Japanese word of the day: Muzukashii ( むずかしい ) = difficult
Last night was the first night of the whole trip that I had trouble sleeping. Maybe it was the change in bed; I had slept soundly across three chairs the night before. I woke up around 5:30AM, but it meant that I was able to call a friend at home where they were 16 hours behind. I’m pretty sure I woke up the entire floor of the hotel with my echoing voice while I sat in the hallway for the phone call, but it was worth every second to hear a familiar voice.
We discovered a mall that connected to our hotel, so we walked around the mall trying to find a breakfast place. Most shops and restaurants opened at 11:00AM, so options were very limited. We settled for a soup place called Soup and Stock Tokyo, where I had a tomato bisque with rice. It was a fulfilling breakfast, and I was happy with it considering it was only 450 yen (about $4.00 USD).
We walked around the mall some more until the shops finally opened at 11:00AM. My mom and sister walked around a Copenhagen children’s trinket shop while I checked out this boutique called Strativarius. I ended up purchasing a pair of pants and a cardigan for less than $21.00 USD, which isn’t too bad. You already know I found them in the clearance section 😉 The store kind of reminded me of Zara before Zara styles became a little bolder, more expensive, and harder to wear for me.
We returned to the hotel to check out at 12:00PM, then took a taxi to the cruise ship terminal where I encountered one of the most interesting buildings I have ever seen in my life. Well, first of all, before I get into the design, the whole process of dropping off our luggage and checking in was so easy compared to any other terminal I’ve been to. The people were so polite, and their English was close to impeccable.
Okay, now on to the building. Wow. Of course, the cruise ship terminal had to be somewhat bland because of how sturdy it needed to be so the walls were made of concrete, but the roof is what made this structure stand out from anything I’ve ever seen. When the taxi first pulled up to the terminal, I noticed that people were walking down a ramp from somewhere but I was in too much of a hurry to notice where. However, when I was looking down from the ship deck, I saw that the roof of the terminal was actually an extremely large patio or urban garden without trees or whatever you want to call it. There was a walkway outlining the edge of the roof where people could stroll or run, and because the terminal was so big, this walkway extended so far and made it look like some futuristic urban planning. The roof itself wasn’t completely flat to accommodate the walking like you’d expect; there were strategically placed slopes that weren’t exactly symmetrical but it created enough texture on the roof to put white patio tables and chairs out of the way of the walkway without looking like they were just randomly placed there. The texture of the roof was a combination of concave slopes and steps to make it look like the building was almost inverted and had another modern building growing out of it. The walkway sloped down so that it became a ramp to ground level so that people could easily access the street to roof without having to go inside the cruise ship terminal and take an elevator all the way up and interrupt the flow of incoming passengers trying to get on their ship. The best part though? There were Japanese vending machines even on the roof of the cruise ship terminal.
And to answer your question, yes. I did just geek out about architecture. Don’t be surprised; I used to want to be an architect from 5th grade up until 8th grade. I LOVE DESIGN.
The cruise ship is called the Diamond Princess. For those of you who have kept up with the Barbie franchise over the past decade, this will immediately remind you of the Barbie movie called the Diamond Castle that got me obsessed with the soundtrack and I still know all the words. My dad also still knows all the words because I used to play it nonstop when I was like seven, and now he won’t stop singing one of the songs because the ship name also reminds him of that strange Barbie movie.
(10/10 recommend if you’re looking for something to watch and you don’t mind a lot of bad animation and cheesy songwriting but also just good, classic Barbie material)
We were reserved a mini suite which is HUGE compared to other staterooms we’ve been in. We have a balcony which has high walls on either side, so privacy on this ship is a huge plus.
The demographics are not what I was expecting on this ship. I thought that since it was a cruise around Japan, not many Japanese people would go and there would be a larger Caucasian population so thus the entire atmosphere would be a little more westernized.
No. No no no no.
The first thing my family noticed was that there are a lot of older Japanese people taking this cruise as opposed to the younger Caucasian crowd I was expecting. This is good, though. Japanese people are very respectful and quiet, so relaxing on the ship will be easier. The downside is that for everything in English, there has to be a Japanese translation and vice versa. This means also demonstrations and shows and announcements take twice as long.
I honestly feel bad for the English cruise ship activities director because every joke he tries to make lands flat because there’s only like 10 English speaking people in the crowd.
I do have to say that I was very impressed with the performer tonight, though. His name is David Aiken from British Columbia, so English is his first language but his Japanese was nearly flawless I’m expecting from what I saw in his performance. He is a professional comedian and juggler, and every joke he made in Japanese landed with the Japanese crowd. He must have to have really good Japanese in order to be able to explain the tricks to his Japanese volunteers who speak no English.
I admire multilingual people so much. It takes so much effort to be able to learn an entire language and even more to be able to switch rapidly between two or more languages and even more effort to sound enthusiastic while doing it. I really hope I can achieve that level of intelligence one day. For now, I can stick to my main dish of English with my little scarce side dishes of Spanish, Cantonese, Japanese, and Chinese.
As much as I love going on cruises with my family, I can’t say that cruises are exactly the thing for me. Time schedules and restraints are hard on me because I like to take my time and do my vacations as unplanned as possible in order to leave a lot of room for flexibility, error, and new ventures. Another thing I notice about cruises is that people love to take advantage of the unlimited food to the point where it becomes a gluttony and waste problem. Buffets frustrate me because they produce a lot of food waste, especially if you have them on every cruise ship in the world. The point of a buffet is to sample a little bit of everything rather than filling your plate to the maximum for the satisfaction of “eating your money’s worth”.
(I’m sorry, that was a bit of an off topic rant)
In the end, it’s the time I get to spend with my family that is the real reason why I enjoy cruises. A week like this brings together my immediate family along with my grandparents and aunt and uncles that I see only a few times a year, and being able to explore foreign places with them for the first time and create new memories means the world to me. Time is what we can’t ever get back, so I cherish these moments because there may not be a chance to recreate them. My grandfather wanted to see Mt. Fuji yesterday, and was so excited that we booked a tour to see it. The clouds covered the top the entire day, and the look of disappointment on his face broke my heart.
We never know if we’ll be able to return for him to get a second chance to see Mt. Fuji. We might never even return to Yokohama again. There are things you can’t plan for, so living in the moment is essential to living happily.
I apologize for how philosophical the end was since this is a travel post. The boat has me feelings really motion-sick right now, so I think I’m going to sleep now. Imagine being rocked to sleep by the motion of the waves J
(I think I’m becoming scared of the ocean.)