June 23, 2013
As usual, I woke up late again. I am surely finding it hard to adjust to Japanese Time. Make no mistake though for I have been trying my best to adjust into this 1-hour-advance-difference to the usual time I am used to. For me it’s harder when the time difference is almost negligible.
Whenever my coordinator would ask me why I am late, my usual excuse would be that I have let my roommates use the washroom first, which is the half-truth though. The truth is, we woke up late, and yet I would allow my roommates to use the washroom first.
What I am excited about this day is that we would finally go to Tokyo. Japan trip wouldn’t be complete unless you see Tokyo, they say. After 2 days of staying here in Chiba Prefecture, we’ll be heading to the capital of Japan. What made me more excited about this is the fact that I am going to meet two of my relatives, who I have not seen for the longest time already.
After checking out from Hotel Nikko Narita, a hotel I am going to miss because of its Baguio-city-like weather, we hopped inside the bus and there starts our two-hour sojourn to Tokyo.
They say, Chiba Prefecture is in the countryside of Japan and although it houses the Narita International Airport, it has a rural life on it. It’s the kind of rural life you see in the foreign movies. Luscious and verdant grasses , houses that are distant from each other, and of course cars that are almost non-existent except for the buses or cargo trucks that go to Narita Airport.
As I am writing this part of the entry, I am inside the bus, amazed with the different wonders before my eyes. Unlike me friends who have explored the downtown area of Chiba Prefecture, it was my first time to go out from the hotel premises, so you can just imagine how astonished I was with the surroundings. Pardon the first-timer.
It was around 9 am when we reached Tokyo. For preliminaries, we went straight to the National Olympics Memorial Youth Center where we listened lectures about the ASEAN-Japan Centre, Activities by Trade and Investment Division of AJC, and Activities by Tourism and Exchange Division of the AEC. After the talk, the program emcee opened the Q and A portion. Without any hesitation, I fired a question to the speakers that goes this way:
“We all know that the ASEAN Economic Community will commence come 2015. With just 2 years from 2015, the entire ASEAN Community and their supporter-nations such as US, China and Japan are trying their best to weather the different offs in the formation of the AEC.
One important factor that might determine the success of this AEC is the transportation sector. Transportation that includes air, water, and land. Transportation is very useful in delivering goods especially for trade in the ASEAN region.
Where does the Japanese Government stand on the issue of maritime dispute considering that in the recent months, several ASEAN countries had disputes not only with China but also with other ASEAN Countries?
Should we expect, in the coming days, that there will already be a unified stand of the ASEAN with regards to this maritime dispute?”
“It was a tough question”, the speaker jokingly replied. I’m sure as hell it was one tough question, and it perhaps make them sweat, but I wasn’t satisfied with the answer he gave me, nevertheless, I didn’t insist.
After the talks, we proceeded to Odaiba. Odaiba is a recently-developed place in Tokyo. We ate our lunch at the Aqua City Mall where one can see a replica of the famous statue of liberty. The rest of the time was spent exploring Odaiba.
Afternoon cam and we had to check in, in the hotel. This time, we were billeted in the Tokyo Bay Ariake Washington Hotel. It’s the second hotel we stayed in this trip. What was great about this hotel is that the room was semi-Japanese inspired where we had Tatami beds. Also adding to the great experience was the view we had in our room. Great view it was of Odaiba and Tokyo Bay. In fact, right now, I am writing this part of the entry while gazing towards Odaiba and Tokyo Bay.
Evening came and my excitement has risen, this because I will be seeing my cousin and aunt.
After fixing myself, and after asking permission from my JICE Coordinator, we then went to downtown Tokyo.
Going to Shinjuku, we took a train ride. What surprised me was that the girls and boys are not separated unlike in the Philippines.
Shinjuku is a nice place especially at night. It is a shopping haven for adolescents said my aunt. It was indeed. You would see different designer brands from TopMan to H&M to Uniqlo. Almost every brand is there. It was a pleasant surprise that my aunt and cousin treated me for a shopping spree.
After shopping, my reaction was “I shouldn’t have brought anything for this trip”. Indeed, I am really thankful for the early birthday presents I have received from my generous relatives.
We ended the exploration of Shinjuku with a great dinner of anything but authentic Japanese Cuisine. I admit that I was never a fan of Japanese food in the Philippines, but once you have tasted a genuine Japanese food, in Japan of course, your perception would surely change, just like mine.
I ate a lot of sushi and sashimi. I also liked the Okonomiyaki and the Japanese style barbecue and fried chicken. The Japanese edamame or green peas was a good match for the beer that was served.
I’m finishing this entry facing yet again the beautiful view of Odaiba and Tokyo Bay at night from my room. Today might have been filled with nothing but excursions, nevertheless, there were a lot of things I have learned and experienced that I may not experience anytime soon when I get back to the Philippines.
Well, that’s it for now, as the hot water in the tub I have prepared for my hot bath is almost full. Sayonara!