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My Trip to the Orient - Part 2

Editor’s Note: This series of articles is taken from a diary kept by Canadian Nikkei Alyssa Erin Woo, then ten-years-old, during her trip to Japan with her grandparents.

Part 1 >>

Tuesday, June 28, 2005 – Settling in Tokyo

We’re finally here! After landing at Tokyo Narita Airport, Ba-chan, Ji-chan and I took a bus then switched over to a taxi to Ginza Capital Hotel. We saw that in Japan, the drivers sit on the right side, whereas in Canada, the driver sits on the left side and they drive on the left side of the road instead of the right.

We stayed in room 755, which was a small room with only two beds, so Ba-chan and Ji-chan had to share a bed.

For dinner, we went to an old traditional Japanese restaurant. I ordered Kake, which was hot noodles in broth, and it was delicious. Ba-chan and Ji-chan enjoyed their noodle soup too but they could not finish!

When we came back, the message lamp on the telephone was flashing so Ji-chan called the front desk to retrieve the message but they couldn’t understand him. Later there was a knock on the door so Ba-chan went to answer. They were talking for some time and Ba-chan was thanking the lady for delivering the message personally. But as it turned out, it was a masseuse who came to massage Ji-chan as the front desk had misunderstood him. Actually Ji-chan said, “Is there a message for me?” Japanese people pronounce the word message as ma-sahji so the mix up occurred. We all laughed our heads off!

Later I played tic-tac-toe with Ji-chan. I won 6 games and Ji-chan didn’t win any.

Alyssa: “Yeah, I won!”

Ji-chan: “You tricked me though!”

* * *

Wednesday, June 29, 2005 - Calling and Writing Back Home

Today, we woke up really early and called Mom and Brandon at 4:30 AM. It was 5:30 PM on Tuesday, June 28 back home and Dad was still at work. I was glad to phone home.

We went to Denny’s for breakfast. I ate Japanese spaghetti with a bit of miso taste (cured soya bean paste) and it was great! There was also corn on top, which also tasted very different. Now, I always ask Mom to put corn on top of my spaghetti, and she thinks I’m crazy! I always ask if we can go to Denny’s here in Canada, but Mom and Dad say that I would be disappointed that they don’t serve spaghetti with corn on top! Ba-chan and Ji-chan liked their western style breakfast too.

Next, we went to buy some postcards and stickers. After, we went to an exclusive department store. The salespeople in Japan were all very polite and bowed to everyone as they walked by. We just looked at all the nice stores, but didn’t buy anything because everything was so expensive there! For example, mangoes cost ¥10,000 each, which is about $125 Canadian. The delicious looking peaches were ¥8,000 each ($100 Canadian.) Ji-chan decided to buy me an umbrella because I forgot to bring one and it was the rainy season in Japan. But when we saw their prices (¥12,000, $150 Canadian), we decided to look elsewhere.

Mitsukoshi Department Store window shopping

For lunch, we went to Denny’s again and I ordered noodle soup with corn and chicken. Ji-chan didn’t like his shrimp though. After lunch, Ji-chan bought me a red umbrella at Denny’s for a more reasonable price.

We all came back tired to the hotel and slept. (We still weren’t used to the time change.)

At dinnertime, we went to Denny’s (again) and I ordered the same thing I had for breakfast: Japanese Spaghetti. Ji-chan bought us some strawberry and crème candy after dinner.

Spaghetti with corn - yummy

When we came back to the hotel, we wrote postcards. We also remembered it was Mom and Dad’s wedding anniversary.

Postcards were sent to: Mom & Dad, Brandon, Auntie Meiko, Auntie June & Uncle Ume, Auntie Helene, Uncle Ian, Daniel & Josh, Auntie Sandra, Uncle Al, Felix & Winston, Uncle Gord, Gillens, Martins, Ya-ya & Yen-yen.

* * *

Thursday, June 30, 2005 – Fun and Excitement!

Today Ba-chan ate tempura and rice for breakfast at the hotel. Ji-chan and I went to Denny’s. Ji-chan ordered scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, toast and coffee. I ordered nigiri, hamburger, sausage, potatoes, corn, carrots and lettuce. I had orange juice to drink.

Next we took a long train ride to Ueno, part of Tokyo. This was my first time on a train.

First we went to the Tokyo National Museum. We started on the top floor and then ended on the bottom floor. There were ancient coins, beautiful pottery, statues, drawings and paintings, swords, armour, helmets, elegant kimonos and a lot more. There were a lot of buildings but we only went into one as we lacked time.

Tokyo National Museum

The museum shop was the next stop. I bought a Japanese decoration plate with rabbits on it for Mom and Dad. I also bought some postcards for souvenirs. Ba-chan and Ji-chan got a lot of postcards too.

We ordered pepperoni pizza for lunch. Alyssa: “Yum!”

Ba-chan and I found a kiddie elephant ride and decided to go on together. He went up and down and around and around. Wheeeee!

After, we went to the Ueno Zoo. We saw the pandas, elephants, monkeys, gorillas, dholes, peacocks, toucans, parrots, bats, armadillos, penguins, llamas, polar bears, otters, seals and lots more. I especially liked seeing the pandas because I’ve never actually seen any before. Then we went into Little Trunk, a souvenir shop and bought notebooks and stickers.

I love panda bears

Finally, we went shopping to buy Ba-chan and I new combination locks for our suitcases because security people at the airport had cut off our other locks. They told us that we could just leave them on, but I guess they had to take them off to check what was inside our suitcases.

Part 3 >>

**All photographs are courtesy of the author.

© 2010 Alyssa Erin Woo

Canadian identity Japan Japanese Canadian travel trip