One paramount experience in my life was my first trip to Tokyo, Japan. I traveled to Japan at the age of 15 in 2011 to visit with my grand-uncle Omar, who had visited my family and me the year before,[and] we had a celebratory feast on his return. It was the first time in seven years that he had come back to America from Japan.
This trip was my first trip around the world and outside of the U.S. I traveled alone; without my uncle to Japan. It was a display of my level of maturity that I was able to travel half way around the world on my own. I was particularly excited because I my love of Japanese culture, cuisine and animation.
While I was in Japan, my uncle spared no expense as he introduced me to Japanese culture during my two and half week stay. One of my first tourist attractions was Senso-ji, an ancient Buddhist temple and the oldest in Tokyo. My uncle took me to the temple during a festival, which, to my surprise, was full of worshippers and visitors. We took plenty of pictures, particularly underneath the “Kaminari-mon” or “Thunder Gate” in English. It is the grand entrance to Senso-ji. It was a great chance to look at Japanese history, speak with fellow visitors and shop.
One of the most interesting things I had to do in Japan was learn how to get used to the Japanese lifestyle. For example, most grocery shopping done in Japan is done in local convenience stores. Also, most Japanese food consists of pre-made meals, lunches, ramen, salads, pasta, fruit cocktail and sushi. This is very different from American convenience stores, and so I had to adjust to a different variety of food and grocery shopping. My uncle made sure to assist me with buying the right food. Going to Tokyo introduced me to new and interesting foods that I still enjoy such as Teriyaki chicken dumplings with rice and salmon avocado sushi.
Another thing I found interesting was that a multitude of Japanese people spoke English and I could communicate in a more comfortable way.
Lastly, I enjoyed the fact that Japan makes just enough, if not more, time for leisure and entertainment than America. For instance, Japan has an assortment of arcades and even entire districts for gaming and technology such as the Shibuya district. It was hard to believe that city blocks could be composed of nothing but technology super stores and arcades. That made Shibuya another one of my favorite places to visit in my leisure time. It was an excellent place to meet people with mutual interest.
BY AZANYAH YISRAEL