Traveling to Tokyo, Japan has been one of my most fondest memories.With a population of over thirteen million people, and being one of the biggest cities in the world, Tokyo, Japan is the perfect place to start a new journey. Known for having some of the world’s tallest buildings and having such high tech shopping centers, Tokyo offers many memorable experiences for any Latina. Whether you’re just there for the food or fashion, Tokyo, Japan has got you covered!
How My Adventure Started
Being born in a Mexican-American family, I learned how to speak English and Spanish fluently at a young age. I was raised with the idea that communication between different cultures is very important, which has instilled a desire to learn more about different cultures and languages. When I was in high school, I decided to enroll in college classes at the same time so I could learn a different language. It’s been a dream of mine to be able to write in multiple languages and be able to talk to people from all over the world.
With this dream in mind, I narrowed down my options to learn how to speak Chinese or Japanese. I chose Japanese and enrolled in a class. Three years passed by and the opportunity to travel to Japan came up when my Japanese professor in my Japanese class announced a study abroad trip during the summer. I was hesitant on going because I had never traveled outside the country, but my Japanese professor encouraged me by stating that traveling to the country of a language’s origin would greatly improve my ability to speak Japanese. I decided to work a part-time job at a hair salon while going to school full-time so I could save up to help pay for my trip. My freshman year of college had come to an end, and I was very excited at the fact that I would be traveling and experiencing a whole new world and culture during the summer.
Experiencing Japanese Culture
One of the big things that I expected to experience in Japan was culture shock, but our professor made sure we immersed ourselves in the Japanese culture through several workshops and events. I was able to wear a yukata, which is basically a summer kimono, during my trip. The traditional kimono is expensive and mainly for formal occasions whereas the yukata is used for more casual events. A yukata is just as beautiful as a traditional kimono and is made of lighter material. I also tried wood block painting, a traditional Japanese art that takes years to master. Alongside my classmates, I was able to take Taiko drum lessons and also carry a Japanese mikoshi for a summer festival in Kasukabe city! Aside from these events, the culinary experience was also very memorable.
Japanese and Western Food
I’m a huge food lover. I love food and I love to try out new things just as long I know what’s in it! Not only did I try new foods, but I learned sitting etiquette when it came to really traditional restaurants. Some traditional Japanese restaurants didn’t offer chairs and required you to sit on the floor while you ate. I didn’t come across many of them while I was in Tokyo, but there were several of them in the surrounding cities around Tokyo. I ate everything from actual Japanese sushi (the California roll does not count), ramen, Japanese omelet, and gyoza (dumplings – my new love! Although, there were several times when I did miss some of the fast food from back at home, one of the best things about Japan is the food. When I wasn’t obsessing over the food, I was amazed by the fashion scene.
Something that I truly enjoyed about my stay in Japan was the fashion scene. At a really young age, I discovered my love for fashion and have been a fashion junkie ever since. The clothes are really affordable and I really liked how Japan likes to recycle fashions and designs. Plus, the shopping environment was a lot of fun. If there was a certain shirt that I wanted, I could find it in multiple stores and save money by comparing the prices. At the time of my trip, I wanted to buy a Boy London hat because it was a popular item in Japan at the time. I first came across the hat inside a mall for around $30, but at a different store it was $6. I stuck with a budget and wound up having 15 outfits under $100! There were several stores trying to be flashy with different colored lights. Tokyo is well-known for the fashion scene and now I can understand why.
Sara’s Top Trip Highlights
Aside from the food and fashion, here are my top 5 Tokyo trip highlights.
While in Tokyo, my most favorite location ended up being Yoyogi Park — very famous and huge park in Japan. It’s free to enter and the park also leads you to one of the most popular places amongst teenagers in Tokyo (Harajuku). Our dorm was located right next to Yoyogi park so we went there frequently. It was one of my favorite locations because it was beautiful, but also because I found a Quetzacoatl statue! While exploring the park, I noticed that it was one of the few statues at the park. I walked up to it because I thought that the design looked familiar. When I was in elementary school, my school’s mascot were the Mexican Aztecs, and my art classes focused on a major project on the Aztec Gods every year. From second to fifth grade, I I always made sure that I included Quetzalcoatl in all my drawings and sculptures. Since then I’ve had an admiration for Quetzalcoatl because it symbolizes my own happiness as a child.
Tex-Mex food in Tokyo was a surprise for me, and it was actually pretty good! My classmates and I ended up meting a few awesome Japanese people and one of them actually worked at a Tex-Mex place. She ended up taking us there and it was exactly like a Chipotle that you would find in the U.S. It’s not one of the most exciting things ever, but I thought that it was pretty memorable and cool!
3. Disney Sea in Tokyo
If you decide to take a trip to Tokyo, make sure to stop by Disney Sea! I had never visited Disney up until then, and it was a lot of fun! In Tokyo you can visit The good thing about Disney Land or Disney Sea. We chose Disney Sea because it’s the only Disney Sea in the entire world! It was very convenient because you can take a train that will take you there. Next time you decide to stop by Tokyo, make sure to make room for Disney Sea!
Walking on Mt.Fuji, located inFujiyoshida, was one of the best things I have done. Mt.Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan, so we came across many foreigners who wanted to see the real thing as well. My Japanese professor took us to a town called Fujiyoshida — the town itself is already located on Mt.Fuji. Since there are different levels when it comes to Mt. Fuji, my class were only able to climb the first few levels which mainly involved walking but it was still fun!
Singing is a form of expression, so it’s healthy to sing Karaoke every once in a while. One of my biggest highlights was going out to karaoke in Japan. I think that it’s a significant experience because the origin of karaoke started in Japan. Karaoke is very popular in Japan, and will find multiple karaoke places in one area.The selection of songs in Japanese karaoke bars are not just in Japanese — surprise! Since American music is popular there as well, there are many English songs that you can sing-a-long to in case Japanese songs aren’t for you!
Now that you’ve read about my adventure, what are you waiting for? Start planning your own!