11.08.2014 § Leave a comment
My first week at Waseda University for a short-term, intensive summer Japanese class started with a bit of heat shock. The classroom is different every day, and the teacher is different for almost every class even when the subject is the same. Despite the heat, students are encouraged to climb the stairs to any classroom below the fifth floor. The professors are not very happy if you are late for class, so I have been running to look for classes every day in this blazing hot sun.
Still, I have had time to explore and found some great Japanese textiles, museum collections and books from their library. I’ve always found the manhole covers in Japan fascinating too, so I couldn’t help but take pictures of the ones I’ve found so far on the university campus.
05.08.2014 § Leave a comment
I transfer subway lines in a station called Ikebukuro on my way to school. It’s like Times Square in New York and is well known for having great restaurants and shopping. I have been busy and haven’t yet had any opportunity to explore that area. But here are some pictures anyway:
31.07.2014 § Leave a comment
There was a typhoon going on during my flight to Tokyo. My brother was very nervous about me going and called to ask me to reconsider. I came anyway.
During the class orientation in Tokyo, we were advised to check the school’s homepage for class cancellation information. They held class on Friday, but I experienced very strong winds commuting between school and home.
This morning I was awakened by a small alarm sound. I did not know where it came from, but there was a voice announcing, “You’re experiencing an earthquake.” I looked at the time; it was around four something. The floor was moving back and forth; it felt a little bit like a massage, only it was not for comfort or for fun. A scary thought came into my mind for a split second, and then quickly it went away. The shaking went on for, I’d say at least three to five minutes while I contemplated how fragile a life can be.
I think it is a healthy thing to be reminded once in a while of this very fact. A person can take this either way, positively making life more meaningful or nihilistically stop trying.
28.07.2014 § 1 Comment
I have always pondered why mountain climbers, especially the ones who have regular jobs, climb such high mountains. What is their motivation—besides being interested in the sport—that they will risk their lives for it?
From what I’ve observed, doing something different is one of the best ways to relax and refresh our minds. Sitting in an office five days a week and climbing a snowy mountain are definitely two different things.
I too am doing something different. I am in Tokyo at Waseda University for an intense, three-week Japanese course in this hot, humid summer weather. It would definitely be less of a challenge if I were visiting during the lovely cherry blossom season or in a cool autumn. I was forewarned by a Japanese native: “Tokyo’s summer is disgusting.” But I wasn’t intending to be a tourist anyway; this is exactly the different kind of experience that I was seeking. « Read the rest of this entry »
21.05.2012 § Leave a comment
When I was visiting Japan, a friend from the US who is living in Tokyo had planned to take me to an Indian restaurant. I suppose he was looking forward to this meal because he was a bit tired of Japanese food. It was cold and I did not bring enough covering for the unexpectedly cold air. By the time we walked to the very small restaurant at dusk, it was 7:30p.m. and the restaurant would not have a table for us until 9:00p.m. So we walked on. My friend was hoping to find a good Italian restaurant, but I requested to settle on the first noodle place we passed since it was dark and I was cold and hungry. The dinner was not so tasty. Tokyo-style soup broths are really not as good as Osaka ones; they’re just a bunch of soy sauces.
We started to walk back to my hotel and had gone about four blocks when all of a sudden a street filled with rows of cherry trees in full bloom, their blossoms light up for the night, appeared in front of us. « Read the rest of this entry »
04.05.2012 § 2 Comments
Journey to Japan
This spring’s trip to Japan reminds me of my first trip to Italy in 1992. I called it “The Grand Tour”– a term referring to the tradition of 18 century European artists who could not consider their art educations complete until they had make a trip to Italy. I prepared for this trip to Japan for over a year and a half, and never have I put so much time into preparing for a journey to a foreign country. I am not sure if being able to ask for directions on the street or in a busy subway paid off for all of the time I put into studying the language, but I certainly was happy that I could be free and independent.