I stepped on board the airplane, excited and anxious at the same time. I was looking forward to all the new things I would get to know — the streets of Tokyo, the people, the food and all other secrets of Japan — and yet I felt somewhat nervous about how new and strange everything would be once I arrive. I could hear the passenger announcement being made in Japanese. The words were so soft and gentle, almost like raindrops rolling off of leaves. I occasionally understood a word or two and laughed because those words were very similar to Korean words.
We could see the sun going down as we drove away from Narita International Airport. My father looked somewhat uncomfortable in the driver seat on the right, being accustomed to driving on the left side of the car. He frowned as he tried different buttons to turn on the signal light. The windshield wiper was turned on instead of the light, and my brother and I burst out laughing. It seemed that it would take some time for him to get used to the change.
On our way to a restaurant, I sat in the backseat, admiring the nighttime view of Tokyo. The city lights shone brightly and the silhouette of towers and buildings was beautiful.The highway curved many times, often dipping down and passing underground tunnels. My mom said, jokingly, that it was almost like we were in a labyrinth; there were many roads beneath the road we were driving on and I could barely see the streets of Ginza far below. After some time, our car came out of the maze and arrived at the restaurant. The waiter took us to a very small, dimly-lit room. The interior had a distinct Japanese feeling to it, clean, delicate, and elaborate. The room was designed for people to sit on the floor and there was a square hole in the ground for them to put their legs. We ordered Changko nabe, which is a traditional Japanese dish meant for Sumo wrestlers. It gives the wrestlers the necessary energy and healthy nutrients, making them gain weight without taking in too many calories. The hot soup and the tender chicken meat tasted wonderful.
Towards the end of our trip to Japan, our family visited Roppongi. We went to a shopping mall called Roppongi Hills late at night. The building was very tall, with an observatory on the top floor. Our family took the special elevator to the very top. The large glass windows filled the walls, and I could clearly see the entire city below. The Tokyo tower was there, shining orange and red in the dark. As we walked around the floor, we found a corner where people had written hopes and resolutions for the New Year. There was a picture of a tiger on top to symbolize the year of the tiger. I rushed to get a piece of paper to write down what I wanted. I carefully folded the piece of paper and clipped the paper on a string hanging on the walls. ‘I have a feeling that 2011 will be a very special year for me,’ I thought as I looked at the wall of wishes once more.
My travel route:
Incheon→ Narita→ Ginza→ Roppongi→ Narita→ Incheon
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