Today in class we had our biggest challenge of our 4-week Crash Course... The Tokyo Explorer Tour!
The teacher paired us all up and sent us into the streets 10 minutes apart so we couldn't follow each other. She sent us with a folder containing three missions (and a bonus challenge) to accomplish.
We started off at Iidabashi Station and had to make our way to Yushima Station WITHOUT the use of our phones! Ahhhhh! I had actually never attempted this before. Tim had to navigate the Tokyo metro without the use of electronics when he made his trip back in 2003 but I have been fortune enough to have Google Maps with me on every Tokyo trip.
Thankfully I had several go-to phrases memorized so I was able to ask the station attendant which lines to take and where to transfer. AND my amazing partner, Esther - who is from Singapore - was really skilled at recognizing the kanji characters and could locate stations on the Japanese subway maps pretty quickly. Yay!
Once we made it to Yushima Station we had to find the Teshima-tenmangu Shrine. Thankfully, right outside of the station there were signs written in kanji that pointed the way. I didn't even attempt to read them but my partner recognized them right away and we ran off in the right direction. We had to purchase a wooden votive tablet - an ema - to write our wishes on and hang in front of the temple.
For a bonus we could locate the magical dragon that tells your fortune. It turns out that my fortune predicted a mediocre love life. Hey, now I know that's not true! <insert gushing about having best husband ever :) :) :) >
We spotted two of our classmates there towards the end of our visit and rushed off to the next stop. I don't know why we turned it into a race but it ended up being more fun that way!
For Mission 2 we had to locate a particular street full of vendors and ask one of them to direct us towards two words we did not know... All we could do was pronounce the hiragana and ask "_____ doko desuka?" (Where is it?). It turns out that they meant "rice crackers" and "tea" (no, it didn't say "ocha", it was another word for tea). We made our purchases and then headed off to the next task.
Mission 3 involved heading to Ueno Park to take a photo with the statue of Takamori Saigo and his dog. This one turned out to be easy. We had extra time so we did the challenge - locating Kiyomizu Kannon-do Temple and taking a photo.
Missions accomplished! All the way back to the station we congratulated ourselves on being pretty amazing at navigating the city and mastering Japanese... Until we got off at the wrong stop and had to fumble around asking for help before finally finding the line to take us back to school. It's good to be humbled sometimes.
On another note, two of our classmates had their last day today. SO SAD! We've become a little family at school and we can't imagine them not being there for the final week. Acham, the amazingly entertaining German guy, brought a full out German feast for us to share. It was so sweet and a great way to say goodbye. Sniff.