CDM/MLA 675: Tokyo: Collective Identity, Mediated Selves, and the Built Environment
January 12, 2020
Welcome back to Tokyo! Today we were able to get some major tourist sites crossed off the list while understanding how these places play in the most seasoned Tokyo-ite’s life.
The day started with a lesson on a conbini, or a convenience store. Unlike the US, these stores provide quick, high-quality food and snack options. They really are the place to go if you’re hungry at odd hours or like trying new snacks. We were able to try some new snacks and understand how a transaction works in Japan. Instead of just handing money to the cashier, it is normal to place it on a small tray that is then processed by the cashier.
After our conbini breakfast, we began our trip to Ueno Park. We were able to get on the subway and it took us just outside the park. As a central gathering place for much of the city, it hosts museums, galleries and pop-up markets like the one we saw today. It was based on Setouchi region of Japan that specializes in seafood. The dishes ranged from tempura fried oysters to sea urchin and spinach. Some were better than others, but it was amazing to try these foods I probably won’t see in a long time.
Our next stop was the Nakamise Street Market. The contrast between old and new was especially apparent here. The street was lined with vendors that sold almost anything you could imagine. It culminated in a giant shrine at the end of the street. With the shopping mecca came hordes of tourists. The clash between the purposes of shopping and shrine were apparent, but the location made sense. Before there were 7/11s on every corner, it was important to be where the people went in order to sell. The street market likely evolved from a means for small business owners to increase traffic.
Finally we stopped at the Tokyo Skytree, or the tallest tower in the world! It provided an amazing view of Tokyo’s sprawling metropolitan area. Since it was a little foggy it was slightly difficult to see far, but we were able to see what we liked no problem! The observatory platform was filled with the cutest cat creatures that decorated as many surfaces as possible. It was an otherworldly way to get a grip on the layout of this confusing city.
The day completed with a freeform dinner. A small group of people went with our professor to get ramen. It was the perfect close to a day slightly chilly day. There’s nothing quite like slurping, as is customary. Some students used our hotel’s free forecast, while even more just relaxed to recharge for today.
Tomorrow is our first free day and I can’t wait to see what it has in store.
See ya in a day!
About the Japan Study Tour
THE TRAVEL DATES
Jan. 10-25, 2020
Modern Languages Prof. Darwin Tsen
Students will get to explore and experience Tokyo, Japan, through several activities. As they are guided through the city, students will be examining the several works of art there and the multicultural and multimedia products they offer, such as literature, cinema, television, and digital design. With an emphasis on historical contexts, students will come to understand the social and cultural fundamentals that lead to modern ideas of Tokyo, the environment, and the people.