Hey, guys! Guess who's still sick! YEP, IT'S ME. I...feel really bad for everyone I have come in contact with, because I sound like I'm dying of some horrible wasting disease (I actually only have a cold that's being aggravated by my asthma). I just want to apologize to everyone, but that would probably be weird.
Also, I forgot to bring my camera card converter, so even though I have pictures I can't upload any of them BAH.
Anyway, yesterday I headed up to Tokyo, dumped all my stuff at the hostel, changed into ~CLASSY CLOTHING~ and then took the subway to the Imperial Hotel. Good grief, that hotel is CLASSY. It is probably the classiest hotel I have ever been in, and potentially the classiest hotel I will ever be in. Anyway, I met up with Karen and Sara there (they were the only two other Fellows who came), and Sara schmoozed like a pro (to be fair, she IS studying political science) while Karen and I stood around awkwardly. It probably doesn't help that people usually flee (well, suddenly remember that they have someone else they URGENTLY need to talk to) when I tell them what I'm studying...and people just nod awkwardly and run out of things to say when Karen tells them what she's studying (zebra fish! I know so much about zebra fish and sectioning zebra fish now; I even know how to correctly pantomime sectioning a zebra fish!).
Also, it was weird but they made a huge deal about how INCREDIBLY TIGHT security would be, and how we would have to present our invitations and some form of official ID, but, uh, they just let us in. I don't even know. And then we were all given name tags with ribbons on them, and we spent the entire evening trying to figure out what the ribbons meant and finally asked someone and she didn't know so I guess it will haunt me to the grave why I had a yellow ribbon but Karen and Sara had pink ones.
...also, we weren't allowed to take pictures because we didn't have press passes; SORRY, KIM AND LOUKI.
ANYWAY, the imperial couple came about thirty minutes after the reception started and stayed for about an hour, so I can now say that I have been in the same room as the emperor of Japan. I didn't actually get to talk to either of them, although I could have tried to fight through crazy crowds of people to do so. I'm not sure what I would have said, and I'm also fairly sure I would have screwed up my honorifics, so perhaps it is for the best?
Anyway, there were a bunch of SPEECHES about FRIENDSHIP and CROSS-CULTURAL COMMUNICATION and also the ambassador to Japan was there and Senator Fulbright's widow and a bunch of other important people, which is maybe why almost everyone ignored us (the Fellows) the whole night.
Although, I did have a couple of people make incredibly odd assumptions about me, including:
- I am a professor at Nanzan University. (WHAT.)
- Despite doing research in Japan about a subject that is particular to Japan, I don't speak any Japanese. (WHAT.) Oh, and Karen and Sara don't speak any Japanese either. (WHAT.)
But I did meet a cool history professor from Alaska, which was exciting!
So, yeah, that was the reception. The food was INSANELY GOOD, and it was nice to catch up with Karen and Sara, especially since Karen might be leaving for the States in mid-June.
Also, as we were leaving the reception, we decided to politician-entourage around Sara. It makes more sense in context, I swear, but it was kind of great.
Today I tried to buy tickets for the Ghibli Museum ONLY TO DISCOVER THAT THEY ARE CLOSED UNTIL JUNE FIRST SO THEY CAN PUT A NEW EXHIBIT IN AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. Seriously, this is now the fourth time I have been prevented from visiting this friggin' museum: the first time the tickets were sold out, the second time I had no time because of the Fulbright orientation, the third time I got insanely sick with allergies, and this time the FRIGGIN' MUSEUM IS CLOSED FRIG. FRIG FRIG FRIG FRIGGIN' FRIG.
So, yeah, that was disappointing.
I guess I will just have to come up a day early for my exit interview so I can VISIT THE FRIGGIN' MUSEUM.
So instead I went to visit some shrines Nakano-san recommended: Hiei Shrine and Yushima Tenmanguu. By a stroke of luck, Yushima Tenmanguu was having a festival today, so I got to see some mikoshi and taiko drumming and flute players and had Showa-era vanilla ice cream. It was pretty cool! Pictures coming when I have my card reader.
And then I went to Yoyogi Park, 'cause I'd never been before, but everyone talks about it all the time. It was really nice! Definitely one of my favorite spots in Tokyo, and not just because of the sheer number of random people there doing dance routines and that dude who was waving around a SPEAR. Okay, maybe that was slightly related. But it is a nice park!
So then I headed back in the direction of my hostel, grabbed dinner at the really cheap tempura place, and now I'm back here writing up this post and feeling pretty exhausted, so hopefully tonight I won't have trouble getting to sleep. (I think I finally fell asleep around 3 a.m. last night...)
Anyway, I have one more day in Tokyo, and I have to figure out something to do because I was planning on going to the Ghibli Museum, but that's not gonna happen APPARENTLY. I guess I will go bug Geoff for suggestions...or maybe I'll hit that history museum in Ueno... The problem with Tokyo is the opposite problem with Nagoya--there are TOO MANY OPTIONS. Oh well. I'll figure it out.