running into the law

Thunder storms, lighting, and rain this is the setting where a rare and bizarre event unfolded tonight. There was some yelling outside the balcony and I look down and some younger looking guys are in the middle of a fight but its unclear if its between them or policemen. So this is taking place right in front of the police department and the fight slash argument slowly meanders into the police parking lot and right in front of the building. All this time officer are playing an extremely passive role just watching the events unfold in their white rain parkas and helmets. Then things get really strange. I had no context or no idea what was going on but it appears the guys were trying to enter the police building. but the police formed a line in front of the front doors where the younger people argued trying to push there way inside. All this time the police are not trying to put any restrain on these kids and it appears as if one of the persons peers is actually trying to stop him from pushing the police. Again I couldn't tell if the police were provoking these people or what had taken place but in my concept of police I can't think of any situation where policemen would be trying to keep angry aggressive people out of the police office. Just imagine a swarm of angry men rushing towards the police department cussing and yelling. You would bet that if the police came to do their job that day those men would be met with some resistance. The level of fear doesn't seem to be anywhere near that of which I have come to associate with police. Then again watching two policemen bow to a person they've just finished questioning on the street lets me know I'm not in America anymore.


Tokyo bits

During the beginning of last month I went to Tokyo for two and a half days in the middle of a holiday. Originally I wanted to do a huge blog entry about it but I decided to cut back and do a little picture post instead.

I should first explain how I got to Tokyo. Their are overnight buses that go to Tokyo from Kobe leaving at around 10 pm and arriving at 6 am. Depending on your luck most of these buses are nearly impossible to sleep in. Imagine siting in a semi-comfortable semi-reclining chair with little foot room being shaken and bumped around and awoken every two hours for a bathroom break. Its defiantly not the most desirable way to travel but its a cheap way for young people to get around.

This was some of the first sights of Tokyo early in the Morning for a majority of the ride through the city we hid behind the shadows of buildings and overpasses. There was a definite change in the atmosphere from the cities and country sides I'd seen previously.

I'll skip through the first day which was a trip to Tokyo Disney Land. I had made a mutual deal with my friend Vivi that if she would help me with last minute planning and accompany me through some of the city I would go with her to Disney Sea Land. It was an interesting experience and there's only one thing I could say is imagine Mickey Mouse same voice but in Japanese.
Youth Hostel
I stayed in a Youth Hostel on the 18th floor of a building in the Shinjuku ward which had an amazing view. The hostel is a relatively cheap way to stay in Tokyo and you get to share a room with random people who have ended up in the big city for one reason or another. The first people were from Germany on an internship and the second group of people was a family from Hokaido on vacation.
Ueno Toshogu Shrine
Second day was first spent at the Ueno Park, the biggest park in Tokyo. Got to see a lot of old old things as well as some shrines.

Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa
Definitely a must when sight seeing in Tokyo, this is one of the most visited Temples in Tokyo with crowds shops and all sorts of distractions. The crowds and shops where as amazing as the temple itself.

I couldn't help but feel like that I was getting a heaping helping of tourism done and it felt good. The strange thing was how traditional and stereotypical began to blur the lines as shops were selling ninja key chains, head bands, fans with geisha's painted on them. The signs for these gifts reassured me of their authenticity. Note the picture below in the right hand corner of the sign.

An electronic orgy, this is where you can find anything remotely associated with electronic or entertainment goods. Akihabara gets a reputation for being a town for nerds. It was hard for me to imagine such a thing. How does one classify a town or a part of a city as nerdy? Well visiting the place gave me idea of how this perception came to be. Imagine a 10 story building completely devoted to toy models and video games, and that's only one of several buildings. The feeling of being a little kid and the desire to purchase cheap electronic goods was overwhelming. I did find a store with an amazing selection of movies Japanese and abroad.

Ema under a Tree at Meiji Shrine
This picture was taken on a rainy day at Meiji Shrine near the Harajuku district. This shrine is dedicated to the Emperor Meiji. Ema is a wooden block hung on a string that has wishes and prayers written on them. Its really awe inspiring trying to read them all written in every imaginable language and ranging from the serious to the silly.

Tokyo Tower in front of the Zoojoo Temple

Sight from the tower
As the picture suggests you get the sense of being in a never ending city with skyscrapers fading into the thick, city air. Its a really beautiful sight and it makes you feel very small and lost. Its hard to explain never being to a city this size but its like the buildings are competing to block out the sky. Or the buildings are leaving the people behind (or the people are leaving the buildings behind). A lush jungle of steel and concrete. I just feel kind of funny describing this as if I've never heard of the word skyscraper before. Guess I can't escape my origins.

Statue of Liberty?
Yes there is a replica of the statue of liberty in Japan. When I first saw this I was completely confused and baffled as to what I was looking at. It reminded me of the words I had heard from my professor Setsuko who had said "Japan is like a part of the U.S. now." which I took have jokingly. Well now I don't have to go to New York. The fascinating thing is the statue can be found on a man made Island called Odaiba which was originally created to keep foreigners and attackers from sea at bay.

My first impression of Tokyo
Passing an art display in an underground walkway through Tokyo station this piece of art work caught my eye. If you've ever been in a big city like Tokyo your orientation is something equivalent to this. up, down, up, down, up... like a game of chutes and ladders. There was more that I left out on and more that I should comment on but I'll leave it at that for now. As for this weekend I'll be getting my hands dirty as I get a chance to do some agricultural work.

A story that needs telling

At the moment this story is incomplete and coming from word of mouth and a few pamphlets I've read. I hope to try and flesh it out in the future and coming back to this post as more information becomes available.

So for the first two months of my stay I've been spending the majority of my time going to school, meeting students, professors, and characters of all types. I've tried, like the Japanese exchange students sent to Evergreen to fit in as much as possible. This has proven to be quite difficult and noticeably impossible at times, seeing as I have very little responsibility assigned to me as a student. It has led however, to a growing curiosity to the inner workings of the college, its history, and the state of the exchange program I am currently taking part in.

From what I've heard from others the state of the exchange program is in a state of looming change, or uncertainty and due to certain complications in the past is not on "good terms". All of this has a pretty ominous feeling but it doesn't speak much truth. I still can't speak as to why the exchange program is not on good terms besides a few past incidents which will go unnamed and claims that communication between Evergreen and The Hyogo Economic/Business college has been what it was.

About 4 years ago the college I go to now was reformed with Hyogo prefecture University, bringing into the fold of a multitude of colleges around Hyogo prefecture. Before that it was a general college but it was forced to split its faculty in to two departments, Business and Economics. History, Law, English, Environment, and other professors who were not specialized in Business or Economics were forced to enter one of the two departments. Apparently professors who were well acquainted with each other joined the same department. So the school was not originally set up to be a Business and Economic school! This makes a lot of sense seeing as the curriculim is a bit strange and the type of professors pecuilar seeing as the college is suppose to be about business and economics. The students and faculty also seem to gravitate towards the department they've chosen.

Recently one of the other campuses had some interest in the exchange program but the problem is that this university would lose the opportunity to send two students to Evergreen. Also what about the students coming from Evergreen? There has been the possibility that the other campuses all over Hyogo prefecture would be open to Evergreen students. So instead of coming here other campus such as the nursing, engineering, or science campuses could be open to Evergreen Students. Would that mean students from those campuses would have an opportunity to come to Evergreen? All of it is a little perplexing and hinges on the fact of whether there is interest from the other campuses and the topic is brought up again whether there will be change or not.

So where do I come into all of this? I'm not really sure and I often worry how I am viewed having an affect on the future of the exchange program (thats probably one of the reason I go to school so much) recently I've felt a responsibility to be a spokesman for Evergreen College or somehow get involved into this mess, or improve the relationship between the two colleges but I think there are some things that can't be helped and other things I think I'm just imagining. Time will tell.