August 19, 2007

Extremely late coming, I apologize and here it goes. We left the capsule hotel around 10:00am in the morning and trekked over to the second and final ryokan we would stay in on the part of our trip in Tokyo; Katsutaro Ryokan. It was also located in Ueno but on the opposite side of Ueno Koen (Ueno Park). We crossed through the JR Ueno station and entered the park. We had to go Northwest to get to the Ryokan but Ueno Koen is pretty large and confusing, add on that the maps inside of the park don’t have compass directions. Needless to say, it took us a while to find our way to Katsutaro Ryokan, but when we did we basked in the glory of a working air conditioner (the capsule did not have a climate control or AC and the fan that it did have didn’t keep it that cool).

After cooling off, taking showers, and getting ready we headed out to Shinjuku because on the weekends they shut down the roads to cars and there are street performers. We got to the station and first headed to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office. Inside of the office the general public is allowed to ride an express elevator to the top floor of the building, which displays a great view of the city and, on a clear day, Mt. Fuji. We then went back, watched a few street performers and ate at a “kaiten sushi” restaurant for lunch.

Kaiten Sushi restaurants are unique in that you sit at a bar, more or less, and there is a conveyor belt that is on top of that bar containing many different plates of sushi. The plates are of different colors, the colors denoting the price of the sushi that rests upon them. You then take what sushi you want, keep the plates and when you are finished the waitress calculates how much you owe from the collection of plates that you have in front of you. I tried many different types of sushi that I probably would not have tried otherwise because of them being prepared individually, and learned that while Otoro (the “best” type of tuna) is expensive, I do not like it.

From Shinjuku we went to Harajuku. In Harajuku on the weekends teenagers, and sometimes older, do what is called cosplaying. Cosplaying is a Japanese combination of two English words: “Costume” and “Roleplaying”, which is exactly what they do. A lot of times they will dress up as their favorite band’s members, sometimes as anime or manga characters, or just in really elaborate costumes of the punk, gothic, lolita (or another Japanese creation: gothloli) outfits. They basically compete for attention and walk around desiring to have their picture taken because they have put a lot of time and effort into their appearance.

We split up because I wanted to try and get a cellphone (the key word there is try) and I didn’t want to hinder my friends’ travel. I won’t describe what happened in the cellphone shop for two reasons. 1; It really is frustrating and an irritating memory and 2; I successfully obtained a cellphone later so I will describe it in that post. While I was having a hard time in Harajuku my friends had a great time going back to Akihabara which one of them will describe in the first podcast episode (when I finally get that up, I will describe those problems later -_- ). We rejoined back at the hotel, another full day under our belt.

Next time I will try to get out more, now that I have finally settled into my living situation and have (semi)reliable internet. I apologize for it taking me so long to get this post out but in the next couple of days I want to get the rest of the Tokyo and Tohoku trip on here, we’ll see how that goes. Until then!