CDM/MLA 675: Tokyo: Collective Identity, Mediated Selves, and the Built Environment
January 13, 2020
Today was one surprising day. As I exited our hotel to grab a quick breakfast from a convenience store, another group from our class was leaving the hotel. They were just beginning their trip to Disneyland and I ended up asking if I could go along. The group was wonderfully gracious and let me tag along on their activities.
We took the metro from our hotel in Ginza to the doorstep of the resort. The ride was absolutely beautiful! We glided over a couple of rivers that criss-cross the city. It was interesting to see how their presence denoted distinctive neighborhoods. There was one specific stretch of the route with over 5 construction sights in a row, showing some of the exponential growth in undeveloped areas. As Tokyo has grown into a sprawling metropolis, it is easy to see how difficult it would be to find inexpensive space. Unlike American cities which expand outward thanks to the commuting range of cars, it is prohibitively expensive to own a car in the city. Therefore people build upwards, or make do with less space. This all factored into our perception of the resort as we arrived.
Once we were in, it was a relaxed day experiencing the Japanese interpretation of American culture. There were quite a few interesting details, including a store’s fictional proprietor named Texas Slaughter. Many attractions had a positive ending message to the effect of ‘Have a good day!’ but with more interesting wording. The Peter Pan’s Flight attraction featured ‘Connecting with a Smile in Your Heart.’ These small touches reminded us again and again that we were in Tokyo and not Orlando.
The most amazing part of the trip so far has been everyone’s open minded attitude. If one classmate tries a new food, they will offer it out if anyone else wants to try it. If there’s a snag in our travel plans, everyone is patient as we try to get back on the path. And there’s a group effort to make sure each person feels included in the events. Especially travelling as a group of 20+ during busy commuting hours, this is much more of an impressive feat than it sounds. While Tokyo is intense, confusing and overwhelming, my classmates make it feel more manageable bit-by-bit. Their spirit of community makes international travel one grade less scary.
As for tomorrow, we are planning a trip to Shibuya to experience one of the most touristy neighborhoods. This features the famous Shibuya crossing with dozens, if not hundreds, of people crossing all at one time (pictures will definitely be included!). For that action, I’ll be needing some sleep.
See you tomorrow for stories of more adventures!
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.