Saturday, 31 May 2014

Thoughts on Choosing Your Own Life Inspired by a Japanese Countryside

One of my friends in Japan teaches English to older Japanese people and invited us to come out for a lesson.
I don't actually remember what city it was in but it's about 2 hours away by train from where we were.

The students were amazing!
They're all between the ages of my parents and grandparents, and I loved getting to know them all.
They were so chatty and wanted to know about everything and were almost all learning English so they can learn something new and communicate with all the English speaking visitors that frequent Japan.

How cool is that?!!
Imagine your grandma taking Spanish classes so she can talk to the guy who owns the bodega.
Inspirational is the only way to describe these people.

Afterwards we took a walk to the local university where I borrowed a bicycle with a basket (I want a bicycle with a basket so, so much) and rode this way and that till it was time to leave.

I learned a lot about the nature of people today.
I was especially grateful to see the difference in mentalities between cultures, especially between the US and Japan.

Older people here are much more self sufficient.
They do the same things they did when they were younger like learning, going out to eat, gossiping with friends, getting to know people from other backgrounds, and just enjoying their life.

The moment people get older in the US they are no longer seen as valuable members of society.
Their ideas are rejected, their family shuns them and a lot of the time they are forced to live in an assisted living home when they are still fully capable of taking care of themselves if someone made the time to check in on them twice a week.

Travel is opening my eyes to the choices I'm able to make about how I live and where I live.
It's completely up to each and every person to spend their lives finding out what makes them happy, and doing just that.
If you say you don't have time to do that, then make the time.

Do you really want to be grumpy and bitter in your old age complaining and blaming other people for you not being happy?

Friday, 30 May 2014

A Gundam in Odaiba and the Tokyo Skyline

So I'm not a big Gundam fan, (honestly, I didn't even know what a Gundam was).
But when I saw it I realized it was a pretty freaking cool 18-meter robot in the middle of Odaiba in Tokyo.

If you decide to visit make sure you take the train and get off a stop early so you can walk across the bridge to Odaiba.
Whenever it's warm outside hoards of cosplay people gather on the Dream Bridge.
(It was very, very chilly the day we went so un/fortunately the whole place was deserted.)

There's just something about the buildings in Japan that photographs so beautifully! They're positioned perfectly to reflect the suns rays or catch the moonlight.
I don't think it's possibile to take a bad picture of the streets here even if you tried.

Come here at night though because once the sun sets you get an epic view of Tokyo and the Rainbow Bridge!

There are a ton of arcades, shops, malls, and restaurants in Odaiba so you can spend all here!!
If you get a chance, I highly recommend that you do.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Edo Tokyo Museum

What's the best thing to do on a rainy afternoon?
There are three options for me: 1. Go to a museum, 2. Go see a movie, or 3. Snuggle in bed with tea.

Considering I've been watching a different movie every night, and I didn't actually have a "bed" in Tokyo (only a couch very generously offered to me by a friend) I though a museum might be a nice change of pace.

The Edo Tokyo Museum looked nice from the website so we bundled up, grabbed an umbrella and headed out to brave the storm.
(Though I wish I had one of these babies to be carried around in during weather like this.)

The building looks reallllly cool form the outside.
Once you buy the tickets and get on a 3 story high escalator you realize that the building is for show and the museum is only on  2 floors of this building.

The museum itself wasn't my favorite.
It was interesting don't get me wrong, but for a non-Japanese speaker who has almost zero knowledge in Japanese history it was a little dry and hard to know what I was looking at.
(Most of the signs and descriptions are in Japanese.)

Luckily I had someone with me that can at least make out the titles of the description signs so I could kind of get by.

A cold day usually calls for some warm food.
A really cool thing about Japan is that you can order what you want out of a vending machine!!!
You just pick what you want, push a button, put in money and out prints a ticket.
You take the ticket directly to the chef and he rings a bell when your food is ready to be picked up.
Efficiency at its finest.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Yasukuni Shrine, Budokan and the First Cherry Blossom

I loved being in Tokyo.
After Singapore, it was a breathe of fresh air (literally) and I loved being able to walk all over the city.

One bright, sunny day we decided to go to the Yasukuni Shrine.
I was told soldiers from multiple countries are buried here from WWII, which created tension between Japan and the other countries because they felt their fallen should have been sent home to them.

There's a really nice park here too (which is even better during the cherry blossom festival).

From here we decided to walk to the Budokan arena, which was, fittingly, enormous.
This is where all the sumo matches happen during sumo season.
In the off season artists come to preform here.

And to our surprise, on the way back to the train we stumbled upon the first cherry blossom trees!!

The rest of the cherry blossoms still needed a few days of sun to warm up so in the mean time we had to find other things to do (and if you follow my Instagram you already know what those things are!).