Japanese doings backlog pt. 2/2 – March 2013-May 2013

Here is part two of my backlog dealy.

March 10 – Natural History Museum in Ueno – This museum was awesome!  They had so many exhibits!  There were dinosaur fossils which were the actual fossils, not plaster copies, and were so heavy they needed to use thick steel supports to hold them up.  One room had ocean animal fossils bisecting the room, and on one side you could see examples of these ocean animals evolving into mammals, and the other side you could see examples of them evolving into reptiles.  There was a big room for human evolution, a large collection of meteorites, and much more!  But my favorite was this room that had around 200 stuffed mammals and birds.  Some of them were acquired from the zoo that is about a 3 minute walk from the museum, and others were acquired by this old-timey hunter, who would go around the world and kill water buffalo and orangutangs and such when that kind of thing was still done by sophisticated dum-dums.  And outside was a 1:1 scale replica of a blue whale, one of only…3 (? or 5? I forget the number.  But it’s quite low!) in the world!  I spent a good 3 hours there, but still didn’t get to see everything.  Must return!


March 17 – Snowboard + Let’s American Party – I went snowboarding for my first time ever in Japan!  Ai went with me to Nagano .  After a 30 minute lesson where I learned how to slowly go down a hill without dying, I took to the slopes!  I sure was awful, but it was fun.  I foolishly took no photos…but after returning to Tokyo, we went to TGI Fridays in Japan, where the place mats made me weep with merriment.


March 24 – My first cherry blossoms – For about a week and a half, the cherry blossoms bloom and boggle everyone’s brains.  Mine was no exception.



March 25 – Enoshima + Aquarium + more Cherry Blossoms – Enoshima is a small island southwest of Tokyo.  You can traverse all over the island and explore the various shrines and shops.  There’s a nice garden on top with a lighthouse called the “sea candle” or somesuch which you can ascend to enjoy the surrounding view.  I got up very early and really enjoyed wandering around the island before it got at all crowded.  Afterwards, I went to a nearby aquarium.  They had this really wonderful, massive tank with lots of manta rays and various fish, and there was a large school of fish that swarmed and shifted around that was really beautiful to watch.  I also got to see lots of cuttlefish, jellyfish, crabs, and penguins.  After the aquarium, I walked along the beach for a while, then I visited a fairly new park that had a creek running through it with cherry tree lined paths along each side.  It was lovely, but the cherry trees were very young and didn’t bloom as radiantly as I had seen at other places.  Then I headed back to my station and went to a nearby park to look at cherry blossoms before it got dark.  Picture time!


March 28 – Cherry tree at night – There’s a canal that runs from the station I work at to the next station over, and it’s lined with cherry trees.  After work a few times during the week, I took a stroll along the canal before heading home.


April 8 – Yokohama Adventure – Having not really explored Yokohama, I decided to take a day where I just wandered like crazy around the town.  I got off at Yokohama station, and began my journey walking through the Minato Mirai section of town, which was designed to be a sort of city of the future.  It was pretty cool, but it kind of felt like it was still incomplete, and there weren’t many people around, and there weren’t many features to add warmth to the neighborhood, and I didn’t really like being there much…but the buildings were really cool, and there was a pretty nice park by the ocean.  I continued wandering, past these historic 100 year old red brick warehouses, until I reached an older part of town which felt much more comfortable.  After a stroll through another nice sea-side park, I headed up hill through a neighborhood to this old cemetery for foreigners.  Yokohama was one of the first cities in Japan to open its ports to the outside world, so it’s a fairly international place.  Then I wandered back through the neighborhood, grabbed a cherry blossom doughnut, and checked out Chinatown for a bit before heading home.


April 14 – Chiba Adventure – For my first trip east of Tokyo, I went to the Hoki Museum, which is this really cool museum of realist paintings (those paintings where the artist painstakingly tries to make it look like a photograph).  The building was so, so cool, being a series of long, slightly curved corridors stacked on top of each other.  And the paintings were unbelievable.  Then I wandered through this massive park next to the museum.  In one part of the park, there was a path that was lined with different trees from around Chiba with plaques and explanations of them.  It felt like a tree museum of sorts.  Then I headed back to Chiba station where I walked over to Chiba shrine to collect some Chiba chi.  It kind of worked.  Then, while heading home on the train, I decided to stop by Tokyo station, and I enjoyed a long walk through the area around the station, going by the Emperor’s palace, through Hibiya Park, and through Ginza, before deciding I was quite tired and headed home.


May 4 – Sagamiko Lake – I came to this lake with Ai and enjoyed the greenliness of spring.


May 5 – Mount Mitake – I came to this mountain with Ai, but unfortunately it was a national holiday and was quite crowded.  But still nice!  We cheated and took the cable car to the top and explored around, then hiked down through a nice forest with 350 year old cedars (of which I took no pictures).


May 12 – Horse Races – I went to the Tokyo Racecourse yesterday, which is the biggest racecourse in Japan.  This week is one of the biggest weeks for horse racing in Japan, and it was really crowded.  I bet a total of 3000 yen over 5 races, but only won 340 yen…I need more practice!  I was really amazed at just how fast the horses run.  They do not look so fast on tv.  The horses were also just really beautiful to look at.


Well, that’s it!  I took a trip to Nikko last week which I will post about later.  Now that I’m just about caught up, I will try to post more regularly in the future so I don’t have to make these massive posts.  I’m having a lot of fun in Japan and am experiencing a lot, and I feel like I don’t have enough free time to both enjoy Japan as much as I have been and get sufficient rest.  But it’s worth it!


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