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3 posts categorized "Television"

07/09/2014

Everything Disney

Knowing that my time is counting down, I immediately bought my boyfriend and me tickets to Tokyo DisneySea. The fact that the ticket was discounted was the icing on the cake. I was really scared that our trip to the Place Where Dreams are Made might be on a rainy day since the rainy season started a week before; luckily, the weather channel correctly predicted that the clouds would part and turn beautiful and sunny. For those wanting to go to DisneySea, buy the tickets when the rainy season begins!

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DisneySea has eight attractions, which in turn has numerous entertainments in each of them. The first attraction we tackled was the American Waterfront. Since we were getting our “sea legs” ready, we fumbled a bit. We received our fast passes for the Tower of Terror but we went from one ride to another simply because it had a long line; we did not realize that every line would be long! We did not look at the waiting time estimate so we wasted about an hour going from one ride to another, hoping the line was shorter.

Finally, we became true “sea voyagers” at the Lost River Delta. Since we were walking around so much, we passed the time needed to receive our next fast pass. We decided to “fast pass” Raging Spirits and wait in line for about an hour and a half for Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull, a ride that was about five minutes long. Nonetheless, it was an amazing ride. We followed this pattern of “fast passing” rides, and visiting surrounding rides to pass the time.

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Before we knew it, it was lunchtime! Luckily we were at the right place: the Arabian Coast. We ordered curry, rice, nan, white chocolate pudding, and a fruit pudding. After running from ride to ride and waiting for hours, this meal was absolutely filling.

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After eating, we used our fast passes and also ran to other rides. Our goal of the day was to ride every ride in the resort. I was really scared we would fail because we arrived at 11am instead of the 9am I wanted. Once the clock hit around 6pm, people started to leave the resort. The sun was setting beautifully and the night shows were beginning. As people were watching the fireworks and shows, my boyfriend and I ran to the rides. With the people gone, we waited at most 30 minutes to ride the popular rides! It was amazing. Another tip for people wanting to go to DisneySea: if you don’t have time, buy afternoon tickets to the resort because the line is much shorter! The afternoon ticket goes from 6pm to 10pm, I believe. My third tip: Disney staff does not push you out of the resort by 10pm even though that is the official closing time.

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I spent my entire day in DisneySea, and completed my goal of riding all the rides. The next time I go, I will make sure to watch the shows I missed. I especially want to watch the Little Mermaid musical in Mermaid Lagoon. I left the resort around 10:30pm, wanting to return soon.

06/11/2014

Everlasting Love

On June 7, 2014, I participated in another program coordinated by CIEE. The staff planned an outing for students and host families (for students who have host families) to watch a kabuki play in the National Theater (国立劇場) in Tokyo. Kabuki is a traditional Japanese drama that is known for its elaborate makeup, as well as the only male actors who play both male and female roles.

In my opinion, the National Theater (国立劇場) was splendid with its lighting, grand staircases and magnificent statue of a kabuki player; however, according to my host parents, usual kabuki theatres are much larger and stunning than the National Theatre. I was shocked to hear that. I wonder how much larger a regular kabuki theatre is… especially since the National Theatre had two or three buildings connected to each other!

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The play performed that day was“ぢいさんばあさん” or simply, “Grandpa, Grandma,” written byMori Ogai (森鴎外). According to the play’s introduction, Mori Ogai wrote this famous play on 15 pages. Thus, the play had only a few, but powerful, scenes about a loving couple who was unfortunately separated for 37 years due to a terrible mistake. Even as they were reunited late in their age, their love for each other lasted.

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Initially I was expecting that this play would be completely engulfed in sadness, but surprisingly, the play was comedic with touches of despair. There were scenes that made me tear up slightly, but the tears never dropped. I did see my friend’s host mother wipe her tears away, though. I recommend this play to anyone who wants to a see kabuki play at least once!

This particular play was designed for students and first-time kabuki watchers. Before the play began, an actor came to introduce how the theatre worked, who was behind the makeup and costumes (all males), and what the music means. I learned that the stage was built on a rotary system, allowing for multiple, extremely elaborate stages to liven the words of the play for the audience. Moreover, the males did their own makeup themselves, and practiced for years in the art of kabuki. They even gave us a two-minute lesson on how to stand and act like a woman. The traditional instrument players also introduced themselves and showed the audience when their instruments are played and for what reason. My favorite part, however, is the stagehands. They were black uniforms, making them look exactly like a ninja! It was extremely amusing to see the ninjas dart in and out of stage.

Another amusing factor was the theatre’s curtain. The curtain had elaborately embroidered picture of a stream framed by two dark trees. Even though the trees are dark, the flowers budding from their branches are bright white and red. Moreover, by the tree’s trunk are several other flowers growing in a variety of locations near the stream. What popped the most was the corner. There was a “Toyota” embroidered with bright gold threads. There are even advertisements in kabuki theatres!

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All in all, this experience made me want to see another kabuki play before my month and a half is over in Japan!

05/29/2014

Fresh Air and Mountains

Tokyo is a great city, yet a prolonged stay can make you feel claustrophobic with crowds and endless lines.  We were finally able to escape the swarms of people and jam packed trains through a getaway to the mountains of central Honshu. 

            Our first stop was Kamikouchi, a picturesque, Japanese national park that has the nickname of the “Japanese Yosemite.”  Located in the Hida Mountains, which also bears a nickname, the “Japan alps,” it is a three and half hour bus ride from Shinjuku station.  Luckily, the view from the bus was breathtaking enough to make the time pass quickly.  IMG_5599

            Upon arrival, we immediately noticed the drastic temperature difference from Tokyo (Tokyo being around 65 degrees Fahrenheit and Kamikouchi being only about 40 degrees Fahrenheit.  After leaving one of New York’s harshest winters in late March, I hoped to see snow for the last time until next year, but there was an abundance of snow up in the mountains. 

            After a five minute walk from the station, Mt. Hotoka is in sight and your consciousness of the cold is gone.  There are a few hiking trails to follow from there, with different ranges of difficulties, and we chose the middle difficulty.  It was about a 2 hour hike to Lake Taisho, an gorgeous lake formed by a volcanic eruption.  We headed back soon after to catch our bus to our next stop, and in the time in between, stopped at a gift shop, where you could buy all types of Kappa goods.  Prior to this, I was not entirely sure what a Kappa was, but it is a figure from Japanese legend, and an inspiration for characters in Japanese games (like koopa troopas for anyone who plays Mario games). 

            We were greeted by the owners of the hostel at which we were staying at the station of Matsumoto, and the were kind enough to drive us to the hostel from the station.  The best part of the hostel may have been the hospitality of the owners.  After an exhausting day of hiking, our stomachs needed food A.S.A.P. and in large quantities.  We asked the owners there suggestion, and they immediately pointed us in the direction of locally famous ramen shop.  I’m not sure if it is because I was extremely hungry, but that was the best ramen I’ve in Japan up to this point.  IMG_5734

            The next day we got an early start, and headed to Matsumoto castle.  A traditional style Japanese castle, Matsumoto is a beautiful sight.  Leading up to the castle were some vendors and small shops, where we were able to find vintage post cards and maps of Japan, as well as Taiyaki for the road.  

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            Our next stop was Nagano.  To get to Nagano, we took the most scenic train ride.  Once in Nagano, our goal was to eat soba, for which Nagano is famous.  We asked some locals for opinions on the best soba, and they led us to a place hidden in a basement.  We entered, and it was very traditional and filled with all the local people.  We were served the best soba that anyone could ever want. 

            Soon after, we headed to Zenkoji temple.  On the way, we got the creamiest, and best ice cream of Japan ice cream on the way.  We were also asked to be on video with a bull for some television show.  At the temple, we were lucky enough to view a Buddhist ritual outside of the temple.  After viewing the grounds and gardens, we picked up some sweet potato ice cream and headed back to the station.  We were stopped again on the way, this time for an interview for a television show in Nagano, asking us whether we knew what basket of edamame was or not.  From there, it was time to go home.  

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            Our trip out of Tokyo was refreshing; we breathed fresh air, ate good food, and saw some of the most beautiful natural sights of Japan.  This would be the inspiration for more many more trips away from Tokyo.