Tokyo GIANTS

For it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out, At the old ball game.  This was my second time seeing the Tokyo Giants.  The strange thing is that last time I was here rooting against them, this time we were cheering for them.  The games are full of energy and noise of the crowd just adds to the excitement.  Baseball has never really been the most interesting sport.  There is a lot of standing around and occasionally a ball will be hit.  In Japan though, the atmosphere is intense.  Constant chanting erupts from the stands every time a new player gets up to bat.  The idea of cheerleaders in baseball still baffles me.  The servers walking around are definitely crazy too.  The game is a completely different experience than in the United States.  Then again, baseball has never really been about the sport, but rather who you spend your time with that matters.

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Lost in the Subway

PANIC!  Lost in the Tokyo subway our class knows not what to do.  As the crowds of people move past and trains are departing left and right, we are left huddled together.  Rushing to your train is not a good idea.  The fact that your desired train runs on four separate lines does not help.  We stood there lost.  We stay put in the hopes that we are reconnected with everyone else.  I have come to the conclusion that we are completely alone in Japan.  If it were not for the more resourceful students that were willing to rank up roaming charges on their cellphones, I am not sure what would have happened.  The subway staff did not speak English and we have no means to communicate with those designated workers to help lost locals.  This is one experience that I hope not to repeat.  This is the first time that I have felt nearly helpless in Japan.

Waseda University

Well, we are off to school.  Today we visited Waseda University.  Waseda University is Keio University’s rivals.  You can imagine the grief we received for visiting Keio first.  We had arranged visits with three separate classrooms.  Just by talking to the students you could tell their grade level.  The first class we visited held only freshman.  The whole meeting was very awkward as the students talked, but didn’t really communicate.  They answered the few questions that they understood, but did not say much more.  The second group was much more talkative, but the whole arrangement felt very hollow.  I received several compliments on my blue eyes and I’ll leave it at that.  The third and final group contained several grad students.  Personally, I enjoyed this group most of all, as most of the students could understand what we were saying and contribute to the conversation.  I realize that few students in our program actually speak Japanese and most of the confusion was brought on by us.  I feel that I should have taken at least one Japanese course before attempting to speak with the students at Waseda.

Clothes in Japan

I guess I should say the lack there of.  I am not saying that there is no clothes in Japan, I’m just saying that there is none that will fit me.  I’ve tried on several items and from what I can tell, I need to buy everything in at least and XL.  Although, some XL shirts were still too small.  The petite Japanese male figure and feminine stature frustrates me.  My broader American chest has inhibited me from buying some rather cool jackets and hoodies.  The only shirt I was able to fit in completely was a shirt made baggy for fashion purposes.  The shirt is awesome and I did buy it, but it was in no way my favorite item in the stores we have been in.  One jacket in particular stood out to me.  I tried it on and my broader shoulders nearly ripped the seams.  Sadly, it did not come in any size larger than L and I was forced to leave it there.  It is now destined for some scrawny Japanese teenager

Akihabara

Akihabara is not all that appears to be at a distance.  After walking the streets and visiting several stores, I have concluded that this is a perverted district.  I have seen electronic stores.  I have seen video games and arcades.  There is anime and manga.  The disturbing thing is that no matter what store you go to you will find some porn.  Most places look innocent.  The first floor is everything that you would expect, but watch yourself as you walk up the stairs the floors above.  Hentai posters and body pillows liter the stores.  The most disturbing aspect is the age depicted in most of their “art”.  Most of the hentai everywhere appears to display young girls.  I realize they claim to be over 18, but seriously.  None of this would stand a chance back in the United States.  And I’m only talking about the stores that appear innocent at first.

Part 2:  I revisited Akihabara today with Jared and his brother, who has lived in Japan for the last seven years.  My experience there was completely different from the first day.  Traveling with someone who actually knew the good electronics shops changed my whole perspective on Akihabara.  After visiting several computer parts and collectable video game stores, I now know how Akihabara received the title “Electric City”.  Akihabara just became my favorite destination in Japan.

Maid Cafe

Can I say WTF in these blog posts?!  Today was an interesting day indeed.   For our lunch we attended the spectacle that is Maid Cafe.  I still don’t know what to write in this post as I am speechless.  This insane aspect of Japanese culture will forever leave me dazed and confused.  In my personal opinion it was nothing sexual, although it may be for some.  The entire time I was laughing.  The worst part of it all is that people spend so much money here.  The 500 yen cover charge for each guest is a joke, because on top of that drinks and food are still expensive as all get out.  I seen on the menu an 88,000 yen Champaign choice, to which I am assuming the customer is not paying for just drinks.  The only thing I ordered along with most other students was dessert.  The cutesy anime drawings on each dish did not warrant the 900 yen price tag.  This may be considered a legitimate restaurant in Japan, but I can’t imagine ever coming back to one of these places.  Just another example of “CRAZY Japan!”

*image courtesy of RadinYadolahi

Harajuku

The rain is back and in full force.  Today is the day we go to Harajuku, cosplay central.  Unfortunately for us it is raining, yet again.  We are unable to see the full spectacle that normally surrounds Harajuku.  The gloomy weather scares off the cosplay regulars.  Only the hardcore or weather ignorant remain.  While I do spot the occasional pink-haired extremists, there is no doubt in my mind I am missing the true experience.  I cannot stress enough how depressing the weather is.  Walking down the streets I am overwhelmed by the amount of umbrellas around me.  Just like the first night, umbrellas from passing locals slap into my face.  It seems like I am the worst height for Japan.  Being just slightly taller than the majority, my eye-line matches up perfectly with umbrellas held high.  I swear I could lose an eye just meandering down the streets, minding my own business.