Friday, October 7, 2011

Thu Oct 6, Going home

This was the day to come back to America. We woke up, I had one last time in their nice Japanese style bath, we had a feast of a breakfast, and then we headed to the station. Chika's dad went with us as far as Ueno, and then we took a train from there to Narita. I got a few pictures at take off (when the sun was setting), in the middle of the night (moon and orion) and in the morning as we landed. Now we're home safe and sound, and getting ready to go to work again tomorrow =\

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Wed Oct 5, Birthday, Ghibli and Unagi

Today's my birthday, and Chika and her mom and I went to Mitaka so I could show them the Ghibli museum. This was the only day it has rained on us since we got to Japan, but it was okay since we were going to be inside most of the time. We took the obligatory photos out front with the giant Totoro in the ticket booth and up stairs with the statue of the robot from Laputa

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Then we went back home just in time for Chika's dad to pick us up from the station and we all went to a fantastic unagi restaurant (river fish in general, actually) where we had unagi no kimo (guts), unagi, koi no arai. It was all really good, and made for a perfect birthday dinner.

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Then we went home and got packed =( But then Chika's dad stayed up late enough for us to have one last evening of drinking together, and Chika and I drew an eye on the daruma that we bought in Ikaho.

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Tue Oct 4, Kamakura, Yokohama and Chinatown

Chika's mom went with Chika and I today down to Kanagawa to see the Daibutsu in Kamakura and Chinatown in Yokohama.

First we got in to Kamakura and walked down a main shopping street where we tried some Kamakura-yaki (little green baked thing with anko inside), and a really interesting store with lots of little trinkets, toys, puzzles (chie no wa) and made our way to Tsuruhaoka Hachimangu temple.

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I brought my Goshuinshuu to help document the temples I've visited and to get a little calligraphy collection going. And we stopped to grab some amazake.

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Then we rode a train a couple of stations over to get to see the famous Daibutsu statue. And we were able to go inside a bit, and I got one more page in my goshuinshu

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Then it was about time for all the temples to start closing, so we went back to the station in Kamakura and then took a train to Yokohama and made our way to Chinatown where we found a place to have some dimsum, shark-fin stew and various other delicious dishes.

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Mon Oct 3, Ueno, Oden and Shibuya

Today was the day that Chika and I were just going to head into Tokyo and wander around. I ended up showing Chika some of the places I liked best in Tokyo.

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In the morning we got up, and her mom had crab ready for us, then we headed out to Ueno. After wandering around the park a bit, we wandered over to Ameyoko, and then back to the station, and from there went to Akihabara. After going to Yodobashi camera and seeing the God of War : Origins collection display (out on Oct 6th in Japan), we were getting hungry, so we went to Tokyo station and had dinner in the Marunouchi building at an oden restaurant on the fifth floor.

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Then we went to Shibuya, got some starbucks next to the scramble intersection (nice view), and wandered around the attached bookstore for a little while before heading home, where I single-handedly ate most of a bar of youkan that Chika's friend Fuji gave us =\


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sun Oct 2, Meeting friends at Yoyogi Park

We woke up a little early so we could catch an early enough train to get to Yoyogi park before any of the rest of Chika's friends. We got there early enough to walk around across the street from the park where they usually have a flea market every Sunday, but today was a special Hokkaido fair with lots of food stands. We didn't buy anything, but it was interesting to just walk around and see what was there.

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Chika called a place that would deliver a 24 pack of beer to the park for us (somewhere between 11 and 1) and it got there just after noon (when the first people just started showing up). After a few people showed up it was getting a little noisy around the benches where we said to meet, so we went just across the pond and set up a couple of tarps, sat, ate, drank and had a really good time. Maki was a friend of Chika's from preschool, then there was Sato (Abe), Migita, Mizuseda and Otsuka from Chika's middle / high school years, then Fuji and Eri that Chika knew from college, and from her days working at Bell Systems in Japan there was Yamana-san, Yanagawa-san, Hirano, Keiko, Yusuke, Seiji, Hayato, Mune, and Chikako. Yukari-sensei and her husband Ted also showed up and took some pictures with us.

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Once it started getting a little dark, everyone was getting a little cold, and various people were getting ready to go, we cleaned up the tarps and walked back toward the station. We said our good-byes to some people, and went with a few to a restaurant in Harajuku to grab a little to eat and talk a little more. We stayed until the restaurant closed and kicked us out, and then we were down to just me, Chika and Eri-chan and we went across the street and spent an hour at a karaoke place.

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Then we headed back to Saitama, where Chika's mom picked us up from the station, and we went back home and talked some more. I think we finally got to sleep around 1am with sore throats from talking all day.