Nov 30, 2008

Adventures in Tokyo: Day 2 - Long Day of Travel

Written Sunday, November 30th - 11:00 P.M.

Tonight marks the end of my already interesting adventure in Tokyo. After spending the past 24 hours on an airplane, I finally arrived. However the ride over, as cramped as it was, did add a few perks to my day. There was a monitor on the seat in front of me that gave a few options for entertainment: movies, TV, and an interesting feature that I have never encountered on a plane before, a GPS map. This gave me the opportunity to see where we were on the globe as the flight progressed. Our flight route was unexpected. Instead of flying across the Pacific Ocean, as I thought we would, we flew Northwest across Canada up to the coast of the Arctic Ocean. We then road the coast of Alaska, crossed the Bering Strait into the Northern regions of Russia, and flew across the Sea of Okhotsk into Japan. It was interesting to look out the window and see a seemingly endless expanse of ice in the Northwestern Territories, and to look across the cold, white mountains of Chokot. And when we reached the skies of Japan, the clouds were kissed by the orange light of sunset. Do you remember the stylization of the clouds and smoke in the Disney movie Mulan? Well even though this is Japan and not China, the Disney artists were surprisingly accurate in their portrayal of Asian scenery. Clouds in Japan look exactly like their depiction.

I arrived in the Narita national airport without a hitch, and had no complications moving through emigration and customs. Now I had to face the issue of finding the group from SCAD. Whether they had arrived on time or not I was unsure. After a few brief moments of confusion and shear panic, I found my crew. Zane and Professor Jason Maurer had been patrolling the lobby, collecting students as their flights arrived. I breathed a heavy sigh of relief.

Toilets are very strange. The one I used in the airport had an automatic sliding-door entrance that operated with a green button to open and a red button to close. Once inside, I was bombarded with an assortment of addition buttons, all catered to creating the perfect defecation experience. I swear it was an experience straight out of Star Wars.

We were an excited group of chatterboxes on the bus as we traveled to our hotel and got settled into our rooms. Food, we found out, was our responsibility for the evening so Zane, Amber and I went roaming the streets of downtown Ginza district to find something to assuage our starvation. I noticed a few interesting things as we set out on our adventure. The streets are incredibly clean. They actually sparkled in some areas. I’m not kidding. Not a single trace of litter can found. The city itself has a very modern look to it, almost futuristic in a way. Also I noticed that bikes don’t have locks on them. You can park your bike on the sidewalk without fear of anyone taking it. Those of you who live in Savannah, I can imagine, are astonished. I know we were.

We wound up eating in this restaurant tucked in the back corner of an alley just off of the main thoroughfare. This may sound sketchy but it really wasn’t. Back allies in Japan are nothing compared to back alley’s in America. This one if you can imagine was filled with excitement and bustling with activity. I’ve never seen anything like it. As we entered the busy dining area, we were promptly greeted with a loud Japanese cheer from several of the staff members. We were of course a little nervous about the language issue, but it turned out to be a terrific dining experience. Sure we had to point to the pictures of the food we wanted to order, but we had a delicious meal of pork stir fry over tofu, all in a rambunctious, metropolitan type setting with colorful chairs, hanging lamps, and J-pop playing on big screens. I think I enjoy Japanese culture already.

Then to top off the day, we returned to our American routes with a trip to Starbucks, where I enjoyed my usual White Chocolate Mocha that actually tasted better than it’s American counterpart.

We're off to good start I think.


Jessie said...

Hey Matt! Sounds like an exciting trip so far! Your mom told me about your blog - I think it's pretty cool! Your sketches are great. I admire your work - I am not an illustrator like this.
Good luck on your adventure! I hope you learn a lot and I look forward to keeping up with you!

Kristen said...

Matt, We wanted to take you to a nice dinner your first night but you didn't answer. Not sure if you got our message or not. We ate in Roppongi. Fun restaurants there if you have time to go. Wish we could have seen you. And yes Japan is very clean and Americans could stand to learn a lot from the Japanese. If you want to come back to Japan we'd love to have you visit Okinawa. It's totally different than Tokyo. They call it the "Hawaii of Japan". I know how to tell you to say "you're welcome" but I don't know how to spell it. We learned that it sounds like "don't touch my moustache". I hope you have a great time on your trip. Adjusting to the time change is fun isn't it!?!