International Exchanges

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Last Sunday, my friend Kevin and I decided to head to Harajuku for some shopping/design inspiration.  Kevin, who designs clothes as a hobby, was looking for any pieces that really reflected different aspects of Japanese culture.  In a city as international as Tokyo it can sometimes be hard in general to find things that are uniquely “Japanese.”  Yet Harajuku was probably best place for us to start looking.  I myself was looking for clothes for family and friends; interesting pieces that you could only find in Japan.  Although Kevin didn’t have a phone, due to the high efficiency of public transportation in Japan, we met up with each other at exactly the right place and time.  I’m really really going to miss this transportation system when I’m back in Philadelphia.

Used clothing stores are very commonplace in Japan.  Unlike in the States where the likelihood of finding a trusted brand is minimal in used stores, Japan used clothing stores have tons of “cool”, quality, and expensive brands at marked down prices.  While walking in and out of these stores I came to realize that Tokyo is a very much consumerist society.  There were so many high end and usually expensive brands within these second hand stores; seems like fashion forward Tokyoites must change their wardrobe every month!

In some of the street wear stores I was surprised to find relatively underground US brands on hangers and shelves.  One in particular which caught me off guard was Maddecent.  This brand was started in Philadelphia by the music producer/Temple alum Diplo.  You would be hard pressed to find Maddecent in clothing stores in Philadelphia; yet here it was, all the way in Tokyo.

Making new friends at the International Party

After shopping for some time, Kevin and I hopped on the Yamanote Line and headed north towards Takadanobaba Station.  My friend, Yo (she goes by Yo because her name is hard to pronounce in Taiwanese) was co-hosting an international/cultural exchange party in the area.  I really like these types of events.  People from all different nationalities come out to meet and learn from new people.  Attendees at the party were for the most part very outgoing.  Yet most the Japanese people there did not really know English, so I made the best conversations I could out of the little Japanese I knew.  Communication barriers eventually turned into games for me.  If I didn’t know how to grammatically say what I want to say, I tried to think of different ways to use the grammar I already knew to get my point across.  We made a lot of friends, and got asked be in even more photos.  Even though my time here is limited, I’m looking forward to hanging out again with the friends I made at least once or twice before I head back to the States.

I have about one more month before get on that flight back to Philly.  I’ve keeping myself super busy with school and my internship, hoping to avoid the reality of the situation.  I have a feeling that I might come back to live here for a little while sometime after graduation.  Wow, I can’t believe I graduate next year!  Time, give me a chance to catch up please!

Thank you Yo for taking these pictures!

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