I had the best sleep last night since arriving in Japan. My 100 yen pillow worked a treat! I even woke up at 8 and then went back to sleep for two hours- something I very rarely have the ability to do.
Last night at dinner, my friends and I had organised to meet up at Ueno for lunch today. It was their last day in Japan, so we thought we’d have a special last lunch. After last night’s meeting-point nightmare, we decided to be more organised and choose a station exit and map location to meet at. We decided on a book store, meeting at 12:30.
When I got to the station, it was way bigger than I remembered, and had about 20 exits. There was also no bookstore. Shit.
Cutting a long story short, I spent 30 minutes searching, before eventually running into L and D. We then bumped into K, about a minute after. Then we had to hunt for S. We searched for almost an hour, but couldn’t find her anywhere. I said that we should give up, because that’s when you always find someone, so we pretended to give up and did one more lap of the station. We were all starving, so we decided we’d better actually get some food, and headed away from the station. That’s when S came running up behind us, having spotted us from afar.
Like I said, we needed to give up in order to be united.
It’s actually a miracle how we’ve managed to find each other each time we meet.
D wanted to eat ramen one last time, so we walked around the market area of Ueno, passing an abundance of fresh seafood, bag stores, and shoe stores. We couldn’t find a ramen store that we liked, and we were all hungry, so we decided to give up and cross the road to a kaiten-zushi shop instead. That’s when we accidentally stumbled upon a little ramen store that looked really really good.
We ordered our food from a vending machine, which spat out a little ticket that we had to give the waiter. My Japanese came in really handy again, as I was able to tell everyone what was in each dish (there were no pictures on the machine, only buttons with kanji and kana.) and order myself a bowl without pork. We went upstairs and waited for our food, glad to be out of the freezing wind.
The food came quite quickly, and it was humongous. I had ordered miso ramen with spring onions, whilst everyone else had miso ramen with pork, corn and butter. Mine also had bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, a thinly sliced vegetable with a kimchi-like taste, a raw egg, nori and sesame seeds.
I’ll let you in on a secret- I’ve never had ramen before. Despite having been to Japan 4 times, and being obsessed with Japanese food, I haven’t tasted the real thing ever (2 minute noodles don’t count.)
I’ve been converted…
It was so delicious, and the soup changed taste as I ate (as the egg and kimchi-stuff mixed in.) It was so so so good! But I don’t think I;ll ever be abe to finish a bowl- there was that much food there! I really did my best, but even though I kept eating and eating, the level of food never seemed to go down.
We all had a go of the garlic press, which required a bit of muscle. The minced garlic tasted great in the soup, but we all probably had really bad breath afterwards.
After waddling out of the restaurant and back into the cold, we visited a few stores in a nearby department store. I took the gang to Loft, and another crazy shop that sells all kinds of weird things. Everyone went nuts there and bought heaps of stuff- as you do on your last day anywhere.
I decided I want to buy a Fujifilm mini polaroid camera, but I’m going to hunt flea markets for it first. You can get really cheap film at some of the stres we visited today.
Next, we took the subway to Akihabara, so that D could do some last minute present shopping. Akihabara hasn’t changed. It’s still full of flashing lights, millions of electronics stores, and spruikers on every corner trying to get patrons to come to their maid cafes. The boys went off in search of gameboy games (yes, really), whilst S and I headed for some of the kitchy and crazy stores. On the way, we spotted a tiny corner which did nail art. S was so excited because she’d been looking for somewhere to get detailed nail art done the whole time she’d been in Tokyo. This place was so nuts, each little sample was a work of art, and featured imagery of anime and manga characters in ridiculous detail.
I had a look in a multi story shop in the AKB48 building whilst I was waiting for S. I really wanted to buy this black and white cushion with a face on it (why am I sucked in by cute simplified faces?), but I used exceptional self control and reasoning and didn’t buy it. Besides, if I wanted to take it home in my suitcase, nothing else would be able to go in as well. As compensation, I bought two t-shirts with the face on them. One black and one white; one for me and one as a gift for my sister.
S was so thrilled with her nails- they were really puffy and super cute. I love the face of the jellyfish! We had a quick look in a used Mac shop before we left. There were laptops, ipods, iphones and ipads, as well as cameras and lenses and other technological goods. I couldn’t beleive how cheap everything was! There were macbook airs for 20000 yen, and ipads for 30000. Crazy! I wondered what was wrong with them because I literally had enough cash (and desire) to buy one on the spot.
On the way home, I stopped at Lawsons to get some supplies for dinner. I didn’t feel like that much after my sumo-sized lunch, but I’m trying to eat lots because I think my body needs the energy to keep warm. I made a stirfry of carrot, shimeji mushroom, bok choy and edamame, and had that with some kinpira, an egg, the last of the sweet beans, and some yaki-imo. Yaki-imo is a charred roasted yam (like a purple sweet potato with yellow in the middle), that convenience stores sell in winter. They are in little display cabinets on hot black charcoals at the front of the store. It was pretty tasty, but also kind of dry inside. The skin was the best part!
I think the plate on the left looks like a face.
After dinner I had a new mochi icecream that has a strawberry in the middle! It was pretty good, but the strawberry was frozen solid. I think the regular ones are still my favourite.
My shower flooded again tonight- it’s getting really annoying. I had to speed shower, because the water level was getting dangerously close to spilling over, and my laptop cord was on the other side. I think the drain is even more clogged than before Might have to call in the plumbers tomorrow.