Showing posts with label subways. Show all posts
Showing posts with label subways. Show all posts

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Tokyo For Foreigners

Watching a few documentaries recently on YouTube about the experiences of culture shock of Westerners in Japan got me thinking of the time I visited Tokyo in 2010. Now I love to travel, but I truly hate that experience you get when you're in a foreign land and cannot speak the language. It almost turns you into a toddler, unable to communicate the most basic of needs and wants. I once got terribly lost in the Tokyo subway system and asking people for help was virtually futile as hardly anyone spoke English. Nonetheless, the Japanese people I asked were very nice, and they tried their best. I somehow eventually found my way.

So what was my experience like in Tokyo? Well, I remember the first night in Tokyo I went to the Shibuya district, which is kind of like Tokyo's Time Square. It's a very trendy district and full of Japanese hipsters. I felt a bit out of place because I wasn't stylish enough. I hadn't really brought any stylish clothes with me because the main destination that I was going to was Bali, and Bali is a tropical resort where you really have to dress as minimally as possible because of the heat and humidity.

And so I spent the night ogling at the people...

Now I come from New York, and we have plenty of Asian people, so being around tons of Asians is not something new to me. But in Japan it's a different story. I was on their turf, their land, where their history goes back centuries, uncorrupted by strong Western influence. Although Japan was occupied by America after World War II, the Japanese, being a very secretive people, and living on an island, have been able to retain a strong core to their cultural identity. Whatever American or Western influences you see there are mainly on the surface.

So of course I headed over to Starbucks for a drink.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


When I was about 9 or 10 years old I was obsessed with the Subway and I used to go out and ride it all by myself. There were times when I even cut school when I was in 5th grade to go ride it. I think I rose every single line and went to every single subway stop. I remember once when I was transferring trains at Myrtle Avenue on the JMZ line this older black woman asking me if I was too young to be riding the train by myself. I really don't remember what I said.

Was I too young? I must have been about 9 or 10. I was far away from home and in neighborhoods that were really dangerous. Plus this was back in the early 90s when shit was really bad. I remember being on a station on the 2 and 5 line in the Brownsville area where the elevated tracks of the have a gap in between them where you can see down to the street. I saw this kid down on the street who looked up at me on the platform. Then a minute later someone throws up a container of ice cream up through the gap between the tracks and it hit the wall of the station about 10 feet from me. That fucking kid was probably trying to hit me with it. Other than that I never had any incidents on the trains when I was a kid. I never got jumped or robbed. I guess I got lucky.

Maybe I should do that again. Ride the trains. I have this renewed interest in all things New York. I'm in love with the city.


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