**Disclaimer: The following posts from Japan are all coming at once… I apologize in advance.**
Japan blew me away. A week ago, I knew Japan as another developed country, large consumers of the world exporting anime and technology. I assumed that if I were to visit Japan, I would spend my time leisurely at a nice hotel exploring one city, just as I would have been a tourist in a North American city. Never in a million years did I ever assume that I would have ended up backpacking Japan. However, that is exactly what I did for the short five days that I was in the country.
How do you fit all of Japan into less than a week of time? Before, I would have thought it was impossible, nonetheless right now I feel like I haven’t missed out on anything in Japan as I managed to reach a ship wide world record of visiting 8 cities in those 5 days. The key: using a Japan Rail Pass.
We began in Yokohama, wandering around the city, soaking in our first glimpses of Japanese culture, making our way slowly to the capitol and home of 35 million people: Tokyo. In one word: WOW. A word of advice: Do not underestimate the size of this city! The subway system was one of the most intricate systems I have ever seen in my life, and was quite possibly the most overwhelming experience as well.
Finding a good place for lunch that would fit our large group was a challenge, but eventually we found a small little restaurant specializing in Ramen. Staring at the menu that was complete with Japanese characters and pictures, I tried to explain to the waitress that I didn’t eat meat. She answered that the whole menu was meat. Okay… I tried to work with that. My next question was, “Fish!?”. The poor waitress stared at the menu for a while before pointing to one item in the appetizer section and said, “Fish! Fish!” Looks like that was meal! Out came this Sashimi style fish on a plate. It was a bit chewy but ultimately delicious, I tried to ask afterword’s what type of fish it was… Of course, no big deal, it couldn’t have been something easy like tuna, it was WHALE BACON! (I still don’t know how I feel about that).
I will be honest; my goal for Tokyo was to go dancing! Where better to get your trip started than a night out in one of the largest party capitols of the world! We made our way to the district of ‘Ropongi’ and began to bar hop. Sadly, it was a Tuesday night, and there wasn’t much raging going on… but don’t underestimate our talent for finding a good time.
Three bars later 3:30 am rolled around and we had managed to find our Capsule Hotel (Video to come eventually!). We climbed into our little nook’s complete with radio, T.V., extra pyjamas and a mirror. The plan was to wake up at 5 for the fish market, but as over achievers, we all knew it wasn’t going to happen.
Up at 7:30 am…. yeah, we missed the fish market, but I did hear it was a spectacle. However they kill the fish right in front of you, so I’m a little glad I slept through it. I said bye to my friends: My roommate Kara, Kaelyn, Kalee, Collin, Mike, Leigh and Mark and hopped on the subway myself to meet up with Ali Unger at Tokyo Station. The process is difficult enough in English but add Japanese characters, an exhausted westerner female and no cell phones… it took a while.
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