School, Tokyo, and a Giant Gundam
Japan. Home of my imagination for years. How can I sum this up in a few words on a single blog post? I don’t think I can. As I write this, I’m currently on a shinkansen (bullet train) departing from Tokyo and bound for Osaka. I splurged and treated myself to the Green Car pass which is essentially first class, and I have to say that I was not disappointed.
From the 15th to the 20th of August, I was in Tokyo. I booked at an AirB&B near Nishinippori station. I stayed with Kotarosan, Keisan, and Miyachan. I’ll be staying with them again from the 28th to the 31st on my way out of the country.
As this trip is not just for vacation, but also to gather research information for Anth 398, I did some actual observing of the host family, but was hesitant to film them, especially since I am not supposed to be in contact with the subjects I am observing, due to not having the proper permissions from the ethics board at my university. What I did observe, however, is that Miyachan spent most of the time with her mother when it came to things like eating, sleeping, and cleanliness. She seemed more attached to her mother in ways than her father.
When it came time for things like playing or educational activities however, Miyachan was pretty much at the father’s side, whether it was watching what I would call educational anime or taking part in an activity like putting a puzzle together while Keisan did things in the kitchen like preparing for meals or cleaning up. While the aforementioned observation deviates from the outlined readings and educational material covered, I would like to point out that it is possible that the readings covered on childhood education (Creighton, 1994) are a generalization of society as a whole (At least that’s what I understood from those readings), and just as families in North America can deviate from the expected societal and cultural norm, so too must Japanese families.
Now for things that aren’t specifically school related. I spent quite a fair bit of time wandering around Tokyo while getting used to how things are done in this part of the world, getting used to speaking basic sentences in a foreign language and adjusting to a whole new way of life for two weeks. Most of my time was spent walking. I’d leave the house at 0700 or 0800 and generally not come back until 1900 or 2000. Sometimes this would result in me sitting in coffee shops for a couple of hours in order to give myself a break or finding a place to have a meal while I rested my feet.
I’ve been to Asakusa, Odaiba, Harajuku, Akihabara, Ginza, and a few other places here and there. Over all, the most memorable experiences for me in Tokyo so far have to be the Vampire Cafe in Ginza which I may visit again on my way out of the country if I have enough money left over from my backpacking adventures and the huge freaking Unicorn Gundam in Odaiba. I’ll post pictures of the Gundam below, but I’m still working on getting a decent picture of the Vampire Cafe from the video I acquired.
As far as the Gundam, the pictures I took really don’t do it justice. You can’t really get a scope of how big this thing is. It’s something that you need to definitely see for yourself in order to understand it on some levels.
Something else I’ve noticed, just to make a note of, are vending machines in Japan. They are literally everywhere, and if you can imagine it as a product, you can probably buy it in a vending machine. More on these later, however, as I’m going to go grab some more video and snap some more photos for later use.
Blaze-in’ The Trails in Japan.