Tokyo Getaway: Part One

As stated in the previous entry, last weekend for me consisted of a short trip to 東京. With about half a day spent in Kawagoe chilling with people. Even though it was only two and a half days, I did quite a bit, so I’m going to split my adventure (it was totally an adventure, albeit not a very harrowing one) into two posts. Since I’ll be including pictures, doing it in one post would get ridiculously long. Doing it in two parts is much more manageable. So now, without further ado, onwards to Tokyo Adventure Part One: Friday.

行きましょう!(The shinkansen at Okayama.)

I left Matsuyama after work on Thursday, so I didn’t get to Tokyo till 11:45. I was okay with that, though, because I quite like getting into Tokyo at night. It’s a little bit quieter and the city lights and neon are so quintessential for the city – I love it. I actually love Tokyo more than I used to think so, possibly because I’ve seen more of this country now, and have lived on Shikoku, so there’s more to compare it to. It’s the biggest city in the world (about 35,000,000 people) and basically its own universe. There is nowhere on earth like it.

Outside Ueno Station at one o’clock in the morning.

Thursday was nothing but travel and then sleep, so I’m just going to go ahead and skip to Friday, which is when I actually did things. I had plans to meet up with my friend Katherine, her fiance Jun, and a few friends of theirs, in Kawagoe (where I was a foreign student back in the day), but that wasn’t till 2, so I had the whole morning to do whatever. Which means that, in preparation for when my mother and sister come to Japan at the end of April/beginning of May, I went to Ikebukuro  to locate the hotel we’re going to stay in, and confirm that they have her reservation. Since she booked online from America and frets over stuff like that. I had the vaguest directions ever, from the Sunshine City exit of Ikebukuro Station, but I thought it couldn’t be that hard.

It was, actually. For one thing, it was cold. There was this slushy sort of snow falling, though it wasn’t cold enough for anything to accumulate, so I was crowd dodging with my umbrella, fighting for sidewalk space with all the other people with their umbrellas, trying to follow fail directions without getting my notebook really wet. I went out the right exit, went past Cinema Sunshine, all well and good, and then… it wasn’t anywhere I thought it would be. So I went into a Starbucks to ask for help, since I had the hotel’s name and address and knew I was in the right part of Ikebukuro, but they didn’t know, either.

Then I was rescued by a young Japanese guy with an iPhone and excellent English. I didn’t ask, but based on how he spoke (and the fact that he started swearing at his phone in English when it did something weird) I think he’d spent time in the US. It took us a good 15 minutes to find the place, which happened to be a building I’d walked past because the exterior doesn’t leap out at you and the sign is really high up, he kissed my cheek, and then left me to it so he could go back to work. It was random, but in a nice way. And I now know how to find that damn hotel. It’s actually really easy now that I’ve been there, I just overshot it in the first attempt and got confused.

Ikebukuro Station – the 2nd busiest in Japan.

Then it was off to the Tobu-Tojo line to get on a train to Kawagoe! I met up with Katherine and Jun at Mister Donut (I didn’t have any donuts, which is impressive given my mad love affair with that place), we met up with two other people, and then together we went to the supermarket to buy things to make nabe. You just can’t go wrong with a nabe party and the one we had was delicious, with several different kinds of mushroom, as well as pork and meatballs and green onion and cabbage and probably some stuff I’ve forgotten. It was so great. We also watched House Bunny, which is a really bad film that Jun is inexplicably obsessed with (about a Playboy bunny who becomes the house mother of a lame sorority – I do not lie), then put on Happy Feet, all while sitting around the kotatsu being warm, before the Wii came out.

Wii action, right here.

We played one of those Wii games that are basically a  ton of mini-games. Katherine and Jun have four Wii remotes, so we competed against each other, trading the remotes around every once in a while. I’m not much of a Wii person, so I watched more than played, but I did a few games. And kind of sucked at them. Some of those games are actually pretty hard – just because the graphics are simple and it’s all fairly basic motion, it can be hard to get the timing right. I’m just not coordinated enough for it.

It was a really fun evening! I stayed until a little past 11, then went back to Kawagoe Station to get the last train back to Ikebukuro. It was also a different kind of evening from what I’m used to in Matsuyama, because there was more Japanese than English. My speaking is lame, but my listening comprehension is pretty good, so I also got some decent practice in with what I refer to as “real person” Japanese. You know, the casual sort you use with your family and friends, as opposed to what foreigners learn in Japanese class. Real person Japanese is the sort you can’t really be taught – it just comes with exposure.

So that was Friday! Trains were ridden, hotels were found, and good times were had by all. Stay tuned for part two, which should be coming along this weekend. Ideally it won’t take five days this time. Yeah. That’d be good.

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One thought on “Tokyo Getaway: Part One

  1. It sounds like you had a lot of fun! The kiss on the cheek makes me wonder if the gentleman spent some time in Europe as well…

    I am looking forward to part two! 😀

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