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Experience Japan

Vol. 8 - Working Holiday

experience9_1.jpgName: Eric Wu
Area of Residence: Tokyo
Useful Link: The Working Holiday Programmes in Japan

Greetings! It's taken awhile for me to get back to you but I took a side trip to Taiwan. Nevertheless, I've had a blast so far in Tokyo. I've been here a total of 4 weeks so far.

experience9_4.jpgLet me start by dispelling a few myths. The most noticeable thing about this place is its sheer size and scale. People say it's crowded here, and it is, but at the same time, hanging out in Shinjuku or taking a cruise along the Sumidagawa river, you also notice that everything they build here is gigantic. People also say it's quite expensive, but you can eat reasonably if you look carefully--a good bowl of soba will only cost 300 yen if you look carefully, and the convenience stores here have everything for cheap. They also have the equivalent of dollar stores--99 yen shops. Indeed, restaurants here can be quite expensive. On the other hand, you don't have to pay a lot to sit in a trendy-looking place that would charge an arm and a leg and be too exclusive to enter in Toronto.

experience9_2.jpgThe people here are generally very polite, though I haven't experienced the friendliness towards foreigners, or the blank stares that others have, since I am Chinese and blend in if I don't speak. They're also very, very fashionable here. Even people who wear ripped up clothing look like they have paid a lot of money to look that way, and most of the salarymen are very smartly dressed. Being surrounded by trendy and fashionable people 24/7 reminds you that you're in one of the great cities of the world.

Of course, I have seen many of the famous sights of Tokyo already.. the Imperial East Garden (the imperial palace is closed to the public except for 2 days a year), electronics shopping in Akihabara, cos-play Zoku in Harajuku, glitzy Ginza, $40 melons in Shibuya, etc. However, after a few days here, I started to slow things down and look more at the low-key sights, such as the beautiful architecture of the International Forum, and taking leisurely strolls through trendy Ebisu and Meguro. I always get lost when I go to Shinjuku, but I've learned to just enjoy getting lost in the huge swarm of people there. Tiring of the city a bit, I also took a side trip to Kamakura, visiting some gorgeous Shinto and Zen Buddhist temples, hiking, and of course the giant bronze Buddha.

experience9_5.jpgLet me finish by saying that the classes I took at AITAS have helped me a lot, by giving me a solid grammatical background. I'm starting to build some conversational skills, though the largest difficulty is in learning the more everyday talk used among friends and colleagues. Luckily, I have many friends here now and I can ask them questions. However, it's not so easy when strangers automatically think I am Japanese!

Now that I've had some time to look around, I'm going to start looking for a job and a proper apartment. Wish me luck and I'll try to keep in touch!

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