Whatever the hell is going around Japan causing half the people here to wear flu masks – I think I caught it.
Today we headed out to Asakusa & Ueno. We headed down Kappabashi-douri first which was a street full of stores selling all sorts of food/kitchen supplies. For example there would be a store dedicated to selling bar stools, or a shop dedicated to selling pots and pans. They were all old fashioned shoutengai style stores so it was really interesting. We also had to walk pretty far through a suburby area so it gave a different taste of Japan from the usual city scenery we’ve been seeing in Ikebukuro. Additionally, there were lolis and shotas walking by themselves from school. I mean I know they’re in a group but if this was in America, the parents would be thrown in jail or something
Obviously the one thing everyone wants to see when they go to Japan is kaminarimon. Needless to say there was a ton of tourists here as well and there was an entire street dedicated to all sorts of goofy souvenir shops including…
..cheaply made Kimonos! LOL god how terrible is that? The funniest part too is how the models are totally caucasian rather than asian haha. I was determined to get a maneki neko and ended up getting one for like $30~ as well as a cute kitten holding a Kaminarimon lantern phonestrap. They had these like HUGE bells you could hang from a suction cup but I honestly didn’t know where I could hang them so I didn’t bother getting them. It’s such a tourist trap and I almost fell for it had it not been for the fact that I’m from NY and avoiding tourist traps has become a survival skill.
We also saw a huge koi fish pond. I don’t even remember the last time I saw such large koi fish this close but it was really interesting. They were mostly orange and white but there were some cute ones who were white/black like a cow print and one that was mostly black.
As we started walking back we made it just in time for the golden dragon dance and I was able to get a lot of really nice up close photos.
Rather than having lunch in the overpriced tourist trap places, we went into a side street to have some in a mom & pop place (which was also playing terrible Korean dramas on TV lol)
The ramen was pretty decent. It wasn’t anything extraordinary but it was filling and it wasn’t like $20 like the other places were lol.
Our next stop was the Ameyoko which for some reason I kept thinking was a giant street full of Japanese sweets sellers instead they were selling this:
Lol =_=; Additionally the place got stinky because of a row of fish sellers (who even needs Tsukiji?) Anyway we decided not to go all the way down the flea market lane here and instead turned back into the main street when we ran into a Beard Papa’s! Wow I haven’t eaten any beard papa stuff since Cafe Shitya back in NYC so I was happy to try their #1 most popular cream puff – the strawberry cream puff. Anyway we all got something from there.
We had also stopped by a 100 yen shop (finally) after unsuccessfully trying to find an open one for 2 days. It’s like all these in-building 100yen shops have all closed down so we tried to go to 2 of them and failed. This one was on the ground of a building so we could tell it was open. Got some random crap there including 2 tea mugs with some Japanese designs on there. Most of the other crap we could prolly get at our NYC Jack’s.
Next we headed back to Ueno park. Unfortunately it was very anticlimatic. Most of the cherry blossoms had hardly even blossomed.
It was like a sad attempt at blossoming. We did see some workers preparing the sides of the cherry blossom lane for the hanami which is gonna be at the end of next week I guess? Sadly we’ll be gone by then. If things couldn’t get any worse, all the museums we wanted to go to had closed by the time we got there (at 4:30). It’s like Japan basically starts at 11AM and ends at 5PM daily. Wtf is this, Europe? I’ve been trying to jam pack as much as I possibly can into this trip, but all these stupid hours don’t exactly let me.
After we got home we watched Gintama and some Japanese TV news about people getting hit by cars (I guess they really need those traffic accident luck charms) and then we got an email from bangin about meeting up for dinner & karaoke. It was a lot of fun and the food was pretty good. I didn’t know about too many restaurants in Ikebukuro so whatever this place was, it was good and affordable. Also JP sang a mean version of Sen no Kaze ni Natte.
I’m still downing all the random cold medicines I bought today (I spent like $40 on cold medicine OTL) so I hope by tomorrow I get better. I really don’t feel like joining the flu mask club
1: Between the donuts yesterday and the bagels today, American breakfast food is really expensive in Japan. Those donuts were about $2 each (compared to about $0.75) and my bagel with cream cheese was about $4 (compared to about $2). Then again, the Japanese food was usually hella cheap. My chicken katsu teishoku set for dinner was about $8, and that includes taxes and there’s no tip.
2: The stores on Kappabashi-douri got incredibly specific at times. There was one that sold things specifically for Korean restaurants (like those really long spoons), but my personal favorite was that I saw at least two places that sold kitschy decorations for faux retro American diners, like neon signs that said “Tiki Bar” or 50′s-style Coke machines
3: I threw in some coins into the altar at the shrine, and then I paid the 100 yen before drawing my fortune, so obviously I got the decent luck one. You can’t just start grabbing them! Obviously you’ll get bad luck, and now it’s too late to try to buy off your bad luck.
4: My speaking might be really really atrophied from not needing to use it in like 5 years but hey, I can still remember the kanji for words like hanamizu!
5: I feel like Tokyo is simultaneously kind of rewarding but also frustrating to explore. It’s so dense that it’s easy to uncover interesting things, but at the same time the lack of visual identifiers like street names or shops at eye level can be off-putting.
6: Those shops and restaurants up on like the 8th floor of some building that you need to access from an elevator on some unmarked alley are sooooooooo the kind of thing that only works in Japan. I don’t even like going in alleys in Manhattan, much less any other city in America.
7: There was a freaking ENORMOUS sheepdog in Ueno. It was larger than this loli that ran up to pet it.
8: We haven’t been to any of the stations between Shinagawa and Ebisu, but so far my favorite Yamanote line train chime is totally Komagome.
9: According to Bangin, there is totally a concept for gyaru-oh, where dudes dress up like gals.
10: Rule 34 in action: there is a doujin at the BL section of Tora no Ana where condiments were anthropomorphized (kind of like how Miracle Train anthropomorphizes the stations of the Ouedo line) and buttsecks.
11: Much to my dismay, the karaoke machine did not feature Yuusha-oh Tanjou.
12: There was some free agejo magazine at the karaoke place, which greatly amused me in how identical every single one of the agejo in there looked. They all had the identical haircut, identical nail art, identical dye job, and clothes from identical brands.