The Ohana All Stars Amazing Race - Team Majime Chronicles

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The Amazing Race Ohana All-Stars Edition: Team Majime Chronicles

Our day started as we all met up at Azabu - juban station one calm Monday morning - calm, because we were just chatting and catching up with each other, as a relaxed “day- off” vibe settled in. Well, that was until the race started as if an invisible whistle was blown- we were excitedly tearing off envelope seals, reading our first clues, and making a mad dash towards our first stop. Ours was in Asakusa, so we ran (Oh, yes, we did) to Oedo Line. It already gave us quite a feeling of dread- the Oedo Line is notorious for being built really deep. Deep, like when one descends its many escalators towards the train, you feel like you end up near the Earth’s core, or somewhere in the depths of Tartarus. We also felt that it was going to be a long train ride.

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“Hmm, I think we got the envelope with the most difficult course,” Jen guessed, once we were able to sit down on the train and catch our breaths. We groaned, but still felt optimistic. So, after a 15 minute train ride and one interchange at Daimon station, we sprinted towards our destination, with Jen and Kai leading, and Chiaki and I, Pauline, bringing up the rear. “Come ON!” Kai urged us. He looked behind him and saw Chiaki and I. “Oh, this is just like our hiking!” he commented, which made Chiaki laugh, and me roll my eyes at him. Once upon a time, some Ohana teachers went hiking one Saturday morning, and we were in the exact same situation where Chiaki and I were left behind, because we were slow climbers. Muscles screamed in agony, and buckets of sweat were poured. Ah, a long story of pain and torment, to be saved for re-telling, probably over coffee or drinks. Anyway.

Our first challenge was to have our picture taken under the big lantern at the Senso-ji temple. It was easy:

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The place was swarmed with tourists, so we didn’t look out of place. Our next challenge, however, proved to be difficult: buy a dorayaki at Kamejuu, a famous Japanese sweets shop. We thought it was going to be a breeze, but the long line we saw, that we thought was for the bus stop, was for the store. Oh my. The store was still closed, yet there was already a long queue. There go our chances of finishing our first task quickly. We couldn’t do anything, but wait in line. We waited for about an hour, before we could buy our dorayakis (That, and other sweet things we stuffed our faces with while on the train to our next stop, haha). We mulled over possibilities of asking someone to buy a dorayaki for us, but the staff supervising the lines were strict, and because this is Japan, we stayed in line. I think, even if all hell will break loose, we still would’ve stayed in the line. Haha!

Our second stop was the Tokyo Tower. This made us “Ugh!”, because it was sort of like going back to our starting point. But we got off at Daimon station instead and power- walked slash ran to the famous tower. Here, our task was to take this picture under one of the tower’s beams:

…and to record ourselves while singing the Ohana school song. I was ready to sing it the way we were used to with the students, so I started off in a slow tempo, but Jen, Chiaki, and Kai were whizzing past each word in the lyrics, so I followed suit- hey, there were no rules about how to sing it, plus we had to accomplish this task quick, after all!

Our third stop was in Harajuku, as we took the Hibiya Line, then interchanged to the Yamanote Line.

“Wow, I haven’t been here in a long time - probably, like in ten years!” Chiaki mused, as we navigated through Takeshita Street’s throng of people. We found Daiso, where we were supposed to buy a cutlery set with a famous Japanese cartoon character - the first task. Jen zoned in on the store directory. “Fourth floor!” she announced. “Stairs!” she directed, running for it. Kai followed. “Can we use the elevator?” I moaned. I was lagging behind again. Ah, those good ‘ol hiking days. As Kai was waiting in line to pay for the cutlery set, Chiaki and I set out to look for a pancake store - our second task. We found one just near Daiso, where a guy was kind enough to take a group photo for us:

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We thanked him, dashed back to the Yamanote Line, bound for the fourth stop: Shibuya. We knew where the Hachiko statue was, so we ran for it, and in between gasps for air, we took this as part of the mission: Then went to Cozy Corner, where we had to buy a cream puff. We tore off the envelope to find the final clue, where we have to go to Aqua City in Odaiba.

            This is it! We all thought. We ran back to the station, and hurdled flight after flight of stairs. Even Jen, who was quite fast, had to grumble, “Stairs again?!”  As we waited for our train to Tokyo Teleport station, we saw pictures of other groups declaring their arrival on the final stop. Our team broke out in a dramatic chorus of “NOOOO!”, “Ugh!”, and “WHHHYYYYY???!!!!” We wondered how they could’ve gone past the sweets shop in Asakusa; we figured that they would wait in line longer than us. But we thought wrong! So, all plans of bolting for the final stop were averted. I was secretly happy about that. Ssshh.

            We were the last team to arrive, which explains this:

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I swear, we are NOT sore losers. HAHA. Anyway, that was our last task, to take a picture in front of one of the aquariums found in Aqua City. The other teams welcomed us with applause, and some of them were already finishing their cup of Starbucks coffee. Yep, that’s how long they waited for us, tee- hee.

We enjoyed a delicious lunch at Gonpachi, while enjoying beautiful views of the Rainbow Bridge. It was the perfect way to cap off this Amazing Race event. I am proud to be part of Team Majime: Jen, who had the whole train map of Tokyo downloaded on her brain, directing us to every stop and station; Kai, our laid- back, fast runner, who was competitively fending off “Elvis” during our Asakusa mission (HAHAHAHA), and Chiaki, our calmest, and most zen team member (being with her will relax anyone’s frazzled nerves), who aid and abetted Kai. We enjoyed being together, and the non- stop chatter we had in between missions. As T.S.Eliot puts it, “The journey, not the destination, matters…” Very well said. Anyway, here are the team’s thoughts on the race:

 It was a great day at the Ohana race! Its always fun to get together with fellow Ohana staff especially for me since I am not at the school regularly.  I am very proud of our "majime" team but yes I think we could have been more creative and not wait at the dorayaki place 😉 I agree with Kai that for the next race, we should not have the luxury of our phones and go old school with maps and clues. Till the next race!  -Jen

Ohana amazing race was great!
I really enjoyed working hard together with my teammates!!
Through the amazing race, I am able to know more about coworkers and I am happy to have one more amazing race with the same teammates :)
My team was majime team which we followed directions carefully and even though we were the last one to finish the race, I am very proud of ourselves for what we have done because winning the race is not to be No.1, but also to trust other teammates, enjoy yourself and follow the rules!

The Ohana Amazing Race was, well, amazing. It was great to achieve something with people that you see but not be able to work with. The people in our team were the most calming bunch. We all kind of just took on a role. Pauline took care of the money and was in charge of the receipts. Jen knew the directions and trains to the next destination off the top of her head. Chiaki was our enforcer and communicator and I searched for the directions and nearest exit to the destination. Even without any planning we relied on what we knew and use it to benefit the team. – Kai

I agree with all they said, and it makes me prouder to be part of Team Majime. I hope we can all work together again in another Amazing Race event. Maybe next time, it will be nice if one of our lovely Ohana parents can design the course for us, so all of us will be completely in the dark about the details. I also agree with Kai and Jen that it will be totally challenging if we all surrendered our smart phones and tablets, and will only be armed with a compass and a map. How exciting!

‘Till the next race, this is Team Majime signing off. J

Ohana International School