Monday, June 6, 2016

Japan Part 1 Review: Tokyo and Numazu 2016

Andrew moved to Japan a year ago, and will be there for at least another year.  We left our house on Saturday at 6:40 AM to drive to Laguardia. We had an hour and half flight Toronto followed by a layover and 12 and half hours to Narita, Japan, so a total of 14.5 hours from airport to airport. With the time change though, we arrived in Tokyo on Sunday night

We met up with Andrew at our hotel. Andrew suggested that for our first meal in Tokyo we try something we've never had before, monjayaki, which he described as a kind of savory pancake thing with meat and vegetables. So off we went to get the best monjayaki area Tsukishima Island.

Tokyo 2016
Monja Street!

Tokyo 2016
Stirring and building the shape. On the right you see the "before" cooking version.

On Monday, we tried but failed to get into sumo wrestling, then we visited Sensō-ji Temple and Asakusa Shrine. Then we went to explore Ueno Park.

Sensō-ji Temple 2016
Kevin and Andrew in front of Sensō-ji's Thunder Gate

Hanazono Inari Shrine 2016
Ueno Park's Hanazono Inari Shrine

Monday afternoon, we decided we should go to Akihabara in the daytime. Andrew had kabobs, we went to a Maid Cafe, and then we got crazy Japanese photobooth photos.

Akihabara, Tokyo 2016
It's appropriate that Andrew's favorite kabob stand is under a big maid cafe sign.

Monday evening we had tickets for a show at the Robot Restaurant (which isn't really a restaurant) in Shinjuku's Kabukicho district. The show had several parts of total weirdness. The first part was a sort of kabuki mixed with neon and robots. The second part was some sort of Avatar rip off where the robot machines battled the happy neon inhabitants of an alien planet. They mostly lost the battle to the alien machines but (SPOILER ALERT) the sea creatures won the war in the end.

Robot Restaurant 2016
Andrew and Japanese showgirls.

After the show on Monday, we went to dinner in Shinjuku. Kevin had looked up some ramen recommendations so we went to Fuunji. Then we met up with Chow and Marci at a little hidden fancy bar called Ben Fiddich. It was a cool bar and it was really fun to chat with them for awhile. Everybody ordered delicious whiskeys.

Shinjuku, Tokyo 2016>
Kevin and me in Shinjuku

Shinjuku, Tokyo 2016
Fuunji Restaurant

Shinjuku, Tokyo 2016
Discussing whiskey choices

Then the room started shaking. I asked tentatively if we were having an earthquake. No one seemed worried except me. I was very worried. Then everyone's cellphones started beeping with an earthquake alert. Um, too late. We were on the 9th floor and the buildings are built to bend and not break so it felt very real. It was a 5.6 on the Richter Scale. So that happened.

We ended the night in Shibuya and even walked across the famous Shibuya Crossing. Shibuya is like Shinjuku in that it's a really fun area at night full of bars and bright lights. We went to Tasuichi combines a Japanese-style standing bar with an American sports bar. After that we went to a pub.

Shibuya, Tokyo 2016
Crossing at the crossing- the excitement!

Shibuya, Tokyo 2016
Kevin and Andrew at Tasuichi in Tokyo

We spent Tuesday morning at the Tokyo National Museum.  Then we spent some time in Harajuku, before leaving Tokyo.

Tokyo National Museum 2016
Selfie in the rain in front of Tokyo National Museum

Andrew, Kevin, and I took the Shinkansen from Shinagawa in Tokyo to Shizuoka, and then took a local JR train to Numazu. Numazu is a city in the Shizuoka Prefecture of Japan where Andrew has been teaching for the last year. He'll be there at least another year.

Numazu, Japan 2016
Near the Numazu train station and near Andrew's job

We headed for Andrew's Japanese apartment to drop off our stuff. Then we went back out. We walked around the Nakamise covered marketplace area.

Numazu, Japan 2016
Emperor of his castle

Numazu, Japan 2016

We decided to go to Andrew's favorite ramen place for dinner, Fat Dragon. There's just one small counter, and it fills up immediately. Then you get the biggest most delicious miso ramen.

Numazu, Japan 2016 
The chef cooks in front of you

Numazu, Japan 2016
With our HUGE ramens. Kevin got the spicy fat dragon.

We wanted to see more of the town so we went for a romantic walk along the waterfront and beach. Finally, the part we had been looking forward to the most! We met Andrew's friends and coworkers for Izakaya. It was like a pub. We sat in sunken benches at a table close to floor level and the waitress brought many little Japanese plates of food and never-ending beer. Heading home, we passed Blanky's Bar and felt an irresistible pull inside. Why would we want to resist?

Numazu, Japan 2016
Mitsu and Yumiko deciding which little plates to get

Numazu, Japan 2016
Ayumi making the peace sign and Shigeyuki

Numazu, Japan 2016
Andrew and Mitsu at Blanky's Bar

Wednesday morning, Andrew had work in a nearby town for a training. We delivered him almost all the way to the town and then Kevin and I went on to Kyoto. Goodbye, Andrew-san!

Numazu, Japan 2016
Andrew off to work, Mt. Fuji in the background

Numazu, Japan 2016
Kevin, me, Mt. Fuji

* This post was originally 12 posts. Maybe I went overboard when I wrote the original ones. Links inside this post.

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