This post was originally featured on one of Temple University’s Study Abroad Blogs, which document the journeys of students studying at Temple affiliated universities around the world. My post appeared on the “Temple U Japan” student blog on February 20th, 2015.
Sitting — or most often standing — in a crowded subway train, one experiences an array of emotions, especially upon encountering morning and evening rush hour. I have come to think of these instances as a series of mental tests that improve, daily, my character and tolerance level as a growing adult. On the 6 o’clock morning trains I look forward to swallowing hairspray and perfume and taking the occasional briefcase to the hip. After a long day at work or school I’m perfectly fine with building up arm and leg strength via germ-infested train handles instead of plopping onto a warm, heated seat. I also treasure, and will most definitely miss, the one magical act that never fails to make me feel closer (sometimes too close) to fellow humans than I’ve ever felt before: the grumbles and grunts we all utter in unison when new friends from each station push their way in through the train doors to join us on an hour-long commute. Because I see these beautiful sights five days a week here in Japan, I know that these experiences will stay with me forever…
What will fade away into the misty recesses of my 21-year-old brain are the truly breathtaking sights I get to see with my frequently inadequate free time — the magnificent gardens, the other-worldly giant statues (and the small cute ones too, namely Hachiko), the remarkably designed buildings, the smooth criss-cross of people in the streets, the engaging museums… And this is why I have evolved rather quickly into the American tourist I knew I’d become. After reading pieces in my literature classes that sprinkle names of Japanese cities here and there, I actually get to go out and see them for myself, whether they’re big tourist spots or everyday quiet towns. Phone and sometimes crappy camera in hand, I document what is, for typical people here, the normal goings-on of Japanese cities. But to my eyes it’s all fresh, and I find myself describing Japan with phrases like “a blur of color,” “fantastical and whimsical streets,” and “modern and stylish pedestrians,” although I could attribute these words to many cool cities and places in my home country. I hate to think of myself as the obsessive photographer and the girl who takes notes spontaneously on the subway like a desperate author searching for their next hit novel, but, that’s who I am in Japan and I can’t get enough.
If you’ll put up with the shaky camera and you’re willing to take on, for a moment, the same over-excited tourist mentality I feel everyday as a student here, join me in taking a look at a few of the places I’ve been to in Tokyo. I’ll show you the cute pup Hachiko, the Tokyu Department Store in Shibuya, and a few more spots in Harajuku, Ginza, and Itabashi. Come see the sights with me!
Check out the “Temple U Japan” student study abroad blog, where this post first debuted, at: https://templejapan.wordpress.com/2015/02/20/me-the-wide-eyed-student-tourist-i-knew-id-become/