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So Be a Tourist; Hear the Call

Yesterday, we got to sleep to a comparatively late 7:00, with breakfast starting then and going until checkout at eight. Breakfast was very good, complete with non-rice-based dishes. We then got into the bus and drove to an amusement park.

Under different circumstances, I’m sure I would have loved the amusement park. But I’d been in Disney Land under a week ago, and been on the top of Mount Fuji the day before. Compared to that, the rides just couldn’t compare. I only rode two of them, but they were the fastest and the tallest, so I figure I have my bases decently covered.

It’s not that I didn’t like being scared- it’s that I couldn’t make myself feel properly scared. There were adrenaline rushes, but those were on a purely physical level. When we were going up and up and up, I gave only a passing thought to ‘this means we’re going to need to come down again. I bet that will be faster.’ When I wasn’t going ‘Whee! Flight!’ or ‘Oh God, this is fast’ my mind was still busy trying to process things from yesterday.

Besides which, there were the lines.The fastest ride only took sixty seconds from start to finish. (It was mostly flat, minus one rise and a ninety-degree drop.) The line for that took an hour.

We did try the Haunted House. We went in with a group of seven, but at backed out at the first exit. I would have been fine continuing, but not alone, and everyone else wanted to back out. (I was in the lead, and there was someone clutching my arm and slowly going forward.) After the fact, I realized there might be a reason I wasn’t scared beyond me being a sadistic freak who grows stronger off of other’s fears. The Haunted House was dark, but I could still see. It’s easily possible I could see better than the others could. So when they were screaming ‘there’s something in the bathtub’ I might have been the only one who could seek reassurance in the fact that it was a dismembered corpse. (Dismembered corpses couldn’t leap out and surprise you. Intact ones could.) I was disappointed to leave, and the signs and mocking of other people didn’t help, (both effectively called us cowards) but the fun of a haunted house is being scared in a large group, so when everyone else left I did too.

The group I was with was going to continue and do more rides, but I really didn’t feel like it. There were long waits, after which I needed to lose my vision (most rides required pockets be empty, classes and jewelry be off, and bags be stored in a locker) and give myself a chance for an adrenaline rush. If I’d had a boring month, it would have been great. But I’d had a long, exciting month, and it was almost over.

So, favorite part of Fuji Q Highland? Well, there’s an ice cream place in the Food Stadium... Actually, the Food Stadium by itself is better. The food is overpriced, but there are lots of places to sit, it’s air conditioned, out of the sun, and there’s free water. (Water cooler with cups nearby.) Even so, I thought they would have frowned if I’d tried to sit there and drink their water without ordering anything, so I did end up getting ice cream.

During the bus ride back, I heard people discussing gender roles as societal constructs, so I went in the back to join them. The conversation jumped around a bit, with transition points being random facts people remembered. If I try to trace the flow of the conversation it doesn’t make any sense, but topics covered included gender, religion, (kosher laws and the differences and similarities between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) formation of babies’ heads during pregnancy, altruism (or lack thereof) and prisoner’s dilemma, and teacher letter of recommendations. It was the type of conversation I hadn’t had with people for over a month, and reminds me of some of my favorite aspects of school.

Once the bus ride was over, there was a lot of lingering around saying goodbye and trading contact information. In most cases, the only things that really needed to be written down was the full name. As long as you’d talked with them and remembered things like cities they were from, and roughly what they looked like, you could probably find them again on Facebook. If you didn’t remember that, but found someone else who did, you could find them from there. I’m not saying it’s a good method, but it’s certainly cheaper than letters.

And then... that was it. Some people went together to eat dinner, or go one last time to a certain place. The rest of us went back to our host families alone. One month, some amazing experiences... and then it’s over, and we all go back to our different countries and different schools.

Once I was back in my room, there was a decent part of me that just wanted to collapse on my bed until it was time to leave. But I had under a day left in Tokyo, and I wanted to see the city one more time. So I dragged myself up, and tried to pretend I didn’t remember how hard it was to go up the steep incline on a normal day. I didn’t go anywhere new- it wasn’t exactly the time to explore. Just went to some of my favorite places and wandered around.

I intend to go back. Looking at the stations, and the stores, and the cafes, and the restaurants, I didn’t need to make mental snapshots that would last me for the rest of my life. But, as I tried to commit enough to memory to remember for several years, I needed to wonder how much would change before I walked those streets again. Between me and the city, how different would the next walk I took in Shibuya be?

Posted by Soseki 00:18

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