segunda-feira, 11 de abril de 2011

Trip to Tokyo

So here are some of the pictures I took when I went to Tokyo. I'm rubbish at taking pictures while travelling because my main focus is to see everything in the short time I have, a week in Tokyo was definitely not enough! I'm always running around and hurrying everyone else, it can be quite annoying but I can't help it, I feel like the white Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, constantly out of time. And that's why I take very few pictures, I only took 500, which is almost nothing compared to the amount some of my friends have. It just takes me forever to shoot a decent picture, and I get annoyed with the amount of time I'm wasting, so I rather take none and just commit everything to memory.

Tokyo tower, some 20 meters away from our hotel

 Zojoji temple, again within walking distance from our hotel, Tokyo most like London is a very walkable city, I could walk for hours without getting tired, unlike Lisbon with her seven hills that make it a pain to walk from point A to point B.
 Night sky view from Tokyo Tower
 It snowed on Monday! We were all so excited, it rarely snows in Portugal and when it does it's only in the northern region, the last time it snowed in Lisbon was some six years ago, and before that it hadn't snowed in eleven years. We had to walk from the subway station to the NHK studios, and it snowed non stop during that time, it was bliss.
Cute furry dolls at the NHK headquarters.
Japanese television is so different from Europe, everything is bright and colorful, and we actually enjoyed watching the ads, also the shows were incredibly stupid and cute. The first thing I did everyday when I got to my room was switch on the tv and see if I could catch a soap opera we were hooked on, akb48, but we soon realized it must only broadcast on Sundays, since that was the only day we could watch it. Some friends later bought the manga in Akihabara, and realized it involved cross-dressing boys, a sort of  music academy and girls groping each other, our fondness for it only grew after this discovery.
 Partial view of Harajuku station, clearly not Sunday as you can see by the lack of bright colorful people. I was really bummed we didn't get to see it in its full glory. We ended up staying another Sunday because of the earthquake but we were rationing our money, so we didn't use the subway and it was too far away from our hotel to get there on foot, or so my teacher said.

 Suddenly ravens...thousands of them. They were quite a common feature in Tokyo, and unlike in western culture they bring good luck, I could barely sleep on the first night thanks to their crowing, but I eventually got used to it, and I am now very fond of them.
 Residential areas in Tokyo, this reminded me so much of Doraemon, we found a house that looked just like Nobita's but I didn't get to take a picture since we were in a hurry to get to Tokyo University, later we realized it was only fifteen minutes away from Shibuya.

 Old buildings inside the University campus, we had so much fun there, the teachers that welcomed us were great, they gave us a tour around the campus, and tried to scout us to study there. I'll definitely apply, you know its true love when after an  earthquake, tsunami and radioactive spill you still want to go back.
Uni students playing lacrosse

 Asakusa, perfect for buying souveniers
 Shibuya at night, it was extremely hard to take pictures since the streets were so crowded. I loved it there, it was definitely the heart of Tokyo, and home to the famous Shibuya crossing, 109 and Hachiko's statue.
 We also visited a junior highschool while there, and they were kind enough to go to school on holiday. The reception was amazing, they sang some traditional Japanese songs and played the flute wonderfully, I even teard up a little from the sheer beauty of it. Later we had lunch with them in the classroom and it was so much fun, only few spoke English but we managed, for some reason they found it amazing that we watched anime and knew so much about their pop culture.
From left to right: Joana, me and Catarina

 Imperial gardens, where the junior high students we visited usually hold sport tournments, since the gardens are whitin walking distance from their school

Hama-rikyu gardens, where we had tea in a traditional Japanese tea-house, their tea is soooo good, I usually don't like tea, but their tea won me over almost as much as the food did. I used to like Chinese food better than Japanese before goingo to Japan, but I'm not so sure now, they are both so delicious.
 Odaiba, seen from the ferry.

Ginza, the Monday after the earthquake, life was slowly returning to normal in Tokyo.
When the quake hit we were all separated in three groups for last minute shopping, I was in Akihabara, some of us were  in the Tokyo Tower, and the rest was in Ginza.
I'm not gonna lie, it was pretty frightning seeing all the buildings shaking as if they were made of straw, but the rational part of my brain kept telling me that they were supposed to do that.
After the initial shock everything calmed down a bit and we just wanted to assure our families that we were all alright, we still didn't know anything about the tsunami while they did, and were worried sick even though Sendai was far from Tokyo. After that our only fear was the imminence of a nuclear disaster, it was heart-wrenching seeing Japan go through this, it felt so surreal, like it couldn't possibly be happening there. I left on Wednesday with the first group, and I cried on the bus to the airport because it felt wrong leaving a country I loved in that situation, as silly as it may sound I wanted to stay and help out. The other group left on Thursday and we had a very sentimental reunion on the Airport in Lisbon. Through all this the Portuguese embassy in Tokyo did everything they could to get us accommodation and a flight back, they were great and I think I speak for everyone in the group when I say we'll never forget what they did for us.
I won't ever forget Japan and the Japanese either, it was the trip of a lifetime and I know I'll return, maybe even for good, who knows...
Meanwhile try to help and donate to the Japanese red cross, it doesn't matter the amount, every cent counts.

4 comentários:

  1. I love all of your pictures. I've never been to Tokyo but I definitely wanna go there one day!

  2. Thank you!
    and you should go, it's a country like no other

  3. Sua sortuda! Adorava conhecer o Japão e agora depois destas fotos ainda mais. Só lamento o que aconteceu por lá e claro que é importante que cada um de nós faça a nossa parte e tente ajudar.
    Bjos :)

  4. LOVE this post... love JAPAN


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