Partway through the final term, Gakushuin’s clubs (or the Aikido club anyway) have some sort of exchange with Konan University in Kobe. This year we played host, so the Konan students came to Tokyo and, after a surprisingly small amount of shared training, we split up into year groups and went off to show the Konan students the highlights of Tokyo. The “highlight” we first-years chose was Japan’s oldest theme part, Hanayashiki.
In December I had a long-awaited visit from my family! Obviously it was great to see them, but this also meant I went to a few places I hadn’t yet been. Chief among these: Disneyland! The actual Disneyland, not DisneySea this time. I was curious how different it would be …
The wait times were also mostly reasonable, with only a few rides having the 2-hour-plus queues Disneyland is infamous for.
Christmas in Japan is rather different to western countries. New Year is the time when families traditionally get together, so Christmas is all about couples (it’s like a second Valentine’s Day). Accordingly, I did some stuff with Jackie, as well as having a western-style Christmas party with the rest of the exchange students.
Jackie and I went to Shinjuku-gyoen, the big park I visited a hundred years ago in April. While there wasn’t much in the way of autumn foliage left, we did manage take lots of photos in the massive greenhouse. We also managed to get a turkey dinner (well, half of one; we didn’t book ahead) at a very nice Irish pub downtown.
The most interesting thing we did at New Year was going to Hatsu-mode, a traditional countdown event held at temples and shrines across Japan.
An aside: New Years’ cards
While it’s not traditional to send Christmas cards in Japan, New Years’ postcards are a massive thing. It’s a tradition which goes back a long way, which of course means that the Aikido club makes it of paramount importance. I ended up sending over 30, all of which had to be written out neatly by hand. Needless to say, this took a very long time and used up all the days before Christmas when I was hoping to write blog articles and so on. So I’m sorry about that.
Anyway, I’m posting two articles at once this time, so please continue on with me to Okinawa!