109 Days at Sea

Japan… Disney? again? That’s me!!

by Alyssa | November 30, 2009

The last country on the Itinerary – 4 days in Japan and an amazing time → From Disney→ To Tokyo and Tokyo Ice hotel→ To my AMAZING homestay

Japan- Day 1 – Yokohama/Tokyo! So my morning in Japan started out terrible. I was in such a bad mood starting from breakfast on- it was not how I wanted to start my trip. First the people I was planning on going to Tokyo with decided they were possibly staying over and I couldn’t so I was back in the same boat I was in the night before → possibly taking the subway back to the ship alone which is what I did not want to do. So that was my first set off. The second set off was this other girl thinks she is ALWAYS right and she started with her always being right at 0800 in the MORNING!! It was the last thing I wanted to here when I just got out of bed. And my third set off of the morning was when it was finally established that I was still going out with all the girls, they ended up leaving the ship. Argg… okay so the process for leaving the ship was not the same as usual. We had to get cleared by customs and immigration through a one-on-one inspection pretty much→ with fingerprinting and photo taking at the immigration counter and then going through a quick thing with customs. Now this process was a timely and silent process and everyone was getting called by their seas. For some reason my sea is always called last→ but everyone decided they were going to go when there sea was called instead of all trying to go together→ well I left the girls room, ran to my room, and went back 10minutes later and everyone was gone… woo total set off. So yea whatever I went back to my room and then the phone rang and it was my friend Maggie saying – “did you still want to go to Disney today? Because me and Katie are going to go” Well I totally jumped on that! My mood was beginning to get better of course – it was Disney how could it not!- … so I began to walk out of my room where I ran into Lucas. I asked Lucas what he was doing for the day and he was just going into Tokyo alone so I asked him if he wanted to join in on the Disney adventures. He said sure! So that was exciting! So Lucas and me headed out to the port terminal to wait for Maggie and Katie. Out in the terminal was a lot of shops, a money exchange, info desk a dress up in a kimono and take a picture section (free) and a calligraphy section where you could get your name written (free also) so we hung out there for a bit and took some pictures and such. Maggie and Katie came out around noon and we were off! We hopped on a ‘hop on hop off’ bus that took us to the train station for 100 yen or $1 US. We got to the train station and there were so many lines and so many colors and so many trains! Gosh I thought I was going to get lost! But we asked at the tourist info desk, we bought our tickets, and we were off to again, the most magical place on earth. We arrived at the park around 1300. We were debating on which park we wanted to go to – Disneyland or DisneySea. We knew there was no other DisneySea in the world so we were aiming towards that but – DisneySea closes at 1800 and Disneyland at 2200- so we decided on Disneyland. We bought our tickets and we were off to enjoy! It was packed inside! And it was crazy! You walk in and all you see is Christmas decorations – the entry way which is like Main Street was just decked out with red lights and a Christmas tree that you couldn’t even get in a whole picture. It was intense. A Small World sang the song “it’s a small world” once, and Christmas carols the rest of the time, waiting in line for rides you did not here Disney music you heard Christmas carols, every single ride, every single character, every single character on a ride was decked for the holiday season. I heard the whole day in the park THREE traditional, classic Disney songs! Woww But it was pretty cool… totally different then Hong Kong Disney in regards to people and lines and waits. We waited so long for each ride it was redic. But it was still fun… It was pretty intense because the park really was geared to local’s more then foreigners so it was not as English speaking friendly; most of the rides were spoken in Japanese and if there was a guide on the ride he/she spoke in Japanese. It was quite an experience but that made the time… as much as our language was of foreign tongue to them, they tried their best to help and accommodate. Overall, we all had an amazing time. The people were just amazingly amazing. Unfortunately all day my head way pounding- I had another splitting migraine ugh.,, but I was not going to let that interfere with my fab day in Disney! We left the park around 2300, caught our three trains, and arrived back in Yokohama around 0015. We walked from the station to the port, that took us about 15minutes and then it took us about 30minutes to try to figure out how to get on the ship!! Ahh totally not fun! No one was around to tell us how to get on, nor did they have signs. Finally we saw a port security guard who let us through a little gate where we had to walk upstairs and we saw a small sign (upstairs where we never would of found before) a little sign that says “Ship” with an arrow pointing. POINTLESS TO HAVE WHEN YOU ARE ALMOST ON THE SHIP!! So yes I had a very fun and exciting day! but I still had a really bad headache so I went right to sleep! Woo

Japan- Day 2 -Yokohama/Tokyo! I woke up well first around 0700 but my head was still pounding so I went back to sleep until like 1030. At 1100 Lucas and me met up and we headed off the ship. We began our walk to the train station; we now had some understanding of where we were heading. We decided as we were walking that we were a little hungry (well as we came across a building that smelled delicious) so we stood outside contemplating on going in or not. It was a small little restaurant and the entry way was very tiny. A local finally walked in so we just followed right behind. So we are just standing inside and the owner/waitress comes up and says “two?” we said yes and she put us at this little table in the corner… now let me just tell you there was about 8tables total in this place it was so cute. so then she asked us what we wanted – we asked her if there was an English menu and she just looked at us and said “ohh no” and pointed to a few pieces of paper hanging on the wall → that was the menu, there was about 8pieces with a word in Japanese on it… so we just sat there and stared at eachother, we weren’t really sure what to do and we felt really rude if we just stood up and walked out… finally a local sitting in the restaurant came over to us → he spoke English and he asked us what we wanted and told us what was available. He was great haha- so I ended up ordering fried oysters! (Yum) and Lucas ordered something between pork and beef, we weren’t really sure! So with what we ordered we ended up going like a full meal! A bento box of – Japanese tea, the most AMAZING Miso soup that I have ever had in my lifee!, white rice, vegetables, seaweed, and then the fried oysters. This meal was so delicious, I was really glad that we went to this local little restaurant, it was part of the experience of Japan. So after lunch we headed back on our walk to the train station. It was about 1230 and we finally got to the train station, we bought our tickets, and we were off to Tokyo! Now we arrived at Tokyo station at around 1310 or so… and we had no clue what we were going to do for the rest of the day- we just knew that we had to be back at the ship by 2058! So we just walked around. We went to this huge bookstore first, thinking they had coffee and possibly someone around that could tell us where to do… that wasn’t the case… we ended up walking across the street to a department store mall. We both decided we wanted to try to find an ice bar. So we walked into this department store and we went to this desk of mall information and asked one of the 4people standing at the desk. Well let me just tell you they ALL dropped everything they were doing to get us directions to this ice bar. One person on the internet finding the place and getting directions, one person on the phone with the actual place, one person finding a map on there cell phone, and one person just trying to explain to us where we were. It was crazy; these people we so nice. Most people that you ask would say I don’t know and wouldn’t dare to drop anything and help you→ well these 4 people had no clue where or what we were talking about but they still found it for us! So after we got some direction of where we were going we just kept walking down the street. We started in the business district of Tokyo and ended in the Ginza district of Tokyo, which was pretty much a shopping district. It was amazing here, it was just beautiful walking down the streets, everyone was out and about walking around; I loved it. Tokyo really reminded me of a Boston, New York City, LA sort of place- like the big city, lots of lights and buildings. It was beautiful. We went into one store that the elevators were magnetic, but the elevators were also like a show for different products→ and they each brought you to the specific floor that sold that specific thing. One of the elevators had 20,000 swatches hanging up that brought us to a swatch store. We went up and down the elevator just to see, the lady told us that they change the watches around everyday! Wow 20,000 watches to change everyday! Crazy! – so this lady also pointed us on our way to the ice bar… from the department store to the ice bar it was about a 25minute walk… but it was an amazing walk… we got to see so much. We finally got to the ice bar around 1600. We stood in there debating if we wanted to pay 3500 Yen to go in. I figured I probably never would have the chance to go back in an ice bar and Lucas agreed so we went in. We were given these HUGE cloaks with gloves to go in the -5 degree Celsius or 23 degree Fahrenheit bar. The 3500 Yen or about $35USD got us entrance into the bar and one drink but the drink was the least of importance to us; we just wanted to see the place. Since it was only Lucas, myself, and the bartender for a majority of the time… A few men from Chile came in for a little while during the time we were there. They were pretty cool too. So anyways, we walked into this place after we had our cloaks on and just wow, it was a big bowl of BRRRRRRRR. The whole bar, the glasses, the tables, the seats, everything was made out of ice. There was two big pieces of ice – one was a magnifier and the other was a regular view. It was CRAZY! And so cool to take pictures with→ Big to small! They also had a drum made out of ice, The only thing that was not ice in the drum was the pieces on each end and the string around. It was amazing. it was just unbelievable. I loved it. it was like one of those things that was plain and simple but the best. It was such a cool atmosphere. Who comes up with those ideas→ making somewhere made out of total ice! WOW! Normally there is a limit of 45 minutes, but we were able to stay in for like 2hours because no one else was there. We ended up just sitting inside hanging out, talking to the owner, the bartender, and the men from Chile (when they were there) for a while. It was a lot of fun to actually learn about the whole complex industry of the Ice Hotel (it is called The Tokyo Ice Hotel and Bar, but there is no hotel attached here. There is actually 5 ice hotels / ice bars in the world under this company and there is an actual ice hotel that is actually made of ice under this company somewhere in the world. How cool is that!! – So we left the ice bar around 1800 and walked literally two minutes to the train station (yea there was a different train station right next to where we were, so much better then walking back like 25minutes haha I hate walking!!) Well we caught the train and headed back to Yokohama. We walked around Yokohama for a little while and ended up in “Chinatown” where we decided to grab some dinner. For dinner we both had Seafood fried rice (very yummy!) and shark fin dumplings!! (OMGGG AMAZING!! these things were so so so so so tasty!! I would totally get them again.) so after dinner we just walked back around Yokohama (It is such a nice, calm, friendly, relaxing place) and then headed towards the ship. So we got back to the ship around 2048 (ten minutes before on ship time! Woo.) So when we got back on the ship I finished writing a few postcards and then headed to Carina’s room for a few to say hi. I was back up in my room by 2200, showered, and began to do some work! Boo! Around 2300 I sat on my bed staring out the window as we pulled out of port! The Yokohama port terminal was like a tourist/local hangout spot to relax and enjoy the view of the water and of ships coming in and out→ so as we pulled out there were lots of local families and just friends standing there waving like crazy to us! It was great, they were just so excited as they waved. You could see the smiles of how happy they were from like a mile away! It was really nice. After we pulled out of port Carina came down to my room and we talked, ate Ramon soup with chopstix, and watched Memoirs of a Geisha (two times may I add.) I went to sleepies around 0230 or so! Late for me I know! But it was a great time in Yokohama/Tokyo.

In-between Japan (s) at Sea – So 192 out of about 700 or so people (students, staff, faculty, families, life long learners) decided to sail with the ship instead of traveling independently from Yokohama to Kobe. As you can see a majority of people (including my roommate!) were over-landers in Yokohama so they would be taking a train or some form of transportation to Kobe (it was an option→ I chose not to because it was a holiday weekend in Japan at the time and everything →hotels, transportation, etc…← would be crazy expensive… I chose the more logical and economical way→I was an in transit as I traveled with the ship. So today was an absolutely fabulous day! I had nothing to do all day! I could sleep!! Sleep was key at this moment! Okay so I woke up at 1330 or so for Rita’s noon/afternoon announcements, was up for a good 5minutes, and then went back to sleep until 1800!!!!!! It was oh so fabulous!!! I loved it! I got to sleep ALL Day, no interruptions, no one bothering me… oh it was great! It was just such a relaxing day I loved it and enjoyed it very much. When I awoke I showered quick and went up to dinner. After dinner I just came back down to the room and relaxed, did some homework, and watched Memoirs of a Geisha with Carina… again… it was such a great relaxing day! Totally hoping for it to happen again soon!

Japan- Day 4 -Kobe! So we arrived in the port of Kobe around 0700. I awoke around 0930 to begin to get ready for the day. I had to be in the port terminal at 1100 to meet my host family! I was so excited! So I ate a little bit of a quick breakfast and then got ready and finished packing. I got outside at 1100 and met my host family→ Aki (father), Yuki (mother), and their twins (both 2years old) Kota (boy) and Koyu (girl). So we played some games in the terminal with all the host families and then we headed for a train. We took a train from the port terminal to Kobe station which was about two minutes away… this train station was inside a mall where we decided to go and have lunch. I had such some noodle bbq dish with cow calfs (strange I know) it is sort of traditional Japanese dish… it was soo yummy I really don’t know how to explain what is was. it was just really good. after lunch we took two trains, about an 1½hours long or so to Kyoto. When we got to Kyoto we went to what is called the “Golden Temple” which was a temple that was over a lake… it was just beautiful with the autumn leaves. The colors of gold, orange, red, yellow, green leaves, wow it was just amazing. I miss autumn, I miss the amazing weather of fall… little bit of coolness but so sunny, oh its just amazing… that is one of the things that I miss most about being at school in Florida. I haven’t seen the fall weather in like 4years!! Wow! After the temple we went back to there house, I got a mini tour of the house and met the grandmother, Eiko. She was so sweet, she didn’t speak any English but she literally just kept talking to me and I loved it! – so anyways, I got to spend a lot of time with the family, took a lot of pictures, and played with the two kids. At 1730 we left the house to go meet some other host families for dinner. They rented out this little like hall and it was great. There was three other host families at the hall with us and it was so much fun. Probably about 15-20adults and like 12 little kids. It was like a pre-Thanksgiving dinner since I would not be having a real Thanksgiving dinner. It was a huge, amazing, yummy feast with sushi, balls of fried octopus, noodle dishes, some like pizza looking thing, and lots of traditional Japanese dishes… it was just so good! There was SO much food on the table and it was unbelievable. We were there till about 2000. After dinner we went back to the house and I just played with the kids and talked to the family for a little bit- about an hour later I got → “okay, time to take a bath!” and I just looked. So we went into the bathroom where I got like a 10minute instruction on how to take a bath. It was pretty interesting. So pretty much you shower, wash with soap, and rinse on a stool outside of the tub (no soap is allowed inside the tub)… and after, once all the soap is washed off your body and you are all clean you go sit in the hot hot bathtub! Fabulous! So yea, the same bath water is used for EVERYONE in the family – it is not drained until the last person bathes, luckily I was the first one to bath! So after my bath I sat in the kitchen and talked to Eiko, the grandmother, for a good hour… except our conversation was really broad, didn’t really have a lot to say but we kept trying! I headed to bed around 2300… I slept on a bamboo mat with a heated mattress on top with the absolutely the best comforter I have ever slept with… it was such a great bed! As weird as it was to sleep on the floor, it really was not bad at all… I didn’t mind it… I had such a great day though; I loved it.

Japan- Day 5 -Kobe! – Today I woke up around 0845 or so and I ate breakfast… now breakfast was soo yummi! Yuki made me miso soup, rice balls with salmon (omg amazing!) pickles, sweet baby shrimps, and these egg like tofu sandwiches! Gosh this meal was soo yummi! Amazing breakfast! After breakfast Yuki and Aki took me to a traditional Japanese tea ceremony! This was so much fun. It was just amazing to see! We got dressed up in these traditional beautiful kimonos. – So for the kimono dressing- we went upstairs and she told us to pick out kimonos… then the tea ceremony leader told us to take our clothes off, she had to dress us! … pretty weird… but we got dressed up beautifully, it was amazing. So we first watched the tea ceremony leader make the tea, and then the three of us went through the traditional rituals of the receiving and drinking the tea… it was amazing I loved it. We then got to actually make and mix the tea… I loved it; it was such an amazing experience. After the actual tea ceremony we had like a photo session where we took lots and lots of photos with our kimonos on. It was so fun! After the tea ceremony we headed to lunch. I got some noodle curry soupy dish and I hate curry but this was just amazing! it was soo good! I am a fan of Japanese food I decided! Haha. So after lunch we went to another big tourist temple, it was loaded with people visiting, like if you turned one way you were lost in a crowd of Japanese people. It was amazing though, just to like people watch and such- unbelievable. People watching I have realized is one of the best things that you can do when you want to learn about a culture. – So we were at the temple for about 35minutes or so and then we had to head to the train station! I was a little saddened to leave! I was having such an amazing time with the family. So we got to the train station at 3 and we just walked around some of the shops while we waited for the other host families to meet up with us. Yuki was amazing… after everything that they have done for me and bought for me the past day and a half she still proceeded to buy me these delicious Japanese candies AND a little gift for both of my nieces→ something she totally did not have to do! Georgia will be SO happy and so excited! → and to know that it was bought by my homestay mother from the kindness of her heart, just like because → WOW → Japanese are the friendliest nicest people. They always put others before them→ That is one of the major things that I have noticed within this culture and throughout the country! — So I left my homestay family and it was like so sad!! I had an amazing time with them and I hope to keep in touch! They made me feel SO at home it was amazing…I did not want to leave, but I had to… It totally reminded me about being with my family and made me really hope for the voyage to speed up! I am ready to see my family!!! – well after an hour train ride we arrived from Kyoto back to Kobe. When we got off the train Liz and myself decided to walk around for a bit before heading back to the ship by 1800. We departed Kobe at 2100. It was a fabulous few days in Japan! I had an amazing time! → but we were off for 10days at sea ahhl that’s going to be tough!←

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Auntie Nikki 12/1/09 5:13 pm

OMG HAVE YOU NEVER WATCHED SHARK WEEK?!?!?!?! You’re not supposed to eat shark fins!!!!!!! They catch the sharks, cut off the fins, and then throw the poor things back in the ocean to drown and die!!! No eating shark fins!!! Poor sharks! Stick w/pigeon Lys, eat all the flying rats you want, no shark fins!

Auntie Ellen 12/1/09 5:46 pm

Hi Alyssa,
Your home stay sounded great, glad the Japan experience ended on a positive note, as it seemed to start rocky. Can’t believe you are heading home!! Georgia will be so excited with a gift from your homestay “family”., but even more excited to see you!!!!
Auntie Ellen
ps 14 days and counting!!!