I posted a while ago that I got my scooter licence, so here is a picture of my scooter. It is of course green… a one of a kind custom job by its previous owner. I also got a green helmet to match it. Anyway, one of the first places I went on my scooter is to the Urasoe Museum. I wanted to see a special exhibit before it was over, and now I had a way to get there. The exhibit was interesting, and I took the opportunity to study my Japanese as well. It is great to not have to rely on the bus anymore, expecially since the routes are limited.
The last two days we spent exploring Tokyo. We visited Harajuku, Omotesando, Shibuya, Asakusa, Akihabara, and Shinjuku. If we had more time we could have visited more places, but I think Luong got the general idea of what Tokyo is like, including the packed trains, crowded streets, and city lights.
The usual crowd was hanging out on the bridge at Harajuku.
Kaminarimon at Asakusa.
There were also filming some tv thing while we were there. I had no clue who that guy was though.
We got to see a small festival as well with a really good taiko group.
We didnt get any pictures, but we also checked out Akihabara, saw lots of maids, and went to the worlds largest electronics store to sit in their massage chairs for an hour.
The next day we spent climbing Mt. Takao. Luong wanted to do some hiking as well while he was in Japan. Mt. Takao is one of the closest, easiest, and nicest mountains in Tokyo. Unfourtunately, in the summer the air is not the cleanest, so we didnt have that great of a view of the city below.
Summer in Tokyo means fireworks shows. When we got back from Takao, we meet two of my friend and we all went to see the Tachikawa fireworks. Like every year, there are thousands of people, all searching for a good spot to see the show. This was way outside the grounds, inside there were more people than you could possibly imagine.
Finally the pictures.
It was a busy trip and we tried to get in as much as possible with the time we had.
One of the first places we went to when we landed in Tokyo was to a Japanese garden.
It was nice to relax after the flight, and see some of the calming side of Tokyo before heading on into the city.
We then went to the imperial palace grounds. Here again was a lot of open green space with lots of trees.
We then took a walk to Yasukuni Shrine. On the way I explained the significance of the shine after WWII and now in Japanese politics. If you didnt know Yasukuni Shrine is dedicated to all who died fighting for the Emperor. We also looked at the WWII museum that in on the shrine grounds/
Lastly, we headed back to the place I used to live to watch the Koganei Awaodori. It was good timing to as I have seen the festival every year before.
The day before Luong went back to LA there was a Eisa Festival on Kokusai St. There were supposedly over 10,000 performers. Eisa is the Okinawan version of the taiko drum and dancing. The festival was interesting and there were a lot of good groups, but the atmosphere was still a lot different than festivals in Tokyo. The culture overall is different in Okinawa, and even after 6 months of living here I am still getting used to it.
The weekend after we got back from Tokyo, Ken had signed us all up for a cave tour. I have been in many caves before so I knew what to expect… but this time was different. What we really signed up for was “Extreme Tunnel Rats”. The caves we went to were not the usual touristy caves with lights and guardrails inside, these were actual bring your own source of light, dirty, muddy, full of bats, and and during WWII hundreds of Japanese bodies caves and tunnels. To go into the caves means you will get dirty, and if you want to go far enough, crawling on your hand and knees through mud, water, and bat guano.
This first cave was the easy one. One of the roomier and drier ones.
Ken warping back to WWII and waiting for the enemy.
An exit to cave number 2. It wasnt easy to get in or out of this one.
Cave number 3. This is where it got really muddy. Plus Ken looks really scary.
Making our way deeper and deeper into the cave. Supposedly 1000 Japanese people lived in this cave for 80 days while the Americans were invading the island during WWII. As I made my way through I could imagine what hell it would be like to live in those kind of conditions. Needless to say, many never came out of the cave.
The cave did not smell very good thanks to all these bats. I could hear them fly within centimeters of my head then turn on a dime and fly away.
Completely muddy from crawling through tiny muddy passageways, and slightly injured from sliding and falling down a ledge, we finally made it to the deepest part of the cave.
Sliding down a muddy ledge is easy, trying to get back up is very difficult, but with some teamwork we made it out alive. Im also surprised my camera, with all the mud that got in it, made it out alive too.
As I mentioned before, my friend Luong was visiting from LA.
I got a few days off of work and we took a long weekend trip to Tokyo.
I took him to see most of the major sites:
and of course ate Melonpan at Asakusa
…among lots of other things. I will be sure to go into details later on.
This was a month ago, but I am posting it now.
Anyway, this was the day I got my scooter licence. After studying a lot, and skipping out on work, I passed the test. The following Tuesday only after a few hours of practice on a small course I finally received my Japanese 50cc scooter licence. On the way back to work I decided to take some extra time and went to a Japanese garden in the area with one of the other girls that also got her licence on the same day.
Me holding my new licence.