October 6, 2012

First Full Day

My first full day in Japan!

I rose pretty early and found Kelly making herself breakfast. She gave me directions to the supermarket which was but a stones throw away*

The market was delightfully kooky. Some things were outrageously priced ($3 for a single apple) while others were shockingly cheap (bags of rice the size of pillow cases for $10). Not that I would ever complain about bacon, but I think the Japanese have found a way to improve upon this treat from God (who then banned the food, what a dick). The problem with making bacon is the strips are too long, and while it shrinks, the ends are initially out of the pan and therefore get cooked differently. Japanese bacon is sold cut in half for even cooking.

The other product that the Japanese are lightyears ahead of us with is bread (ぱん). First of all, they're  not rectangular, they're square. Does this make a difference in the way it tastes? No. Does it make it look incredibly attractive? Yes. It's also about twice as thick as a normal slice of bread, so the outside gets crispy while the instead gets warm but maintains body and fluffiness.

Post some various tasks around the apartment, I walked down to つなしまstation (eki) to catch the train to Shibuya. That's right, She-Booyah! From there I transferred trains to traverse Tokyo to get to Ginza, Japan's oldest hoity-toity district.

I went to meet my friend Josh, who was in town for business, but arrive a few hours before he was done with meetings so I decided to walk towards the green part on my map. Green on maps is the universal sign for "pretty things to look at".

What I discovered was Edo Castle. I'll let you read the history, but here are some photos I snapped of the pretty green and the giant stone walls ascending from the moat to protect the royalty.

I love this broom from the turn of 4 centuries ago, or Hogwarts

Green on map = pretty

 Just like I would never say anything bad about bacon, I would also never say anything bad about Apple. That said, a word of advice: When
traveling to a foreign country, do not update to iOS 6 because the maps application will respond the same if you input an address as it will if you input a grocery list. In order to find Josh's hotel, I had to input the address in Google (which easily located the hotel) then arrange the Map App to resemble the Google map. Then it was a matter of watching my location change in the Map App while continually checking the Google map. I felt the same way I'm sure Magellan felt while circumnavigating the globe (minus the being slaughtered in Cebu part).

Found Josh and then navigated the trains to reach the unmanned monorail that took us to Odaiba. We decided that when in Tokyo, it's best to see the Statue of Liberty. You can check my other post to hear more about that here

Our other adventure on the man-made island of Odaiba was to Joypolis:

Josh described Joypolis as Chuck E. Cheese on crack but I felt it was much more elegant than that. I realized I had been there on my first trip to Japan. It's essentially an arcade with a number of virtual reality rides, including the one we bought a ticket for: Wild River!

Imagine the poor man's Star Tours. Or the really poor man's Soarin' Over California. This ride could be "Rafting over poor graphics river".

But we were splashed a lot, and the girl next to us thought it was the most thrilling adventure ever. She must have felt like Magellan on the high sea. By far the best part was the tour guide who kept yelling "WILDO!" At one point it was "WILDO WILDO WILDO WILDO!" in quick succession.

The angriest Ronald

Wasn't sure how to play this game but I managed lose and got whacked on the hand in the process
We somehow interacted with this lady 
That's my face on a walrus. There was a tank of these. It was frightening.

Soarin' Over Poor Graphic River

We worked up an appetite on Wild River and decided to head to the Harajuku district to Josh's favorite street: Takeshita Street.
Dori means "Street" and Takeshita means "Take a shit"

We found a yakiniku restaurant for dinner and enjoyed grilling our own spiced meats. I felt like Magellan and his poorly documented experiences grilling meat.

*Stones throw? Stone's throw? If it's the first, why make it plural? Would it not be "It's a stone throw away"? Which leads me to believe it's possessive and that Stone is a guy who has an incredibly average ability to throw various objects.