Metropolis:13,185,502 people, Metro: 35,682,460. The world’s largest megacity.
This past weekend, the Stanford Study Abroad Program (thanks to the Bing Family) sent us to Tokyo for the weekend. Although we visited SO many places and did SO many things (all in 4 days), as Professor Horvat, director of the Kyoto Bing Program, mentioned: “we barely even scratched the surface of Tokyo…” = proof of just how massive Tokyo is. You really can’t just spend 4 days there if you want to digest everything. Quoting an article: "The prefecture is part of the world’s most populous metropolitan area with upwards of 35 million people and the world’s largest urban agglomeration economy with a GDP of US $1.479 trillion…” Thank goodness we didn’t have to be shoved/crammed into a Train this past weekend (check this video out).
Above is a map showing where we traveled: from Kyoto to Tokyo. Here’s a list of places we visited/things we did this past weekend:
- Mt. Fuji (富士山) – the tallest mountain in Japan – 3,776.24 m (12,389 ft)! (hiking the mountain is in my bucket list). Here’s a video I recorded of Mt. Fuji, along with video clips of when I was riding the Yurikamome (ゆりかもめ), which I’ll talk more about later on.
- Akihabara (秋葉原) – also known as the electric town, the place for おたく – otaku (meaning “geeks”). "This place was extremely colorful and, quite frankly, colorful. Its name is frequently shortened to Akiba (アキバ) in Japan. It is a major shopping area for electronic, computer, anime, games and otaku goods, including new and used items.” It’s also where “ was filmed!
Hachikō Statue(ハチ公) – the sad, sad story of "the dog who followed his master" and everyday waits for him at the train station after he finishes work. Even after the owner died, the dog kept going back to the train station to hopefully see her master’s return. Hachiko continued to do so until she died.
Shibuya(渋谷区) – perhaps you may know as having one of the most crowded crosswalk in the world (supposedly the busiest on Earth). "As of 2008, it has an estimated population of 208,371” – and is a major nightlife area. Just watch the video below – you’ll know what I mean by “crowded”… such an eccentric city district.
- Shinkansen (新幹線, new trunk line) – or: the “Bullet Train,” as many would call it. "…The network has expanded to currently consist of 2,387.7 km (1,483.6 mi) of lines with maximum speeds of 240–300 km/h (149–186 mph)." Took the Shinkansen to and from Tokyo – feels like I was on a jet.
- Harajuku (原宿) – “Every Sunday, young people dressed in a variety of styles including gothic lolita, visual kei, and decora, as well as cosplayers spend the day in Harajuku socializing. The fashion styles of these youths rarely conform to one particular style and are usually a mesh of many.” I was lucky enough to run into tons of cosplay participants – took tons of pictures there.
- Meiji Shrine(明治神宮) – ”the Shinto Shrine that is dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken.” It is also perhaps the largest shrine within the metropolis, and one of the only shrines (along with Yasukuni Shrine) found in Tokyo (compared to Kyoto, Tokyo barely has any shrines or temples).
- Roppongi Hills (六本木ヒルズ) – ”a New Urban Centre and one of Japan's largest integrated property developments, located in the Roppongi district of Minato, Tokyo.” It is also where all of Western technology/companies/firms are located, places like Goldman Sachs, Google, etc.
- Yurikamome (ゆりかもめ) & the Rainbow Bridge – ”an automated guideway transit service operated by the Tokyo Waterfront New Transit Corporation.” We circled around Tokyo, elevated about 30 stories high, and crossed the Rainbow Bridge, passed by a Marathon run, Diver’s City (Diversity?), and more (watch the other embedded video on this post).
- Ghibli Museum (三鷹の森ジブリ美術館) – ever heard of Spirited Away, Ponyo, Castle in the Sky (Laputa), Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Princess Mononoke, Howl’s Moving Castle, etc.? Yup, the museum dedicated to the world-renowned animation film director: Hayao Miyazaki (宮崎駿).
- Yasukuni Shrine (靖国神社 or 靖國神社) – a Shinto shrine ”..dedicated to those who died on behalf of the Empire of Japan. It also houses one of the few Japanese war museums dedicated to World War II.” We visited the famous controversial museum there as well as part of the academic portion of our trip.
- Many other exquisite, idiosyncratic Tokyo restaurants
To be honest, this trip also made me realize how fortunate we (the Stanford group) all are to have this opportunity to study abroad, and visit places like Tokyo. I can’t thank Bing enough – the experience is not just an adventure and a cultural immersion in a whole new world, but to me also a life-rewarding, maturing process. Studying abroad is where I can test my personal skills and see if I could manage myself as an adult, and adapt quickly to the turbulent, ever-changing world.
On the other hand, it’s also the best time to find out about myself as an individual, and discover where my truest passion in life lies. In retrospect, I’m still young, and sometimes I feel that I’ve worried too much about the non-important, trivial commodities in life that get in my way, and slowly sucks the soul out of me. It really destroys my creative, adventurous half. My passion lies in many things (one being traveling, of course), and I don’t want worldly, materialistic desires and greed to consume me.
But anyway, hope you enjoy looking through my pictures – I took around 1000 pictures at this city alone, and it was worth taking the time to select the best pictures for this blog post :D I definitely need to come back. I love this city too much.