I'm going to begin at the end of the night, because that is where I conquered my worst fear - the sushi bar. I was beyond nervous and excited when we arrived, and I almost lost it with happiness when we sat at our table and there was a rotating conveyor belt beside the booth. Tonight was definitely an experience I will never forget! My first piece was cold cooked egg over rice - not bad but not too adventurous either. We then quickly progressed to raw salmon, cooked shrimp, eel, squid, sea urchins and my personal favorite.... salmon eggs! They exploded in your mouth and it definitely was the craziest thing I've ever tried! I could only take a couple of bites though - mind over matter only lasts so long.
Before dinner Kasumi, Haruka and I spent the entire day touring Tokyo. On our first stop we went up the Tokyo Tower, which was modeled after the Eiffel. The view was absolutely breathtaking - you could see pure city from at far as the eye could see. We then proceeded to do a little shopping at Ginza. Some stores were very Americanized, like Ambercrombie and Fitch. As soon as you walked in, there was a half naked guy and could get your picture taken with, and the music was blaring so loud you could barely talk to the person standing next to you. Next, the bus took us to Koukyo Maehiloba which is like the Central Park of Tokyo. The park has over 2,000 of Asian trees and takes over 60,000,000 yen to maintain every year. It was so tranquil I couldn't believe it was a public park. In the middles there is the present-day's Emporer's Koukyo (personal home), which is like Japan's white house.
The temples were next, and were my favorite part of the whole tour! I've never been submerged in another culture/religion like that ever before! It was amazing to see all the people funnel into a couple of buildings and pay their respects to the Japanese religion. After you go up to the alter you are able to buy a fortune. You pick out your fortune by shaking up a metal can which has a little hole in the top. When you are done shaking it you turn it over and a stick with a number (1-100) engraved in it comes out. You find that number drawer on the wall in front of you and pull it out. Mine was a bad one - it said I shouldn't travel anytime soon :). When you get a bad fortune, of coarse you don't bring it with you, so there's a wall of rods you can tie it to and leave it there. Quite creative if you ask me - too bad it's all fake. The detail and time put into the buildings though is absolutely amazing! Everything is so elaborate and decorative it's hard to imagine how it ever got accomplished! Another detail is that it's basically a big money pit as well - when you enter you throw in money and pray, when you go up to the alter you pay, when you get your fortune you pay some more, and finally their are shops IN the temple where you can buy more nick knacks! It made me sad at the same time thought because I felt bad for everyone who actually believes in it all. They're buying into a bunch of lies and won't be saved by Christ.
The last stop was the CX broadcasting station, which was absolutely gigantic. I don't think I've ever seen a bigger building. We only went to the top to sight see, but it was really neat to see the people in their offices working on the Tokyo news. Overall the tour was quite wonderful - too bad it was all in Japanese though. Haruka explained some things to me, and the tour guide even took me aside and translated a bit.
That was my day in a nutshell - tomorrow I have school so I can't stay up too late! I haven't fallen asleep in class yet, and I plan to keep that record going. Sometimes it's really difficult because I'm reading my honors English book and entire day or studying Hiragana. I keep reminding myself that I may be the only American some of the students ever meet, and my impression will always be in the back of their minds when the topic of "Americans" comes up. So do I want them to think we're slackers? No way Jose. I'm representing the U.S. and I'm proud of it!!