Let me first start off by saying that I’ve been crazy about Japan, ever since I was a child. I was into Japanese manga, I taught myself basic Japanese, learning how to read and write in Hiragana, and sought frequently for Japanese food in Thailand. My love for Japan has not gone away, as a matter of fact, it has increased tremendously ever since I stepped in to this country.
Jess, Jarrod, Nate, and I left the house around 4:30 in the morning to catch a flight from Denver to Los Angeles. We were all so excited, despite our lack of sleep from the night before I’m pretty sure we were unconsciously walk skipping with our luggages in the airport.
The trip from Denver to Los Angeles wasn’t so bad, but boy…LA to Beijing, China was loooong. However, traveling with good friends certainly makes the trip more bearable. Especially when the seats we chose were within reach, literally, I could reach to them with my little hands.
Meet Jarrod Duncan!
Part One: Hello Japan!
After a long flight from Denver to Los Angeles to Beijing we finally got to Japan, which was around 10:30pm in there. We split up to follow our plans. Jess and Jarrod went to meet up with their Aussie friends in Kichijoji, and Nate and I got a hotel in Ginza area. As soon as we got to the hotel, despite being so tired from a long trip, we decided to stroll around the area we are staying for a little bit. There were so many little restaurants and little bars that were open and packed with people in their suits. We assumed that they are just partying after work or something, but still… midnight on Monday…crazy! I love it though. On our way back from the hotel, we stopped by at 7-11. Side note: 7-11 in Asia is not a typical 7-11 in the USA, it’s filled with so much more interesting items and food that I don’t (usually) regret after I eat. Stopping by at a convenience store from a different country has always been a priority for Nate and I. Nate got a beer and we each got some onigiri, which are Japanese rice balls with some stuff inside. It was so good. After a belly-full we finally got some rest. As for me, I was as rested as a jet lag person can be.
We skipped the hotel breakfast and decided to find our own. Now, the morning here wasn’t quite the same as the night time, not many places were open, but it also happened to be a holiday (Nov. 3rd, culture day?). We walked around and finally found a little udon shop that was open, it was about 9am. Side note, there were other breakfast places that were open but they were Western style so those were just off the list.
In case you have never been to Japan: the way you order food from a lot of places, before you even get to sit down, you put the money in a little machine that has buttons representing food items, then you choose from the one you want and it spits out a ticket. You hand that ticket to the chef and he’ll start prepping food for you. The chef doesn’t have to touch money, the food is paid for, everyone is happy. The only problem was that we had no idea what we were looking at. I could read Hiragana but I still don’t know a lot of words, meaning I could pronounce the words but I have no idea what they mean. Luckily I know what “udon” means and the fact that they have a photo with the price next to the machine helped a little. One that looked like shrimp tempura was 580 yen (about $5), so all I had to do was look for the buttons with that price and ignore the rest. I got my shrimp tenpura udon and Nate got his calamari tenpura udon, happy bellies.
Lots of restaurants near our hotel, Remm Hibiya, most of them weren’t open