Monday – May 21, 2012
It took us a little while to become okay with the idea of looking and acting like typical tourists. So we did not take barely any photos on our first day. Some of the photos I put in here were taken later in the week, but those are just the images of the places we visited every day.
Monday we got up in the late morning, showered, cleaned up our belongings so that the apartment would be in an okay state when Ian and CoyLou came home. We walked over to the Sev (7/11) where Josh and I bought melon pan for breakfast and Jason got a little dish of mandarin oranges suspended in a jelly. We walked into Chuo park where we sat on some stairs to eat our breakfast.
After a lovely walk on a beautiful day to Shinjuku station we took a train to Akihabara. We walked down a main street right out of the station and just admired all the flashy advertisements and the mesmerizing storefronts all leading to multi-level stores. We all agreed that there was a very similar atmosphere in Akihabara to that of the Las Vegas strip. We wanted to see everything before deciding which places to go into, so we walked to another main street, where we turned right and walked some more. It was very pleasant that instead of skanky girls on corners there were cute girls in maids outfits and other cosplay costumes. And yes, as it was the first day so I did not take any photos with any of them or even of them. Sorry guys.
As we walked further and further from the main hub street we saw many amazing restaurants and we spent our time marveling at the expanse of tall buildings and fascinating sights. I need to mention that the wind was continually attempting to flip my skirt up, and twice it succeeded.
I saw a little booth across the street selling something. I was intrigued and we agreed to check it out on the way back. I was hoping it was a street ramen vendor. We walked further until reaching a point where the street forked into two. At this juncture we crossed the street and began to walk back.
We stopped at a little shop selling hand crafted wood items. Josh bought himself a beautiful pair of chopsticks. His first pair. As we reached the little corner booth I stood back and watched as people went up to pay for something and then they stood, or sat, around and waited. After a few minutes the vendor called out and each person went up and received the tai-yaki they had ordered. I wanted one as soon as I saw what they were selling. I could not find the price anywhere and I was terrified of messing up in Japanese. So I went up after the crowd had dispersed. There was a single tai-yaki remaining and I was very happy to see it there. I simply said “One please”, which I later found out is not how to ask for things in Japanese. Sadly I have to rely on the fact that I’m a foreigner more than the fact that I can actually speak the language. Anyway, he gave me my change and then did not give me the remaining fish. I was worried for a moment that they possibly sell other things in the cart too and because I could not remember what the fish pastry was called I feared I had just paid for the wrong item. He returned seconds later with a full new hot batch of the tai-yaki and handed me a fresh one. It was probably the most delicious thing I think I ate the entire time we were in Japan. Tai-yaki is a thin crust filled with red bean paste. It is a recent discovery of mine finding out that I really enjoy the red bean paste. The entire reason I wanted to try the tai-yaki is based on the anime Kanon where the main character, Ayu, is in love with tai-yaki.
Working through the jet lag and the noise of the area none of us felt particularly inclined to actually go into any of the buildings. We finally made the decision that at the very least we needed to go into Gamers. We went up all 7 stories, the 8th reserved for special events only. We then ventured into the sega gaming building. We wandered I think 5 stories of arcade gaming. I got two little capsule toys from the new Super Mario Brother’s 3DS game.
The arcade was more noise and smoke, so we stole out after a brief tour without playing any games. At this point we decided to head back to Shinjuku to meet up with Ian and Coylou for dinner. We were exhausted when we returned to their house, and after sitting around for an hour or so we ventured out once more into the city. We went to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building for a free view of Tokyo. It is the second tallest building in Japan, and one of the few where the observation deck is free to visit.
After looking over the city we walked to the upper Shinjuku Station area, instead of going through the tunnel.
Ian and Coylou took us to an izakaya restaurant. It was entertaining walking around in attempt to locate the place. Ian went off to see if he could find it when us three travelers were looking like we were about to pass out. After he had been gone a little bit of time Coylou went in the opposite direction to find out where the restaurant was. She returned within seconds with a guide who took us the 100 feet to the entrance. Then we stood around trying to catch sight of Ian in the crowd. I located him just as he got back to where we were supposed to be waiting for him. The way this establishment works is that when you know what you want to order you press a call button. Each item on the menu comes in a size that in America would be considered a sampler or appetizer. So we all picked out things we wanted to try, and then split everything. Jason had a soup that was extremely spicy. We all ate a lot of edamame and sampled different pork and chicken creations, finishing off with some sushi. We were so exhausted that by the time we made it back to the apartment, even though it was not very late, we merely sat around. We chatted up the Folkmans until it was apparent that we were going to pass out. So we set up our air mattress and everybody went to sleep, it was about 10:00pm.
And while out strolling I noticed that I matched the flowers along the sidewalk we were on.
Well, here it is, 2 1/2 months later that I’m finally getting this online. Gomen nasai!! I will try and not take as long with posting about the rest of the week. It is making you miss the rest of my life because I don’t feel like I can post anything if it is not about Japan!!