Tea Ceremony

Japan has existed as a country much longer than the United States. Therefore they have some ancient traditions that they still keep alive. The Tea Ceremony was a way for the historical Japanese to socialize. Like many traditional things in Japan, when you enter the room for a tea ceremony your shoes have to be off. The Japanese like their floors to be clean. So the ceremony started with everyone sitting in a circle in a room (there were about ten of us) and our Japanese hostess first brought out a bowl. She did a bow to everyone and some other formalities before kneeling at a station nearby that was setup to hand make the tea right in front of us. After making the first bowl she gave it to the first person who then bowed out of respect as she bowed and handed them the bowl. The person then displayed the bowl as to see the design on the outside and drank the tea. This process was repeated for each person in the room until everyone had a bowl. After we were done with our bowls they took them from us and tea was done and socializing was accomplished.

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Baseball

Japanese baseball is very different than American Baseball. I’m not talking about how the game is played itself. I am talking about the atmosphere surrounding the game and how the stadium operates. On our study abroad I went to a baseball game where the Yomiuri Giants and the Orix Buffaloes played each other at the Tokyo Dome. The Tokyo Dome is an indoor baseball field where many baseball games are played. As you enter the stadium they check your bags if you have any and check your ticket. Once you’re inside they confiscate any liquid containers you have but instead of throwing the liquid away they provide you with a cup to put whatever liquid you have into. As we found our seats on our left away from the game like American baseball there were consignment shops selling food and merchandise. As we found our seats we were greeted to a full stadium and two sections of intense cheering. These sections were full of people all wearing uniforms or fan shirts of their team and flailing towels of their teams colors. Each time a batter would come up to bat the crowd would cheer their name and some other songs I didn’t understand and if that batter hit, scored, or hit a home run the stadium erupted in cheer. Now American baseball has it’s exciting moments where the crowd really gets into it but Japanese baseball is consistently energetic throughout the season and throughout each game.

Day 16 Overview

Today we visited more students at Waseda University and talked to them. After that we went to Japan Rail East Research Laboratory where they talked about what their company is now and what they are hoping to accomplish in the future. Dr. C treated us with Sibu-Sibu, an all-you-can-eat style restaurant that I’ll talk about in a blog post. It is the last official night of the group 😦

Day 15 Overview

Today we went to Waseda University where we met and talked with Japanese students there. After that we went to a baseball game! The baseball games are much more animated in Japan. Travel was hectic today but we made it.

Maid Cafes

In Japan there are these cafes called maid cafes. At the maid cafe we went to in Akihabara there was a 500 Yen or $5 cover charge for entering. The first thing you will notice, and the main attraction of going to a maid cafe, is that all the waitresses are dressed in very frilly, shiny, and just plain fancy French maid outfits. All of the waitresses talk and act excitedly, almost in a “valley girl” way. You sit down at your seat and there is a menu of treats and snacks available. It’s not really a place that’s meant to be a meal; its more like a sit down ice-cream shop. After a few minutes they will come and get your order for food and when they bring that food out they make you do some sort of happy song/hand-movements before you enjoy your food. I couldn’t understand what they were saying but it had something to do with a heart. Bottom line is that if you want an interesting experience and would like to be served by overly cute Japanese girls then go to a maid cafe.

Toilets in Japan

Toilets in Japan are weird. In a traditional western style bathroom there is a toilet that is basically a seat with a hole in it. On a Japanese toilet its basically just a hole in the ground. I find that western style toilets are fairly comfortable and some offer many functions (like a bidet). I don’t even really know how to use a Japanese toilet to go poop. I’m assuming there’s some sort of technique that involves squatting but I haven’t been able to figure it out. It might be because of my abnormally large size (comparative to the average Japanese person) but I’m fairly certain I just didn’t have the technique down. I would like to point out that I’ve only run into Japanese style bathrooms in public and most of the time there is also a western-style toilet nearby. So if you’re in Japan and you need to use the restroom just beware that there are different toilets depending on where you are.

Akihabara

Where is the one place that you go to in Tokyo when you need something electronic: Akihabara. Akihabara is a section of Tokyo that is jam packed full of computer stores, hardware and software. A typical shop in Akihabara will consist of several floors. As I mentioned in an earlier blog post Japan goes up and not out. Each floor of said shop will have specific products on that floor. This is not specific to Akihabara, this is common throughout Japan. An example of how the floors are distributed would be something like: 1st floor – DS/PSP, 2nd floor Xbox/PS3/Wii, 3rd Floor – PS2/DVDs, 4th floor – CDs/DVDs. Some stores have less floors than others and the way in which the stores are setup varies greatly. A larger name store with lots of space is setup much more organized than a store that has less floor space per level but more levels. So the bottom line is that if you need something related to a computer and you’re in Tokyo, go to Akihabara.

Day 14 Overview

Today was another free day, it was rainy. We still went somewhere as a group though. We visited Harajuku and Akihabara. Harajuku was a place known for people dressing up in costumes of their favorite anime characters. Since it was rainy we didn’t see many but there were a few good ones. Akihabara is the electronic district that has anything and everything you could want related to computers. Was a pretty chill day.

Day 13 Overview

Today was a free day which i spent most of sleeping, eating, doing homework for my online class, and socializing on the internet. Weeee….

Day 12 Overview

Today we visited NTT DOCOMO which is the largest cellular phone service company in Japan having over 50% of the country using their service. They had some interesting things to show us including more using AR technology with phones as well as vibration technology that transmit sounds by vibrating your body instead of vibrating the air through speakers or headphones. After that we went to Yokohama for a lesson about tea ceremonies. We then walked around Yokohama and enjoyed the scenery. Now chill.

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