From temples and shrines to maid cafes and streets full of technology, Japan offers the perfect mix between tradition and modernity
Our journey started in Asakusa where we visited the traditional part of Japan, Senso-ji, it was a little crowded and it was very cold! But there was a really nice and happy atmosphere, I think I was not the only one excited about seeing such a beautiful place, the architecture never ceases to amaze me. I went there with one TRIAND INC member and with a friend of him.
We took many pictures and we all three got our fortune written in the shape of omikuji. Thankfully I didn’t got bad luck! A moment later, two AIESEC members arrived and the five of us tried Japanese sweets along the street. They are delicious! From rice crackers, dango and ningyo yaki, I like the dumpling the best. After having the snacks, we continued our way to find the fake food shop, we walked around Kappabashi street, I liked it a lot. I think Kappa are a really nice fairies in Japanese folklore. Kappa are one of the few things I knew before coming to Japan. We were all really excited! As soon as we arrived, we made our own tempura shrimp and lettuce, you really need to be skilful to make fake food!
After that we went to Akihabara! I was really expecting to see the “geek” culture in Japan (manga, anime, maids cafes, computers and technology). I was not disappointed, as soon as we got to the maid cafe. It was so cute, girl are dressed so cutely and they interact with costumers, it was really funny but at the same time it was a cultural shock for me! We did have a really nice time there, but it was almost time to go home. So for our last visit, we went to an underground old video games store. You could find from Sega, Super Nintendo and many more.
This trip served me to see part of Japan’s underground culture, but the moment that was most important to me was when I got to the temple to feel the calmness and how it captures Japan’s hidden story. We should respect and love all this old places from all over the world, because they speak about the story of one country, but also of humanity.
Between chilaquiles, tequila, ehō-maki and ikura, we’ve been sharing each countries traditions and different flavours
There is one thing that I always wanted to do while being in Japan: try real Japanese food! And thankfully I’ve been fulfilling that everyday. I wanted an opportunity to share what real Mexican food tastes like, luckily TRIAND INC members were eager to try them.
So, on January 25 we had a Mexican party, I was really excited because foreign people only recognize Mexican tacos. It was hard to find the ingredients for Mexican food but, not impossible. I noticed that they don’t know many types of vegetables or that they are used differently.
On Saturday, we prepared everything for the party, the dishes were chilaquiles, guacamole and quesadillas. These are eaten often on Mexico, using ingredients like tomato, lots of chilli, cheese, avocado, onion, cream and tortilla.
As soon as everything was prepared, we had a toast with tequila, I was very happy that everyone was excited to try the food and tequila. We had a great time cause we were joking, chatting and it was exactly as how Mexican parties are!
I felt right at home! I thought Japanese people was very serious, but I was totally wrong, they are really joyful, nice people.
I think I am very fortunate to meet people that have a keen interest in my culture and specially, that they are willing to embrace and enjoy Mexican traditions.
Now that Mexican Party was a success, it was turn for TRIAND INC members to make Japanese food! They chose to cook ehō-maki on February 3 (Setsubun) and to do the traditional ritual to eat the roll on this year lucky direction. It was delicious and I wish to have a good year now that I completed the ritual. It was also a great time to gather and have a few laughs making ehō-maki and eat miso soup and salmon.
I find Japanese food really delicious even though, sometimes I think they could use a really hot sauce to spice things up a little bit.
Each day that passes gives me a new pleasant surprise about Japanese culture and their people.
I somehow feel we are not really that different because each country has people with warm feelings willing to share them peers that are different from them.
For the second trip, we went to the Edo-Tokyo Museum, to watch Sumo wrestling and to do some shopping in Shinjuku!
It was exciting to take the train, as in my home city in Mexico we use car or bus, but we don’t have trains. I am amazed how it connects all Japan and makes traveling more easy. As soon as we arrived , we went to the Museum. It was incredible to experience being part of ancient Japan, I was particularly excited about the temporal of the “Ukiyo e” as I feel that art is the best way of portraying the history of a country; we went around looking at all different kind of interesting objects of the Edo period in Japan. From books to fire extinguishers, to old toys and miniature and normal size houses, I got to get a glimpse of Japanese tradition. It was also the first time in the museum for Yuma, Shirasu and Yoshiaki, so they were really excited too. Ukiyo e was incredible, I like a lot how the manage the color in each painting and the attention to details, the paintings were absolutely beautiful.
After the Museum, we were really hungry, so we went to eat “chanko nabe”, the portion was huge! We had a really delicious meal and a good talk of various themes. I feel really happy that we can understand each other so well and share these moments, stories, photographs and more.
I happen to like japanese cuisine a lot! I like how some food can be cooked by yourself while you talk or spend time with your friends and I also find it very interesting.
We went to see the Sumo wrestling! That was the moment I was the most excited to see! I am not really fond of sports but Sumo is totally different; you could feel the excitement of all the people cheering for their favorite wrestler. People of different ages were gathered, there were also foreigners. I was blown away by the ritual to start the fight, it was really solemn and respectful, it was contagious. Each action or gesture of the wrestler conveys different meanings to ward off evil spirits and I am glad to see how Sumo it’s really true to Japanese traditions. The fights were interesting, brief and they were really exciting! I was on the edge with each fight! Sumo wrestler are very strong and great athletes, after watching Sumo for the first time, I can say I am a fan! The fights were stunning and I was really happy to spend it with my friends here!
Final part of the trip was to Shinjuku, which is totally different from Sagamihara! We went to buy some things we need for the third field trip! I was impressed by all the lights and how many people walks on the street!
We took a short break on a coffee shop and on a bar, where I tried “unagi” (eel) for the first time. It was delicious!
We talked and we shared japanese and spanish words, so I bet I would speak a better japanese in a few weeks!