It was already afternoon when we reached Narita airport. Me in Japan! I was beyond thrilled. Japan has been in my to visit list since.. forever. Since Doraemon, since manga reading, since anime watching. I dreamt about visiting Japan long before I fantasized about Eiffel tower. Japan was the one for me.
To my surprise Narita airport was simple and quiet with only few shops *digesting* — We queued a long line for the JR Pass. I was grateful that Vi arranged it long before we flew to Tokyo. A week public transportation pass on our hand and we were off to see
the anime world Tokyo. We took the bullet train, the best train I have ever taken. It was clean and pleasant with (what I presumed as) a lovely lady who sold pushcart food and drinks. Eating food in the train? Where I came from we have to pay fines for it. Vi brought us lunch, our first meal in Japan, a katsu sandwich. It looked limp and unappealing but turned out to be delicious. Glad for my open mind to try eat things at least once. You guys, it is a must try on Japan trains.
An hour, a short discussion and a subway line later we reached Asakusa, which later turned out to be the best place for souvenir hunting.
We would be staying at Ryokan Mikawaya, and with a little help from friendly shop helpers we found it. I love everything about the Ryokan. It has things I dreamt of, like a common area, sliding windows, Chinese paintings on the wall and, especially, the tatami floor. We put our luggage, showered, took and shared unnecessary amount of pictures. A short rest and a little introduction of Japanese TV game shows we were ready to explore the Asakusa area, but maybe dinner first?
What do you eat on your first day in Japan? Sushi, of course.
We asked the Ryokan manager for some directions, and she recommended a famous sushi joint nearby and off we go with a map in our hand. Vi’s good with direction so I just followed her while soaking everything and anything I could see walking to the sushi place.
I took a peek in between the lanes, spotted Geishas (tried to be civilised about it) and checked out the many vending machines. If you know me well, you know I have a thing for the vending machine. It was one of the reasons why I feel Japan is my spirit country. Surprisingly the streets were quite empty for a Saturday night, but that’s okay because we found the restaurant. There were a que, we waited for forty minutes before getting a table, again, that’s okay because I.AM.in.JAPAN.
The sushi joint has the biggest sushi belt I have ever since and the chefs were yelling some Japanese words every now and then. The bills in most sushi restaurants, inside and outside of Japan are calculated by counting the number and type of plates of the consumed sushi. Plates with different colors, patterns, or shapes have different price. The cost of each plate is shown on signboards or posters in the restaurant. We checked the colors and were told by Yin that each of us could only have one blue plate. Three blue plates, a few purple plates and many red plates later we were done. The cashier came with a handheld device, and our bill was automatically calculated and printed. I wish there was a similar device I could move around my house to know my net worth. I am secretly hoping all those ill-fitting clothes and impulse purchases could amount to something so I wouldn’t feel so bad for still keeping out of guilt.
After the dinner we went back to Asakusa and headed to Sensoji, the oldest temple in Tokyo with two huge gates called Thunder Gate and Treasure House Gate, each gate has a huge lantern painted in red with black writings on it. It was already closed for the day and nothing much couldn’t be seen at night. We spent some time around that area and decided to go back in the morning.
None were tired; we walked for some time and found a pub/bar/sake joint (not sure what to call it). It’s cozy, and they were barbecuing something. Cozy and BBQ; two words we like. We went into the small place, got the stares but were too busy soaking the environment and, unfortunately, the smoke. It was decorated like super cool you guys, filled with Japanese words and vintage movie stars posters. Reminded me of Phi Phi’s Song Pad Thai shop. The pretty waiter came; took our order: hot and cold sake, chicken and whale takoyaki. Yes, whale bacon for 580 Yen.
Soon after we moved to sit outside as the smoke was unbearable inside. Much nicer seating, accompanied with a cool breeze, we chit chatted, ate our freshly BBQ-ed takoyaki and sipped the sake. Whoa.. that thing was strong. So strong that we were tipsy only by a glass each. It was good we could still find our way to the Ryokan, though we giggled all the way until we reached our room.
Oyasumi nasai everyone.
My first day in Japan was wonderful. It has been more than a year since I visited Japan but I still vividly remember being so happy on that day. Raising a virtual glass of sake for Travel Tuesday link up.