Keio Opening Ceremony

Today was the opening ceremony for Keio University. KIP and Research students don’t have to go, but JLP student are recommended to. It isn’t just for international student, either – it’s for all the new students entering into the university.

I had made plans the previous day to meet with Yang (one of the two friends I made after scholarship orientations last week) to meet at 8:30 in front of Hiyoshi to walk to campus together. I woke up at 7:30 to prepare, and just barely made it outside on time. A huge group of other exchange students were right in front of them, and we all headed in the same direction, but ended up on different trains. They followed their gut, while I followed whatever Navitime told me to do, provided it had zero transfers.

The Red Gate at Keio's Mita Campus

The Red Gate at Keio’s Mita Campus

However, we ended up having to follow another set of exchange students from the train station to Keio, since we had no idea where we were going. Yang and I almost got lost on the way to the West School Building in which the ceremony was held (I accidentally mistook the South School Building for the West one). There didn’t seem to be many people outside, but we did see a family taking pictures of the daughter in front of the sign outside the building. I wanted to do it, too – so Yang and I both took turns, while a huge group of other foreigners walked in. It was a liiiiiiitle embarrassing. But, anyways. Went inside and followed the signs to the auditorium, where a whole group of people were gathered and seated. We were directed to our own seats and waited patiently for it to begin. A choir was singing in the very front, on the left side. It was…interesting to say the least. School songs are so patriotic lol. So much singing of “Keio, Keio, Keio.”

Sorry, but it was just a little funny. To me, though.

And everyone in the room was dressed EXTREMELY formally. Okay, when the pamphlet for the school said to dress “semi-formal” for the opening ceremony, I thought my Forever 21 blouse, skater skirt, and flats were enough. But no, everyone was in a black and white suit! Is this how semi formal is to Japanese people…?

Yang was fine, though – she was dressed in a suit – skirt, white dress shirt, and pencil skirt with black heels. Though one exchange student wore a polo and cargo shorts….

Faculty and Members of Keio's Board

Faculty and Members of Keio’s Board

The ceremony was kind of long. Three or four speeches, I think. I…kind of don’t remember their positions, but one guy was a representative from the new students. All of them were done in both Japanese and English, except for the student’s speech. It was a good speech, though. And then the chorus and faculty on stage sung the Keio University theme song.

People are so young.

It’s also a wonder how people can keep from fidgeting in their seats. And I was the awkward one in the crowd taking pictures with my DLSR and making shutter noises.

The opening ceremony was about an hour long or so – I don’t really remember.

Afterwards, as we were headed out, saw Yo, who was going to Ikebukuro to get the same deal that Tina got on her iPhone. We all walked together up until a 7-11 nearby. Yang and I decided to get lunch, so we tried looking on our smart phones for any recommended restaurants in the area. We had no idea how to use Google Maps or like any navigational device so we actually just ended up wandering around until we found an Indian x Japanese restaurant nearby. I did not get the name of it, but it was off a street where you can see Tokyo Tower. It was kind of expensive, with the cheapest dish being ¥780. Of course, I got that one.

Yang's Sag Mushroom Curry

Yang’s Sag Mushroom Curry

So, I don’t really recommend eating Indian food in Japan because this restaurant was pretty bad.

They gave you a free salad and a HUGE piece of naan (and I like naan), but the curry was too watery. The sag mushroom one that Yang got was better, but my chicken  curry was too watery and thin and the taste wasn’t good. The naan and salad were perfectly fine, but would you pay $7.80 for it?

Chicken Curry. Naan not pictured.

Chicken Curry. Naan not pictured.

It looks good in pictures, but it really wasn’t. And it only came with like two pieces of chicken. Nobody else came to eat at the restaurant until we decided to leave.

I took longer to eat (I seem to have the larger appetite…), and after we left, I wanted to go to Tokyo Tower, which was nearby. On the way, noticed a shrine that was in the middle of the concrete jungle.

Interesting how they have them in cities, too.

Yay Tokyo Tower!

Yay Tokyo Tower!

There were a lot of other tourists besides us inside the bottom floor of the radio tower, enjoying food and souvenir shopping. In one particular Chinese dim sum restaurant, there were a ton of elementary school students. Maybe they were having a field trip or something.

DSC_0058

Popping Soda

I had intended to go to the McDonald’s inside and try the Matcha Oreo Sundae, but the Baskin Robbins 31% off sign distracted me! (Also Yang noticed that Baskin Robbins was 31% off because they’re called Baskin Robbins 31) It was ¥400 or ¥300 for a double scoop in a small cone or cup. And their flavors were SO COOL. So different from America! Flavors included ones like Azuki, Musk Melon, Majo no Trick (an apple sherbet), Lemon Mascarpone, Matcha, Coconut, and Sweet Potato. It took me a while to choose. I ended up getting the Chocolate Mont Blanc (a Mont Blanc is a type of cake with chestnuts in it that is recognizable by the cream that is layered in a spiral on top to look like a mountain) with the Popping Shower. Popping Shower was basically a mint ice cream with pop rocks mixed into it. Yang got the Popping Soda, which is a blue raspberry (? I couldn’t really tell the flavor) soda with lychee star-shaped jello mixed in and a scoop of Popping Shower on top. Both were really good. Baskin Robbins here – SO much better than back at home.

Popping Shower (bottom) and Chocolate Mont Blanc (top)

Popping Shower (bottom) and Chocolate Mont Blanc (top)

I recommend going, definitely.

Unfortunately, spending all that money meant I could not and would not buy the Matcha Oreo Sundae I’ve been wanting for so long! Guess I’ll just have to wait another day. I hope it’s not limited edition.

After finishing our desserts, we spent a lot of time looking through the souvenirs in the mall (first floor of Tokyo Tower). We decided not to go to the upper floor, since we still have a year left in Japan, and its about ¥900 or so just to go to the main observatory. More if you want to go to the special observatory, too.

The souvenirs, though! They were so so so adorable. There was a whole shop dedicated to Hello Kitty. And they have Hello Kitty cell phone straps for every prefecture. Whoever collects them must dish out a huge amount of money because each one was about ¥540 and there were hundreds of them.

One of my favorite weird ones - Hello Kitty as a goldfish

One of my favorite weird ones – Hello Kitty as a goldfish

Which means I took a ton of pictures today.

My favorite creeper, Kumamon, holding Hello Kitty in a princess style carry

My favorite creeper, Kumamon, holding Hello Kitty in a princess style carry

There were a ton of Kumamon, Funasshi, and Yokai Watch products, too. Yang thought I was weird for liking Funasshi, but he isn’t so bad. He just has a reputation for being crazy and psycho in Japan. Of course, there was a stall for Tokyo Banana, which is a famous souvenir that people usually give away. They’re super expensive, but I really want to try one.

Tokyo Banana, basically a sweet cake filled with cream - not necessarily banana cream, though

Tokyo Banana, basically a sweet cake filled with cream – not necessarily banana cream, though

There were a ton of other sweets, too, but I don’t want to bog you down with a million pictures, since I don’t know how to use WordPress to make them look more appealing. Thus, I will choose a few for your viewing pleasure.

A selection of chocolate covered mochi filled with fruit creams

A selection of chocolate covered mochi filled with fruit creams

A Baumkuchen covered Apple

A Baumkuchen covered Apple

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Collection of Funasshi Sweets

Trust me, if I could afford everything in Tokyo Tower, I would’ve bought everything. They all looked so good. It really is a tourist “friendly” place since everything is so souvenir-able.

After looking through the millions of food products, we went to another section where only non perishables were sold. Things like key chains, bags, figurines (!!), and clear files. About the figurines – I wasn’t allowed to take photos at the booths (trust me, I tried and was warned twice), but I seriously wanted to. I didn’t know most of the characters, though I think some were from Evangelion, Puella Magi Madoka, and Sailor Moon. I kind of wanted to buy a Sailor Moon one….the big figurine of Usagi was ¥2000, while the chibi versions of Pluto and Jupiter were ¥700 and Mars, who was medium sized, was ¥600. Maybe next time. Or maybe I’ll check out Akihabara. Speaking of Otaku-like things, one food booth sold those creepy puddings that are meant to look like boobs. Sigh. Only in Japan. さすが日本。

One store also sold Ghibli souvenirs – keychains, bookmarks, and figures. I really wanted one of the figurines, but they were ¥3800.

Wouldn't you want to buy this?

Wouldn’t you want to buy this?

Figurines, including Vocaloid - got this picture before being chased off

Figurines, including Vocaloid – got this picture before being chased off

There were a couple of Pokemon items, like keychains, socks, and washcloths, but I decided against buying them. Also, because Pikachu is the most popular Pokemon character, all of his goods were more expensive than Meowth, Eevee, or Oshawott’s. I seriously considered buying the Eevee washcloth, but I decided against it, since I still have so much time for souvenir shopping. And I’d rather have like an Eevee cell phone strap. I can probably find one in a Pokemon Center.

Pokemon and Funasshi souvenirs

Pokemon and Funasshi souvenirs

We spent a lot of time just looking through one floor of Tokyo Tower. And we could not afford anything, so we just left. Had some trouble finding Mita Station, but made it back to Hiyoshi fine. Yang’s roommate actually finished her KIP interview with her academic adviser at the time we were at Mita Station, so I got to meet her! She’s from California and is one year younger – making her (laughably – sorry!), unable to buy a cell phone, and technically unable to open a bank account. She also cannot legally drink here. And she won’t be able to the whole time she is here.

Tammy, Yang, and I decided to visit Ta Ta Tea, since Yang also likes bubble tea. Unfortunately, I am directionally challenged, and we had to ask where it was located, even though I had just been there yesterday. Both Yang and Tammy bought drinks, but I opted out. I had just used my last ¥1000 and I didn’t want to start on the ¥10000s. I’m pretty sure that means I spent way too much. Luckily, they had free wifi, so I just downloaded the Super Smash Bros demo (finally!!!). Now I know a place I can explore the Nintendo Shop in.

Yang left early, as she had intended to go back to Hiyoshi and take a nap before. Tammy and I were free, though, so we went to Tokyu for her portable cell phone battery and for me to buy a ¥100 knife for cooking at Daiso. Our last stop was at Union, where Tammy bought her lunch and we both signed up for point cards. Then we left for our respective rooms in Hiyoshi.

Later, Katrin, my roommate, came back home and we chatted a while and had dinner together (onigiri – we are living the life of the typical poor college student) and talked about future plans.

Also, MUFJ called me (I was wondering who kept calling) and told me I have to go back to correct something or another and bring my inkan with me. And a friend who knows Japanese well. I am not good enough for that bank. Thank goodness Katrin offered to help, because…I really didn’t want to go back. Sadly, that means my day is pretty filled up tomorrow.

All in all, I’d say today was a better day, though I still have placement tests in the back (now front, since I’m alone and brooding) of my mind.

Tokyo Tower was good.

I also learned that I probably still shouldn’t wear eyeliner often here since I will get panda eyes. I wish eye liner didn’t melt.

 

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