2/24~2/26/2011: Tokyo Trip! a.k.a overdue TL;DR post

Tokyo; Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, Harajuku, Shibuya (Thursday)

  • Checked into Sakura Hotel Ikebukuro with Thomas, Cece, Samm, and Lina. It’s a good hotel in the sense that it’s really just a place to sleep for the night. It’s a room with just four beds (bunk beds) and the showers and sinks are outside.
  • The girl working at the front desk who checked us in was a French girl. She could speak Japanese, French, and English! Thomas thought she was cute, and Samm actually came out of our room a bit later to TELL her that, LOL. Thomas came up behind her, and dragged her back into our hotel room. Supposedly, he turned really red.
  • Went to eat at Mutekiya (無敵屋), which was right nearby since it’s also in Ikebukuro. Their ramen is known to be really good, and it was! Probably the tastiest ramen I’ve eaten. :3
  • Then, we went shopping in Sunshine City, where I bought a jacket, one of those long green ones (seems everyone here wears some variation of it…) that came with a smaller gray, flower printed hoodie that goes inside, and you can zip it up too. It was 50%, so I got a 2 in 1 jacket for 4000 yen!
  • I remember stopping by some place that was showing some cars or things, and we took a photo with a group of high school girls… It was a very busy area with lots of pachinko and game centers.
  • For dinner, we ate at Pomme no Ki, an omurice restaurant.  SO. FRIGGIN. DELICIOUS. I had their lady’s dinner set, which includes omurice, a small salad and soup, a drink, and a dessert. I chose an omurice with crab croquette on top, iced coffee, and a strawberry parfait. 動けないぐらいお腹がいっぱいだった!(笑)
  • We did a bit more walking around / window shopping, I think. I don’t remember this day too well. :| This is why I need to write things down sooner!
  • Went shopping for some CLUBBING clothes at Forever21! :D Which is SIX stories in Harajuku. I bought a sheer top, a black top, a grayish-blue tank top, and a white and black skirt.
  • We went to a club called Club Atom in Shibuya. It was around 2000 yen per person, I think it was. After stuffing all our bags and jackets and shopping into two lockers, we headed upstairs with our blue wristbands.
  • I don’t remember the first floor we went to, but we quickly left it after getting one of our free drinks. Girls are given two free drink tickets, but I lost my second one. I got some kind of melon-flavored drink that I can’t remember the name of. The second floor we were on was the R&B floor. We checked out another floor, but we ended up back on the R&B floor. 
  • Lina, Samm, Cece and I eventually sat down at a small round table, while Thomas stayed at one of the standing bar area things near the glass windows. We were eventually approached by some guys who offered to buy us drinks. (!!!) I was surprised me, okay, I DIDN’T THINK THIS WOULD HAPPEN TO ME, LOL. The guy who approached me had glasses and his hair was a bit curly (…possible perm? LOL). He said he graduated and is going to Keio next year for graduate school. He and his friends bought us drinks, and we talked with them for a good amount of time. He asked for my mail because he said he wanted to practice writing mail in English (Uh, right). I just gave him my mail just for the heck of it, since I saw no harm in it.
  • WE CURLED OUR HAIR. Yes, there were these two people off to the side that offered to curl girl’s hair for free.
  • After that, we went down to the hip-hop floor that only opens after a certain time (midnight, I think?) to dance. It was a lot of fun, I definitely want to go clubbing again. Lina said she didn’t believe me when I said that this was my first clubbing experience! XD
  • Japanese guys dance…. kind of funny. They kept high-fiving and waving their hands up and down, but I had a lot of fun! They played all American songs.
  • Apparently I attract guys with glasses….? Another guy later approached me and asked the usual questions we got, e.g. “You’re not Japanese, where are you from?” “How many of there are you?” “Where are you studying?” etc. They’re also pretty grabby. Around the shoulders or waist, or in Lina’s case, they were ALL OVER her.
  • At one point, there was a “fashion show.” I use the term lightly because it was more like, girls who work on the club get on stage with their super short shorts and take off their shirts or sweaters and throw them into the crowd. OMG THE JAPANESE GUYS ARE INSANE. They seriously fight to get the stuff. Actually, Samm was able to catch a sweater.
  • We left the club around 2 a.m. and had to take a taxi since the trains had stopped already.
  • Oh yeah, Thomas had left early, because he found it boring, and there were mostly guys at the club. He had gone back to Ikebukuro to drink and eat a bit, then went to bed. We told him he missed the strip show though.

Tokyo; Tsukiji, Harajuku (Friday)

  • Woke up late the following morning, since we all had turned in around 4 a.m. I woke up to a text from one of the tutors, since supposedly we were meeting up with them in Tsukiji. They were already really hungry, so they ate ahead of us in Tsukuji.
  • At Tsukiji, Samm and I ate at the same unadon place from before, Cece and Lina ate at a gyuuniku place, and Thomas ate at a sashimi place, I believe. We met back up with Johnny (Hitomi) and Kana in Harajuku, where we walked around a bit. I bought more long songs and a pair of black sparkly leg warmers.
  • Lina had to head back sometime after that because of her baito.
  • “BANANA HAMMOCK!”
  • A group of girls were being photographed, looks like for a clothing ad/magazine, and unfortunately for Samm, one of the girl’s skirts was super short and she got a wide view of leopard print and 毛… which she did not need to see, lol.
  • I can’t remember where we ate.

Tokyo; Asakusa, Tokyo Imperial Palace, Gotanda (Saturday)

  • Went to Asakusa, which felt like a very, very tourist-y place. There are guys standing around who approach you and try to get you interested in taking a rickshaw ride. Ate at a mediocre ramen place. Saw a fairly cute guy while I was there, and he may or may not have spotted me glancing at him a few times. 笑
  • Went to the Sensou-ji temple, since it’s right there. Cece and Thomas went off in one direction, Samm and I in another. The place is PACKED with visitors and tourists, and there’s tons of shops. I bought a phone charm that’s a pair of turtles, a pink and green one. It was 300 yen, and come on, kame? I couldn’t resist!
  • Had some delicious dango for 100 yen and tried a green tea manju and a sesame one. I liked the sesame one best. WANT MORE.
  • Spotted a group of high school boys and took a photo with them, HAHA. They seemed really excited about it, haha!
  • Samm and I tried out omikuji, where you shake a metal box until a stick with a number comes out. Then you look for the drawer with the matching number and pull out one of the sheets of paper. We both got normal fortunes, so we tied them and left them.
  • Went inside the shrine, where it was pretty packed too. Took a quick look around, a bit tough with the crowd of people praying. We then returned to the beginning and met back up with Cece and Thomas.
  • Went to see the Tokyo Imperial Palace after that. Unfortunately, you can’t enter it! So you get only a far away view of it.
  • Waited around until we met Cece’s friend Tomoyuki and his friends Tatsuya and Keisuke in Gotanda, where we ate at a restaurant. I had a negi something chicken on top of rice. After that, we rushed to the last train, after a panic to find out luggage.
  • Note to self: Shinjuku is a HUGE station! If you use a locker, keep note of WHERE it is.
  • I ended up staying up late until around 3 am. ~____~

Tsuru; Katsunuma (Sunday)

  • Waking up with such little sleep was SO difficult, but I was meeting with my host family at 10 a.m. Met up with Henmi-san and Johnny and Yurie at the school, and then Henmi-san drove us to his house. His wife, Mayumi was also there, and they served us hinamatsuri snacks.
  • Their house is an interesting mix of Japanese and western style. The room that we had the hinamatsuri snacks in and that they had their dolls displayed in was Japanese style, with tatami, low table, and tokonoma. We had sakuramochi, which are really pretty, and the lightly salted leaf with the sweet rice were a delicious combination. With that we had amazake, which is a white, sweet, light sake. After that, we had some green tea to finish things up, and then we went out again to go to a shrine.
  • I felt really bad about falling asleep in their car every time we drove, but I couldn’t help it! (>_<) With the little sleep I had the night before… And I was sleepy during most conversations. D:
  • First shrine we went to is up on a hill, so you could look down on the city. Henmi-san said that in spring, it’s really beautiful because all the plum and cherry trees are in bloom.
  • At the shrine, Johnny and Yurie showed me how you wash your hands with the ladle at the little fountain, drink a little, wash again, and put the ladle back down. Rang the bell at the shrine too. Inside the shrine, there are statues for all the zodiac animals. The head monk there gave us a explanation/tour, and though he talked really fast, I got the gist of the history lesson. It was amazing to think that these statues and other objects were from at least around the Kamakura period, and still looked that great. They were originally from India, moved to China, and then to this shrine in Japan.
  • We had to rush, since Samm had to catch the Enza train station train at 1:06. We ate at an udon place where you can order a plain bowl of udon, that they serve in the buckets you normally see at onsens. From there, you pick what you want, in my case, I got a shrimp tempura, pumpkin tempura, and sweet potato tempura. I was super full, and when I told Henmi-san, he seemed surprised. I suppose because the Japanese know of the large American appetite?
  • We waited with Samm at the Enza train station, where we saw her off. Thankfully, she got to Narita Airport on time, and she even had more time since her flight was a little delayed.
  • After that, we went to another shrine, and this one was bigger. I saw some huge koi and a swan there. It’s funny how conditioned the koi are. Even if people just stand at the bridge with no food, they all still swim over and open and close their mouths, expecting food.
  • They took us to a museum after that, and once we went in, I realized why my host family had picked it. Since I’m a Comp Lit major, they thought it’d be a good idea to bring me to a museum of old Japanese writings. The writing is totally different, and some are so unreadable, because of the flowy script and/or kanji. It reminded me of my pre-modern lit classes in Berkeley.
  • For dinner, Mayumi (host mother) made chirashizushi, potato salad, sweet mame beans, and some beef. The chirashizushi was pretty good, though I couldn’t help but think of the one that Komatsu-sensei made back in Berkeley during the J10A party, which was so yummy.
  • We talked some more, though I was sleepy (again) and didn’t talk as much. We were given mikan to eat before we were driven back to Tsuru.
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