This weekend was a whirlwind experience! We were up at 7am packing and prepping-catching the bus and then 2 trains to make it to Nagoya station by 930 to buy tickets to catch the 10 something Shinkansen to Tokyo.
We did all that, without getting lost, confused, or the wrong ticket! That’s quite the accomplishment I assure you! Even though it was about $400 for a round trip ticket, we only took an hour or so to get to Tokyo. It’s normally a 5 hour drive! Seriously!
Now, we met up with some friends who we were meeting for the first time. Sounds weird, but it was really great!
Quick story time. Meet Meryl and Kevin!
We bonded over Outlander (book/tv series) and Japan through Facebook. I happened to click on something the author posted and out of hundreds, saw hers saying she was moving to Japan in August. For some reason I decided to stalk her fb to learn more about her. Ie, if we could be friends. Again, don’t ask me why! After I messaged her, it took a week to respond but we realised that she too was moving to Nagoya, about 2 weeks after us!! WHoa right?!
We chatted a lot after that and realised we had a lot in common-and decided to invite them to Tokyo with us this weekend. We met at the train station and rode up there together-and had a GREAT weekend! She and her husband are terrific and we are excited to hang out with them again! (Plus she’s my outlander buddy and as soon as she get’s her house settled, we have weekly tv dates planned! With tea and biscuits!!)
Saturday-after the train we grabbed lunch at the station (which is gigantic)-a great tapas place. We walked to our hotel (APA hotels, great chain!), left our bags, and took a walk down town. We stayed in the Chuo area, which is just near the train station. The city is huge though, we didn’t know what we thought, but it’s huge. Biggest city I have EVER been to (New York, LA, London, Paris…all pretty big). We found a street that was shut down during the weekend due to the number of people shopping. It was great to window shop, people watch, and take pictures. Do you know how many men we saw wearing matching outfits…with their tiny puppy? Seriously…dozens. It’s an eclectic city-electrifying and vibrant, and way too much for the senses!
Now, I know this is what you all are REALLY waiting to hear about. We take our taxi into the heart of the “Red light” district…yea, we won’t mention that too loudly! We pulled up the bar and this was our face…
The, “oh what the hell did we just get ourselves into” face. And that was our face throughout the show. See, Paul found this place back in the states before we left and couldn’t wait to go. SO of course for his birthday, it’s the place we had to be. The pictures and video will tell you everything you need to know…but just in case…
it’s a tiny place, and several floors underground (via stair case or elevator-that would give you a stroke) and seats on either side of a small narrow arena. So small, I couldn’t keep my feet out of the first row. Props and dancers came right up to our table! There were several “acts”-singing, dancing, robots, fights, stuffed animal things….
Between acts was time or drink refills and bathroom breaks. It was a little over an hour-and very colourful, sparkly, loud, and bright. It really was fun, and I am glad we went, but it was the most bizarre thing. Now, for pictures!
After the show we found coffee and dessert, and took a break at the hotel before dinner. Paul found a restaurant in our neighbourhood on foursquare-which ended with us walking down a small alley toward sliding bamboo doors covered by traditional Japanese hangings. We went in, out, in again, stood there pondering what we should do, out again…then I went in alone and all these cute old men started waving to come in…you see, it was a dingy looking place inside, smoky, and everyone sharing long tables. We were ushered to a seat but benches, like tree stumps, and looked for a menu. Our server (owner?) didn’t speak ANY English, and we couldn’t figure out a menu. The people next to us were asked to translate by the server…and informed us the menu was on the wall…all in Kanji, no pictures. I thought it was just decoration…
Finally, we ordered fried shrimp (without heads this time!), fried squid, and clams in butter sauce. Everything was delish! (well, I didn’t like the squid, too chewy but they liked it). Their tempura was soo good-we had sake too. It was some of the best I’d tasted. The man next to us kept giggling at our attempts to communicate and eat, and we had good conversation. I also learned that Japanese people do not eat clams with chopsticks. I was told to slurp it right out of the shell…that was going well until I bit into the shell…it was not so tasty.
We paid, lots of thank yous and goodbyes, and went to a bar in a cellar called whiskeys-it was very prohibition style-very cool. I had a yummy tropical whiskey drink (with banana liquor, mango, pineapple…and Japanese whiskey?…not sure). We stayed there until we about passed out! It was so late!!
We made it back to the hotel about 10 or 1030, and crashed 🙂 Yes, I know, I said it was late. You were thinking like midnight or 2am right….nope. sorry.
Breakfast on Sunday was an adventure…we got lost several times looking for a place that we don’t think existed. Gave up, ate somewhere else. In fact, it was so long, that it was lunch time. We left during breakfast, arrived during full lunch hour. We decided at lunch to catch the sight seeing bus and tour the city…that’d be the best way to see it all-or, at least some. We walked there…got the bus, went to the skytree. That’s this structure…the tallest in the world! Took about 35 minutes to get tickets, then took the 50 second elevator ride over 300 meters up (major ear popping) and got this view!!
To bad it was cloudy…should have been able to see Mt. Fuji 😦 When we finally got back down, we had missed our bus. It was pulling away and we were standing there staring…dejected. We walked to the next stop…visited the temple in the park (gorgeous…see pictures).
We had walked soooo much that day (hours, and miles worth) that we decided to get on the bus and stay there. Just see everything and listen to our little English guide (via headphones) until we made it back to the starting/ending point by Tokyo station.
Here are some pictures from the bus and the tour. The station is gorgeous too. Built in 1914-this structure looks so European compared to most of the city!
The only hiccup along the way was our friends getting caught in the ticket machine with the wrong ticket-we went on and caught the next Shinkansen while they sorted it out. Luckily, they were able to get on a bit later, without trouble/paying anything. We made it home around 1030 following the transfers and bus ride-showered, and crashed.
Tokyo-do it more than 2 days! I have a feeling we will be back (well, literally. October 10/11 for a training, LO)-and have more to explore.
Other than that, work is great. The schedule is so different-relaxed-I am really liking it. It’s the 3rd week of school already. I can’t believe it’s flown by so fast!
Friday night (before Tokyo) we had the welcome back dinner hosted by PTA. Everyone (but us newbies) brought food, potluck style. It was delicious! Plus, they had a cash bar. Gotta love a school who doesn’t mind letting you drink on campus!!! 🙂
I started meeting with my National Honor society students last week. They are a great group of kids and very organised! Can’t wait to work with them this year! We keep trying new restaurants-getting bolder in trying out places we can’t understand-or read menus very well. Routines are pretty much settled…
It’s going great! The next big trip is for my birthday…I will be in Hong Kong for a conference! I can’t wait-for several reasons…but I am looking forward to spending time with Luci! I miss all my co-workers back home…but I have met some amazing people here!