Sunday, May 29, 2011

Our Final Night

Our next stop after Yotsuya was Ikebukuro to check in at the hostel. For some reason we got a bit confused with the trains though, but I can't remember why anymore... We managed to make it there in one piece though and before our luggage had arrived too. Seeing a Japanese person and not thinking "oh duh I bet she speaks English..." I checked us in in Japanese, we got our keys, and checked out our rooms. There was two bunk beds and we unfortunately had one roommate, though he was not there at the time (more on him later). It was mid-afternoon by then and we still had not eaten anything that day, so we went to a nearby restaurant. We got our meal tickets, sat down, and got our food within a few minutes.

Looking back at these pictures makes my mouth water!

After we ate, we headed back to Ikebukuro station and headed to Shinjuku to go shoe shopping. I still had not replaced my hole-y tennis shoes, so I decided I wanted to get new shoes before I left Japan. I was so tempted to buy those boots I had been longing to buy at that point, but I ended up not getting them and bought these new pink and black tennis shoes instead. Later when I tried them again though they seemed to be a little bit big...maybe I should have gone with the previous pair that was a little bit tight and I could break into. The ones I bought fit perfect at the time though, I don't know why they felt different later!
Beyond that, we started wandering around. I only took the above picture, which was the entrance to a karaoke parlor.

After it got dark, we headed back to Shinjuku station and rode the trains for the last time. Our luggage had arrived and so had our roommate. He was quiet and, to be honest, the exact definition of "otaku," who had clearly come to pay hommage to Japan. He had some anime character statue which he had set up on the only bureau in the room. We got on our computers to check what was going on in the world of the internet, and eventually got hungry. So, we headed out to see what our options were.

This was one of our many options.
However, we ended up opting for the bar called Beer Saurus across the way, located on one of the floors of the building in the above picture. The beer was very nice although there were not too many people so luckily it was not too smokey.

Our first drinks were as above: that ginormous mug filled with Hoegaarden and my tiny martini (I think it was). Don't remember the drink, but unlike other bars they definitely did not skimp on the alcohol!
After studying the menu for a while, we ended up ordering the "party" size of fish and chips.

And here's a bit of the decor inside of the bar. It was a really nice place, I wish we had discovered it sooner.

Unfortunately all good times come to an end. While we paid the bill, I noticed that the tip jar for the earthquake and tsunami relief was stuffed full of 10,000 yen bills (about $124 at the time of writing this entry).

We began our tipsy walk back to the alpaca...and discovered an arcade. I wanted an alpaca so we went in. Daniel won one last Rilakkuma keychain and then we attempted the big one.
This alpaca was the boss battle of all UFO catchers up until this point. It was stuck between a big Rilakkuma's legs (I think it was) and refused to budge. I think we spent close to 4,000 yen to win this giant alpaca, but win it we did! We went back to the hostel with our spoils of war and had an unfortunate terrible night. Neither of us got a wink of sleep that night. The beds were so uncomfortable and every time we turned over there was squeaking. Our jetlagged roommate was sound asleep though, so who knows if we woke him up or not. The entire night I found myself wishing there was a Glade or Febreeze air freshner in the room though...

Not to mention, the room one over from ours was filled with drunk Japanese people screaming the entire night. It died down eventually, but that was soon replaced by the sounds of retching as dawn approached.

Needless to say, that was not a very pleasant night.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

One Last Visit to School

The day after Harajuku, if I remember right we spent the day first going to the post office to mail our stuff off. I managed to successfully ask the kind lady, whom I had become a bit acquainted with because of my shopping serivce, if we could borrow a dollee cart and the post office allowed us to for free. We ended up mailing around 10ish boxes (I think), nearly all of them were shipped by boat. By now my boyfriend has received the contents of our apartment, but unfortunately it took two months to reach us. Two months of waiting with no status update on the post office website. We were so afraid our stuff was lost, but so happy when it all arrived over the course of a few days.

It was so sad to see such an empty apartment after though. I think we spent the rest of the day around town. I remember we went to BookOff one last time and then went to the other side of town at some point to the recycle shop. I bought a Juriano Jurrie onepiece (which, because I have a butt, will have to be worn as a top) and Cecil McBee top. I was tempted to buy a Cecil McBee winter coat I saw there but decided against it in the end. Kiiind of regret that, though I have no idea how that would have fit into my suitcase! I barely got everything to fit int there as it was.

Daniel bought some clothes for himself and also bought one of the Yakuza games from the used and new game shop that was connected to the recycle shop. When we got home though, we realized that it was the wrong one! I went back by myself to see if I could get the proper one. The lady at the counter was very nice and refunded the money for the game. On the way back I ran into the ladies who work at the post office returning home from work and we chatted a bit before I got home.

Despite having paid for a full month's rent, we got kicked out of our apartment a day earlier than we expected. Originally we were going to get our apartment checked out the morning before we left but instead they had to check us out on that Saturday due to the amount of people who were leaving. Luckily for us the guy who checked us out said he could get us a reservation at one of their hostels in Ikebukuro. He was even nice enough to take our bags to the hostel for us aftr he finished his checkouts for the day. This was a great relief considering our plan was to go to Shinjuku, ditch our stuff in coin lockers, and then head to the airport to spend the night there.

Keys taken away, we headed to the university I had attended. I still had the photocopied copy of Chuushingura I had borrowed from my professor, so I needed to drop that off before we left. We got to the school without any major bird attacks, I told campus security I was going to drop off the book and leave, and went in. Dropped the book off, and I took these final pictures of my school before we left.

The last thing we did before we left Yotsuya was give the homeless man who sits next to my school daily all of our change. It was mostly one and five yen coins, but hopefully there was enough in there for him to buy a few meals.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Final Visit to Harajuku

The order to return home was really shocking. My parents seemed to be in a hurry to get us out ASAP, but we had things to settle. For example, we had to ship all of our stuff off. So, we spent the day packing in a fever. I think it was this same day that when we were done, we decided to go to Harajuku. I was not at 100% though since I was still upset and overwhelmed because of the turn of events. The stores were still closing early, so we only had a few hours to hang around. This was rather unfortunate but I guess not too bad since I was so out of it.

A random advertisement inside of our local subway station.

I did not take too many photos because it was getting dark quickly, but I managed to take these three. One is of the capsule machines and the other two are advertisements for purikura machines.

We went down a side alley I never went down before during my trips to Harajuku. I purchased some cute socks and Daniel bought several funny T-shirts from a nearby street vendor (you know, the kinds you would expect to see in Japan with the Engrish and stuff).

We stopped by a few stores and I was too out of it to make any decisive shopping at the  time. I wish I had bought a few things at the one store we had gone to, like one of those cute white lacy maxi-skirts I have longing for.

When we made it to the end of Takeshita-doori, we bought crepes and made our way back to the train station to go home.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The State of Things

These are some pictures I took shortly after the earthquake. First off, the state of the nearby convenience store that we frequented daily:

Mid-evening, what remains behind in the refrigerator section are the few brands and flavors of drinks that no one has felt the urge to stock up on. I guess Vitamin Water is not that popular in Japan. Granted, it's a bit expensive for flavored water. There was no water to be found though.
And here we have the aisle where would typically find shelves filled with breads and pre-made dishes, including lunch boxes, pasta dishes, and rice balls. As you can see, the shelves are completely bare. By now I can't remember what we had for dinner that night anymore. Sometimes even the chips and snacks aisles were empty.

The interior of a train. I took a picture of some of the advertisements for memory's sake.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Edo-Tokyo Museum Part 2: Tokyo

Now to continue on with our tour of the museum...

This side was a lot smaller compared to the Edo portion. All of the models and artifacts are from the Meiji period and Taisho period, including World War II. I guess I was feeling like I was ready to go home by this point, since I did not take as many pictures as I thought I would have.
Not sure what this was a model of.
Tiny models of the daily lives of people who lived in Tokyo during the Meiji period.
A cute poster.
A little girl trying out the life-size replica (?) of a telephone booth.
A signpost from near the area where one of the bombs dropped. Reminded me of the Fallout games.
A photograph of Yoshibayama, the 43rd Yokozuna (best sumo wrestler at the time), riding in a Subaru 360.
Old model of a car.

And that's all from what I took at the museum! I wonder if my camera had started dying or something. There were airplanes hanging from the ceiling, life-size models of the way soldiers lived, and a lot of other interesting things as well.

Next up is probably some random pictures or the final pictures I took of the neighborhood I lived in.