ERAU students tend to be adventurous, and sophomore aeronautical engineering student Garrison Lagapa is no different. This past Christmas break, Oahu-grown Lagapa adventured to Minami-ku, Japan to visit family. His “family has been stationed here for the last 3 years with the Army,” Lagapa explains as he describes his most recent trip and prior ones.
The first thing Lagapa did when he arrived on Dec. 19, 2019 was visit a shrine sale, “basically a flea market that takes place at a shrine”. As underrated as they are, he enjoys the suspense in finding random items at the market. Customers can find anything from kimonos to calligraphy and paintings. This time Lagapa was lucky to “find a Kokeishi doll for my girlfriend’s mom.” Kokeishi dolls in Japanese culture are wooden dolls, “carved by hand to resemble people.”
While Lagapa “was more focused on family time than going out” this trip, he still managed to explore and experience parts of the country. Staying in Minami-ku, the distance to Tokyo took about “45 minutes by train,” Lagapa recounted. Contrary to much of America, in Japan “the public transportation system will blow your mind,” because “everything is very exact and well thought out.” Japan’s transportation is dominated by train systems, an inexpensive and efficient alternative to driving. However, there are those who drive, embodying Japan’s car culture. Whilst exploring Tokyo in search of the world’s second-largest Starbucks, Lagapa was in awe at the sight of numerous “prized JDM cars and foreign exotics, a “rare sight to see even in America.” In contemplating Tokyo’s car culture versus their trains, Lagapa concluded that “it makes sense that only the people who are willing to make the investment take meticulous care of their cars.” Enjoying these views himself, he highly recommends taking a vacation to Tokyo for any car-lovers out there.
Over his two weeks abroad, Lagapa visited many locations, specifically remembering his time at Ueno, the restaurant Ichiran Ramen, his initial stop at a shrine sale, a strawberry greenhouse, a Japanese Starbucks, and a Shibuya crossing. With these experiences, Lagapa benefitted from the best of both worlds, socializing and exploring Tokyo to relaxing and connecting with family in Minami-ku.