Saturday, November 21, 2009

Tokyo Tour with YCU students

For some students, the morning of the second day in Yokohama brought along the exciting prospect-- touring Tokyo, the capital of Japan and one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world, with the most qualified group possible: Japanese students. Yokohama City University and Semester at Sea have developed a relationship in the hopes that students from both YCU and SAS will be able to learn from each other and foster friendships during a variety of activities. Since several of the YCU students were from Tokyo, the group was guaranteed to see some of the best sites the city had to offer.
Before even reaching Tokyo the group encountered its first new experience: using Japanese public transportation! Because Yokohama is only a 30-minute ride to Tokyo on the metro, students were treated to a crash course in navigating the Tokyo Metro system. Maria Rodriguez, who lives in New York City, exclaimed that, "[the Tokyo Metro] makes so much more sense than the subway," at the end of the day.
Once the group reached Tokyo, they had a traditional Japanese lunch, before heading to Shibuya, one of the major shopping districts in the city. The SAS students were amazed at size of the malls, and they were very enthusiastic about exploring the newest Tokyo fashions. They were also able to cross the biggest crosswalk in the world.
The YCU students next took the group to a Japanese arcade, where the group spent some time playing games and trying to win prizes. Then the entire group crowded into a large photo booth and took pictures to commemorate the day.
One of the other major highlights of the trip was the visit to the Meiji Shinto Shrine, which was dedicated to the Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. Students followed the tradition of purifying themselves by washing their hands and mouths before entering the shrine. Once inside, the students could able to make a wish by tossing a coin into a hole separating the visitors from the center of the shrine. Before leaving, each student was able to pick out a fortune scroll, which contained short poems of wisdom written by Empress Shoken.
After visiting the shrine, all of the students spent some time in the park outside of the shrine watching a group of Japanese students preparing for a fashion show. Even though the tour was over, the YCU students escorted smaller groups of students to their next destinations, whether it was Akihabara, an area known for having the latest in anime and video games, or the Tokyo Tower, the largest self-supporting, steel tower in the world.

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