SO amazing that my head is having a lot of trouble slowing down and processing all the information. Today was the first ‘real’ day of the trip as yesterday was either spent on a plane or on a train on the way to the apartment.
And it was AMAZING. Kelsie and I were up really early so we went exploring our little tiny neighbourhood which was SO quiet and had a nice breakfast at one of the many cafes near the apartment. We also did a bit of ‘essential’ shopping and managed to find about 6 different combinis… and then decided that we could both spend at least half of our vacation in combinis and be perfectly happy.
At 11AM, we met Kazumi at Nishi-Ogikubo station. I met Kazumi about 2 years ago at a CNSA conference; we were Facebook buddies since then and when I told him that I/we were going to Japan, he was nice enough to offer to meet up with me! I assumed that this was just going to be for lunch, and then Kazumi would send us on our way. Fortunately for Kelsie and me, I was very wrong. This made the day AWESOME. Kazumi was first WAY too nice about paying for food (coffees) and then explained the SUICA pass (finally!) and walked us through buying the passes (we learned that the ticket machines have English instructions). We then met up with one of this friends Tomo, who was very nice, very tall, and VERY skinny. And who immediately apologized that his English was ‘very bad’ though Kelsie and I would spend the rest of the day reassuring him that his English was actually very good (and better than Kelsie’s basic Japanese and my non-existent Japanese).
We went for lunch in Shinjuku which Tomo ended up paying for despite our protests and attempts to give him money; exchanged our train passes, and then started on the walk to Tokyo University, where Kazumi and Tomo are both working on PHDs… in nursing and pharmacy (Kelsie: They are REALLY smart, holy). At Tokyo University we got to tour the nursing faculty, meet one of Kazumi’s professors, meet several co-PHD students, and download and print directions for all of our ‘sight-seeing’ on the trip thanks to Kazumi’s kindness - we assumed that that would be it for the day with them and we’d be on our own. Very, VERY wrong. I think they both took our list of things we wanted to see as a challenge and thus took us to as many places as possible in one afternoon.
- Inokashira Park (near Nishi-Ogikubo)
- Tokyo Tower
- Meiji Temple
- Imperial Palace
- Yoyogi Park
- Ueno Park & Zoo
- Shinjuku Green
- Rainbow Bridge
We managed to hit all the districts, Meiji temple, and then Kazumi managed to track down someone to tour us around Osaka and we learned that Tomo worked about 5 minutes from Tokyo Tower…. and wanted to take us there!
Asakusa was AMAZING, Meiji shrine was fantastic even under construction, and then to meet more of their friends for drinks…
And the best part?
WE GOT KAT-TUN TICKETS AT FACE VALUE FROM KAZUMI’S FRIEND YUMI.
Actually… that part is also AWESOMELY COOL but I think I need another day to process and post everything…
More entries to come!!!