Shinjuku

Last night was hectic, exhilarating, and exhausting.  People always say getting lost is the best way to explore unknown territory, and while I didn’t exactly get lost, I was on my own more than I ever have been before.

During the day, we had class (Friday, woo-hoo!) and then an orientation for UC schools.  After that, a few of us got together to go to Mitaka City Hall to apply for our Alien Registration Cards.  I need that to get a cell phone.  I don’t know what this is, but it was outside City Hall and I thought it was pretty.  I also saw this huge beetle that I thought was pretty.  Have I mentioned how large the bugs are here?  I am actually aware of the ants.  They are usually about the size of a Q-tip head (not quite as fat) and sometimes get up to fingernail size.  It’s pretty crazy.

Also, here’s a picture of the streets by Mitaka City Hall, as well as those nifty street signs I was talking about.

But now, on to my adventure.
We all took the bus back toward campus the way we came, but I had been invited to meet up with Melissa and a few others to head to Shinjuku later, so I asked if the bus we were on would take me to Musashisakai Station (our main train station).  I only got a maybe, but figured as long as I had some money and I knew how to say “I want to go to Musashisakai Station” in Japanese, I was fine.  And I was.  The bus took me where I wanted to be, even earlier than I had expected.  I filmed the ride, because my mom showed me a YouTube video that another girl had done similar to this and I found it interesting.  In case you can’t tell, the sign that I tilt the camera up to show is a no smoking sign.  I think theirs are more interesting than ours.  Once we pulled into the station, I explored a little bit and found this amazing little book store.  In Japan, most book stores are like this one: small and very full, and they have just about everything book-wise you could think of, including manga, novels, textbooks and instructional books, magazines, childrens’ books, etc.  And people just go in there and treat it a lot like a library.  They stand around reading books and people whisper, and when they’re done, they either buy the book or leave.

After that I went into the station and we all met up (me, Melissa, a guy named Brent whose name I only remember because not only is he ridiculously good at Japanese, but he has my dad’s name, and two other guys who I think were named John and Party-Pooper).  We took the train to Shinjuku, which is essentially a huge hub of commerce, tourism, shopping, and nightlife.  We wandered for a bit and then suddenly I grabbed Melissa and ran down a flight of stairs into my heaven.

Later we decided to get something to eat.  The place we ended up had on-table cooking and lots of traditional choices.  We got quite a lot of food, but what I mainly ate were these omelettes, where they mix up the egg with everything in the bowl as they slowly let it spill onto the hot plate, and then they put a cover on it and let it cook for 4 minutes (they provide a little hourglass so you can flip it yourself and reset the time).

After dinner we went to karaoke.  I tried singing some Japanese songs, including one I know and like called “Love So Sweet” by a very very famous boy band, Arashi.  This is a video of me struggling through the primarily Japanese song.  We also sang a lot of songs in English, with much more enthusiasm and speed.  But Party-Pooper “doesn’t sing girl songs.”

After a while we realized we needed to go because public transportation does stop running at some point.  Some people went their separate ways to their homestays, but Brent, Party-Pooper, and I had to go back to the dorm.  We had missed the last bus by about an hour, though.  So we walked the 2.5 miles back to campus.  It was a bit obnoxious, but it’s good for me to know how to get to campus from the main station.
By the time we got back it was about 12:30, so I got to sleep a bit later than expected last night.  Today I got up and headed to Shibuya.  That was a lot of fun, but I will post about it tomorrow.