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Week three in Japan – Half way through

And just like that, three weeks flew by, and my time in Tokyo is over. It’s…weird, the first two weeks seemed like such a long time, but once week three started it was practically already over. Everyone started worrying about packing, having to go home (or in me and Dina’s case, going to Kyoto), and just having this odd sense of finality the whole time. That’s not to say we didn’t have fun, oh no, the last few days we spent in Tokyo were great, I just wish they didn’t happen so soon.

So what haven’t I talked about yet? Let’s see, early in the week we took another hiking trip, this time up the sacred Mt. Takao. This hike was less untamed hiking trail like in Kamakura, but instead a paved walkway with food stalls and shrines dotting the path. There was even a chairlift we took up the first part of the mountain which, much like a ski lift, had no lap bar keeping us from falling off. Don’t worry, it was perfectly safe, though slightly vertigo inducing when you look down through the protective net beneath us to see the trees stretch far beneath our feet. Many of the shrines on the path had statues dedicated to the protective spirits of the mountain, the Tengu (red skinned bird people with either a beak or long nose). On our way back down, we stopped at a “monkey park” where they had dozens of snow monkeys out and about. We watched for over half an hour as the handler fed them and had some climbing all over him. As we left, we noticed a short bamboo tree with notes hanging on it in front of the park. Turns out it was for the upcoming Star Festival, Tanabata, where you write down and hang your wishes on bamboo trees before they are floated down the river. We all wrote down wishes to hang on the tree, and I did my best to keep mine a secret (’cause everyone knows it won’t come true if you tell everyone 😛 ).

There’s some serious monkey business going on here.

The next big event of the week was karaoke. Ok, maybe not as big as hiking or sightseeing trips, but it was some of the most fun I’ve had just letting go and singing all sorts of random songs. I don’t mean to brag, but I absolutely killed it with Girlfriend and Bad Romance (don’t judge me…). Unfortunately, the lighting was pretty dark, so I don’t have a good picture from it, and Evan made me delete the video of her singing Bring Me to Life, oh well.

The last big trip was to Odaiba to see a digital art exhibit called teamLab Borderless. Basically it was a large series of dark rooms with projectors on every wall that changed and moved over time. That description kinda sucked, but just look at this.

And those are just the pictures with me in them (Though they do make me look pretty good)! The whole place was surreal, I can’t even describe.

But that’s not all we saw in Odaiba. Not far from the art exhibit was the famous life-sized replica Gundam statue. Ok, maybe not famous to everyone, but in my circle I was basically required by law to take a selfie with it. And so I did.

God I am such a nerd.

Most everyone split off after this, Meg and I went to an arcade for a while and saw the replica Statue of Liberty against the city at night. It was a view I found oddly nostalgic, despite never being to New York, LA, or anywhere the skyline reminded me of, but it made me kinda homesick.

The most American view you can get in Japan on the Fourth of July.

After a final group dinner at an okonomiyaki restaurant, our time in Tokyo was actually over. I’ll admit I was really sad to see Meg, Evan, and Anchitta leave, despite only knowing them a few weeks I like to think we all became pretty good friends. Well, I’ll probably see Anchitta again in Kyoto in a few days since she’s still on vacation, and I’m still keeping in touch with Meg, so it’s not like they’re completely gone or anything. At this point I’m already in Kyoto, and the new people just arrived, so I’ll have plenty to keep me busy for the next three weeks, time will tell if they fly by as fast as they did in Tokyo.

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