Skip to content

Springtime in Tokyo

By: Camey VanSant

By Sophia S

Hi everyone! I’m Sophia from Charlotte NC. For the past few month I have been in Tokyo teaching English and Robotics at an international school. In my free time, I have also been exploring the greater Tokyo area, and on breaks, the rest of Japan.

As someone who has grown up in the US, Tokyo was definitely a lot to get used to at first. My main mode of transport thus far has been via bike, and there have been quite a few mishaps in that department. First off, Japan drives/bikes/walks on the left side of the road. So in the beginning, when I was getting used to the change, I was dodging head-on collisions left and right. Next, the bike I am using has a rather squeaky brake. So whenever I brake even slightly, they let out horrendous shrieks that make it seem like I’ve narrowly avoided flattening the nearby pedestrians into pancakes, when I’ve actually been going quite slowly. 

Other than occasional mild traffic violations, Tokyo has been lovely. Once again I am enamored by the convenient public transport and walkability of the city. I am lucky enough to get a day off in the middle of the week, and I use that day primarily for exploring. Sometimes I am lucky enough to stumble onto some hidden gems, like this Edo Period tea garden right in the middle of Ginza, one of the most modern districts in Tokyo.

Also, being in Tokyo during the springtime has meant that I’ve gotten to experience the famous cherry blossom season. I’ve loved going to the big hanami spots like Ueno, Yoyogi Park, and the Yanaka Cemetery, but honestly the most beautiful tree I saw was just one that was growing on the side of the road on my way to school.

Teaching at a school in Tokyo is definitely very interesting. The Japanese school year is split into three semesters, and the first one actually begins in April. So the school took everybody on a retreat to get to know each other more, as there were some new faces. At camp everybody slept on traditional tatami mats, and the food we ate was also top tier. The communal showers were a bit of a shock, but it’s actually so efficient and I kind of wish it was more widely accepted just so I don’t have to wait for showers ever again.

All in all I’ve really enjoyed so far in Tokyo. Not only am I kind of getting the hang of the language, but I’m also getting to know more about Japanese customs and culture. I’m really excited to continue my studies at Duke, and I hope to be back one day! 

Categories: Sophia S