Japan: 1/29-1/31

January 29

I slept from 9:00 till noon and then got up and called McKensie (after we had a mixup about which exit I was at and she took a while to get there, sigh, I hate not having a cell phone here) and went to Sensoji temple as well as the Nakamise street, the shops directly in front of it. It was great, we had okonomiyake which is like this lettuce/egg dish that was just GREAT. And before that we had that cracker thing that she loves which is pretty much just a rice cake with flavoring on top but whatever. We also had this thing called a love bun (which is a little soft thing that has sweet soy/bean paste inside it and it was really quite delicious. I also had that other thing, the pancake thing with sweet red bean inside, which was pretty good. And then I had that red bean/soy bean paste in a little cube crepe thing, that was really good too. Both of the flavors reminded me of Taiyaki. Japanese people really love their red bean, and I have to say I do too. So we went to Sensoji and we went to the shrine itself which is where you throw in pennies and bow twice, clap twice, pray, and bow once more. I won’t say what I prayed for in case that jinxes it. 😛 But anyway so then we went to the table of water, I don’t know what else to call it, and we each took a spoon, poured ice water on our left hand, then our right, then poured some water in our left and drank from it (signifying purifying our hands and mouth) and then we tipped the water back so that it ran down the handle (MORE icy water YAY) so that it is purified for the next person. Overall very cool experience. McKensie says when the weather is warm she goes on runs down to Sensoji and prays every day. I think she’s a pantheist. Even though she’s close enough with her priest to text him on Saturday nights (which she seriously did) I guess she still prays to Buddha? I don’t get it but whatever. It’s similar to how she mentioned that she tries to never eat meat but then ends up being the one to convince ME to try the horsemeat sashimi. (?)

So then, still at Sensoji, we went and got our fortunes. There is basically a giant lidded pitcher with sticks inside that you shake around and then turn it over so that just one comes out in the hole that is in the lid. The stick has a number on it and that depends on which drawer you draw from. Oh yeah and you’re supposed to pay 100 yen in coins but I had change so I paid slightly less. Maybe that was why McKensie got the lucky fortune and I got the evil one, #52, the x in a box with no lid, and it said that I should avoid starting trips (ha too late) and that I will suffer. Thankfully you can reverse such fortune by folding it and tying it around the metal poles that look like drying racks.

Anyway so we were there and then so I was still feeling pretty tired so we decided that we would do hotpot the next day and went grocery shopping for it. I paid for half of the initial groceries like the sauce and mushrooms and stuff but then she paid for the tofu and fish since I paid for some of the groceries that were just going to be her normal shopping for the week. So anyway I am going over at 6:30 tomorrow and I will be eating homemade hot pot and hopefully doing what I can to help her cook it. J

Then we dropped off the groceries at her house and I went home to take a nap since I was SO freaking tired from sleeping just four hours every night, but in a GREAT way J

 

January 30

Went to Kando Myojin Temple, a shrine in Akihabara. Could not find the otaku district in Akihabara, too bad. I bout a cute little cat thing which to be totally honest was a lot cuter in the store haha. I have so many blisters on my feet from walking so much and getting lost (I’m pretty sure my map has confused the two subway stops, argh, so I was all turned around). Also in the morning I woke up at 6:30 to go Tsukiji fish market and had some really good fresh sushi in the morning. Then I walked to Ginza after trying to use my subway card on the bus and not having enough money, and then I walked around and tried to find that one theatre thing, the Imperial one, and I couldn’t. But I ended up having this good milk tea at a small place, not a Starbucks although I found one after the fact, and they have this thing called honey sugar which is like thick water colored syrup and it was good in the tea. I came back 1 pm because I am so tired and want to nap before going to Ueno at Mckensie’s so we can have homemade hotpot. Also on the way back to the apartment I bought these soft grey gloves to replace my current H&M ones where the left index finger has withered away at the top to only cover up to my second knuckle haha. I feel much classier now. Anyway I will now either take a nap or walk around a little bit locally. I plan on Kamakura tomorrow, need to ask McKensie if there is an easier way to get tickets than going all the way to the Kamakura station!

On a side note, the Japanese drive on the same side of the road as the British. Also, they are nothing like Chinese drivers. I haven’t heard one car horn. I haven’t almost been hit by a car even once. Everyone obeys the Please Don’t Walk signs to the letter, even if there don’t appear to be cars coming. It is oddly reminiscent of home.

***

So I went to Mackensie’s and we made hotpot. I cut up the carrots and those radish things, I cut the roots off them and we put them all in. She cut up the greens, spring onions, and fish. It was awesome, we put the sauce in last and then added a cup of water since we had too many ingredients. I found it quite delicious. Also funny was that her housemate Sakami was there and she spoke no English but had in fact studied Chinese in Taiwan for a year, so it was so funny, me and her speaking Chinese, me and Mackensie speaking English, and Mackensie and Sakami speaking Japanese! It was great, we were all guessing what each other would say, and the whole time I was thinking like, wow, my friends would think I’m SUCH a loser right now, but then I realized that this is who I am, this kind of nerdy stuff is what I love, and that’s okay. I had a language boner and no one can take that away from me LOL. After dinner I tried this German cookie that Japanese apparently love and it was quite good, more cake than cookie really. Also I ate some of her oranges, which were GREAT quality. We also put udon noodles in the soup too, to cook when we ate all the rest of it. I liked that she didn’t make me feel retarded at all, or take over what I was doing when I was cutting up the carrots and stuff, she was just really NICE about it. She had a male housemate there too who acted like he couldn’t speak English but in actuality he lived in Australia so his English was quite good.

Also, I have decided not to go to Kamakura because as it takes a whole day to get there, I wouldn’t want to cut my 5:25 PM flight too close. Instead, I have decided to go to an ONSEN. I think I’ll check out around 8 or 9, depending on when I wake up, and then I will buy some more souvenirs for people.

 

January 31

So I woke up early today at 8 AM and checked out pretty soon after. Good thing I packed the night before. After doing some more internet research I decided to go to the Tokyo Dome area, which is where the LaQua onsen and the amusement park are, as well as the Koishikawa Gardens (thank you English map for showing me that!).  I was meaning to go to Tokyo Dome anyway. LaQua is expensive, but a towel is included and so that takes away the issue of what I will do exactly about checking out by 11 AM (I was thinking about going to one of the cheaper onsens before 11AM so that I could borrow the hotel towel, but now that’s not an issue).

So basically I went and transferred twice, the last time to the Chuo line, and got to the Tokyo Dome area. I’m not too interested in baseball so I skipped the museum and dome itself, and I had some time to kill before the onsen opens at 11:00 AM, so I went to the Koishikawa garden. It was made by the Mito clan or some such thing and it was really beautiful, although I guess its peak point is usually summer when all the flowers bloom, and probably even more so from the sakura viewing festival in March-April. Anyway so I wandered around there, admired the little red bridge and looked at the little tiny bird through that giant telescope just there in the garden, and THEN went to the onsen.  Going inside for the first time, I had to take off my shoes and put them in a preliminary locker, and then proceed inward to talk over prices with the receptionist. She thankfully spoke a bit of English so that was good. I paid the 2500 yen version (holy COW) which meant that I had access to the fifth, sixth, and seventh floors. The sixth floor was the spa, and I went there to get my spa clothes (loose fitting pants and an orange shirt) and then was given a little wristband that would electronically open my locker. So yes, I put all my stuff in there and then naked walked into the onsen area. There were a bunch of pools and two saunas and also an open-air bath. I first went into the sauna and it was nice but my earrings seriously started burning the sides of my face and I had to get out. Then I went into the pool and found it still a little hot. You’re supposed to walk around with your little towel in front of your body to hide your lady parts, but the women aren’t overly modest so neither was I. Then I went outside to the open air pool, which was by far my favorite, since my face could stay cool while the rest was warm. There was one outdoor pool however that I could actually not go into because it was so hot and I don’t like the feeling of melting flesh. Therefore in any case, when I went back into the locker room and put on my spa clothes, I then went downstairs to the fifth floor where there were just a bunch of comfy lean back chairs with TVs in front and not even headphones, it was the tops of the chairs that were loud enough for your ears to hear fine but not loud enough for anyone else to hear it. There is the option to order food directly from the chairs as well although I didn’t because it was already a huge expense. Then I went back to the 6th floor and blew my hair dry, oh yeah and we were supposed to shower ourselves before going in the pools so I did that, and was impressed with the quality of the shampoo and conditioner, my hair still feels quite nice. In any case so I left the onsen and wanted to use my coins so I bought a coffee and a mapo doufu at the nearby restaurant, and just walked around admiring the amusement park rides and the carousel and other buildings. Afterwards, I went to the airport at around 2 PM, all prepared to get back to China and resume studying for my FSOT.

And that’s when Buddha’s fortune started kicking in.

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