After 20 hours in transit yesterday – plane delayed etc, we were dropped at Shinjuku station at 0100. No money, no idea where we were going – there are no street signs or numbers here in Tokyo. Luckily, Tokyo seems quite a safe city, so I could sit and wait with my backpack while hubby went for cash (this was not a straightforward proposition – there are very few ATMs which work with foreign cards). We decided to get a cab, even though it was only about a km that we needed to go; the issue was that we had no idea which direction we were going. The cabbie was a bit crabby about taking us only that far, this irritation magnified when hubby tried to shut the cab door (cabs in Tokyo have automatic shutty doors, apparently), this got a squawk from the cabbie.
Today we went for a wander about Shinjuku, Harajuku and Shibuya. Finding our way about was a bit of an issue so we made sure we did not go far from the railway station. We saw some outrageously dressed and coiffed youth in Harajuku, though the people could have been anywhere between 12 and 30 years old. There were lots of clothes shops there with all sorts of interesting (and controversial) clothes there, in sizes small, small and extra small. Some of the girls like the whole gothic nymphette thing. We went to the mega electronics mart, the mega book mart and generally gadded about.
I do love the convenience stores here – you can sustain yourself well from these shops; drinks, beer, chocolates, umbrellas and UFOs (unidentified fried objects) were there.
One reflection is on the tricked up dunnies they have here – they have a seat warmer, bidet and an apparatus to air dry your tushy. I hate to think what would happen if they had a blackout. The downside is that people spend a lot of time in there, with…ahem…grooming…
We went to an amazing department store food market. Ian took a sample of cooked meat, which seemed to raise the ire of the storeman (that’s 2 japanese we have made cranky). There was beautiful fish, wagyu, vegies, cakies and bread.
We were very tired in the afternoon, and went for an early dinner. We did not want to go far, but we happened upon a restaurant with pictures of beef out the front, and we thought we would give it a crack. We had shabu shabu, basically very thinly sliced wagyu, self cooked in a water bath with vegies and bean thread noodles, then dipped in ponzu. Very yarmy, very healthy and quite filling (now I know why the Japanese are so lean, they have to work for their food.) The good sign was that it was full of Japanese people.
The vast majority of the Japanese are tiny, which makes me hyper-aware of the belly pooch I have. However, I just heard about an American friend who I stayed with in the Student quarters in the Netherlands, she has a rare form of aggressive adrenal cancer which has metastasised to her lungs and liver. She is my age, with a husband and small child. I thought to myself today – life is too short to worry about belly pooch – easy to say, but I have new resolve not to be so self conscious.
Though the first thing I thought when I read about her (she sent a facebook message en masse) was that, if the same thing happened to me, I would be upset, for sure, but I think that I have packed a lot into my 31 or so years. Case in point, this holiday, in this dazzling, interesting and confusing nation.
Sayonara – must bone up on my restaurant related vocabulary.