Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"no dead bodies"

Woke up early at the Asakusa View Hotel. The view was amazing, and there was a view from all angles in the hotel. We grabbed breakfast and headed to the Tsujiki Fish Market. There were people and shops everywhere. People were selling everything from tea to knives, shark skin graters to t-shirts, fresh fish to fresh ginger. We walked around all morning - shooting & exploring. We bought some tea, watched a man filet a fish, and met a guy named Andrew. It was a busy morning, but it was probably one of the most visually interesting mornings of the whole trip. And if it hadn't sunk in yet that we were in Japan, it definitely sunk in that morning.

We grabbed lunch at a conveyor belt sushi place. It was pretty awesome picking out whatever you wanted from in front of you. I was a bit hesitant at first so Tsuyoshi started picking up dishes and then would give me a piece to try. After a little bit of that, I just dove right in. It was all so good.

After lunch, we headed back to Asakusa and spent the day shopping and hanging around the temple. Jeri bought some rose flavored ice cream and we met a Japanese woman who spoke a little bit of English. We talked with her, her daughter and her two grandchildren for a little while. While saying our goodbyes, she pulled out 3 origami figures that she had made and gave them to Cindy for the three of us (Jeri, Cindy & I). It was our first experience with the extreme generosity of the Japanese people. And every day thereafter we would experience someone or something like this that would remind us what a special place we were in.

We hung around outside the temple and we ended up buying temple books - basically you get your book stamped at every temple that you go to until your book is filled. There was one older man there who had a huge temple book. It was completely filled with stamps and it was so big that he carried it around with him in a small rolling suitcase! He attempted to explain his experience with the book to Jeri, thinking that she could speak Japanese, but obviously the weight of the conversation was lost on us.

That night we were going to Kanazawa on a sleeper train. The train left at 11pm and arrived at Kanazawa at 6:30am. We were leaving from Ueno - another area of Tokyo - so we headed there to grab dinner & head to our next destination. At the Ueno station the group convinced me to repack and try to downsize for the long leg of the trip. Somehow I managed to get the things I needed into my smaller suitcase, and this concluded repack #1.

That night we headed to the Ueno station to eat dinner and that is where I first fell in love with Ramen. Ramen in Japan is nothing like the Ramen that I knew. It is absolutely amazing and delicious. We ordered this Ramen out of a vending machine that would shoot receipts out at us and that we would then hand to the waitress. At dinner we talked about our day and told Tsuyoshi of our temple books. To our surprise, he had no idea what we were talking about! We explained the concept to him assuming that this was a popular thing, but he still had no idea. Eventually (a few days later) we found out that the temple books were legit, but for a while it was a funny topic of conversation since everyone thought that we had been had!

After dinner we wandered around a bit and ended up at this park area that had a great view of Ueno. We all sat there and took in the view for a good half hour and the break was definitely needed since it was the first time since we got there where all we had to do was wait.

We headed back to the Ueno station to regrab our luggage and head off to Kanazawa. It was at this point that we realized that I couldn't leave my extra luggage for more than 3 days - which was not enough time. So I then attempted repack #2. Poor Scott only had one bag (onebag.com) but he ended up helping the rest of us who had packed way too much.

After getting on the train I spent the next hour attempting repack #3 at Cindy's suggestion. The two of us spent the next hour or two giggling about just exactly what was in my suitcase (10 packs of puffs plus, 6 hand sanitizers, 8 packages of crackers, a bag of pretzels, and a partridge in a pear tree) and it ended up being another funny topic of conversation for the rest of the trip.

Cindy went for a 6 minute shower and came back exasperated. Apparently, she missed the shower area and after wandering for "what seemed like forever" she knocked on the conductor's door - at which point a confused conductor led a desperate Cindy to the shower. On the way back, even more confused about where she was she headed back to what she thought was her room. The door was shut and Cindy, thinking that it had accidentally locked behind her, starting banging on my door trying to get me to open up and let her in. Well, after a minute or so that little door opened and when she saw that the luggage inside wasn't mine, she made a run for it! I still giggle just thinking about it! Cindy is such a character and she has made this trip so wonderful and fun.

We headed to bed at around 1am and woke up to the sound of the conductor's voice and some awful wannabe lullaby...


chumly said...

The elle bag thing kinda freaked me out.

Kristen said...

I love the blog! Your photos are great. It sounds like an amazing trip! I know what you mean about the generosity of the Japanese. In 2nd grade I had a Japanese best friend (visiting the USA for a year while her dad was working here), and any time her family came over, even for a few minutes, they brought us some kind of neat present. Can't wait to see/hear more of your trip! Love you!