Tag Archives: First Impressions

Snowboarding + onsens!

Oh my goodness. I hurt all over. Why? Because I went snowboarding last weekend. Yep, about 12 of us from the law school joined up with folks from Outdoor Japan and headed up to mapNaeba to ski and snowboard. I had no experience doing either one of those. Granted, I’ve been on two ski trips but never made it skiing due to the fact that we partied too hard the night before. Not advisable to get on the slopes with a hangover. Trust, it’s hard enough to do sober!

Friday after class, we hoofed it to Harajuku where we loaded onto a bus that took us and some other folks up to the mountain. We nearly killed a whole bottle of Jack on the way up which was a good compliment to jerk chicken they served on the bus. Oh yeah, it was a “Reggae Snowsplash” weekend. Reggae music, good vibes and snow! We arrived at a traditional Japanese inn, the kind that doesn’t have any beds, just tatami mats and futons. No… not

Tatami mat floor/sleeping area

Tatami mat floor/sleeping area

the futons you had in college with the metal frame and all. I mean a thin pad that rolls/folds up and you store it in a closet when you’re not sleeping. We also kicked back on rice pillows which were exactly what they sound like: pillows stuffed with rice. Not cool. It was also type annoying to have to take off your shoes all the time. The JPNese don’t mind because they have slippers for everything. Slippers to put on after you take off your outdoor shoes. Slippers to put on when you go into the bathroom. Special slippers for every room it seems!

Anyway, after having a few (more) drinks that night, we went to bed to prepare for the next day. Saturday we rented gear which, when all said and done, had to add like 15 more pounds to our bodies. It wasn’t too cold out but the snow was falling lightly. It was pretty out there. Being in Tokyo, I haven’t seen snow in a long time. A crew of us started out on a little practice hill just to figure out how to stand up on the board, get it strapped up and “get our legs.” By the end of the day, I don’t think we had any of that down except for the strapped up part! After a couple of tries on the baby hill we slid over to the ski lift for a ride to the top of the mountain. Continue reading

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While it’s 3pm in Philly…

It’s 5am as I type this and I can’t sleep. That’s probably because we all passed out at like 9pm. Why? Well Hello Leslie (HL), our third roommate, she had been traveling ALL DAY. See, she was on a different series of flights than we were and she ran into some cancellations. Oh, she lost her luggage too. HR and I spent all day walking around the city. My legs are shot, yall.

The first thing that sticks out in my mind about yesterday is the fact that the Japanese are really really nice. Like, freakishly nice. So nice, that folks leave their bikes outside without locks. So nice that they’ll tell you “thank you very much” about three times when you’re the one who ought to be thanking them.

We’ve had to do a lot of adjusting in terms of the simple cultural things you don’t really pay attention to. For instance, when me, HR, and DKLA (Dave & Khoa from LA) walked down the street together, well we like to talk. Somewhat loudly. Folks in Japan don’t really run around being boisterous and calling attention to themselves in that way. When we got on the train (which is like 4 levels underground) for the first time, it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. Take that SEPTA and NYC MTA! Did you know that everything was oriented to the left here? What I mean is that folks drive on the left side of the road and walk on the left side of the sidewalk. They ride the left escalator up and when they get on, everyone stands ALL the way to the left right away. Ever want to walk up the escalator and have to navigate around people all spread out? Not here. Once, I forgot where I was and stood out to the right of the escalator. HR was like “Girl! Get in line!” LOL.

I bet you already heard this, but until you’ve been here, you won’t believe how clean many of the streets are. Compared to Philly and NYC, hell… even Raleigh, the folks here keep things extremely clean. I guess that’s why the caretaker at our apartment spend like 20 minutes talking about garbage disposal procedures, complete with a colored poster he suggested we hang next to the refrigerator.

Speaking of the apartment, HR and I moved in yesterday morning. Moved in consisted of dragging our 3 suitcases a piece from our hotel to the apartment. Our caretaker is this cute little old man named Amayahi. He greeted us with a big smile then told us he could speak a little English. After which, he immediately proceeded to speak in Japanese peppered with 3 or 4 English words. LOL. We did a lot of nodding and saying “Hai/Yes”. However, we got through it and he showed us how to use the gas water heater (which we must turn on every time we want to use hot water), how to use the heating/cooling units, and of course, how to dispose of trash. Click for more of this very long post

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Getting there, Pt. I

Fly Kitty

I’m here! Safe and sound so far. This was such a crazy trip. I’ve never had to travel this long or this far before. Let me start at the beginning.

I flew with my girl Hello Rachel (HR) from Philly to LA. Oh my God I hate US Airways! They’re the worst. They charge you for everything, beverages ($2), window & aisle seats ($15), snacks ($5), and baggage ($15-$100 per bag!). They also managed to overbook the plane and I didn’t have a seat until the last minute. When we finally ended up in LA we got our bags and were greeted with bad news… HR’s friend, and our ride from the airport, had gotten into a car accident on his way to pick us up! His buddy came to get us instead and we spent a good portion of the night waiting in the emergency room to see what was up with him. No worries, he emerged from the accident with a broken wrist and busted kneecap. I was dead tired by then but we made it out to a diner in Studio City at about 2am. Many thanks to our Los Angeles friends who helped us to and from the airport and kept us laughing the entire time in between.

So yesterday we made it to LAX and I was overwhelmed by the international terminal. There was a mini baggage mishap because HR’s baggage was overweight. Luckily, my bags had a little room to spare so we had to bust our bags open in the middle of the ticketing area and swap items. At the airport, we met up with a couple of other guys from school and formed Team Philly!

HR and I scored an exit row so we had plenty of leg room. Let me stop and say that Singapore Air is the best airline I’ve ever been on in my entire life. The staff were so helpful and attentive. They wore beautiful patterened skirt suits but a tad too much makeup. I guess you’ve gotta be on point when you’re bringing people on 11 hour flights. There were On Demand movies, TV shows, games, etc. For airplane food, it was tops.

Oh man. I’m pretty tired and I have much more to write about. I feel like I’m leaving out details so I’m going to pause and come back with a part II later on. We have a bunch of stuff to do tomorrow and I just wanted to get something down on the blog here for you all. Plus I’ll be able to upload the pics tomorrow!

Sayonara,
HK

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Filed under Routine Ramblings