CDM/MLA 675: Tokyo: Collective Identity, Mediated Selves, and the Built Environment
January 16, 2020
After a busy week, most of the groups were finally able to have a relaxing day. In prep for our move tomorrow, it was important to have some time to get our luggage and minds back together. Each group started later in the day than usual, most around 9:30am. My small group wanted to experience a last few things in downtown.
We started at the Imperial Gardens surrounding the old palace. Much of the complex was closed off, but there were so many photo opportunities. The entire space was peaceful and quiet. Compared with the chaos, it was a welcome change. The gardens themselves were open to the public and we were able to explore them freely.
While Japan gets cool, it’s still relatively temperate. There have been citrus trees dotted throughout the city, and all have been bearing fruit. It’s tempting to try it, especially when they’re on public land. Other than fruit, there are also a decent number of blossoming flower trees. While there’s no cherry blossoms, the flowers pose as a beautiful juxtaposition to the dormant trees.
After the gardens, we rode the subway over to Akihabara. Described as the anime center of Tokyo, it was easy to get overwhelmed after the serene gardens. One of my classmates was interested in going to Yodobashi, an eight floor electronics store. To say that it was busy is an understatement. There were signs and flashing lights everywhere! They sold everything one could imagine. They had a floor dedicated to household appliances, and it was really interesting to see the difference between foreign and ours. The main difference was the much smaller size. Each appliance was a mini version of its American equivalent. There were often much pared down functions as well, with just the basics. Then again, I don’t know many Americans who use the potato function on their microwave.
We closed the night out with a visit to the Robot Restaurant. Shinjuku is already a flashy area, but the restaurant stood out. It has the boldest signs in the area and definitely catches your attention. The show was something entirely different. While it was an experience, it’s difficult to explain. It was a combination of lights, singing, remote-controlled machines and other tourists. I can’t say I would recommend it, but I did it.
Tomorrow we switch hotels to a much more traditional option. We’ll see how it goes, and I’ll be happy to provide pictures. See you later!
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.