Saturday began with a trip towards Tokyo Station to a store nearby that sells goods from Kyoto, and for a small price, customers can experience a tradition Japanese tea ceremony (2). I do not believe a tradition ceremony is held in the middle of a store with customers brushing their behinds against your tea cup and the sounds of tills in the distance chiming away, but the part of the process where you have to wait 20 minutes as someone painstakingly makes a single cup of green tea remained the same. Also the part where it's disrespectful to talk or take photos carried over from the traditional ceremonies so I wasn't able to ask much about what they were doing, nor was I able to snap any photos of the process. Essentially an older woman in a kimono boiled hot water and then added it to a cup of matcha powder which had been carefully measured out. She then used a bamboo whisk to mix the powder and the water, rotating the cup with every few stirs. I was supposed to gather how important it is to put care into in life, including the little things like making tea, but what it really made me realize is how important it is not to waste time doing something like making tea. I had panties and fake food to find was eager to get a move on!
|2 Birds with 1 Stone: If I had managed to buy her panties|
|Traditional tea serving area/place for customers to congregate as they wait to purchase their items|
|The all important bamboo whisk|
|The beginning of Kappabashi Street|
|A little foreshadowing for Christmas|
|Fake food has been taken to a new level|
What I was able to deduce is this: There are plenty of stock-options for generic foods such as ramen, salad, and pasta dishes, as well as the ability to buy the separate "ingredients" to more accurately represent your restaurant's dish. But if you want a specific dish or presentaiton, you must contact the manufacturers. Oh how I wish I had the ability to tour the fake food factory to see the artists at work Also, a typical medium sized fake dish will run you about $70, so what I thought would make good gifts turned out to be much too expensive. But man, nothing says "I love you" like a big bowl of plastic ramen...
The next stop in my quest for goal completion was Akihabara, home to AK48, maid cafés, and a number of sex shops. I had visited the area once before and figured if there was any place in Tokyo that would sell used panties (50), it was a sex shop in Akihabara. At this point I had pretty much given up hope for finding a vending machine that dispensed these goods as my research had only produced other inquiries about the whereabouts of these mythical machines. I did learn that the selling of used undergarments is illegal, which nearly soiled my plan. Excuse me, foiled. I figured I needed to give the goal an honest effort though before throwing in the rag - er - towel.
When I exited the train, I saw the sex shop which I had visited once before but I deemed it too PG for this mission. The shop I had imagined was either incredibly seedy, or one that specialized in manga. For whatever reason I have grouped together the perverts who want used panties with the hardcore fans of anime, but I would soon learn that my intuition would not fail me. The first shop I visited lacked used panties, but did contain a plethora of anime merchandise. The following images are the SFW versions, which should give you an idea of what else was there:
|Gives new meaning to "body pillow"|
|Endless aisles of these sorts of CDs|
|And CDs like this...|
|Hey! I'm getting close to the used panties!|
So the anime shop was a bust, but it shared a wall with a rather run-down looking sex shop so I figured I'd try my luck there. "Run down"does not, however, mean small as this too was another 7 story shop, with the top two floors reserved for men only, which seemed promising. And indeed, it was! No vending machine, but the used panties myth is indeed true:
|Whose panties do I want...|
|Well this isn't degrading!|
|The legends are true!|
|Not sure how this fit into the sex shop, but I appreciated it|
From Akihabara I headed back to Shibuya to find the Karaoke bar from Lost In Translation (28). I idiotically declined my friend Samantha's invitation to celebrate her birthday with some friends last week, which ended up being a 3 hour karaoke fest at the place. Really not one of my best decisions in life, but based on her directions I was able to find the general location of the bar. I then used the following photo to figure out where I needed to go:
|I was looking for the building in the background|
|And look what I found!|
|Room 601, for those wondering.|
"Do you have a reservation?" the lady with the clipboard asked.
"No, I'm just waiting for my father and wanted to see what was at the top floor"
"It's a private restaurant, do you have a reservation?"
"Oh, are guests not allowed?"
"So sorry sir, right this way!"
Boom! Call me Danny Ocean!
|Pretty phenomenal views of Tokyo|
|For relaxing times, make it Suntory times|
Since I had essentially become a master of deception, I figured the next logical step was to become a thief. I found myself a nice chair, popped open my laptop, and enjoyed the free high-speed Hyatt wifi. I recognize the implications of admitting to this crime on the internet, but that's just the sort of badass I have become. I'm looking to get a motorcycle jacket to go along with my devil-may-care attitude.
I returned to Shimokitazawa, where Aziz lives, and met up with him and his friend Grace to grab a meal. Perhaps hearing about my time in the swanky New York Grill gave Aziz the idea to take me to Shimo's most lavish restaurant: Route 25.
No, your eyes do not lie, that does say "Produced by KFC Shimokitazawa" for this restaurant is on the third floor of a two story KFC and may or may not serve the exact same menu. To be honest, we're not quite sure, but we can confirm that they skip the trays, instead opting for fancy plates to display the Colonel's famous chicken.
|The Swankiest KFC in the world|
|Hello old friend|
In return, I taught them running pictionary, which for those of you who don't know, is one of my favorite group activities. Every player writes a sentence on an index card ("The cat jumped on the dog" or "Boy are those some big weiners" for example), when 30 seconds is up, they pass that card to the player on their left who then must flip to the next card and draw a picture of that sentence within 1 minute. They then pass their drawing to the person on their left who has 30 seconds to look at the drawing and then write a sentence about what they think they're looking at. Everyone plays at once, so there are an equal number of stacks of cards to players. This continues until the entire stack of cards has been completed. What you're left with is:
Card 1: Sentence 1
Card 2: Picture of sentence 1
Card 3: Sentence 2 (based on Picture 1)
Card 4: Picture of Sentence 2
The longer this goes on, the more the images and sentences evolve and the results are ALWAYS hilarious. That said, when you've only got three people, the game is quick and the photos don't really evolve, but I could see they understood how this very well could be the greatest discovery of their lives and I hope to hear in a few weeks that Running Pictionary has taken Japan by storm. Just think of all the anime-geeks who would jump on board!
So there it is: 2 days, 4 goals. Tomorrow I am off to Narita to pick up Richard and then the two of us are headed South to Mt. Fuji. I know he'll be upset that he wasn't a part of the used panties hunt (a great father/son bonding experience) but we've still got KFC Christmas, a robot restaurant, rollercoasters, Japanese Beatles impersonators, and a place called "Whoopi Goldburger" to look forward to!