August 3rd, 2016 was the day which finally opened a door for five of our students to the dreamland that they had built with thoughts and excitement when they were selected few in the project two years back. Being a member of the Nepal Japan Project, a collaborated research-based program between Waseda University and Sacred Heart University in Japan and National College, Baluwatar, Nepal, I was provided with an opportunity to visit Tokyo for 10 days primarily for academics reasons. The team leads by Mr. Ujjwal Upadhyay along with five members (Aishwarya Rani Singh, Agya Basnet, Kritika Lamsal, Urishna Shakya and Pragya Thapaliya). The excitement and happiness had heightened as Five Fantastic Females (as claimed by everyone) were about to step on one of the most happening landmarks on the earth, Tokyo. Students, in their own words “can’t deny the fact that not having to travel alone and being under the supervision of an adult did provide a huge relief.”
The thought of the sounds of the waves of the Pacific Sea, the taste of the seafood and the feel of the wind of the new place had already started to wrap us in a soothing and vibrant emotion as the airplane landed on the Narita Airport. The airport which occurred to be no less than a city itself was enough to make us realize that the next hours from there onwards was going to be the ride to the never seen and never experienced before moments. We all were pumped up to witness the city which had technologically mastered the ways to simple and high living. Beating the heat of 37-degree Celsius with air conditioning fitted in every nooks and corner of the city is in itself the biggest evidence we can think of, as for now.
Being greeted by the familiar smiling faces of Prof Masayuki Goto (Japanese Sensei), Prof Brenda Bushell and Ms. Yamashita Haruka it almost felt like a union in the most unexpected way in a faraway land. The most highlighted part amidst the hi, hellos and hugs was the camera (held by Goto Sensei) all set to capture wonderful moments.
Faces were new, the ambient was new, the culture was new, we weren’t surprised to see how every second was akin to the gift-wrapped that had a surprise in store for us. The metro is the first. we couldn’t stop smiling underneath the city that was yet to be greeted. The sound of the speedy train and the rush of the people to get in and out, yet in such a disciplined manner had already given us the impression that Japan was enriched with systematic planning and civil discipline.
So as the train accelerated, we were in a “wow-struck” moment and made sure that our sleepy eyes, derived from 16 hours long air journey, were wide open so as to not miss out the alluring view of the real city that was passing by in front of our eyes.
The first destination was Asakusa Temple. The beautiful ambiance festooned with lights and decorates and the fragrance of the Senso-ji, an ancient Buddhist temple was the best possible way we could have ever begun our Tokyo-travel diary. However, the tall concrete buildings and the colored red, green roads for a moment did make us anxious. We almost felt like entering inside a video game gazette. Thanks to the Salmon rice balls wrapped with green seaweeds for oozing energy inside us. It did help us to overcome the anxious state and weariness. The walk towards the Tokyo Sky Tree or else would have been futile without it. The Tokyo Sky Tree was the tallest thing our students had ever witnessed with their eyes before. The view of the city that we were offered to see from the 14th story from a nearby building proved that perhaps we have had enough of surprises for a day. We never knew that even concrete buildings could be so intriguing.
The way back to the hotel was another interesting experience. Climbing up and down the stairs from one station to another was a must required physical exercise. The direction and information written about the metro in the alien language for the first time made us feel grateful that none of us was traveling alone.
After a number of days, the streets and the railway stations underground started looking familiar. We slowly became part of the city. Aishwarya knew it well for she had been eating with chopstick ever since her arrival; hat, shades and an umbrella had become my companions. For Agya and Kritika, spoon and forks were their best mate during meal time. Pragya (vegetarian) was fast enough to order the rare vegetarian dish out of thousand words filled the menu. Urishna’s first priority used to be water as soon as she entered any restaurant. Whereas, Water-bottle everyone’s rescue partner. Camera, our travel partner. Seafood our belly busters. We ate many varieties of seafood including an octopus too.
Everything was perfect about the city. The streets smelled fresh and were green. The traffic system was so well managed. And most importantly the people that passed by didn’t feel like strangers anymore. The view of the sunshine that was hidden by the concrete giants was in a way reflected upon the faces that smiled and passed by. The beautiful houses around Kamakura Great Buddha were the place where one can spend entire life in. The silence and safety in that place is something that is difficult to explain. Students experienced Japanese home-stay as they spent one night with their Japanese friends’ family and capitalized all sort of opportunities to gain as many ideas about their culture.
Playing Spocha (Sports and Amusement Park) in Central Tokyo brought a zeal of a sportsperson inside everyone. From football, bowling, basketball, volleyball, long tennis, batting, rollerblading archery, arcade machines, baseball and badminton, Spoccha was the king of indoor activities. Arcade machines and Soccer Bubble Game, however, became Everyones favorite.
Experiencing the replica of 9 Richter scale of the earthquake (Tohoku, March 11, 2011) in the Disaster Prevention Center, Ikebukuro will forever be the only rattle we would ever dare to laugh at its occurrence.
Sunshine aquarium was another heaven on earth. The various species of fish that made its own world inside the aquarium, the blue majestic color of the water, the yellow, multi-hued frogs, the reptiles, the differently colored corals, the Penguins’ squad, made us feel close with the nature for the first time ever since our arrival at Tokyo.
The love for nature and environment got furthermore enhanced as we could finally feel the black sand underneath our foot and the chill of the sea water at Enoshima Beach. The differently patterned shells drifted by the waves were shining with various colors casting over it. As Kritika, Agya was too busy to collect such obsessed moments in their camera, Krishna could not hold herself to get closer to the high waves to soak herself by salty water. Aishwarya was collecting shells with the feeling like assembling heavenly blessing that was laid there for her to receive it. Pragya seemed like lost in nature. To whatever everyone doing, the music added by the sound of the waves had its own aura.
What could have been more exciting than visiting the tuna cooperative in Miura? A famous tuna collection and trade center in Tokyo. Everyone was much excited to know more about the food that they were putting in the belly for the past six days. The excitement didn’t stop here. For entering inside the tuna refrigerators of -30 and -60 degree Celsius respectively was yet to be accomplished. The idea of entering inside the refrigerator with your summer clothes on did startle us a bit. As everyone was entering the refrigerator we had to be bold too. Everyone’s dream of landing on Antarctica to fill the chills of the perma-frost accomplished to some extent, as we spent the longest 1 minute inside those refrigerators to freeze our sweat on our forehead in seconds.
The next two experience in Sokendai, short hills sides at North of the Tokyo, were something that we will cherish for really long. The view of Mount Fuji like a king sitting on the sky being its throne was something. The purple, orange and blue shades that came to greet the sky as the sun was bidding farewell to the day and the twinkling city lights were cherry on the cake.
Yokohama was the place where you could see the how the real city rules. It looked no less than lion of the night time, obviously not it a fearful way. The climb on the Ferris wheel- short but long-lived. The view of the city that laid beneath is beyond our words can express. The stars shined on the concretes beneath, yellow, red, green orange lights danced on the night garden. It was peaceful. The emotions and excitements of we six inside the box were something I wish we could have stored.
We walked towards our hotel in the midnight in silence for the view was still fixated in front of our eyes. We were hypnotized. We couldn’t get over it.
Till the next day, the hypnotized mode was on and it was furthermore intensified with emotional just as we could finally see and touch the Statue of Hachiko in Shibuya. Though it was not the first time for me but was enough to make me numb as the storylines of the poor Hachiko waiting his master started passing my mind and soul. Perhaps students had the same experience, they could not open their mouth for half an hour in tightly packed famous Shibuya square. Starbucks coffee was a much-needed refreshment to stop the emotional turbulence. Thanks to Prof Masayuki Goto for realizing this unknowingly. Thousands of people crossing the streets upon green light without any turbulence and noise were something we never imagined of. Hundred of silent vehicles shocked us many times, “have we gone dumb?”
Academic activities like symposium, researches, observations, presentations, and discussions took place so smoothly along with travel and fun that no one could actually realize how fast the time flew and how easily things got done as it was being imagined as one of the toughest jobs of this trip. National College students impressed and inspired everyone through their excellent academic caliber through conduction of quality researches, excellent articulations, and presentation skills, command over their papers and contents and finally through their ability to select “sweet and crispy” words and phrases to explain things better. Academic activities were not lesser than fun based entertainments, thank the students for making it such interesting stuff.
After all these emotional thrills and excitements, the travel dairy had reached its final page. One item on the bucket-list was yet to be ticked off and perhaps it awaited the next time. The clock tick-toed and soon the six of us were to bid farewell to the place which had already started to feel like a home.
Our Japanese friend never failed to be so kind and caring. Their car was waiting for us at the main road. We were to drive for the next two hours to reach the airport. Honestly, we were missing my heartthrob. That was the point when my eyes saw the most beautiful thing for the day- the white Mercedes. As the car started to take its speed I closed my eyes feeling the feel of the Tokyo Drive at the speed no less than 120 km/hr.140 km/hr and the well of our words had finally dried up.