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The Road To Midterms: Balancing School Life and Tokyo Fun

Many summer session classes have field trips; some optional, some required, some in class, some afterwards. During the first full week, my class to a field trip to tour the Tokyo Stock Exchange. 

Even though it was technically after school, we still had to end class early in order for everyone to arrive by the scheduled tour time. We were perfectly allowed to take pictures, but we weren't allowed to use flash so it was difficult to get many good images. I won't know for sure what all turned out until I look at the pictures larger on the computer, so for now check out my fancy schmancy visitor badge.
We had a special private tour scheduled for the class, so this is something I never would have been able to see if I had simply been in Tokyo on my own. We learned quite a bit about how the stock market works in Japan, as well as how the TSE runs on a daily basis. It was very interesting and it was a fantastic opportunity brought to us by the campus. 
The next day, I hopped on a train after school, transfered at Kanda, and went back to Akihabara to do what I had been planning since June: go to MaiDreamin. MaiDreamin is a Maid Cafe in Akihabara with multiple chains of the cafe throughout Akiba. There's like 6 of them on this one street and they're all super successful. Why? Because they are AMAZING! This isn't like the 2 other Maid Cafe's I've been to before. This was by far the most spectacular service I have had anywhere in Japan.
When I walked in, I was given my own personal maid, Mariko, and my presence was announced to the entire shop (of course, everybody applauded. It's part of the ambiance). I was referred to for the entire time as either "Princess Jennifer" or "Master". Okay, a little creepy in English, but in Japanese it was adorable. Mariko asked me about where I was from and talked to me about lots of things. Another one of the maids came around when Mariko was busy and made sure I understood everything that was going on since it has been discussed that my primary language is English. They thought my Japanese was cute! My treats were a chocolate bear parfait named kuma-chan and a white peach tea.   2012-07-31_14-07-43_658
After I got my food, all the lights were turned off and exchanged for party lights for the "Live Show". It was so adorable, the maids danced and even sang a little! They got the audience involved, clapping and joining in on a part of the dance. We also got various colored glowsticks to play along with. The whole experience was just pure sugary fun! It costs a little more than others I have been to, but honestly the quality makes it 100% worth it and I would recommend MaiDreamin to anyone planning to go to a Maid Cafe. If you ever go to one with me, we'll definitely be going to one of their branches!

The next day after classes the Sophia Summer Office sponsored a trip to the Meiji Shrine in Harajuku. I had been here before, but this time was different because we had a presentation about the shrine from some of the priests, as well as we were able to watch an official ceremony. I wish I could've taken photos during the ceremony because it was quite beautiful, but photography is strictly forbidden in that particular part of the shrine. Luckily the outdoor areas were photographable, so I was able to get some shrine photos; just not of priests or preistesses because they ask you not to.

Now an especially cool fact about the Meiji Shrine is it's location. You walk outside and are literally at Cosplay Bridge. Even with it being already pretty late in the evening (just past 5pm when all was said and done) we couldn't be in Harajuku without going back down Takeshita Dori for a little mini shopping trip. 

Our next summer session activity was going to Noh. Noh is a type of masked performance play. I was a little nervous about going because I'd heard a lot of poor reviews of the art form. Things like "It's really slow", "It's boring", and "I fell asleep". But of course I try to experience everything, and I had never seen a Noh play for myself, so I was up to try it. I was so pleasantly surprised! The first few minutes I was worried, it seemed to be starting out slow; but very quickly I was drawn in and the hour and a half performance felt as if it had taken only a few minutes. The minimalist nature of the staging makes the actors have to draw you in on their own, and the whole performance really does pull you into it. My only comment on Noh is that the masks are REALLY CREEPY. I mean just downright scary. The good news is that only main characters wear them, so it's okay. We saw "Aoi no Ue" which is basically an episode from The Tale of Genji. I have never read Genji, but it is very famous and after seeing this performance I may have to read it because I would love to hear the rest of the story. I really wish I could've filmed part of the show, or at least taken pictures. Sadly photos were not allowed once the show began. At least I was able to capture a few shots of the stage.
After the show we all went in search of food. The Noh theatre was in a haute fashion district, so there wasn't much to eat in that area. Luckily for us our train transfer was in Shibuya, so we just hopped over there and looked for somewhere to eat right in the center of all the action! Once we found our way out of the ginormous station and around to the proper side, we crossed the road at Shibuya Crossing and started to check out the back areas behind Shibuya 109. There's a lot of shopping in that area, but there's also a TON of food.
Corn soup: one of my favorites
We looked around and around trying to decide what sounded right for the night. Finally, I spotted a sign that said pancakes. Pancakes have been brought up for various reasons over the past few days so I saw the sign and thought immediately "This is the place!".
My awesome pancakes of delicousness
 I pointed it out to the group and we all took the elevator up to the 8th floor where the restaurant was located. As soon as we saw the big menu setup, everyone else decided it was definitely the place. Everything was as delicious as it was adorable! Also, since their pancakes are thicker, they were extremely filling and they incorporated dessert into the dinner experience. I haven was able to have some corn soup! It's one of those silly little foods that I love in Japan but hadn't found yet this year. It wasn't a big day for pictures, so basically all I've got is food pictures. I'm sure you don't mind, they're cute! 



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