Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Day 1- First day in Tokyo!

"Enjoy your fright."

Jetlag doesn't cover it. It feels like someone poisoned me and then duct taped me to a chair for 12 hours. We arrive in Tokyo via train. Quick & easy & super cheap. Dropped off bags and walked around Ueno Park until 2PM.

Ueno Park

Also there are many many people enjoying all of the Sunday activities in the park. Food, music, pedal boats on the lake, and of course the Temple. We catch a free drumming concert in the park. Japanese girls got MAD rhythm!

Beyond the park everything is a blur. Too many lights and colors & smells for people who have been awake for 24 hours. We get lost in the Ueno shopping paths. At some point we notice that we are the only foreigners.




We're starving. Very hard to pick a restaurant. No English anywhere! Some photos on menus. We somehow manage to pick a restaurant that has a menu with NO English & NO photos.


We are at the mercy of our really cute waiter. Works out fine. Lunch is sooo good. With miso soup and salad and what we come to call "poison tea". I swear it tastes like death, but everyone is drinking it, even feeding it to their babies.

The lunch total for 2 lunches is 1700 yen---12 euros. We are happy and go head back to the hotel. We both pass out. When we finally wake up---It's time to find food again! It's like hunting.

We go out.

ueno night

Walking through Tokyo at night is like being in a beautiful dream where no one speaks your language, but somehow you understand everything anyway. The lights in Tokyo make New York City seem down-right dull.


Dinner: we follow the plastic fake food samples to a great dinner for 1200 yen. Cheap food here! I accidentally order French Boy some liver. He eats it anyway. The French will eat damn near anything.


Deciphering Dinner Menu

After dinner coffee and cake at a coffee shop. I accidentally order French Boy the wrong coffee. He drinks it anyway.



Ordering food = lots of pointing and bowing and pointing and smiling and hoping for the best. Also---always hand the cashier money with both hands it's more polite & Japanese-like. DEEP SLEEP.

Day 2 - Surviving Jetlag in Tokyo

"I tried taking pictures, but they were so mediocre. "

We are still jetlagged but don’t know it yet. Breakfast and then wandering around Shibuya. The train takes forever, then we get lost underground in the metro. We finally make it out only to get lost above ground. It’s weird here! Shopping at 109 Shibuya building we cannot keep our jaws off the floor. I feel like a hillybilly on my first trip to the big city.






We spend all day wandering and just looking! Its like our eyes can’t take it all in fast enough. So much to see. Absolute joy for the eyeballs, but total overload for the brain. There is no time to even judge what you’re seeing just so much joy & color. So much color and giggling girls. Tokyo fashion makes us feel old.


The sun feels good here. The weather is perfect. For lunch we pick a random restaurant. More pointing & nodding at the menu for the waiter. Food not as good as yesterday, but we don’t care. Too tired to care. The two guys sitting across from us are slurping their noodles very loudly. French Boy refuses to slurp his noodles even though I tell him it is considered polite. We are exhausted.



Where the hell are all the foreigners? Everywhere we go we are the only non-Japanese. Or at least it feels that way. Finally we see more Black guys selling hip hop attire. One guy walks past French Boy and says “Hey what’s up.” I didn’t hear it though. There are so many people! Everywhere! All the time! Where do they all sleep at night? They must sleep in shifts.

We are so tired & jetlagged. On the way back to the hotel French Boy sleeps on the train like a drunken Japanese salary-man. He falls asleep again at the hotel. I wish I could sleep! Instead I obsess over dinner plans & realize that we spent too much time in Shibuya. Must budget time better.

French Boy wakes up---time for dinner. He says he needs meat. We search for beef.



A guy outside restaurant tells us they have an English menu and hands us a coupon so we go in. Menu arrives. The photos on the menu look good. English menu arrives. Oops--- I almost ordered a raw horsemeat salad. Also from the menu you can order "pig rectum" and "pig rectum with salt". That is just wrong. Note to self: ALWAYS ask for English menu. Drunk guy at the next table speaks English and chooses out entire meal for us so we don’t end up eating assholes. He chooses really yummy stuff for us.

I love the Japan.


North Korea does a nuclear test. World freaks out.


We pay for dinner and end up going for dessert at Mr. Donut. It’s MAD DIRTY in there! By Japanese standards it’s a toilet. But donuts are good and they have no rectums, assholes, or raw horsemeat in them. Also—everything else is closed now. Ueno sucks for nightlife.


We walk home happy. Stop at 7-11. I prefer the mini-mart closer to the hotel though because the every employee screams a greeting at you when you enter and the cashiers bow more---it’s more baller!

Day 3 - Walking In Tokyo

"For relaxing times, make it Suntory time."

We wake-up early and eat & still lose half the morning getting lost on the way to the f*cking Imperial Gardens. I wish I liked gardens. I am simply not impressed by controlled nature.

We sit down by the police checkpoint to check our map. I somehow manage to hit my head on one of the Emperor’s f*cking trees. (see photo below)

Screw this, I’m done. We leave.



Next we head to Electronic’s town—Akihibara---French Boy flips out on all the stuff they have in Japan that we cant get. My feet hurt something fierce. Actually I’m just tired in general.


We eat lunch at KFC---all other restaurants look scary. Clearly no one comes to this neighborhood for food. I refuse to buy a full meal out of a vending machine!


KFC bathroom is cleaner than our kitchen. The toilet scares me by doing all kinds of weird stuff. Has crazy wall remote that I’m scared to touch for fear of accidentally sodomizing myself or something.



We go baaaack to Shibuya after lunch just to try ONE last time to find the legendary 100 yen shop. No such luck. A police officer informs us that it’s gone, but we can find one in Ginza maybe. We will try next weekend maybe.




Still head back to 109 Shibuya & buy another pair of glassed. Now I have black & red. I look like a librarian. French Boy keeps calling me his school teacher.


Reservations at the Park Hyatt almost late for 10PM dinner reservation. Hotel & Restaurant are exactly like the movie. Wonderful. Note to self: Ambiance has EVERYTHING to do with lighting. This will come in handy in the near future. Lots of ideas for our new house. French Boy just wants a fancy Japanese ass-cleaning toilet.


Our fancy -schmancy dinner is decent. OH---and there was a cheesy “jazz” singer just like in the movie! The overall service was excellent but they screwed up 3 times on tiny things. (You notice the tiny things when you pay 20 euros for a side order of mashed potatoes.) The waitstaff remedied the situation by bowing until they were blue in the face. The head waiter offered to take our photo. Not bad!


And let's be honest, you pay for the view. The view from restaurant at night is absolutely amazing! Tokyo at night makes my heart flutter a bit. I swear. It never gets old. And at night you can truly enjoy the expansive nature of the city.

Tokyo seems to go on forever.


During my glass of dessert wine one of the drunken ladies at table behind us loses her wedding ring. They both start crawling around on all fours on the floor. One lady hits her head on my chair, then apologizes profusely.

I love Japan.

Day 4- in Tokyo

"You want more mysterious? I'll just try and think, 'Where the hell's the whiskey?'"

Argue Argue Argue. Catch train to Kyoto. I sleep on the train.


Arrive at hotel through Kyoto station. It is quite lovely!....and expensive. Everyone bows and bows & bows some more at us. We are almost embarrassed by all this hospitality.


Argue. Argue. Argue. We see the room has 2 beds. Argue---Fatigue is starting to get to us. We may murder each other soon.


I think I have a fever. My right nostril is clogged and my throat hurts. Damn airplane germs!

We decide to go out and walk around near the station. We find nothing except yet another pachinko/video game store and a store that sells glittery dresses for professional dance competitions.


I'm too sick. We head back to hotel room and order room service. When it arrives 2 other men are with the waiter. Apparently our smoke detector is sending a silent alarm signal to the front desk that we are on fire. But we are not on fire. Maybe it's my fever? Room service guy waits and translates as old guy removes his shoes, hops up on a chair and gives the alarm a wiggle. Am I hallucinating? Short circuit fixed. They all finally leave.


Train crash in between Luxembourg and France. Many people die. We call home to see what train it was. French Mother-in-Law says she can’t find the mailbox key.

We eat room service food while watching weird Japanese TV that is somehow still better than French TV. We agree to be nicer to eachother tomorrow. We fall asleep in the same twin-sized bed squeezed under one extra tiny, but extra fluffy duvet. We sleep really well.

No more arguing.

Day 5 - Food Adventures in Kyoto

"That was the worst lunch."
"The worst. What kind of restaurant makes you cook your own food?"


Much less arguing today. Wake up and have hotel breakfast buffet. French toast rocks ---even in Japan baby! We decide to do a walking tour of the Higashiyama area of Kyoto. We figure out where to buy bus tickets and the little old lady at the counter is adorable. Lots of pointing and bowing again. Hop on bus to ride to start of tour outside the city.


The walking tour is ALL uphill but still totally fun. Tiny little shops everywhere and many gorgeous pottery boutiques.


Aaaaaah---such a nice change from Tokyo! Silence, silence, and more silence….eventually smashed to pieces by HEARDS of uniformed Japanese school children. Most are wearing yellow hats.


French Boy is obsessed by the school children's uniforms and takes about 20 photos like a crazy stalker.



Next: Temple temple shrine shrine, Temple temple shrine shrine, Temple temple shrine shrine shriiiiiine!








We see Kimono girls at Kiyomizu Temple. I shop for gifts in s store full of school children who must be hopped up from sniffing glue.


I buy plastic numb chucks and a Katana made out of Fabric for our nephews…which we eventually decide to keep so we can hit eachother with them.


We smack the crap out of each other all day and make kung fu noises as we walk from temple to temple.


At one of the temples we meet a nice old Japanese lady who is from Kobe, a city close to Kyoto. She wants to practice her English so we chat with her. She asks how we like Japanese food. We say that we like some of it…..but apparently we jinxed ourselves with that response.


We stop at a crappy restaurant for lunch at around 1PM. We choose our food from the photos on the menu. French Boy’s food arrives and it looks like someone barfed up chicken gizzards onto rice then cracked a raw egg over the top of it. He eats some of it anyway.


The French will eat damn near anything. I didn’t taste it. It was a bit too “fear factor” for me. I eat my tempura and slurp my noodles. I give French Boy the rest of my tempura.


Walk walk & more walking.


I buy little tiny Nekko wind chimes and then waving nekko from a guy in a shop that has cats roaming around his tiny store. It makes me feel extra lucky. We will be rich! We finally make it to the last temple of the day---and they are closing in 15 minutes.
We see a few things then agree to come back tomorrow. Jump back on bus to go to crazy shopping district for dinner. After lunch eating adventure French Boy needs real food. American food. We eat cheeseburgers and chili fires at Wendy’s ---and actually enjoy it.


After dinner we walk and look around until our eyes just cant take in any more! We go for coffee. Walk & walk to bus top. French Boy and I decide that its hard to tell the girls from the guys sometimes. Everyone is tiny with big 80’s hairdos. We catch the bus home. I wash my socks in the sink. French Boy snores. My feet hurt. Goodnight.