The World's Largest City By Population, Tokyo!

Trip Start Mar 25, 2006
Trip End Apr 27, 2006

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Tonight will be my final travelpod entry to you, as my trip to Japan draws to a close. We are now back in Hiroshima, arriving last night after a weeklong excursion to various cities in Japan. Instead of hitting you with tons of email notifications, I updated my log, adding entries from Nagoya and Mt. Fuji in addition to Tokyo with pictures from these places. As I mentioned previously, our final destination before returning back to Hiroshima was Tokyo, the world's largest city by population. I have never seen so many people in my life! It is estimated that over 30 million people live in Tokyo and surrounding areas. We had so much fun there. Gabe and I partnered up pretty much the whole time in Tokyo. He really suprised me on this part of the trip with how close his enthusiasm was to see as much as we possibly could in the 2 1/2 days that we had in Tokyo. We were able to visit many popular neighborhoods in the city, including Harujuku, Shibuya, Akihabara, Rappongi and Akusa. Harujuku is a popular area associated with alternative fashions, mostly lining one major alley called Takeshita-dori alley. The prices were cheap to outrageous, as were the fashions. I was able to take several pictures of the various "sights" that I saw there. I think you will agree that some of the people looked rather interesting. Akihabara is the electronics capital of Tokyo. It had about anything you could think of relating to electronics, from discount computers to parts for computers. Picture a large flea market taking up several blocks and you can get a good idea of what Akihabara is about. Rappongi is the club area of Tokyo. Really did not feel the clubs while in Tokyo, was more interesting in seeing something that I could not see in the states. Sort of like traveling to a place that you may think that you will never have a chance to see again, if that makes any sense Rappongi catered mostly to the TGI Fridays/Hard Rock Cafe crowd. Stayed away from that all together, I could see that in Orlando. Instead, went to many markets, got caught up in a HUGE Earth Day festival in Yoyogi park and had the opportunity to go up to the top of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building and Tokyo Tower (replicate of the Eiffel Tower in Paris) both during the day and night and got fabulous pictures. Check out in photo album to see what I am talking about.

Tonight, Monday 4.24, the students and faculty at Hiroshima University threw us a farewell party at the hospital, where there was much to eat and drink. We were able to give out presents to the students that we brought from the states, and recieved several gifts from various students. Gabe and I made a presentation to our preceptor, Dr. Kihara, with a bottle of Makers Mark whiskey that I brought from Kentucky to give to him. Japanese love bourbon (and alcohol, in general) so this turned out to be a very good gift. I had the idea of us to sign our names with a personalized on the bottle's label. We also had the chance to present gifts to the Japanese students who will be visiting the United States this coming fall, as they will be doing the same thing that we have done. Mercer has an student exchange agreement with Hiroshima University, where Japanese students will come to Mercer in the fall and American students like us will go to Japan in the spring. Whoever developed this idea and made it possible, I tip my hat and am gratefully indebted to them.

I have never been on a trip like this before, as cliche as it may sound. I feel like it has made me a better person in many ways, most importantly appreciating the freedom of space that we have in America, compared to Japan where space is so very tight. I thought the houses in Viera were close together until I saw some of the houses over here!! Everything is very close together, space is a precious commodity and yet they do not seem to mind. Additionally, in reflecting back over the past five weeks, I am so very blessed to have the opportunity to 1) be in the pharmacy program and 2) have an exciting and engaging career that is ahead of me. I think I take away from this trip the humility of the Japanese people, the sincerity of their generousity and the renewed spirit to give back what I have been given in the way that I will practice pharmacy as a pharmacist. With that, I arrive back in the United States Thursday evening. Thank you for following me on my travelpod. For your thoughts and prayers for me while on my journey I thank you, and to my wonderful wife Teresa thank you for allowing me the opportunity to complete this chapter in my life. -S.T.
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