Posts tagged ‘Culture’

Waseda U. vs Keio U. Baseball

What a great day.  For my last day in Japan I attended to BIG college baseball game.  Longtime rivals Keio University and Waseda University, both of which we visited, were facing off.  A student from Waseda University, whom had kept in contact with Radin, invited us to join him.  It is really to bad that most of the other study abroad students had returned home.  This game had more energy, and the crowds had so much more to cheer for than at the Tokyo Giants game.  We learned chants and school fight songs.  The most memorable of these was a song that lasted twenty minutes!  The Waseda cheering section couldn’t stop until the inning was over, and they had struck out Keio’s last batter.  It was INTENSE!  The game was a blast and Waseda ended up winning.  “We Winners Waseda!” (song title)  One of the most respectful spectacles I have seen in Japan occurred after the game was over.  After Waseda’s school song was finished, the entire crowd sang a song to Keio, honoring the school.

On a side note, a bird shat on me halfway through the game.  I have nothing more to say…

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Slurping

Today I experienced something that still has me a little stunned.  After returning from the Sony Building, Nick, Radin and I went to eat and a vending machine restaurant.  This was my first time eating there during a heavy traffic time.  Normally I am there late in the evening when many of the Japanese locals are not.  While sitting there enjoying my meal of pork and rice I was startled by the sounds around me.  As I looked up I noticed that I was surrounded my natives, slurping away at their Ramen.  There we were sitting quietly eating our meals, and ten or so Japanese businessmen were slurping down their food noisily.  I then remembered that while eating Ramen it is not seen as being rude, but rather as a compliment to the chef.  I am still confused by this Japanese custom of eating, but alas, I myself am not Japanese.  I was taught  my whole life to eat a certain way and I am not sure I will ever really be comfortable any other way.

Smaller Portions in Japan

The food here is insane!  We have nearly been here two weeks and I am just now taking into consideration all that I have eaten.  I remember the first few days stuffing my face with several helpings of food.  The smaller portions were very noticeable at first, but after being here a while, they have become less and less of an issue.  I just finished a meal that completely filled me up.  After eating and looking back at I have eaten I was surprised.  This meal would have never satisfied me before.  I am not sure if it is the fact that I am trying to save money, or my body really is adjusting to the smaller meal sizes.  I barely finished a meal that I would have considered an appetizer back home.  The squid, tuna and eel may not look like much, but I can’t imagine eating more than given to me on this very small plate.

Discovering Roppongi

On our last free day as a study abroad group, we spent our day wandering the streets.  As we have spent majority of our trip in Roppongi we found it odd that we had only ever ventured into downtown during the night.  Nick, Eric, Rob, Jared and I left the hotel that morning without knowing what to expect.  We made it our plan to see the sights of the city in daylight.  The first ting we happened upon was an escalator leading underground.  This area was not five minutes from our hotel, but do to the crowded streets at night we had never seen it before.  We were pleasantly surprised at what we found.  An underground mall of sorts had been within walking distance from our hotel all along.  It was primarily eateries, but scattered about were bookstores and other quality shops.  My favorite aspect of this underground paradise is that it led to a beautiful park.  The beauty about this park was its seclusion from hustle and bustle of the city around it.  It was so refreshing to see families enjoying themselves lackadaisily is the summer sun.  scattered around a man-made pond were benches that Japanese businessmen occupied.  They had come to this pleasant oasis to escape the concrete jungle.

Shabu-Shabu

Tonight’s dinner was interesting to say the least.  After our company final company visit, our class was taken to a restaurant that was quite unique.  I guess you could say we made it ourselves.  We sat down at tables with boiling waiter in the center.  Large plates of raw pork and beef sit to the side looking as unappetizing as ever.  I could not think of anything more bizarre.  As we tossed the raw slices of meat in the water they cooked before our eyes, making a sort of stew.  After a few seconds the meal was edible and we could pick and choose what we wanted.  The most difficult part of the meal was not the food, but rather the waiters.  The language barriers kept us from receiving more water, rice and meat.  Eventually we were able to establish the most basic of hand gestures to receive or larger portions.  The mixture of steam, heat and frustration with the waiters made us happy that we only had a few days left in Japan.  Japan is great, but you need to understand the language to be able to live there for extended periods.

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.

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.