Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Days 7 and 8- 3/11 and 3/12- Sumo District, Asakusa, Ginza and Akihabara

I know everyone was probably wondering what happened to the rest of my Japan trip journal? Well, after finally recovering from jet lag, going back to work and in general an emotional rollercoaster- I am finally ready to document the last two days of our trip. I guess we hardly took photos after the earthquake, so I really don't have that many pictures to share, so I'll do my best with what I have to tell you about what we did on those two days. First, Paul's friend Randy and wife Etsuko invited us to lunch- Yakiniku style. The restaurant (I think) was located near the Sumo District- but not sure what the name of the district was. The restaurant wasn't open yet, so we decided to go to Don K! I swear, they have the best snacks. If you are looking for some good old Japanese snacks, this is the best place to go! We bought more than we should have, but scored when I found Sweet Secret! Do you know what that is? Its little chocolate eggs with candy inside and each one has a different kind of candy. One has a strawberry star, one an egg, one has heart candy and I can't remember the rest. What a good find! After Don K!, we went back to the restaurant and they were open. I was fascinated by their technology. Maybe its just cause I live in Hilo, but I've never seen such sophisticated ordering systems. Here you see Etsuko ordering the food for our all you can eat- 90 min time limit food fest. Thank goodness they were there to order since Paul and I would not have know what to do. On the other hand, not sure if that was a good idea since I never got a straight answer whenever I asked what I was eating. Found out later we ate tongue (I can hear Les laughing now) and something that was really gummy- like fat. Etsuko thought it was called "foreskin"?, but Randy corrected her and said "hormone". Hmmmmm, although hormone sounds better than foreskin, I'm not sure I really want to know if it was either of those. After that, I didn't ask what we were eating and just ate. OK- so we forgot to take a photo at the restaurant, so we took a quick one on the side of the road outside of the train station. Here's us with Etsuko... And here we are with Randy... After we left the Fernandez's, we thought about going straight to Puroland, but decided against it since they had given us a lot of omiyage, plus all the stuff we bought, and DH forgot his jacket and Randy said it might snow that night. So we went back to the hotel to drop off our stuff and grab Paul's jacket, but the maid was cleaning our room at the time, so we couldn't get in. All of the other rooms on our floor were wide open, except ours. I think she still had our key, so we went back to the lobby to wait. After about 1/2 hour, she came down with the key so we headed up to the room. Of course DH had to login and not sure what he was checking- maybe the subway map for the Puroland route. We started discussing our plans and DH suggested we start heading towards Puroland, but I told him that it was late and by the time we would get there, we'd only have about 1 1/2 hours there, which didn't seem worth the price of admission to me, so I told him we could go somewhere else. Anyway, I'll never forget his face as I looked as his reflection in the mirror (I was sitting on the bed behind him), as his eyes got really wide. At first I didn't know why he was making that face at me, but then I too felt the shaking. It started off slow, but gradually got faster and the whole hotel started to sway back and forth. We grabbed our bags and headed to the hallway, where we saw the maid. She kept saying "sugoi" and laughing nervously. Needless to say all my reasonable thinking went out the door and I just froze. After what seemed like an eternity, the shaking finally stopped and we decided it was OK to try to get out of there... yup took the stairs 7 floors down and saw the other maids walking back up. We also saw a lot of people in the street waiting to see if it was OK to go back in. I think somehow my DH managed to post something on facebook before we left and grabbed the computer in case we could connect somewhere else besides our hotel room. I wasn't about to stay in the room, so we headed down the street to the shopping area. I figured better to be with everyone else, that way I can do as they do. Since we were in the Nakamise area again, I decided to go back to the Washi store again! Yes, as I was pulling out paper, there was an aftershock- a quite large one. So we all ran out of the store. I saw everyone going in the middle of the street, so we followed. There was a police box in front near the street and one of the officers made an announcement. Everyone just stayed in the middle of the street until the shaking stopped, then another announcement was made and everyone walked back into the shops. I just followed everyone- totally clueless. Went back into the store and bought my paper. Dum yah? The rest is kind of a blur. I think we tried to go down to the subway to go to Ginza, but left when we saw everyone just standing around in the station. I had a bad feeling after that. Never seen people hanging around a subway station before. We decided to walk back to the hotel to find out what was going on and stayed in the lobby for quite awhile as DH tried to get our computer online. The connection was junk to regular sites but for some reason we were able to get onto Skype and just so happened my MIL was online, so we were able to chat with her. She seemed very relieved to see that we were OK. Then we sent out emails/facebook messages to everyone back home and tried to find out what was happening in Japan. We found out there was a tsunami warning, and then got really worried. As I sat in the lobby area, I watched the Hotel Manager place a sign on the outside of the hotel. Then as people walked up to the hotel, some turned around after they saw the sign. Some didn't see the sign and ended up walking in, talking to the front desk clerk, then turning around. None of them had suitcases, so I finally figured out that they were trying to get rooms for the night. We guessed that none of the trains/subways were running, so they were stranded. I felt really bad for everyone that got turned away and hoped they were able to find another hotel. On the upside, I felt a little relief that they were trying to get a room at our hotel, which probably meant that we didn't need to evacuate. Let me tell you how scary it is to see so many people walking in one direction! I kept asking Paul if we were supposed to evacuate, but he said he thought we were ok for now. I decided to keep an eye on the front desk clerk- if she left, I would be right behind her. After a few hours, we decided to go back out and try to find some food before walking up the 7 floors to our room. We found an ono katsu place and decided to have a beer to help us relax. Glad I did since I don't think I would've been able to sleep otherwise. Here's a picture of my dinner that night. The tonkatsu was actually better than the shrimp. I don't know if you can tell from the next photo, but this was one of the many bus stops on our route to the restaurant. There were so many people in line- like blocks long... trying to find a way home. I felt really bad for them since some of the busses that pulled up were already full. We headed back to the hotel after dinner and tried to figure out what the Japan News was reporting. We were tripping out at what happened as we saw video of the Tsunami. The next day was our last day in Japan. We were scheduled to return home that night to Hawaii, but had no idea if we'd be able to get home. We tried calling Hawaiian, but had problems, so continued to check their website for updates. It appeared that it was still scheduled, so we decided to keep checking to see if the flight from Hawaii flew out on time. Since we had a whole day, DH asks me if I want to go to Puroland. Uh- No! Puroland is about 1 hour by train outside of Tokyo, so I had no desire. I wanted to stay as close as possible to our hotel. We didn't know if the subways were running anyway, so we went to one of the stations. It looked like it was working, so we decided to head to Ginza to see if that Toy Park was open. Ginza was not that far away and we probably could've walked if worse came to worse. I guess Ginza opens later, so many stores were not open when we got there. Don K! was open, so we bought more of that instant sushi. The Toy Park was not open and we later found out that they weren't planning on opening. So much for our cool omiyage we wanted to get. Oh well- maybe next time. Before we left Ginza, I really wanted to try this cool donut looking thing.... The outside was like a donut, but the inside was layers and layers of cake.. soooo good! People were in line before the store opened for this. We had no idea if it was good, but should have taken the cue from everyone standing in line. Duh! Anyway, we decided to try the smaller pieces (outside pieces) of the regular one and the chocolate one. OMG! This was sooooo good! Sorry, I have no idea what the name is or the name of the department store. All I can tell you is that you can see them making it from the street, which is why I was attracted to it. Its right near the Yamaha store. I wish I brought back more. Definitely on my to get for next time. After Ginza, we had some time, so we headed to Akihabara. I think this is the only photo we took there. Frankly we didn't have that much fun there. We went into one big department store, but didn't get anything. Also went into a porn shop without knowing it was a porn shop. Gotta be careful when they have anime characters in the front of the store. Some of them are not that innocent. Went back to Asakusa to try to get one last age-manju and find something to eat. I've been meaning to get a shot of the rickshaws and finally got one- but not so good since he was facing the wrong way. Those guys were really aggressive and would come up to us to ask us if we wanted a ride. We laughed and told them that they would not be able to lift us since we are too heavy. I give them credit since most of them are really skinny. Finally decided on udon as our last meal and had our last age-manju. Boy will I miss that! We brought some home, but its just not the same. After that, we headed back to the hotel and asked for help in calling a taxi. Our strategy was to take a taxi to the monorail station and then take the monorail to the airport. So far it seemed like our flight was going out and the airport was not closed. As much as I loved Tokyo, I really wanted to get home to Akemi. The thought of not seeing her again was scary and I was ready to do anything to get home. Once I got to the airport and checked in I felt much better. We got there so early that I checked out some of the shops. Found this wasabi Kit Kat that Randy recommended we bring back, so I got some for the boys back home. They said it was mild tasting- I didn't try, but took a photo for you to see. Weird how we had to go all the way to Japan to get something American. I really really enjoyed our trip to Japan and can't wait to go back again. We were very lucky throughout our trip and feel very fortunate to have returned home safely. We continue to pray for the people of Japan and hope that all the tragedy comes to an end soon so they can start rebuilding. To our friends- Randy and Etsuko, please stay safe! And for those of you who have family and friends there, our thoughts and prayers are with you. Hope you enjoyed our earth shaking adventure!


Lani ^_^ said...

The further I got along in your post the more I tought "mmmm foreskin" Did it taste good? Anyway. I think if I had been in an earthquake like you guys I would've been in the middle of fhe streets all hysterical. Probably crying and screaming. I started reading all that stuff about the nuclear power plant and its pretty scary. I hope everything turns out ok over there! :S Soooo glad you guys came back safe. I don't want to run anymore performances alone again!

Islander Girl said...

Despite the tragedy that happen, you had an awesome trip! So glad that you are home safely!

Weird thing, we were suppose to be in Japan around this time also. But w/budget cuts it was canceled. I' so thankful it was!

Were you able to get the Green Tea Kit Kats? They're my favorite! I think I have all the flavors in my fridge in my garage...LOL!

Cami said...

What an experience, Jenny! So glad you folks came home safely and didn't run into problems. I really enjoyed reading your journal on your trip to Japan. One can never get enough as there are many places to visit, lots of interesting food and innovative things, millions of black heads bobbing up and down the train stations. You made me hungry, too! Akihabara is a fun place to shop for bargains with all those stalls...used to be the black market area. Now I have to look for part 1 of your journey! Hugs, Cami

Jodi said...

That's so awesome that you were able to go to Japan.. glad to hear your trip was a safe one!!
Oh I tried that Wasabi candy, it's actually pretty good.. not hot or spicy at all.
Hope you have a great day!

eunice said...

Thanks for sharing your Japan experiences with us, I really enjoyed reading about your trip, altho it was scary and sad to read about the tragedy of the earthquake and all that followed. So glad that you made it home safely!