Land of the Rising Sun #3: A Concrete Maze

Shin Shin the Panda is always putting on a show for the zoo visitors.

alejandro Silva Rodelo

Shin Shin the Panda is always putting on a show for the zoo visitors.

Alejandro Silva Rodelo, Staff Writer

Day 3 has passed. This one could be described as finding my way through a concrete maze. The day consisted of going to Ueno park, visiting the zoo, museums, seeing the neon city of Akihabara, and navigating the subway maze of Tokyo.

Ueno park is mainly just the connector of the zoo, museums, and swan paddle boats. As eager Americans, we decided to take a visit to the zoo for one simple reason: to see a panda. As American teenagers trying to beat the language barrier in a foreign country, we definitely got lost, but we enjoyed doing it as a friend group.

We encountered a gorilla, tiger, many monkeys, and of course the awaited panda who’s name was Shin-Shin. After seeing Shin-Shin, we were told about swan paddle boating in a nearby pond. As a bunch of rowdy American teenagers enjoying something so simple, we definitely had locals giving us crazy looks. I’m amazed at the wholesomeness and kindness of the locals. Every time we pass local school groups, the kids always give us an excited “Hi!” while frantically waving. I’ve even gotten a few fist bumps. 

The museums themselves were very interesting as they were highly fitted with technology and walk-in exhibits. The first one we visited was one about nature and science and honestly the group collectively thought it was boring so we left. Did we worry about spending the money for the entrance? Not at all because museums in Japan are completely free for students! So we decided to head to the National Museum. It was completely about the art and history of Japan, and we were very excited to see Katanas and Samurai armor on display.

Lastly we headed to Akihabara, the neon city. It was an anime district and I wasn’t as excited as many of the other students were. I ended up becoming the winner, as I spent the least amount of money during our short trip there. The feeling of being in the city was really mind stimulating. The lights and the amount of people in a small area was really mind blowing and to see how a city functions so well at night and with so many people out and seeing all the arcade games going off was impressive.

Throughout the day we took the Tokyo metro. As one of the most densely populated cities in the world, the efficiency and cleanliness of the Metro puts shame on the ones that New York has. As a Japanese social norm, it is typical that inside the train cart it is to be near silent as it is the citizens’ time for peace before and after their work day. The whole group was amazed at how quickly everything moves in order. In under a minute, the mass of people move in and out of the train itself to reach their destination.

Now that I’ve conquered the Metro, I get to experience tomorrow what I was looking forward to this whole trip: see Mt. Fuji.