Catchup

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Last week, we were fortunate enough to witness a Japanese public holiday [no school!] celebrating elderly people; to commemorate this day we decided to go and see the Fuji Five Lakes! We managed to recruit nine eager JLSPers and set off early on Sunday morning for the bus to Fuji from Shinjuku. We had a few ‘competent’ Japanese speakers with us so I felt safe in knowing that we would be able to ask for help from the locals, if required. I sat next to Phoebe who proclaimed within the first five minutes: ‘I’m feeling really ill!’ and ‘I’m going to go to sleep, so I probably won’t talk!’; I knew I was in for a fun bus journey! To her credit, she only slept for half of the journey and had the decency to not sneeze in my direction so I guess things could have been worse 🙂 We passed the Fuji Highlands theme park on the way there, and in hindsight that probably would have made for a much more interesting holiday…

If only...

Due to the traffic, we arrived at Lake Kawaguchiko about 2 hours later than we thought we would. The lake was extremely scenic and was filled with swan boats akin to those found in Ueno park. There were also various luxury boats and water sports taking place. However, some of us had our hearts set on swimming and so we set off to find more suitable place, Lake Saiko. The map claimed that it was 12KM away and we had a serious debate on whether or not it would be a good idea to walk there [I voted NO!]. We managed to figure out the local bus system and took one along some mountainous paths towards Lake Saiko. We found an open spot near the lake and setup our camp for the day.

Kawaguchiko Crew!

We were in a rather awkward position on the lake, right in between someone who was fishing and a pile of old wooden boats. ‘Swimming’ became boring surprisingly quickly [cold water did not help!] and so we had to think of another way to spend our time. Although there were 3 other lakes that we had not yet seen, I doubted my level of interest in them and so I decided my time would be better spent lying on the shore of Lake Saiko, working on my tan. I was joined by the Finns and we waved the others goodbye after suggesting a vague rendezvous time [‘meet later, in town’]. We had solidarity in our dislike of ‘doing stuff’ and we were perfectly happy to just relax on our little ‘beach’ and watch the sun slowly set in the distance.

Beach life.

Our blissful existence was interrupted by an alarming phone call from the others, who now found themselves ‘in the middle of nowhere’ and with no way to get back in time for check in at the hostel. It was up me and the Finns to make it to there in time and save the day! At the time, we had no idea where we were, where we wanted to go, and how we were going to get there; the odds were heavily stacked against us succeeding! There was no simple to way to get back to town from our current position, so we decided to take the easy [and expensive] option and call for a taxi. We stumbled into a nearby hotel and I managed to gesture for them to call a taxi for us back to Lake Kawaguchiko [much harder than it sounds!]. The taxi cost the princely sum of 3,700 JPY but it was a small price to pay to ensure that we had somewhere to stay that night. We then took a train from the town towards the hostel and used all of our combined cunning to locate it. Upon entering, we had to take off our shoes and wear communal slippers. We assured the hotel clerk that our friends were going to arrive later and she us into the room after signing a few documents.

When the others arrived, we asked the hostel owner [an American guy by the name of ‘Michael’] to recommend some places to eat, and he walked us to his friends place for some real traditional cuisine. He seemed like a really nice and genuine guy so we trusted everything he said. However, the food and drinks at the restaurant were rather expensive, and the particular dish I had [fried octopus] did not go down well at all. The others shared my thoughts! Compared to other places I had been to in Japan, this did not rank highly on the list. Perhaps we just aren’t used to eating ‘real’ Japanese food? The more likely conclusion that most of us had come to was that we had been setup by the hostel owner! We headed to the 7/11 afterwards to supplement our diet with ice cream and then went back home for a well-earned rest.

I will now quickly summarise the few days following the Fuji Five Lakes trip. I am massively behind in terms of real time so I think it’s better for me to catch up now or else I will quickly lose enthusiasm for blogging – not good! If you want to hear about anything in more detail, feel free to ask.

– Second day at Five Lakes; visiting some shrines and parks; saw lots of spiders

Stairs, temples, mountains.

– Lucy’s birthday; karaoke and drinking in Shibuya; lots to live up to for my birthday!
– Trip to Life Saving Center; earthquake and typhoon simulation; chance to use a fire extinguisher

Simulation of a 7.0 magnitude earthquake!

Shabu Shabu in Shinjuku with some Japanese volunteers; dipping meat in raw egg; karaoke trip #3

Post shabu-shabu karaoke.

– Yoyogi Park with Kaisa-chan; some kind of Indian festival nearby; ate a doner kebab

Yoyogi Park!

– Akihabara, Electric Town; tech heaven; surprisingly expensive

A wild Pikachu has appeared!

– Aikido at the university club with Tom and Phoebe; really fun to try, people very friendly and patient; may continue regularly!

Meet Matsu-chan!

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On Saturday, we went to the Nedu Jinga Shrine Annual Festival with a few of the JLSP volunteers we had met during the week. It was held in the late afternoon and was just the thing we needed to help recover from the welcoming party the night before. The setup of the festival reminded me of a traditional county fair and it had a warm and friendly feel to it. It is interesting to be able to find things like this in the middle of Tokyo, a distinct contrast from the high-tech metropolitan districts of Shinjuku and Shibuya!

A stall selling chocolate covered bananas on a stick.

We got another chance to see Sumo wrestling at the festival; despite only involving some of the local amateurs (as opposed to the ‘superstars’ we saw last week), it was still highly entertaining and I was able to get a much better view without paying an extortionate price. The wrestlers were slimmer and moved faster, the fights lasted longer, and best of all, I didn’t have to endure 6 hours of it in a row! I recommend seeing amateur Sumo over one of the big tournaments if you just want a taste of it.

Going in for the kill.

The main event of the day however, was yet to come… Towards the end of the afternoon I was growing tired and my interest in the festival was gradually waning. But then I spotted something in the distance that immediately grabbed my attention and awoken my senses; I knew in my heart that I was not going home today without it. There was a stall that offered the chance to win a [real!] turtle if you could fish three of them out of the small pond using a net made of rice paper. Only in Japan!
Here is a video of my successful attempt [I promise to edit it and add cool music later!]:

You had to be quick to catch the turtles before the rice paper dissolved. I failed my first attempt but gave it another go and was rewarded with a turtle of my own to take home! I named it Matsuri, or Matsu-chan for short, and it now lives in a plastic container on my desk. It has been a week so far and I’m happy to report Matsu-chan is alive and well, happily eating the turtle pellets I bought from the supermarket!

Meet Matsu-chan!

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It is, isn’t it?

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This is the rough translation of the infamous Japanese filler-phrase, “so desu ne?”; it has the amazingly ability of making whoever you are talking to think you actually understand them! As much as we like to think so, things aren’t so different elsewhere – simply agreeing with people can get you pretty far; in many circumstances it is the best approach! I have been getting quite a lot of mileage out of it today with good results, in conjunction with the nods. Good variations include “so… so…” and “ah, hai!”. Perhaps Japanese will be easier than I thought! Today we had the opening ceremony and we were all required to give a quick introduction of ourselves in Japanese, in front of about 50 [Japanese] people. Luckily, we had two hours of class beforehand to prepare and we all managed to memorise a short speech. We were even given advice on the correct angle at which we should bow! I am pleased to report that my “speech” went smoothly and I was able to use what I learnt several times throughout the day as I met other Japanese people!

The classroom in which we are taught Japanese. The tables were later re-arranged into a circle so we could face each other!

We were also taught the first 15 hiragana characters, and have a test to look forward to tomorrow. I already had a passing familiarity with them from my own attempts at learning so with this refresh, I think the test will go smoothly. The teacher for the Japanese class was very enthusiastic and definitely what we need when learning a new subject. We played a game to practice the introductions which involved clapping to a rhythm and making hand signals – it felt like being in primary school again! Attending lectures in Cambridge is almost an entirely passive experience; it has made me forget how effective class participation and engagement can be! I have also watched some lectures from the MIT OCW and they seem head and shoulders above that of Cambridge [supervisions/tutorials should NOT be the answer to bad lectures!].

This evening, Phoebe cooked an oishii meal for me and Kaisa. I donated my pans to her since I wasn’t planning on doing significant amounts of cooking [I can happily live off onigiri!], while she seemed more enthusiastic about it. Most of the raw ingredients in the supermarket are only labelled in Kanji and so trial-and-error is required to find things you actually want. We purchased some mystery meat which later turned out to be beef, and cooked it with some fresh udon noodles [ridiculously cheap in Japan!]. In contrast, fresh fruit such as apples cost about 3x as much as it does in the UK! I’m not sure which fruits are popular in Japan but I am sure they would be more reasonably priced.

For some reason, we thought it would be a good idea to go for a run after dinner [possibly my idea] and we so donned appropriate running attire and set off from our apartment. We ran across town and tried to take a circular track so that we would eventually return home. We received quite a few stares but put a good effort in and must’ve completed about 2-3 miles. Not bad for a first attempt! Kaisa somehow still had energy left so she ran around some more whilst Phoebe and I just flopped on the floor in our apartment. I think I will sleep well tonight!

Total Eclipse

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We were introduced to some Japanese volunteers today and given a chance to talk to them about their lives in Tokyo. A lot of them felt that Tokyo was too overcrowded and busy, and that they would prefer to live in a more quieter town. This is not an opinion I share! They were all extremely nice and I look forward to spending more time with them – I’ve been spending a lot of time with Europeans, and whilst I very much enjoy their company, I have to remind myself that I am here to learn more about Japan and about Japanese people. Can I have it both ways? ‘Not speaking Japanese’ is a minor setback that I am trying to overcome… One of the Finns decided to wear a t-shirt with an interesting slogan on it [‘England can go to hell’]; after a few minutes of protests and complaints from the very vocal Brits he promised never to wear it again 🙂 Why he had such a t-shirt in his wardrobe is still a mystery!

Can't we all just get along?

One of the volunteers I met plays in a band and is due to play live tomorrow – she invited us all along to support! If it doesn’t clash with classes, I think I would love to come and watch. She showed me the songs on her iPod and I was surprised at how much western music she listened to – she even knew some britpop bands which I didn’t expect to have any exposure outside of the UK! She also lives close to our accommodation and works part-time in a nearby convenience store, so we may see her around quite often.

Enjoying dessert with the volunteers.

In the evening we decided to go for some karaoke! The first official day of classes starts tomorrow, so we didn’t want to stay out too late. We decided to go to a place in Shimotakaido that we had seen earlier today. Since we were there for the first time, we needed to register and we were presented with an extremely confusing application form. Luckily, the German girl, Nina, was able to speak Japanese well and complete the process on our behalf. They decided to use my phone number since it was the only phone that actually worked in Japan; I look forward to answering marketing calls from some hyperactive Japanese! [moshi, moshi!]

The machines had a choice between Japanese, Chinese, or Korean language for the menu system, which is indeed like trying to decide between a slap in the face or a kick in the shin! We eventually figured out how to use it and began to bellow out some karaoke classics [after an initial tense period!]. I was happy to see everyone get involved, particularly since many had not been to karaoke before. The two hours went by really quickly, and we ended with a particularly enthusiastic rendition of ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’. The karaoke cost us about 1200 JPY each, which also included unlimited soft drinks [alcohol was extra]; amazing value! I suspect karaoke will become our regular entertainment 🙂 Only Phoebe brought along a camera so check her blog for some [highly embarrassing] pictures.

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Learning for the sake of learning

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We were finally able to meet everyone on our course, just in time for the orientation at the university. We were able to experience first hand, the horrors of overcrowding on the Tokyo subway during the morning rush hour – an experience we will now have to endure every single day! The journey from Shimotakaido to Ichigaya takes about 45-60 minutes. The novelty factor meant that we were still reasonably cheerful, but I suspect that the jokes about ‘getting close to each other’ will soon wear thin as time goes on. Like sumo wrestling, there is only so much that we can take. The subway trains are well air-conditioned and very clean, so it is generally quite a pleasant experience (minus the overcrowding).

When we arrived at the university, we were given a talk by one of the course coordinators about the housing contract and general rules and regulations. She alternated between English and Japanese and I tried my best to look like I could understand the gist of both (with well-timed nods!). We filled in a bunch of forms and questionnaires about our level of Japanese proficiency and the courses that we would like to take. The different classes [class A to class E] roughly follow the different levels of the international Japanese Language Proficiency Test. Fortunately, we were told that those who had not studied Japanese before did not need to attempt the listening and writing placement tests and were only required for an interview. It seems like most of Cambridge as well as the Finns will be in the beginner’s class (class A), which is good since we have been hanging out together a lot anyway. [“A is for awesome!”]

The coordinator remarked about how the programme was quite strict, but only 60% attendance of the classes is required. This seems to me to be a very lax figure – I could effectively skip class for an entire month and still pass! There are also a ridiculous amount of public holidays [almost one day per week] where we don’t have classes, and so I don’t except there to be too much pressure. Since I have already graduated, the transfer credits are inconsequential to me and I am effectively learning Japanese only for the sake of learning Japanese. This represents a refreshing change to my time at Cambridge where I felt pressured to try and maximise exam performance at the sake of learning about things I was interested in.

We got a first taste of the Nihon cafeteria and I found the food to be very good quality and generous in portion size. For about 600 JPY we were able to get a set meal of miso soup, salad, rice, and fried pork cutlet. We bought the commuter pass that allows us to travel freely between Shimotakaido and Ichigaya, and it cost about a whopping 30,000 JPY (just over £230) for three months. To contrast, a one-month ‘zone 1 only’ travelcard in London costs £99.10 and so the commuter pass in Tokyo is relatively good value. However, it only provides free travel for one particular route and so we will still need to pay for tickets when we go outside it.

The Finns received a significant monetary grant from the university and so we decided to go back to Harajuku to spend some of their money and kit out in Tokyo fashion! The Brits were unfortunately feeling a bit poor after paying for the commuter pass, but I was still able to find some cool flip-flops and invest in a 100-yen umbrella. Today was the first day it rained in Tokyo since we arrived, and I perhaps even prefer it to the sunshine. The air was much cooler and the streets were less busy – a touch of London nostalgia perhaps? I thought I wouldn’t miss the UK at all (particularly the weather) but it seems there is still a soft spot for it in me somewhere…

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The Ultimate Endurance Sport

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We met outside our accommodation at the scarily early hour of 7.30AM; Phoebe and I had looked into the ongoing Sumo Grand Tournament in Tokyo and managed to convince a bunch of the guys and girls to come along and watch. Some of us from Cambridge were joined by the ever-eager Finns and we set off towards the Sumo district of Ryogoku. The tournament lasts for about 2 weeks and since each individual bout only lasts mere seconds, you have the opportunity to see many, many fights in just one day. General admission [unreserved] tickets were the cheapest and were only on sale on the particular day of the event – first come, first served! We were worried they would sell out and so we arranged it so that we would arrive just as the box office opened (8.30AM). This turned out to be a premature caution since it didn’t seem to sell out until much later!

The junior wrestlers were given bouts early on, whilst the higher ranked wrestlers came on later. We decided to go to the nearby Edo-Tokyo Museum to kill some time so that we didn’t get burnt out by watching so much sumo. The museum was fairly interesting and had many relics from the Edo-period of Japan. It also had a section on Japan during the Second World War. We spent 2-3 hours soaking in the culture there, whilst simultaneously hyping up the sumo that we were about to see [“OMG sumo is gonna be awesome!”].

We stopped by in a nearby convenience store to get some drinks and snacks. Phoebe and Kaisa both went for tuna-mayo Onigiri [filled rice ball wrapped in seaweed] and I was surprised to see such contrasting reactions!

ewwww!

omnomnom!

When we entered the arena at just after midday, we felt smug in thinking that since we had managed to spend three hours elsewhere we would be able to endure the rest of the fights that day. Although we bought seats in the very back row of the arena [‘nosebleed section’], most of the other seats were empty and so we seized the opportunity to move closer until someone would come to claim their seat.

A fight between two junior wrestlers. Note the empty stadium!

We spent an hour watching some junior ranked wrestlers before going off the eat in the underground hall. They were serving chankonabe [traditional ‘Sumo Stew’] for only 250 JPY and so we happily paid the token sum to have the opportunity to try food that real sumo wrestlers ate on a regular basis [as a side note, we were in McDonalds earlier that day and saw a wrestler wolfing down a Big Mac meal!]. The stew was extremely tasting and filling, although I couldn’t imagine it containing very many calories in comparison to the meals available in modern cuisine (i.e. junk food!).

The stew went down well with Antti!

We returned to the arena in our appropriate seats and watched the rest of the show. THIS IS WHERE TIME SLOWED DOWN. There was still over 5 hours of fights left. There were only about 30 seconds between each fight and so I soon grew tired of the repetitiveness and ceremonial chanting. Most of the stadium was still empty and we can now understand why! Although sumo is certainly very interesting to witness, it loses its charm when you see over 100 bouts in a row! I even managed to take a quick nap on the back row whilst the ‘action’ was going on. Each match was extremely similar to the next, and I couldn’t even tell the difference between the appearance of most of the wrestlers [“fat guy” and “fatter guy” were the most common nicknames].

A more senior fight with a full stadium.

We impatiently waited for the end of the day where we would be able to witness the fight of the Yokozuna [sumo champion!]. The ceremonial dancing and chanting become particularly more elaborate and it helped to build the suspense. The crowd even began to cheer the names of the wrestlers and it felt like something exciting was going to happen. By this point our conversation had drifted to random Finnish swear words but we maintained our enthusiasm for the Yokozuna. The stadium at this point was almost completely full and for a second, just a second, I truly believed my enduring efforts would be rewarded. So how did the final, epic battle turn out? One of the wrestlers lost his footing and fell to his knees within the first two seconds. Match over.

Do as they do

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We spent most of yesterday evening in a local Izakaya nearby our accommodation in Shimotakaido. We met the rest of the Finns and so only the Swedes remained to be seen (rumoured to arrived on Monday!). One of the guys from Cambridge, Tom, had lived in Japan before and was able to speak Japanese confidently enough to order whatever we wanted. Japanese people are usually extremely surprised at his level of fluency and always have a massive grin whilst they are talking to him! We found out one of the bar staff actually attended Nihon University and so she was particularly happy to see us. We are due to meet a few volunteers from the university on Tuesday, and also take our placement test(!) at the same time – it will certainly remind me that I’m not here just for tourism!

Borrowed image from Kaisa's blog!

We decided to go to Shibuya and Harajuku today to check out the sights. The Finns hadn’t been to Japan before and so we showed them the things we liked about it when we last visited [Harajuku girls!]. We are using Suica cards to get around Tokyo, which is pretty much the same as an Oyster card in London but you can also use it to pay for other things such as drinks in vending machines. I have no doubt that this is a precursor to how things will be in the UK in a few years – I am living in the future! The staff at train stations all speak passable English and the station boards are in Romaji, so it is generally quite easy to get around for tourists. I’m quite surprised at how easy it is to get by in Tokyo without speaking a single word of Japanese; simple hand gestures and speaking English in a Japanese accent usually gives the desired result!

The weather was extremely hot and it made it difficult to fully enjoy strolling in Tokyo’s fashion district. Fortunately, we were given free paper fans (in the shape of a Google Places/Maps marker) and later we were also given free wet towels. Usually the free stuff handed out on the street in the UK is next to useless, but in Tokyo they are a welcome sight! We saw clothes stores to accomodate every Japanese teen sub-culture and some to suit Western styles also; price-wise they are not significantly higher than London.

There weren’t many people dressed up around Harajuku, but those that were there received plenty of attention.

Phoebe makes friends with the locals.

This was also the only place where we saw more foreigners than native Japanese people! Indeed, we managed to find an English/American/European/’White’ girl dressed up as a maid and partaking in the same ceremonial posing as a typical Harajuku girl. Although I enjoyed my time there last year, it was very much a superficial impression and I wasn’t able gain any depth of appreciation at all. To get a real glimpse into Japanese culture I would have to look far beyond just the streets of Harajuku… We quickly made our way towards the Meiji Shrine, which I had also visited last year.

Centre court of the Meiji Shrine.

There are small wells/fountains on the side which allow people to wash their hands and also drink the water, if they wish. I used to feel somewhat uncomfortable taking part in this traditional Shinto hand washing since I (obviously) didn’t share any of the associated beliefs. Now I’m choosing to approach it with a more open perspective, do as they do [in Tokyo], and perhaps I will be able to learn something from the experience. What do I have to lose? One of the lecture series as part of the JLSP course is called “The Japanese Mind” and this is definitely something I am looking forward to! As a side note, I realise I don’t have photos for a lot of the things I’m talking about, so I apologise in advance and promise to get better at this in the future!

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In the beginning

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After a long summer of anxious waiting, I’ve finally arrived in Tokyo and am glad to be able to begin this blog! I arrived yesterday evening after a long flight from LHR via Istanbul. I flew with one of my friends from Cambridge and we managed to pass the time by talking about all the awesome things we were going to do in Tokyo! (Karaoke, karaoke, karaoke…) My friend had several “unfortunate incidents” throughout but I won’t embarrass her and will let you read about it in her own blog! She doesn’t eat fish (and by extension, most types of sushi) but I think I will try to fix that by the end of the course… I’m not a fan of Turkish Airways – both of our flights were delayed by about an hour each, most of the films were not in English, and I was only able to eat the food in the interest of not starving. (If I ever recommend Turkish Airways to you, it means I secretly hate you.)

We were met at Narita Airport in Tokyo by this young Japanese woman holding a sign with our names on. In hindsight, this would have been an amazing photo opportunity but I think I just too overwhelmed to remember to take one. She helped us purchase tickets for the Narita Express to Shinjuku and even sat with us in Starbucks for a while. We found out she just works at the airport and didn’t know anything about our course – she was extremely surprised to hear that I couldn’t speak Japanese at all! Conversely her English was amazing and apparently she had only been studying it for three years. She managed to have a conversation about nail polish and shoes with my friend and so I guess some things are just universal!

When we got to Shinjuku station, we met a woman from Nihon University and she took a cab with us to our accommodation in Shimotokaido. She gave us a brief tour and explained how to use the various gadgets/machines that we were given. Most importantly, she explained the air conditioning system without which I’d probably melt. There is a particularly complicated garbage collection system – we have to separate our stuff into burnable, unburnable, and recyclable objects and each type is collected on a different day each week. The ‘collection point’ outside our house is the same for all of them and so it will probably be very easy to get mixed up! We are staying in ensuite rooms (with an individual kitchen in each), and so this is much nicer than any room I stayed in/saw at Cambridge (or at home, for that matter). I will probably take full photos of the room in a later post.

We were given a quick tour of the area around our accommodation and we were left to our own devices. Even though the train station is only 10 minutes away, we managed to get lost on our way back and only found our way home by trying several random routes. (My friend is in fact a Geography graduate, but claims they didn’t teach anything about actual navigation!) We ate in a nearby restaurant/cafe, which was probably strangely serving food close Chinese cuisine rather than Japanese, but I was glad to finally have a proper meal. It only cost 650 yen (~5 GBP) for several dishes and so was relatively good value for money.

I’ve just realised it will take me a ridiculously long amount of time if I keep writing in this much detail, so I’m going to start skimming! When we got home we met another girl on our course who had just arrived. We also met some German students who were living above us and who had been there a bit longer. One of them had been there since January and so he offered to give us all (another) quick tour. He pointed out various ‘essentials’ such as where to find cheap food and drink, and where to run to if you ever ‘get attacked or raped’ [his words!].

We got back home and met some more students. We drank tea in the room of one of the guys from Cambridge, and briefly introduced ourselves. Most of us seem have to been to Japan before, but again, can hardly speak a word of Japanese… There are 15 of us on the course in total, and 6 of us from Cambridge (dominating force!). We are going to be split up into classes according to Japanese level, but it seems most of us will be in the beginners class! One of the Cambridge guys had lived in Japan for a year and so we will probably be turning to him for on-the-spot translations (until he gets annoyed!).

Today we walked around Asakusa and Ueno, and I managed to see the Sensoji temple once again. This time it had less construction around it and so was certainly a more pleasant sight! When we were in the market, I caught this Japanese girl unabashedly staring at us with her mouth open whilst we were talking. I say ‘caught’, but she didn’t actually stop when I looked at her and gave her a sarcastic smile. She came up to us and asked about where we were from, and what we were doing in Tokyo. She had ridiculous amounts of enthusiasm when talking and seemed to be impressed at every word we were saying! We were an extremely diverse group (in terms of race) and so it was probably a strange sight for her to see. Her boyfriend beckoned her to leave us alone, and we gave her a bow on departing.

We rented cycle-boats and rowing boats and went on the small lake in Ueno. This was probably the first time I tried rowing, and I definitely lacked the grace and skill that I usually see associated with boaties in Cambridge. We bumped into a few other boats several times but luckily ‘sorry’ is one of the few words I know in Japanese! We walked around Tokyo University afterwards because one of the girls had attended a short course there, and the architecture reminded me of a traditional Roman town (nothing like other buildings in Tokyo!). My camera ran out of batteries half-way through today and so I didn’t manage to get as many photos as I wanted. No-one else brought a camera and so they probably couldn’t have had a worse ‘designated photographer’… It’s about 9PM now and I have a quick moment to rest in my room, but I think we will probably go out again soon. I promise to post pictures when I can! Stay tuned for the next post.