Let’s start ima (now)… while I am still feeling ambitious.
There’s a scene in a movie, The Rules of Attraction, (one of my favorites) where a minor actor in the movie has a freaking awesome 4-minute narrative that intensely sums up his travels in Europe. (PS – NSFW!) I feel like this is the only acceptable style to show all the things I packed into my weekend of Nov. 20 (a three-day weekend) in the Tokyo area. But since I don’t have cameras follwing me (yet…)
Tokyo ❤ Tokyo ❤ Tokyo ❤
Here’s what I did:
– Tried to check out the poetry scene, grabbed a humble beer on Friday night and met up with Wataru. We talked about Charles Bukowski — our favorite idol, author, old man of all time.
– On Saturday, I traveled to Chiba City for an AJET event (Assistant Language Teacher network / social gathering.)
It was nice to see friends who live all over Chiba and meet new people.
– That night I went to Nichome (Basically, Tokyo’s gay district! Someone correct me if I’m wrong.) in Shinjuku. (For those of you who don’t know the intense geography of Tokyo (still learning it myself)… Shinjuku is a district of Tokyo>Nichome is within that. You probably know of “Harajuku” a fashion spot that is in Shinjuku.
We went to a bar called “Dragon Man” — hahaha. It was great. Then we went to two more bars — one where dancing was prohibited — YUP! And another that was a dance club. Total fun zone. Many traditional Japanese bars don’t really have dancing, so that was a nice change.
That was saturday night.
Sunday morning I went to Tsukiji — the famous japanese fish market area. Again, in Tokyo.
There, I sat in a small park outside a giant buddhist temple (Tsukiji Hongan-ji (築地本願寺)) and enjoyed the amazing weather — about 60 degress and sunny.
Back at the market area, I watched a man gut a giant tuna fish for the meat. It was a demonstration. This is what was on display after!
Tsukiji has some of the freshest sushi you can find — so, of course, I partook. Many of the places to eat have bars you can sit at to eat — not so formal.
There were many ramen places and more, but I wanted sashimi. I found a rice bowl with sashimi and my favorite, ikura, (salmon eggs mmm!) for 1300 yen, about 13 dollars, which is pretty damn cheap for the quality. It was insanely good. Seriously, I was reeling as I ate it.
– Next, I met up with Alana and Claire (Two other girls from Wisconsin who are in my program.)
– We then met up at Senso-ji (Famous temple in Asakusa, Tokyo) with Alana and my yoga group (made up of Japanese women) from our hometown of Sosa-City.
The temple was so grand and intricate, and we got to get our “fortune.” Mine was a good fortune, so I kept it. It’s a piece of paper. Bad fortunes you leave at the temple.
– For dinner we walked to The View Hotel — it was time to get fancy! We went up to about the 28th floor for an elegant buffet dinner. (It was expensive but definitely worth it.) The buffet had all the japanese food you can think of, plus a lot of steak and sea food. And many desserts, too.
But the real selling point of the resturant is cleverly included in the hotel’s name — it was the ridiculous view looking out on Tokyo and Skytree. You can get seating that directly looks out — what a perfect date night it would make.
Speaking of Skytree — that’s where we went next! What an even more magnificent view!!!
I bet your wondering how much English my Japanese friends speak — who we went to Skytree and dinner with. The answer is, it varies. But fumbling our way through conversations… it’s always interesting, fun and sometimes a bit frustrating. But, it always reminds me to study Japanese more, which is a good thing. (Thank goodness Alana and Claire studied Japanese in college.) However, they left a bit early, so I was with the yoga group — the lone foreigner. But, there was a point where we were all taking a photo together, that it dawned on me. I was in fact, the lone foreigner, but I didn’t feel like it. I didn’t feel like I was hanging out with a bunch of Japanese people — I just felt like I was hanging out with friends.
After, I went to my hostel — The Shinjuku Ace Inn — highly reccommended by my friend Laurence, who is from London and now lives a few towns away from me. It’s a great place to spend the night for cheap in Tokyo — a capsule hotel.
After a good night’s sleep (that hadn’t happened in a while!!) I was ready in the morning to do some exploring. I spoke with a few Austrailian tourists before I left while having some (free) green tea for breakfast. It was sort of nostolgic for me. Thinking back a year when I was a tourist in Japan — wondering if I’d ever come back. And here I was now, living here. It was a nice moment.
I decided to walk around the Shinjuku area for a bit and see what I’d find…..
Bunny CAFE!! BUNNY CAFE!! it’s exactly what it sounds like — a cafe where you can go and see and pet rabbits. (They also have cat, dog, owl cafes!)
I had some iced coffee, played with the bunnies and was on my way!
– Next up — Akihabra — specifically – “Electric town.” But on my way out, I saw a really beautiful scene of a fishing place with the changing leaves of the trees in the background. So, I snapped a photo from the train.
Wasn’t sure where I’d go in electric town — the place is hugggggggggge, but I stepped into a store and found a lot. By store, I mean it’s like 8 stories tall and each floor has its own theme. I stopeed at the video game floor and found some out-of-this-world Mario Brothers figurines. After some deliberation, I decided, yes, it was worth spending $33 on Mario Brothers Figurines. I think Japan has gotten to me 🙂 Here’s some example displays below…
On my way out, I stopped at Tokyo Stamina Curry. Japanese curry and rice is quickly becoming one of my favorite foods! Wow! It’s so freaking good. This dish was less than $10, and you can choose a cooked or raw egg to go with it… I of course go for the adventurous choice and get the raw or “nama.” MMMMMMMMMMmmmmm.
Lastly, I want to mention that none of this travel would be possible without the immaculate train system in Japan. (This year is the 50th annivesary of the bullet train!) I do not have a car. And for a forienger with a beginner level of Japanese, to be able to navigate Tokyo — that’s amazing. And that’s a compliment to Japan’s committment to being English-friendly (at least at the train stations), tourist-friendly and public-trasnit friendly. Thank you.