Tokyo – Population Surge

There are so many people here, the main train stations are always busy round the clock, and heading into Shinjuku or Shibuya is enough to make your head spin with just the sheer number of people walking around.

And yet there are so many things that make it feel less crowded than at home…

It’s eerily quiet:

People are so quiet in public spaces. Almost no one uses their phone on the train and if they do they whisper so quietly it’s a wonder they can be heard by whoever is on the other end of the line. People don’t really talk on the train either… it’s amazingly quiet for the number of people all smooshed together. I’ve been on the train with 10 people in Chicago and it’s louder.

People are full of patience:

There is usually a line of some sort, whether it’s for food, the train or the bathroom, there is going to be a line. But it’s a line full of people quietly, patiently, not complaining about the line. I waited in line for 12 minutes 42 seconds once to get coffee… and no one complained… I know that, not because I am suddenly fluent in Japanese, but because no one said ANYTHING audible the entire time. I feel like at home people would have been complaining and both visually and audibly annoyed at the inconvenience around minute 5. It’s way easier to stay relaxed about waiting when everyone else is relaxed too.

“Hey what do you want to do today?”

“Let’s wait in line!”

“OK sounds great 🙂 “

It’s unbelievable clean:

I can count on one hand the number of pieces of litter I saw on the streets the whole month I was there. That’s not so amazing in itself, I’ve been witness to lots of clean cities. However when coupled with the fact that there are NO TRASH CANS, it’s freaking amazing. An entire city has been trained to take the trash they have/made with them until they get home to throw it away…what?!?! I’ve seen it, they literally ball up the wrapper/ tissue/ whatever and put it in their purse or pocket and carry on. I wonder what our streets would look like if garbage cans went away… *shudder*. It probably helps that eating on the go isn’t as popular here. Also when buying a drink from the awesome vending machines, most people stay at the vending machine and drink it there where there are recycling pods for bottles and cans attached.

Public parks are a haven:

You would think that in a city of 13 million people the public parks of that city would feel just as busy, but some how they don’t. Everyone just kind of spreads out and does their own thing.

My favorite park –  Inokashira Park

Besides the traditional park activities like reading, strolling and picnics, parks also seem to be an unofficial meeting space in a city where renting a space is probably quite expensive. We saw people practicing plays, dances and sports, we practiced in the park and no one even gave us a second glance.

Training in Showa Kinen Park



When in Rome…

ruins, ruins everywhere!

So I arrived at 7 am in Rome, which is 12 am in Winnipeg and 2 pm in Tokyo. I didn’t really know what time zone my body was in, just that it was time for a nap. My hope was that my body’s time clock would be so confused it would just give up and go with Rome’s.

As much as I wanted to nap, the hotel didn’t seem to care about my circadian rhythm. So off to explore as much of Rome as I can with 30 euros and a half awake brain. Here’s how the day went more or less:


I’m in Rome there is so much to see!


I forgot to grab a map and almost everything looks like a potential ruin.

me, mapless and lost


There is a German tour group passing me, I bet they are more organized. Ja, ja, ja, eins, zwei, eins, zwei


Everyone here is at least 65 and starting to give me the evil German eye. Even with taking pictures and tying and retying my shoes to slow me down they are going to catch on pretty soon… or think I’m a creepy stalker.

the man on the left in on to me! 



A MAP, see ya meine Deutschen Freunde, thanks for everything!


Hmmmm, Circo Massimo and the Colosseo – sounds like a good place to start… they’re so close 🙂


So just in case you are wondering The Circo Massimo (aka Circus Maximus) was Rome’s chariot racing stadium and general entertainment venue seating 150,000! The space is massive, and even though nothing here remotely resembles what it looked like in Rome’s height… it’s just cool to be standing in that kind of history.

Here’s what it used to look like:


As I get closer to the Colosseo (aka the Coliseum) I notice it’s a tad busy for a Thursday in the beginning of November… what’s going on?


Oh it’s All Saint’s Day and everything else is closed, so every tourist in Rome is here…perfect.

There’s like a million people here!

Oh well I guess there are worse things than standing in line for a couple hours to see one of the great wonders of the world. Like it could be raining for those two hours… oh good, it’s raining 😦


I hate rain, and every part of me wanted to leave that line immediately. Except the part screaming, “but it’s THE COLLISEUM. You may never be in Rome again, this place is layered with almost 2000 years of history. Thousands of slaves worked for 8 years to build this thing and you can’t handle a little rain!”

Needless to say it was worth it.

who left this column laying around?

You may have noticed how amazing my photos were in this post. Especially the old map of Rome, I made those arrows myself… thanks GIMP!


Why do I want to learn gimp? Because time and time again I need to edit something about a photo and I can’t. Each time I say, “I should really learn the basics of photo editing,” then continue about my merry way until I need another photo edited. Well not anymore.


When you’re self-employed you are in charge of everything. Which is fun for the most part, I mean I love being in control of what jobs I do and don’t take, what avenues I pursue. However, you are also the head of marketing, finance, R&D and every other department a business would have, whether you know anything about it or not. I was once asked if my head of HR could send a letter confirming my period of self-employment on the company’s letterhead.


I am the head of HR and my letterhead is currently printer paper.


Now if I would have known gimp… I could have had some snazzy letterhead 😉 Letterhead aside, I am beginning to see that it is important to improve all aspects of a business, not just the parts you like.


Where am I, What time is it, What’s going on?


I completely missed the October/ November new project turn over. But I have an excuse, here’s what I was doing October 31st – November 2nd:


Tokyo – Vancouver – Winnipeg (8 hours at home)

Winnipeg – Chicago – Newark – Rome…. wait, Chicago and Newark flights are canceled, make that:

Winnipeg – Minneapolis – Philly – Rome ( 24 hours in Rome).


I guess excuses don’t matter much in the real world. Luckily this is a made up world and a made up project, the only consequences being what I enforce upon myself:


(Self who thought up this project): I am very disappointed in you 😦

(Self who failed to abide by the guidelines): I know, I’m sorry. It will probably happen again, but I’ll always feel bad about it.

(Self who thought up this project): Very well then, as you were.


With all that aside how did October turn out?


AMAZING! I loved Japan, and I did a really good job of taking way more pictures than I usually do. The main problem I had was with all the time I spent exploring Tokyo, taking pictures, meeting new people, working on Japanese and actually doing the festivals we came there to do… I did not make enough time to write about my encounters the way I would have liked to 😦


BUT, I think I can make up for that in November in a kind of round about way. The topic I chose for November is one that I think might be boring to write about, but I’ve wanted to learn it for a long time now: Photoshop. Errr, well GIMP… photoshop’s free cousin However, I have so much more to say about my time in Japan, so in November I will be learning to alter photo’s with GIMP and altering how October went by continuing to post about my time in Tokyo.