Tag Archives: Disney

Adventures at Tokyo Disney

Screaming my head off at Tokyo Disney's Splash Mountain:

Disney is very popular in Japan. I believe it’s more popular in Japan than in the US, by far. My wife is a huge fan, and so are many of her friends.

Thankfully if you live in the Tokyo area, you can visit Tokyo Disneyland, which is in nearby Chiba Prefecture. There’s a train line that runs from Tokyo station to it, along with other routes.

In terms of size and the types of rides, it’s quite similar to Disney California, which I’ve been to twice with my wife and daughter.1 However, Disney Tokyo is much more crowded than Disney California. Just getting into the park requires waiting in a very long line, and a day pass is about ¥6200. So, for most Japanese, they try to get in early, and stay all day and night so they can get their money’s worth.

Also, the food is much better at Tokyo Disney than Disney California. California had some good restaurants and accommodations, but Tokyo Disney benefits from the “Japan effect” where the same food is somehow nicer, and better quality than what you eat in the US. Even the little road-side stands have better snacks, such as curry-flavored popcorn. If you haven’t tried curry-flavored popcorn, you are really missing out.

As I mentioned earlier, it’s very crowded, even on a weekday. And, if you go during a season like late summer or mid-winter, the weather is really tough. We went during late August which is extremely muggy and hot, and I really thought I was going to pass out by lunch-time. Once the sun-set though the weather was much more pleasant, but I was soaked with sweat and smelling like a dead animal.

Still, the rides are awesome as usual. Here’s a photo above of me screaming my head off on Splash Mountain. If you have been on this ride before, you’ll recall there’s 3 drops, but the third drop is the longest and your picture gets taken. We were riding with my wife, daughter, and several friends, and everyone was screaming except me. I was laughing hysterically for some silly reason.2

I won’t lie, Disney Tokyo is long-lines and high-prices, but if you’re going with friends and loved-ones, it’s honestly quite fun. I highly recommend it.

We’ve been to Disney California (great) and Disney Paris (smaller, bad food, but also lots of fun), but Tokyo Disney in some ways is the best one. :)

P.S. The “Mickey” shirt I am wearing has a funny story behind it. When my daughter was 3, we took her to Disney California, and she got a small injury after she fell and scraped her knee. She was very upset, and when the nurse tried to fix it, she got very scared and threw up all over me. A lot. Anyhow, the Disney staff felt bad, so they gave me a voucher for a free t-shirt anywhere in the park. I picked the shirt you see above. :) I keep it for the memories. Ah, parenting.

1 One time, I accidentally booked the trip during Mother’s Day. It worked out very well though: the park was less busy and they had many fun activities for moms. We ate a very nice Mother’s Day luncheon there. Well worth it.

2 I did the same thing one another roller-coaster ride, the whole time. :p My wife told me to shut-up. ;)

Language Exposure is Worth It

Nebel in der Region Rhön 01386

I have story to tell. When we first moved back to the US three years ago from Ireland, my daughter was still about 3 years old. We had purchased some Japanese-language Disney CDs and would play them in the car on repeat. The stories were short, maybe 5-10 minutes, and would narrate famous stories like Aladdin, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, etc. and would play over and over because my daughter liked them so much.

My wife usually drives, and I sit in the backseat with my daughter because she likes being with Daddy (and I drive terrible anyway)1 so for months I would have listen to the same 5-10 minute stories over and over and OVER. If we went on a long drive, such as to my grandmother’s house on Camano Island, I listened to the story many times.

But you know what? Over time, the stories made more sense. At first, it just sounded like a jumble of words to me. I was studying for the JLPT3 (JLPT N4 nowadays) and was just getting familiar with a lot of basic Japanese vocabulary, and that vocabulary appeared in the stories a lot. However, at first I just couldn’t hear it in the stories. But little by little, I would recognize certain words or grammar and the stories made more and more sense. Also, I learned a lot of new words, like 魔法 (mahō magic), 姫さま (hime-sama princess), and other Disney-centric words. ;)

This is how one effectively learns a language. There’s no fast-track or rushing it. It takes a really long time but progress happens slowly, subtly. I wrote an old post about Buddhist practice and Zen meditation and I quoted from the famous teacher Shunryu Suzuki:

After you practice for a while, you will realize that it is not possible to make rapid, extraordinary progress. Even though you try very hard, the progress you make is always little by little. It is not like going out in a shower in which you know you will get wet. In a fog, you do not know you are getting wet, but as you keep walking you get wet little by little. If your mind has ideas of progress, you may say “Oh this pace is terrible!” But actually it is not…It is like learning a foreign language; you cannot do it all of a sudden, but by repeating it over and over you will master. (page 46)

So, lately, when took up Korean studies, I found myself learning the same lessons again.

As part of my 4-month experiment, I listen to the Iyagi series of lessons at TTMIK and listen to the same ones everyday (lessons 2 through 7 currently), and often more than once a day. As I work through the podcasts, the number of Iyagi lessons keeps growing too.

For example, for Iyagi Lesson 2, they talk about bookstores. At first, I couldn’t really understand any of it, but after listening to it for a week, I started picking out a lot of words and grammar I had studied previously, and learned some new words like 서점 (seojeom bookstore). Or, while listening to Iyagi Lesson 3, I started picking out a lot of conversational words I vaguely knew, and enjoy the teacher Jin Seokjin’s impersonation of a 노래방 (noraebang “karaoke”) singer.

Again, although it doesn’t really feel like I’m making much progress, using Rev. Suzuki’s analogy, it’s like being in a fog. The longer you stand there, the more your clothes absorb the moisture. In the same way, the more you expose yourself to a language, even if the doesn’t make sense, the more you just absorb it. Then you can go back and review what you encountered through structured lessons.

I think the mistake I made in the past was the opposite: study first, then only get exposure “when I felt ready”. Since I started this experiment, I reversed the process (exposure first, review new lessons periodically mixed in), I feel like I am making better progress now. It feels more satisfying.

1 If you see me on the road, RUN!