Monday, November 17, 2014

Looking Up

Ah, time has a funny way of sneaking up on you and then sprinting past before you notice. It's been over two months since I've gotten home from Japan and now I am already more than halfway through my junior fall. I guess before I blog about my semester so far, I want to wrap up the end of my summer, especially since the last few weeks were probably some of the best few weeks of my time there. 
Asakusa and Skytree outing with Kristin and her host family~ The two girls were so cute and the family was so nice!  For dinner they took us out to a famous okonomiyaki place where I learned how to make monjayaki (a more liquid dough than okonomiyaki). Then we chilled and walked around at the base of the Skytree which was super lively - especially at the outside terrace which was filled with people lounging around with the Skytree towering above us.  
Eggplant, how could i not? Fruit tart from Sign to celebrate Tozawa-san's birthday at the office. The boss was out and we spent a good 2 hours sitting around chatting. They talked about marriage/relationships/future family things which was p interesting for me especially since it's not something i usually talk to my friends about. More delicious work day tempura lunches + making monjayaki with Kristin's host family!
Lol more food. Conveyor belt sushi in Shinjuku for Austin's send off.  Eating ramen with Cat before her flight to Cali T_T.  Karaage with the office. This really weird eggplant peach stuff...that was surprising also really good.  More office lunches. MORE EGGPLANT. Ichiran Ramen! Delicious curry. And last but not least, my last lunch before leaving Japan! I thought tsukemen was a very suitable send off meal @_@
Looking up amidst the buildings of Roppongi Hills. Ueno station at night all lit up! Between the enormous skyscrapers in downtown Shinjuku - my friend told me about the place and urged me to go- at night that open area is filled with a bunch of dancers. It took me forever to work up the courage, but I eventually approached a couple of amazing poppers training in the corner. They were really nice and taught me some useful techniques. Also I got to hear their stories! One of them had momentarily paused college to come to Tokyo in order to try to make it in dance. I was really touched haha
Food with friends, drinks with friends, landmarks with friends. 
Lol went on a lunch date with a random guy I met on Tinder. We went to Omotesando aka Beverly Hills of Tokyo. The residential area of Omotesando is beautiful with some really nice architecture+interior/exterior design. We ate at a famous Katsu shop (definitely lives up to its name) and then stopped by a really cute one-man coffee shop. You basically enter a garden entry-way, into a minimalist medium sized room filled with people waiting to get expensive coffee from this suave dude who mans the whole thing by himself. I think he lives upstairs.  Sounds like the life haha
Tokyo tower with Matsui-san and Nouguchi-san after work! Unfortunately the steps were closed off so we couldn't climb hundreds of steps, but I guess the elevator was aight :) It was beautiful!! The inside of the tower is filled with gorgeous blue lights, and when you look out you can see Tokyo all lit up. I think the most interesting thing though was the blinking red lights installed at the top of all of the buildings. You can sort of see them in the bottom picture! So even when the buildings are too far too make out, all you get is a floating layer of blinking red. Some people think it's really ugly, but I found it to be kind of beautiful haha 
I met a caricature artist named Uno-sam in Ueno park one day.  He drew my portrait and I attempted to draw his as well (and failed miserably...) Turns out he was currently unemployed and drawing portraits for free in the park to practice with a bunch of people in the same situation, so I went back a few times to draw with them! We also went to this really hipster cafe and an art exhibit that had some really cool stuff. I even got to ride on his motorcycle lol...definitely the most random encounter I had this summer. He was such a character, a bit strange, but very kind!
The weekend before I left Kristin and I went to a day of dance camp at En Studio! HOLY JESUS was it amazing. We took 4 workshops - Mari, Keone, Mari&Keone, and Jillian Meyers. People were there from other countries just to take these workshops, and after just a few minutes I could tell why. If I thought these people were amazing on video, it was nothing compared to seeing them in person.  I'm just amazed that people can move that way - with so much power, precision, nuance, and feeling at the same time. I was almost moved to tears...but some people were actually moved to tears hahaha. Damn what an experience @__@. Later that week we went to a few more classes, and the last day actually got a bit emotional when we said goodbye to the staff :(  But speaking of emotional...I actually cried when I said goodbye to my co-workers...super embarrassing since I never even got that close to them. But suddenly they were all getting teary-eyed and hugging me D: Weird how connections can be made without us even noticing. On my last night we went to oedo monogatari onsen! It was extremely relaxing and wonderful - soaking in the hot onsen with friends and just breathing slowly while thinking back on my whole summer.  It was calm and refreshing and I couldn't ask for a better last night in Tokyo!
And that's how my wonderful summer came to a wonderful conclusion. I had ups and downs during my three months in Japan, but I think I grew a lot during that time. I became more confident and comfortable with both myself and other people. I learned to be a little more responsible and self-sufficient.  I even went from being terrified of spiders to only mildly terrified. Along the way I met so many inspirational people, and made a lot of great friends I'm really going to miss. Thank you Japan for this learning experience! Until next time