Walking Around Tokyo

Posted by Carrie on Monday, October 16th, 2006

This morning Carrie and I both woke up incredibly early- because we couldn’t sleep we went down to he hotel restaurant for breakfast. Breakfast was a combination of Japanese and “American” food- eggs, cereal, yogurt, pancakes – and then there was also some sort of smoked fish, Japanese eggs, miso soup and many other items that I didn’t recognize- I tried them though. We had about an hour before we were to meet our translator- Kaoru. So, Carrie and I took the opportunity to walk around Tokyo. We are staying in a very nice part of downtown- we are right in the middle of world class shopping- Tiffany’s, BCBG, Prada, Christian Dior, Chanel, Gucci, Luis Vuitton, Hermes, Barney’s – and many more. I, of course, have never been in any of these stores, so I can’t wait to simply take a look. Today, Carrie and I did not check out these stores, we walked around other areas. It was about 9 am and so most people were on their way to work. It was very quite – in fact, for such a large city it was weird- seemed that no one was talking- no one said hello to each other- and I felt like I stuck out in the crowd. This really wasn’t a surprise- I’m taller than most of the women and I have thick curly hair – I have yet to see any curly hair at all. And, I’m not sure I’ve seen more black and grey suits in my life- that seems to be the business “uniform”. The men I see at home, seem much more “business casual”. It also seems to be a country ( course I’m only in Tokyo) of slim, fit people. Coming from America where we have major problems with obesity, this was kind of strange, everyone is thin! Tokyo is also a pretty hip place- high fashion- women are not as conservative as the men- and anything seems to go! It is also the cleanest city I’ve ever been in- there is no garbage on the streets and I have yet to see one garbage can either! I was told that the reason for this is because of a terrorist bombing which took place about 10 years ago- the bomb was placed in a garbage can and so now garbage cans are not placed on the streets.Next we met our translator- Kaoru, who is 34 and has lived in several places in the United States. She is engaged to a man from MN- which is how she became our main contact here in Japan. We met for coffee and talked about our plans for the week and our first interview with a woman named- Yukiko, an educator and researcher. Kaoru will spend the next several days with us in Tokyo. Kaoru first helped us translate our release form for those we will be interviewing. Next we had to buy train tickets to Hiroshima- which is about 3-4 hours way. We’ll be going to Hiroshima on Thursday. Things are not cheap in Japan and getting to Hiroshima will cost us about $300/person round trip! Once we bought our tickets it was time for lunch! Kaoriu found a great place – I’m not sure what everything was – but it was awesome- the one problem- chopsticks! I hope to have mastered this by the end of the week.

Our first interview today was with a woman named Yukiko. I had a lot of fun talking to her- of course, it was through Kaoru. Yukiko works with high school students who have returned from the U.S. or other countries and must re-acclimate to life in Japan. She talked in depth about how many of these students feel they no longer have a Japanese identity and have “adopted’ many American (those in America) “characteristics/ideas”. Most of these students have not learned much about Japanese traditions, history or culture and need to learn more in order to catch up to the other Japanese students. One thing she said that Japanese students learn in America is “competitiveness”- something that is not always valued in Japanese society. I had never thought about this- pretty interesting! There are many other things I learned from talking to Yukiko- but I will have to tell you all later- I’m super tired! I have not yet adjusted to this time change- I will write more late!

Carrie/Ms Lennox to my students! :)

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