Today, after a particularly depressing day, I decided to take a walk, and I'm sure glad I did.
For starters, I feel like there are 3 schools combined into 1. There is Temple University for Americans, TUJ for Japanese people, and Good ol' Temple for everyone who's returning. I'm clearly in the Temple University for Americans, and I actually feel quite isolated from the other groups. Before I got here, I read that it takes a few weeks for everyone (particularly the Japanese) to intermingle. I'm a little annoyed, but I'm pleased that this situation is supposed to be temporary.
I went to my Japanese class, and I realized how far behind I am. I also have an irrational fear of speaking Japanese and fucking it up. I went to go sign up for tutoring, but it turns out that that there's no tutoring for the first few weeks, which is quite unfortunate.
Every day I cross a street, and if I look to the right, I see Tokyo tower, so today I finally decided to go there.
I walked for a really long time, and it was interesting to see the tower get closer.
Tokyo Tower is supposedly bigger than the Eiffel tower, and I'll believe it, but it seemed to be missing some of the grandeur I remembered from visiting France when I was a kid. I think the fact that the Eiffel tower is on a flat plane while the Tokyo tower is on top of a hill with parks around it.
There was a giant building underneath Tokyo tower. Apparently, there is a rad wax museum inside.
I did have one major surprise about Tokyo tower.
Right next to one of the largest and most obvious buildings in the biggest metropolitan area in the world is a very modest graveyard. There was also another graveyard on the other side of the tower. I was quite shocked to find that. No tourist restaurants, no tacky gift shops, just some hotels, graveyards, parks, and old, old buildings.
I followed the signs to the closest train station, which either I took a wrong turn or the closest station was quite far, but I ended up walking down this road that was surrounded by temples and shrines. There were hundreds these little statues wearing red bonnets and a giant pavilion and some tents. I wanted to take a picture, but I felt quite humbled and awkward. For a place like that to exist anywhere in the world is pretty amazing, but to exist in a place where the cost of land is so astronomical is damned impressive.
I only took two pictures, and one I thought didn't turn out so well, but on second viewing it seems to have a magical glow to it.
This picture was the same picture someone else took:
On the way to the train station, I passed by a gate that dates back to the Edo period (1603-1868) It used to guard the town, but now it's just a gate with a road through it.
I was impressed once again on how development didn't destroy history, but integrated itself around it. This area was far from a quaint neighborhood too. I passed by several multi-story buildings and the Tokyo world trade center.
My only regret for the day was I left my real camera at home, however my cell phone camera did quite a good job.