like fires and earthquakes. They recreate situations and tell you how to safely deal with them. So first, we were taught how to escape from a smoke filled building. They put us in a room and when we heard an alarm telling us there was fire, we had to escape. They pumped smoke into the room (it was the best smelling smoke I ever smelt and it was totally safe- it is the one they use at Tokyo Disneyland!) and we had to go through various doors and halls to the exit. If our head was over 120cm high from the floor, an alarm would sound telling us to lower our head or we would inhale too much smoke. It was really funny because as we tried to escape, the people outside could see and hear what we were doing. So if we messed up, they could tell. Then we learned what to do in case of an earthquake. This one was a lot cooler, but also a lot more violent. They put us on a platform with a table and mat and told us that we should hide under the table once we felt any tremors. Then the platform would shake making us feel like we were in the middle of an earthquake. They recreated earthquakes like the earthquake that hit Kobe and the Great East Earthquake. I think it was surprising how much we were shaking. I definitely wasn’t expecting to be shaking that much. It was really scary and hard to imagine that the Japanese people were feeling this for about two weeks from the earthquake itself and the after shocks that followed.

After the simulations, we went to the Edo-Tokyo museum and it showed us what Japan looked like during the Edo period. The Edo period was stretched over a long period of time, so as we walked through the museum, you could see the change in lifestyles as technology started progressing. It was difficult for a lot of us to figure out what everything was because the whole museum was in Japanese and all the English headsets were taken. It was unfortunate, but we could get a good idea what it was like because they made very detailed replicas and miniatures of the time period. Plus, some of our Japanese skills came in handy when trying to figure out what things were. It was really cool to see what kinds of tools they used for occupations like firefighters and what Japan looked like at the time.   

When we left the Edo-Tokyo museum, we went to get lunch at a Sumo wrestling place. Unfortunately, they changed the site of Sumo competitions, so it was vacant. All the guys were able to go into the ring, but girls were not allowed, so we stayed outside and cried because all the guys got to go in.

After lunch, we went to Asakusa, a Buddhist Temple. It was huge. There was the temple, gates and a huge section dedicated to shopping. So, we were able to walk around and pray if we wanted to, but I feel like a majority of us walked around to the various open-air shops.

The next day, in my opinion, was a lot more fun. We started out by going to the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan). It was all about future technology and science that people are researching about such as space expeditions, Deep Sea exploring and technology. It was really amazing looking at all the discoveries scientists have made and how it might affect us in the future. I think the highlight of the Museum was Asimo, which stands for Advanced Step in Innovative MObility. He was a robot that responded to people, kind of like droids from Star Wars. He was a small white robot who could talk, kick a ball and dance. He was so cute!

After the museum, we went to a museum where we learned about the products created in the Tohoku region. There was a room that showed us multiple movies about people making tools, baskets and food specially found in the Tohoku region. It was really cool watching how the people made their products. As you watch the movie, you try and guess what their making and it almost surprises you at the end when you realize how much work goes into making on product. After the movies, there was another room that showed all the products made in the movie and then some more. It was really amazing how much detail and work goes into simple things like shears and baskets that people use everyday.

The highlight of the day was probably going to Harajuku. Even though it’s not really educational like the museums we’ve been visiting, it’s definitely iconic. Harajuku is a huge shopping area. It’s pretty much one narrow street and shops are squished all down this street as well as on top. The foot traffic was crazy and you realize just how different it is from Iwate. The shops were mainly clothing stores but there were a few CD stores, Purikura shops (photo sticker machines) and cafes scattered around the street. Even though there definitely wasn’t enough time to explore all of Harajuku, I think it was great to at least see what the huge buzz was. It was what a majority of us already knew about Japan and it was great seeing it and exploring it first hand.

So now we are on the bullet train after waking up at 5am heading to our host school and host family, so until next time. Matta ne.
7/17/2012 03:42:32 am

Amanda, article well written; an excellent snapshot of Japan.
Have fun!

7/17/2012 04:35:34 am

Great writeup. I feel that I am there sharing your experiences and excitement.

7/17/2012 10:42:03 am

Yes, thanks for the "tour"through your written descriptions. I can't believe how much you ALL are doing, feeling, and learning in so little time!

Marie Mook
7/17/2012 11:26:53 pm

Hi Amanda, saw a few pictures of you. Continue to enjoy yourself. We are anxiously waiting for your safe return. Love you, Pua Pua

Marie Mook
7/18/2012 10:53:00 pm

Hi Amanda, we had a thunder and rain storm. we were on the road, and was like driving under a water fall. Can't see the road. The weather will be clear and nice to welcome you home, on 7/21. Had a great trip home. Love, Pua Pua

Marie Mook
7/19/2012 07:23:03 pm

Hi, Amanda, by now you must be packed, and ready for the flight home. Have a safe trip. Bless you!

Pua Pua


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