Thursday, May 28, 2009

Our Japanese counterparts

On Tuesday night we all met the Japanese students who we will be working with for the next two weeks (or at this point, a week and a half). They were all super nice, but don't know tons of English, so our conversations are really pretty fun. We all went out to a restaurant, which was entirely rented out for our use. Check out photos at the restaurant website: Penny Lane

For the rest of the time we are in Tokyo, we will be working on a short 2-3 minute video about the materiality of Japan (or really, anything we want). We aren't required to work with a group, but we have been collaborating with some of the Japanese students to get some ideas out and to get a more in-depth tour of Tokyo while we are here. When the videos are finished, they will all be posted on the class blog, but we will also post the 3 that we make on this blog.

When we went out the other night, it was also Amber's birthday, and they brought over a piece of cake with "Happy Birthday Amber" written on the plate next to it. After several iterations, it became something else entirely.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

murderapolis...tokyo style!

A friend of mine told me that Tokyo could easily be a walking city if the streets weren't so damn confusing. He claims you can walk through "major" Tokyo in 3.5 hours. It might be the biggest urban hiking legend yet, however, subway maps are very deceptive and stations are actually closer than you would think. Not feeling the motivation to walk 3.5 hours, we all decided to rent bikes! And at 5 bucks a week for a sweet rental, you can't go wrong. Well, except for figuring out how to traverse a grid-less city.

So, I strapped my camera to the front basket and have been recording way too many bike movies.
For instance: our ride going back to the ryokan from Fabric Town.

video

Monday, May 25, 2009

Tire park

The other day, before leaving Syacho's house, Mark and I borrowed his bike and biked around the area. This was accomplished by Mark biking and me standing on the one foot peg in the back, or vice versa.

We found a kid's park composed entirely of sand and tires. Filthy, really, but pretty fun. Some of the tires were made into huge shapes and play spaces, but most were loose and the children could build with them or slide down a huge concrete berm with them.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

For James

James has requested that I post the screen shot that he took, finding me in Mark's "Where is Messie?" video. Here you go, James.

Tochyo Tower, Tokyo Tower

The other day, Mark and I stumbled upon Tochyo Tower, one of the tallest buildings in Tokyo (at about 45 stories... remember, it's an earthquake zone), and it was free to go to the top. It was a bit smoggy that day, but you can get an idea of how massive the city is.


Then, the next day, Dan, Amber, Mark and I found Tokyo Tower, which looks like the Eiffel Tower. It was nighttime, and we went to the top of the tower to see a completely different version of Tokyo.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Architecture Heaven

The four of us are in the Apple store in Ginza. Some things are universal...though the keyboards here certainly aren't. 

I just wanted to take a moment to tell you that Tokyo is architecture heaven. Everything you've been told is impossible in school, well, you've been lied to. It's not only possible, it's being done here all the time. People on the streets look at us as if we're crazy for admiring the buildings.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Where's Messie?

video
Can you spot Jessie during rush hour at Shinjuku?

Rush hour in Shibuya

video

Just for fun - Eating fries at McDonald's

video

Odaiba (Trash Island)

The other day we took a little trip to Odaiba, an island in the harbor made of trash. It sounds like it would be junky, but it has become a very ritzy sort of area. There are also some decent views back toward Tokyo. We ate a picnic lunch on the beach, then walked around to see some of the shopping centers, the giant ferris wheel (second largest in the world) and the Toyota showroom.


View across Tokyo harbor to the city


Crazy Japanese building... and a mini statue of liberty to the left


The giant ferris wheel... second only to the London Eye. The lowest gondola on the bottom right is all glass.


Toyota concept vehicle?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Pit Stop

Dan and I returned to our hostel Sunday night to find a note on the door. "The Japan Health and Human Services would like to verify your condition. Please go to the reception desk for a brief health check."

We stopped by reception on our way out yesterday morning. This was not a simple, yes I'm feeling fine thank you, health check. They took both of our temperatures via an armpit thermometer.

We're both well, just a little jet-lagged, thank you.

Day 2... Asakusa!

Our second day we went over to Asakusa, a cool little area where Dan and Amber are staying. There is a really large temple there, and we happened to go on a day that had a huge festival, where each neighborhood dressed in their kimonos (basically like jerseys) and carried around huge shrines and chanted. It was super fun. We also found some great little shops.

After a fairly long day of walking, we headed back to Syacho's house, where a lot of his and Kenji's friends were hanging out, and we had a little mini-party. We tried to stay up as late as possible to get on the right time, but we can only make it to about midnight before totally bombing. Still, it was super fun to meet a lot of people and try to have conversations in Japanesglish.

Backlog... Flight to Japan

Hello everyone! Mark, Jessie, Amber and Dan here, reporting from Japan. Update number one:

It was an incredibly long trip for the four of us into Japan, and once we got here on the plane we had to sit on the tarmac for over an hour while people in full suits, face masks, gloves, goggles, and hair coverings came onto the plane and thermo-imaged everyone with a hand-held device, then collected this health information sheets we had to fill out. It wasn't too bad, but the plane heated up, and we had been sitting for 14 hours already... so it was nice to finally get off the plane.

Then we took a few trains into Tokyo and met up with one of Mark's friends, Kenji. He took us to a cheap sushi place for dinner and then we dropped off Amber and Dan at their hostel before heading back to Mark's friend Syacho's place for the night. At that point, I think we had been awake for 20-some hours (no idea what the time difference is yet) and we were totally pooped. After a few beers with our hosts, we headed to bed and crashed.