Sunday, September 5, 2010

It's your choice, Woody. Either you can go to Japan together or in pieces.

Japan (part 1)
This is mostly for me. I'll stick in some pictures and tell some stories, but I realize it will largely be boring.

Pre-day 1: On the plane I was really lucky. I got a window seat and the seat next to me was empty. This was really lucky because I could get up and go to the bathroom any time. I could also stretch out a little bit. Still doesn't mean I slept though.

Day 1 -- Arrival
Heather picked me up at the airport and then we had a long bus ride to Heather and Tim's apartment. Heather took me out to the bus stop and we stood inside white lines that were painted on the pavement. A man came over and looked at our tickets and told us we were in the wrong lines because we were too early. When we came back, he still moved us to different lines. Very controlling.

We waited for a minute and watched the two attendants bow to the buses as they pulled away from the curb.

While we were riding the bus, Heather and I talked and talked. I made the mistake of bringing up Top Chef (Tim did a really good job of getting Heather hooked on that this summer), and Heather started ranting about the pea puree. We got shushed by all the other passengers.

When we finally got back to the apartment we decided to walk to the grocery store. I have to admit, I laughed at Heather a lot when she talked about grocery shopping, because she didn't know what a cucumber looked like. When we walked into the store, I stopped laughing. It was very difficult. Everything was in Japanese!

Day 2 -- Akusaka
Tim went with us to the Kitchen District. He helped us buy a Suica for me to ride the train. Heather and Tim live in Shibuya (It took me forever to remember that word) and they have the fourth largest train station in the world. (Yeah, numbers 1-3 are all in Japan too). The train station is insane. The whole time I was there we kept going to different parts of it and I was always like how big is this thing! Oh, and there's totally a grocery store inside too. If you think about an airport, thats what Shibuya Station is like.

The Kitchen District
We got down to the kitchen district. This is literally a street (or set of streets) where all the shops sell kitchen stuff. They sell to restaurants and to regular people, so they sell everything. Stuff to set up a restaurant kitchen, chefs' coats, tables, etc.

One of the unique features of Japanese restaurants is that they have window displays. Just like a clothing store displays the clothes. But you can't actually display food, so there are a bunch of stores that sell plastic food to display in the window. I bought a plastic sushi magnet.

Then Tim went to work, and Heather and I went to the Sensoji Temple and Shrines.

When we went inside the main temple, the priests were beating the drums and singing. It was pretty cool.

We also got our fortune. You pay 100 yen (somewhere around a dollar) and then pick up the hexagonal canister. You gently shake it around and then tip it up so a long skinny stick comes out of the hole. Then you have to match the number on the stick to the number on the drawer. (Yes, that was the hardest part).

I liked the advice about fortunes:

After we left the temple we walked down to the river with the plan to take a riverboat cruise. We walked through a pretty little park and swung on the swings. Heather really wanted a breeze. The boat didn't pan out, but we did it later.

So instead of the boat we walked back toward Sensoji and went in a museum. We weren't too sure about it, but it was a really cool museum. It was called the Amuse Museum and was displaying the traditional clothing of ancient Japan. We got to watch a girl in a kimono weave cloth. She explained that when the kimonos were worn out they would shred them and weave them into rag cloths.

The other cool thing I learned is that people were so ingenious, they would dye their work kimonos indigo because indigo is a natural bug repellent.

We were still there when the museum closed, but they let us go up on the roof for a minute. The young lady who put us in the elevator kept bowing to the elevator while the doors closed.

That was one of our very busy days, because Heather was trying to help me get on Japan time.

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