Tuesday, October 9, 2007
My friend from Fukuoka.
This weekend, a friend from Fukuoka came into town. This person is very dear to me, and I had a great time with her, despite the fact that I didn't get to spend as much time with her as I would have liked.
After meeting up, she wanted to go to Asakusa. I was just there 2 weeks ago, but I liked it, and besides, it was her vacation, not mine, so we went. Instead of going straight there, we took a different train exit and had to walk a while. The whole neighborhood seemed to be filled with little arts and crafts stores. It was really nice.
There was this one building that caught my eye:
I'm sure it's not what it means in the US, but it was still odd to see.
There was this other interesting looking building I saw on the way there.
Close up on the top:
And a close up on the cows:
I don't know what it was, but it looked nice.
I already talked about Asakusa. It was pretty much the same this time, but the weather was much better, so I wanted to share these pictures.
After this, we went to Shinjuku to meet up with her friend (and my friend too), and had some dinner. We parted ways afterwards, and planned to meet up in Yokohama the next morning along with her friend.
On Sunday, I woke up and went straight to Chinatown. If anyone's been to Chinatown in San Francisco or Boston (and apparently New York too, but I haven't been there), you would get the idea that Chinatown = dirty, crowded, and cheap.
For starters, Chinatown in Yokohama is the largest in Japan and one of the largest in the world. It's been there for almost 150 years, and is absolutely huge. As far as land mass goes, I'm sure it's just a little bit bigger than San Francisco's Chinatown, but as far as density goes, there is a LOT more there.
The presumption of Chinatown being crowded sure was true, but it was anything from dirty and cheap.
In fact, it was absolutely gorgeous.
I took a bunch of pictures, but several didn't turn outs so well. Well, it doesn't matter. They wouldn't do this place justice. The sights, sounds, and smells were amazing.
There were hundreds of restaurants and food stalls. Unlike other Chinatowns I've seen, food here was not exactly cheap. It ranged from decent to exorbitantly expensive. Beyond that, the food looked amazing.
And sometimes, quite dangerous.
You know those little red peppers you pick out of some Chinese dishes? Well, from the looks of it, that was the main ingredient here. Looks tasty, but painful.
We stopped at a stall and I got a pork bun and my friends got shrimp buns. I would like to note that both of the people I was with have been in China for an extended period, and my friend from Fukuoka speaks fluent Chinese. When they say 'Let's get food here', I'm more than willing to listen.
So, here was my lunch:
First off, it was the first black pork bun I've seen in my life. Secondly, when this picture was taken, it had been sitting in a bag for a while, and kind of shriveled a bit, which was fine because it came straight out of the steamer and was stupid hot at first.
It doesn't look like much, in fact it looks down right repulsive, but holy crap was it good. Easily the best I've ever had. Apparently the shrimp buns were of similar quality.
I was surprised to see this fellow in Chinatown.
I don't know what he was doing there.
So, after a bit of wandering, my new Yokohama friend showed us this crowded food place of some type. I'd say it was a restaurant, but you couldn't really sit down, and it was nicer than most food stalls. It was odd.
Apparently it's quite famous. I can tell why. I got a mini pork sausage bun, and it was damned tasty.
After that, we went to Yokohama downtown. It was a lovely day, and downtown is really picturesque.
I think this is "Downtown". Again, the concept of downtown isn't the same in Japan as America, but when I think of Yokohama, this is the place that popped into my head.
That big guy right there is the Landmark tower. It's apparently the tallest building in Japan. I sadly only know this building as that meeting place on Hard Gay. You know, where the college student goes to meet that girl? Yeah, it was that place.
The rest of the area was also really lovely.
I wasn't the only person who found it interesting.
We went to the amusement area and rode the log ride.
It was a nice place, but it definitely had a very early-to-mid 90's feel to it. It seems like it was built, or at least started before the economic bubble burst. It was quite a nice area, though.
And it was busy, but not crowded.
We went to a mall near by, and I saw something that caught me quite off guard.
This tiny shop was selling, among other things, Batman and Superman jewelry. It was quite nice, and I would actually wear some of that stuff. I would also like to point out this perfect example of what I mean when I say the shops have no walls. You can see the different colored floor is the only difference between in the shop and in the aisles. This is quite common here, and very often, two stores are connected this way and it's hard to know which store you're in.
So, we went to grab a snack, and I ate what was possibly the most un-authentic taco of my life.
It looked okay, and it didn't taste terrible, but it sure wasn't made by a Mexican. Also, I ordered a pink lemonade, and it was carbonated. I was actually pretty shocked.
After Yokohama, it was on to Akihabara. My friend had never been here, and since it was her trip, we went.
She wanted to go to a maid cafe, but all the ones we saw were filled, so that didn't end up happening.
Much like everywhere else in Tokyo, Sunday is the day when the most interesting people come out.
Yeah. That girl has quite a big Adam's apple for a lady.
So, after we left Akihabara, we parted ways. I was kind of upset because I assumed we would be hanging out all night, but it looks like people had different plans. I was feeling upset, so I was on my way home, and in Gotanda where I switched trains, I got out and walked around a bit.
I was quite plesantly surprised to find a random festival.
I don't understand these random festivals, because they seem to happen all the time and they're all a bit different. But, I don't really care. I really like them, and this one in particular really lifted my spirits.
You can see the train that I normally board in the background.
This neighborhood is not the best of neighborhoods. It's not bad by any means, but it's not an exciting place. so, I was a bit surprised to see this festival there.
So, my friend was having a party in Odaiba. I had never been out there before, and I highly recommend that everyone who can, at least take a ride out there. The nighttime scenery was amazing and quite breathtaking.
The party was actually quite entertaining. I met a lot of new people and had a nice time. It was a real international affair. There were people representing several countries including Sweden, France, India, China, Japan of course, and a few people from Vietnam. This one Vietnamese girl was quite hilarious, and I hope to see her again.
There was another fellow who gave me some of his drink.
I'm not sure where this guy was from, maybe Cambodia, but he was a pleasure to talk to as well. The drink, however was quite awful. It said 'serve chilled' and it was downright hot, so maybe that would have made a difference.
On the way back, I saw these 3 punk people on the train. I don't know why, but they put a big smile on my face. I was just happy to see them.
The guy with the kilt dropped his train ticket when he fell asleep and I was almost positive he would have left it on the train and would have been hassled, so I made sure to hand it to his friends on the way out, for which they thanked me in English and even did a little bow, which was quite interesting to see someone with a mohawk bowing.
This morning, I sadly went to the airport to see my friend off. I really wish she lived in Tokyo, but I'm glad she at least came to visit, even though it was short.
On a much less touching matter, I went to use the restroom, and I saw this sign:
Did that say "The sound of running water will begin"? They weren't kidding. There was an audio loop of running water. Quite strange.
Today was a day of relaxation. It was cloudy and rainy, so it was a good day to just unwind and catch up on my sleep.
Tomorrow, I have the day off. I SHOULD stay home and study, but I'm not sure if that's the plan. I guess I'll just have to see what adventures the next day holds.