Sunday, July 6, 2008

A weekend in Tokyo

It happened to be July 4th in the states (they don't celebrate that here), and Michelle flew in for the weekend (this was a long trip, and she gets massive props for flying that far!) The weekend was packed, with first hitting a nice sushi restaurant (where the chefs got REALLY into it, and would shout "Welcome!" and "Thank you!" to every person entering or leaving the restaurant. A nice romantic dinner this was not. But the food (Michelle had good sea urchin roe for the first time and loved it) and the atmosphere had their own charm. Definitely worth returning to.

At night was off to Roppongi, and just check out the scene. We walked down one alley, and I finally turned to Michelle, "should we be concerned that I have not seen ONE couple on this street? ALL men. Yeah, i think these weren't the right kind of establishments...

The next day we toured around Asakusa, where there is more of an older flavor of Tokyo (including a couple of nice temples). The weather became dramatically hot that weekend (and has stayed that way since), so we did our best to stay in the shade.

That afternoon we headed out to Isehara, where my host family lives (I stayed with them starting in 1995 and I hadn't seen my host parents in 11 years!) I saw my host sister's baby boy, who was adorable! When eating pudding, Michelle asked him if it was good in Japanese. We took his grunt to be postive. Then we went briefly to the Tanabata festival (or Star festival), filled with street food, banners, and games. Michelle managed to win a bunch of fish in a game (we left those in Japan with my host family). It was such a nice day, so great to see them and practice my Japanese, and they had traditional wear for both Michelle and I to wear (they gave her a kimono!)

That night was a fantastic restaurant with my host family, owned by the cousin of the director of Totoro (a famous Japanese movie for children, which is why I watched it about 2 months ago). We ate about 15 courses, and we also got to make Mochi, which involves pounding rice. They had a whole set of outfits to wear and drums in the background.

The last day flew by too quickly, more of a relaxing day wandering around our hotel (which was a fantastic place, Royal Park Shiodome). My host family had been really sweet by sending us fruit the first night we arrived. That fruit was actually a godsend, since I had my reservation on the wrong weekend (long story), and my host family informed me of that before I went on the trip!

We sampled some great lunch places around the hotel, I finally bough a Kendama (Japanese toy that I have been trying to find a new one for a while). There were plenty more adventures to be had in Tokyo, but not enough weekend. A great break though all told!

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