Well I finally seem to have found myself a moment to write the last chapter of this little adventure of mine. I’m waiting at the gate C84 of Narita Airport for my return flight home – boarding should be in a bit less than an hour. Check in wasn’t quite as smooth as might have been hoped – I had about 34 kg of luggage to check in and the limit was 20 kg. Although, when they say 20 kg they actually mean 30 kg because there’s like a 10 kg allowance or something. That still left me over by enough to cost me close to 15000 yen (AUD$200~) extra. Fortunately I expected to be over, so I’d been thinking about what to pull out. My DVD-drive which I left near the top which weighed about 2kg by itself; and then I also decided that a pair of sneakers I’d brought with me wouldn’t make the return trip home. In the end I still had to pay about 5000 yen which wasn’t so bad.
Anyway that’s kind of boring – there’s been so much happening the last few days time has really been flying even faster than normal. It still hasn’t quite hit me that I’m at the end of my exchange in fact. Since I don’t know where I left off blogging, let me start with the most recent stuff and work backwards.
Yesterday I set my records for farewells in one day. I had five of them. First was the badminton crew. After scrambling around a little in the morning trying to stuff more things into my suitcase, I sort of half ran to Hiyoshi to see my Keio Badminton friends for the last time while on exchange. I was about fifteen minutes late so I missed the warm up stuff as usual – which was a bit of a shame since I couldn’t even stay for the entire training session. Almost everybody was there and up to their normal antics. I think I’m gonna miss Japanese-style badminton training when I get home. There’s so much more team-spirit there; shouts of ‘ファイトー’ fill the gymnasium and are answered by everybody pretty regularly throughout the training regardless of what we’re doing…
Sakane Me and Hirota
I left them as many key rings as I had left (which unfortunately turned out to be one too few for the people there) and a small farewell message on the whiteboard thinking to make a quiet exit since they were all busy in the middle of another drill when it was time for me to leave. I was really touched that they all stopped mid way through and gathered to see me off though. Felt like something out of one those funny Japanese dramas where one member of the class is leaving and the whole class stands there and waves to them as they walk off. Which is what they did for me hehe~! Anyway, my badminton experience in Japan will be one of my most treasured memories.
Normally everyone is like the left half of this pic actually hehe
Next I headed off to Harajuku to meet up with Min-Kyung. I found her and her friend there dressed as Japanese High School Girls. Cute huh.
Turned out they’d just bought the stuff the day before; and what better place to wear it out than trendy Harajuku? The three of us decided to go have a drink and some cake (despite Min-Kyung’s insistence that she was really on a diet but had earned the cake by walking around a lot that day) at the café right opposite the station.
Was a really nice place – had a view of the station, cool modern looking décor, yummy cakes and two cute Japanese school girls ;) ~ We were actually waiting for Min-Chae (who I hadn’t seen for like … yonks) to come and he took his time getting there. But that was good because it gave us a bit more time to chat in the café. By the time he finally arrived it was almost time for me to meet up with Jerry who was in Omotesando (café-rich district right next to Harajuku). That was my second farewell for the day.
Jerry and his friend were chilling in one of the numerous cafés in Omotesando and I think had managed to exhaust the tea-section of the drinks menu there. His friend was having some sort of ‘herb’ tea which looked suspiciously like hot water when I got there. We must have spent quite a long time chatting there – because I ordered and finished some bad tasting almond-flavoured drink long before we left. And I was drinking that s-l-o-w-l-y. If anything, on this exchange I think I’ve learnt that drinking large quantities of bad tasting things quickly doesn’t help you feel any better for drinking it. I still remember how hard it was to keep all that straight sho-chu down… Anyway that’s a bit unrelated. Because the three of us weren’t in any particular hurry, when it was nearing the time for me to meet up with Ben and the rest of the regular Keio exchange crew we decided that we would walk to Shibuya instead of hopping on a train. It was then that I realized how little of Tokyo I really knew – catching trains around everywhere really makes you take for granted the way things are connected there. Think of it a bit like how most people have on idea where things are relatively until they start driving themselves around. The walk through Omotesando to Shibuya – short as it was – gave me a little bit of a sense of where things were. I think if (when) I go back I will try to walk around a bit more.
Jerry's friend, Jerry and Me
Thankfully Jerry waited around with me at Hachiko when we got there. We were there on time and waited for about 15 minutes before I started thinking it was a bit strange for everybody to be this late. It turned out that the time we were meant to meet had been changed from 7.30 to 8.00 or something – but of course nobody had contacted me because I had no phone… I guess late is better than never though and eventually people did turn up. We ended up having some 回転寿司 (rotating conveyor belt sushi) for dinner. The combination of not having had a proper meal all day and having to wait about 20 minutes for a seat, I managed to stuff myself a bit too full of fish there. We went out to an izakaya nearby afterwards where there were some nibbles which sated my hunger for something not-raw-fish thankfully. Although I have a feeling beer also helps with that problem.
Ben, Francis, Sayaka and Myself
The night was a nice farewell I thought – and turned out to be the last time out with some people for not only me but also my fellow Melbourne Uni buddy Catherine (who left a couple of days after I did). I rather unfortunately had to excuse myself from the party a little early because I still hadn’t finished packing at the time. A number of hugs, handshakes and promises to keep in touch later Ben and I were on the express train back to Shinkawasaki…
At the door ... the human traffic jam
Arhhhhh it’s so late and I need to sleep. I really need to try to get back into normal sleeping habits here. I will post the rest later… Apologies for taking so long to update this. I will finish it. Eventually :)