The Selfie on our way to the gates our first day! We had a blast and would underestimate the fact that this cart had shuttled us 2 miles that we would have to walk twice the rest of the time we were there. Good times!
I woke up pretty early and forced myself to go back to sleep. I would wake up, try to organize my belongings into my bags. We would be meeting Snipes who was my fathers first friend in Japan who arrived at Yakota Air-force Base with him back in 1986. He now had a civilian job after retiring. We would get the chance to sit and have coffee with him and speak about old times, what was going on now and our plans for the futures. The last time we’d seen him was when we were living in Japan as children. Facebook is awesome!
After spending some time with him we would have to say goodbye as we were all meting with Kanako and Natsumi at 1pm.
After both arrived we would go to a toy store before eating lunch. We were able to sit for awhile and catch up and learn more about Kanako’s new job working for the ambassador from the US.
After eating we would take the train to a traditional Buddhist temple where we would do a Japanese fortune teller. I was very nervous, Kanako, Natsumi and Rupert pulled good fortunes then crystal pulled a bad one that she tied. I would nervously pull a good one! Dez would pull a bad one right after.
We would wash our hands at a temple toss a coin in a wishing well type thing and pray.
After this we would visit the many small shops in the area and just walk.
This lead us to the train station that we Would take the Harajuku. We would visit more shops for hours.
Next we would head to an arcade place where we would take booth pictures and I would win first place in Mario cart beating Rupert kanako and Natsumi!
After we ate again at a small lounge. We talked more and shared food.
Kanako and Natsumi would walk us back to our train station and we would say our goodbyes and head on our way back to Ginza and sleep.
I SLEPT FOR 15 HOURS!
I woke up and would go down stairs to take advantage of the Onsen that was on the 5th floor of the the ryokan. I would return an hour later to get dressed repack my bag send a few sunrise pix to friends and family, checkout and take the taxi ride to the train station and head back to Tokyo.
We would arrive back in Tokyo around 1230 to check into our hotel drop off our heavy bags and head to the currency exchange for more yen! My good friends Sayo and Natsumi would meet us at the Ginza building currency exchange. They would get a chance to briefly meet Dez, Madi and Rupert before Natsumi, Sayo and I would head out for lunch.
I wanted Okonomiyaki for a few reasons. It’s very popular, I’ve been asked if I liked it now for YEARS! And a lot of people had asked me if I’d ever tried it. We would go to a spot in Ginza that specialized in okonomiyaki. It would be served with grilled ramen, miso soup, Chinese cabbage salad and rice. One thing I did not know about Okonomiyaki was that the main ingredient was Chinese cabbage. I am not a fan. I asked if they could make it without it but after the puzzled looked by the waiter I decided just to deal with it and eat it anyway. Honestly, it wasn’t bad! Without cabbage it would have been great lol!
Natsumi, Sayo and I talked about our lives, what was going on and what was coming up.Sayo’s husband Nayalan would join us later in the day along with her younger sister Tomo who came all the way from Nagano (2.5 hours via bullet train to spend time with us and see me!).
After eating we would head to Tokyo station to meet Sayo’s younger sister, her husband and my friend Yuki.
I was happy to see them all, especially to meet Sayo’s husband for the first time whom I had heard so much about. Nayalan is a pretty awesome individual. He pretty much knew Tokyo better than all of us. He would help me find souvenirs for my father, and a Japanese DVD player that I hoped would play my region coded Japanese DVDs (it did.. YES!). I was happy to have a chance to catch up with all of them. Nayalan even answered all of my random questions about his family background. He even has a tumblr and pretty awesome YouTube channel about his life in Japan! He is an artist who draws very well too! I didn’t get to ask him what brought him to Japan but i know he taught English for 5 years and ended up meeting Sayo.
After seein taffy being made and going to the domo store in tokyo station I would randomly see a Japanese guy with a Tulane University Greenwave shirt. I asked if one of my friends could ask him if he would take a picture with me. My brother graduated from undergrad at Tulane in New Orleans, Louisiana, so it was very surprising to see a random person with this shirt.
After this the randomness continued when we saw an electric bull outside the station. We all wondered why it was there and Nayalan showed some interest. I told him I’d pay the ¥200 it cost to ride it to video him doing it! He said he’d pay half and I could pay the other. After seeing his bravery I had to try it to! Why? Well I’m in Japan! I don’t know any of these people watching me and could care less what they think, plus who else could say they road their first electric bull in the middle of Tokyo outside in front of staring Japanese people? Nayalan would stay on for 24 seconds before getting tossed off. It really didn’t seem to be going so fast until I was the one in the helmet with one hand up. It was pretty shaky and getting clipped kind of hurt especially after being sore from Fuji! I stayed on for 27 seconds. And yes I have the video!
As the sunset we (Natsu, Sayo, Tomo, Yuki, and Nayalan) headed to Yoyogi Park which has historical relevance to being one of the first parks where bboys would practice in the 80s after wild style came out. We got off the train at Hyrajuku and walked a ways to the park and just sat and people watched and took pictures before searching for the snoop dog tribute Mural. on our way we would stumble upon a festival in the park. We drank beer, got snow cones and watched Hawaiian performers, and just enjoyed each others company for a few hours.
After this we would head to shinjiku where the hachiko dog statute and the busiest cross walk in the world is. The sidewalk wasn’t so busy to say it was Saturday night but we would walk through twice and take pictures from one of the busiest Starbucks in the world.
We would walk Yuki to her train station before going to really cool spot in the basement of some building in Tokyo. The restaurant was in the basement of a building and was almost a mini food court with about 5 restaurants. We would sit down and be given 5 menu’s from all of the restaurants and we were able to order from anywhere we wanted.
They convinced me to try raw horse meat and swore to me it was good. I watched them all prove it before I would try.
After dinner we would all head home. I had such a fun day and a great time with all of them and enjoyed their company. Sayo’s younger sister Tomo who will possibly be attending Gunma university and studying abroad at Central Washington, even baked me homemade cookies and individually wrapped them! 🙂
After making it back to my hotel I would share my day with my Brodie’s reach out to my dads old Air Force buddy about meeting in the morning shower and sleep.
Happy Valentine’s Day! This week is going pretty well. I am doing my best to keep these write up’s short so forgive me if I ramble. Tuesday night I was able to attend an event aimed to link young black undergraduates with mentors and allies. This was a very good event, and while I have a few complaints sometimes it’s better to keep them to yourself and look at the positives. This was a great networking opportunity for me since I am so new at this institution and really don’t know that many people outside of my department. I am actually following up by having lunch with one of the people I met and exchanging emails with some individuals who are currently in a Master’s Program I am looking into.
Wednesday was a great day. After a great workout at the gym I was able to speak to a co-worker who graduated from the same Master’s program I am applying to. I also found out that there will be a free 3 hour session on using Final Cut Pro X next month!
I will start hiking Tiger Mountain soon with one of the Doctors from our department and some co-workers. The goal is for the group to go on a continued basis, and also to diversify my hiking trips as well. The gym is great, but nothing will prepare me like actually getting up and doing it in the beautiful Washington state outdoors.
I ended the day with a delicious steak and lobster dinner (which I learned was called surf and turf.. lol) with my lady. She works tonight so we celebrated early. She also gave me gifts with a card made of a picture from our first valentine’s day we spent together back in 2007 before we started dating. Of course being an online shopper my gift didn’t arrive in time. I hope she likes it.
Happy Monday everyone! What an eventful weekend filled with some test preparation, spending time having meaningful conversations with some college mentors and buddies, and of course the SUPERBOWL! What a game, right? I’ll leave it at that, great performances, an unexplained power outage, some decent and very awkward commercials, (I’m still a bit angry at the dodge “god created farmers” commercial). Nevertheless it was a fun game to watch.
Quick updates on my goals. My commitment to the gym is still going strong. It might be time to kick it up a notch and turn up! Also going well is my soda boycott and vow to cook. I haven’t been doing so well on implementing more fruits and veggies and just okay on the whole eating a salad everyday thing. My budgeting and money management is going well with a few minor surprises here and there. Nevertheless my three goals to stay healthy, stay educated and practice good money management are progressing.
“Ultimately it was about letting all of you have that space to delve deeper into your souls and learn what is it that makes you tick and hopefully awaken some social responsibility. That is what the college experience is truly about.”
This is a quote from a conversation via text messaging I was having with one of my mentors from college. These thoughts stood out to me in my quest to move forward and continue my education. I am so thankful to have had the chance to get this out of my college experience. Since graduating I am able to speak to individuals and find out quickly who did and did not have this opportunity. There’s nothing wrong with still not understanding the social dynamics that make up our society, however it is unfortunate to see college educated individuals say and believe very stereotypical and socially ignorant comments. To me its not about always being politically correct as much as it is facts verse opinion. That is why I love the quote, “Misinformation is a weapon of mass distruction.”
From my experience I received an understanding of the importance of standing up for justice, speaking up for one’s self, demanding equality, and collaboration. These are things that seem easy but in the face of adversity in a setting where you may be close to the bottom of the totem pole, speaking out can be difficult. I am thankful to have been armed with knowledge, confidence and experiences to fall back on for guidance whenever I seem to get lost. In time I gained the confidence to speak up to discrimination, even if it was being done by people around me, co-workers, family, or my own friends. More importantly I’ve learned to check my own prejudice and accept and change my own ignorance. I am far from perfect and nobody will ever be. I am a work in progress, and a student of life.
While it is important to be able to take care of ourselves financially to me it is more important that we feed our minds. We learn as much as we can, network, speak and share with others, travel, taste and experience what this world has to offer.
“Nothing easy is ever memorable”
My goal is to climb Mt. Fuji this August and it will not be easy. I was told “nothing easy is ever memorable.” This was another quote from my conversation this weekend. After hearing it I thought to myself, that was very simple, however; it made so much since. Those few words in a way, puts everything in perspective. Staying disciplined about my finances, my health, and my education are not easy tasks to commit too. Nevertheless I know for sure that the reward will be the greater than the sacrifice.