Day 26-30: Tokyo
20.04.2012 - 23.04.2012 17 °C
日本語 (For English, scroll down ↓)
カウチサーフィンのホスト - ともくんとはまくん:
We had a rough morning in Tokyo. We thought there was a place to store our luggage for the next four days at the station. We arrived at the station with all our stuff at 6 am and sat outside the luggage office until they opened at 9am. BUT, they wouldn’t take our stuff for 4 days and told us to go to a nearby luggage deposit place. My sister was furious. I think I saw steam coming out of her head.
We carried all our bags outside the train station and found the luggage deposit place. Thank goodness it wasn’t too far away from the station.
The next four days in Tokyo was pretty amazing. We went back to Shinjuku and Harujuku to window shop and admire the ridiculously expensive clothing. But I did go to other interesting places in Tokyo!
We took the train to Yokohama to see the largest Chinatown in Japan. We were going to meet my good friend, Mayu, who was an exchange student at my old high school. After getting lost for a good 20 minutes, we finally met! I haven’t seen her since she came to visit me during freshman year of college. It was like the old days – joking around, poking fun at each other – I miss her so much.
Chinatown in Japan was very… stereotypical. If there were two words to describe it, it would be – red and pandas. The streets were covered in red; there were all sorts of panda themed gifts, and many extravagant gates. You can just tell that this place is for tourist and not for actual Chinese residents. We walked around the streets, went to see the famous Kanteibyo, the temple in the heart of Chinatown.
The Chinese foods in Japan are strangely expensive. My sister wanted to get xiao long bao, which were dumpling with meat/vegetables. The one key thing that makes xiao long bao so special is the hot soup inside the dumpling. Once you bite into it, the hot flavorful soup squirts out and drips everywhere! After the hundreds of restaurants that sell xiao long bao, we finally picked the restaurant that had FOUR televisions that broadcasted how juicy and delicious their xiao long bao had.
We ordered a set of six of their pan-friend xiao long bao. Their advertisement didn’t lie to us – there was juicy. I took a bite and the juice squirted out to my sister’s shirt.
If you think of Asakusa, you think of the famous Sensoji Temple with its large red lantern. Made in 645, it is the oldest temple made in Tokyo. Before you actually enter the temple, you have to walk through the 200 km Nakamise (“inside shops”), which is a street filled with small stands that sell Japanese-styled clothes, traditional masks, ornaments, paintings, and various foods/snacks. There were so many people and so many over-priced gifts for clueless tourists.
This was very similar to Hong Kong – you have to dodge and push your way through people. Except you have to say “sumimasen” every time, whereas in Hong Kong, you would just push them and squeeze your way through.
Magical. I really don’t know how else to describe my time in there. I felt like I was lifted off from the real world and entered into the imagination of Ghibli. I mean, there was a GIANT Totoro in the front of the museum! Too bad we couldn’t take pictures inside. It describes the history of Ghilbli, the production process, and even showed some short stories that were never broadcasted out! They showcase it in such interesting ways! Moving images of different Ghibli characters, a house with all the Ghibli movies ever produced, statues and massive artwork, everything in there made it seem like I walked into a hidden cave filled with treasure! There was a cat bus where we could sit inside and see the different sceneries that were displayed in My Neighbor Totoro. There was a replication of Miyazaki’s room, which showed the cigarettes he smoked, the crumpled paper he threw out, the jars of paint and pens he had used up, and the desk he used to make all his imagination come to life.
It was my ABSOLUTE favorite place in Tokyo, hands down. It was the place I was searching for the entire time I was in Japan – streets jam-packed full of people walking in every direction, street covered with assorted goods, and the best part - random side restaurants that had the most delicious food. Oh, how I yearned to eat in one of those!
Tomo took there the first time. He treated us to tamago-yaki (grilled egg on a stick). Then we went to a restaurant and had brunch. I got an anago-don (freshwater eel), my sister got a ikura/maguro/uni chirashi, and Tomo got a ikura/sake chirashi. The seafood – so fresh, so delicious! Afterwards, Meagan and I roamed Tsukiji a bit more and did a lot of taste testing – hehe. We got to eat WHALE MEAT! Tasted like meaty, like well-done steak.
Right before we had to take the train to Narita airport, we HAD to go to Tsukiji Market once more. We never got to try their side restaurants. My dream was to stand on the side of a busy street and slurp a bowl of ramen with all the other folks. My sister and I got a gyudon from one restaurant and a ramen in another. To me, cheap street foods like this tastes way better than even the most expensive seafood.
If you’re looking for cheap stuff, GO HERE! This resembled a lot like Hong Kong, where everything is on sale and there are just massive mobs scouting for discounted goods. And if you don’t want to buy something from one store, the store right beside it might sell the EXACT same thing for a cheaper price! Tokyo is expensive, but this place make things reasonable.
Our couchsurfing hosts, Tomo and Hama, were absolutely great. Tomo picked us up from the train station and took us to his apartment. We slept on Hama’s room for the three nights we’ve stayed there. Thanks so much, Hama!
Tomo and Hama seem like typical businessmen, but there is more to them than their suits and briefcases. Tomo can speak English really well because he studied English in Canada. He has travelled to so many places around the world! Maybe one day, he can come back to Seattle again and have some of the Ivar’s clam chowder! Hama is very down-to-earth and likes to dance. They both know how to relax and have fun. I mean, they do live in Tokyo!