Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Eh-hum # 138

Hisashiburi desune!

I just came back from a one-week trip, away from Kobe. It started when a friend of mine mentioned to me that she intends to spend one week in Tokyo to do research work for her dissertation and then visit some places near and outside Japan's capital. When she invited me, I thought about it first and went on to do some serious accounting (we stayed with her friend, also a Filipina, who is a Ph D student at Sophia University). But in the end, I said yes; and I am glad I did.

We used the very cheap Ju-Hachi Kippu offered by Japan Railways (JR). The kippu, or ticket, costs us 8,000 yen (it normally costs 11,500, but they have a special promo for Spring 2007) and can be used 5 times and back and forth anywhere in Japan (just as long you use JR lines and use it within one day or before midnight). Convenient, yes; but for first timers in Japan (like me), I recommend you use it when you are traveling with someone who has used it before or has lived/studied in Japan for a long time. In our case, we had to transfer trains SIX times and overall, the trip (from Kobe to Tokyo) was 10 to 11 hours.

My friend and I kept saying that the main objective of this trip was to do visit the National Diet Library, and we did; we spend THREE DAYS of our (precious) vacation time there. I am still in limbo as to what my MA thesis should discuss, but I have limited it to Japan and Maritime Security (bigat ba?). The trip to the library wasn't so bad; actually, it was quite an experience. I was impressed by the library's (borrowing) system and its vast collection of materials. The references I got (and photocopied) dates back to 1910 (a survey of Japan's military arsenal pre-WW I) and to the SCAP years (after WW II). Visitors don't go to the catalogs and look for the books themselves; you use the computerized/online catalog to search for the book. After a clicking a few buttons, you wait until your registration card number is flashed on a flat screen TV located at the lobby and the library staff will hand you the book/reference material you requested. Not bad eh?

After the research work, my friends and I went around and beyond the Tokyo area. The places we visited (in no particular order) include: Ueno Park (minus the cherry blossoms...sayang), Ame-Ya Yoko-Cho Market in Ueno, Asakusa and the famous Sensoji Temple, Roppongi Hills and Mori Tower (with a view of the Tokyo Tower), Kamakura (highlight was the Great Buddha), holy Enoshima Island and its shrines, posh Odaiba and Fuji Television (Main) Office, Nikko (3 hours away from Tokyo), the Japanese Parliament (Diet) and Shibuya's busy pedestrian lane(s) and Hachiko's statue. Whew! Kakapagod..lalo na ang bulsa...hehehe. That's why we also went to a Sento located in Senagawa (aaahhh, the public bath...something I was initially afraid of).

I grew up in Metro Manila, (particularly in Quezon City); hence, I am basically a city dweller. But, I pale in comparison to Tokyo's residents. If there's one word to describe the city and its people, its BUSY...very, very busy. People walk as if they're LATE (this is Japan; NOBODY gets late). And the trains and subways; its PACKED, even on SUNDAYS. Plus, one can get lost easily with all the buildings, the streets and the subways. Kobe is also a vibrant city in its own right, but it is more laidback than Tokyo. That's why I reckon it will be harder for me to adjust to Japan life if I was studying in Tokyo; Kobe's relaxed atmosphere suits me well. But that is not to say I did not enjoy my trip to the Kanto area. As I mentioned earlier, I'm glad I joined my friend on this trip. Not only I get to visit some fantastic sites, I also saw how diverse Japan really is, starting with the differences between life in Kobe and Tokyo. I had fun, but it was educational as well.


I did my best, but I guess my best wasn't good enough. I am talking about a four letter word. Not that word, but this: blog. Well, come to think of it, its not really a new blog. Yesterday, I signed up for a Multiply account. I have been receiving invites from friends to create one, but I kept ignoring it (sorry po!) because I am cool with the henyo blog. But when my sister started asking me to visit her account, I decided to create one so that she could easily view my pictures while I'm here in Japan. Anyway, it turned out OK: http://coniferophyta.multiply.com/. But as I said in my short intro, this account is for pictures, dake. Eh-hum.

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