在东京 (Letters to Niwako)
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I’m done with the talk! I’m free now. Actually the conference is not bad with an amazing visual art exhibition, an animation festival, and lots of galleries. Pretty fun to watch. And it finally makes me feel I’m doing something pleasant (to the eye at least).
So I decided to treat myself after tonight’s animation festival and went to a family restaurant. I ordered this fancy ice-cream (kind of Japanese style with sweet red beans, the 芦荟 stuff and the sticky rice stuff. It costs me 500 yen, but yummy.
I’m heading to Sugamo tomorrow afternoon. Still don’t have a detailed plan of what to do yet. Figured I’ll just walk around Sugamo and do some trip planning tomorrow.
Hope you are done with your stuff too. Looks like CU is still freaking cold 🙂
After a very rushed planning (or no planning) I was out on my way checking out THE TOKYO CITY today. I started from 淺草, and continued to Ueno Park and National Tokyo Museum. Then a walk in the gardens of Imperial Palace. By 4:30pm I was back in that 地藏通商店街 just outside of my hotel, hunting for good dessert and food.
All places are cool. Well Ueno Park seems to be a bit surprise to me. It is actually more depressing than I imagined with homeless people wandering around and a huge gathering of old old people (don’t know what they were doing, looks like a religious gatherings or free food giveaway?). 淺草寺 is very fun to visit. A lot of interesting stuff to see. And the palace is unexpectedly quiet. I never thought there will be such quiet places in Tokyo. Then I wanted to go shopping in Akihabara, but found my legs were sore already, so I hopped on a train back to Sugamo.
You know what, so far my favorite place has been the 地藏通 shopping street in Sugamo! it’s hilarious with so many old ppl. And they even have a couple stores that specialize in red underwears! That is so funny. The temple was visited by so many ppl and looks cool with a wall of lanterns. I had my dinner in a random restaurant on the street, and ended up having a random dish ’cause the only kanji in the menu is “北海道” and “定食”. So I figured it might be a fish bento. Waitress don’t speak a word of English. The dish turned out to be pretty good. It was something like the “pork stuff” except pork is replaced by the fish. Was a nice experience eating in a real Japanese restaurant for Japanese ppl. (I expected it to be cheaper ’cause it’s in Sugamo, but unfortunately not. It still costs me around 700 yen). After that I bought some dessert from random vendors, including those 紫芋 stuff and 盐大福. I even bought some strawberries and 柿 considering I didn’t have real fruit for a couple of days.
Anyway it was just a chillin’ day with sightseeing and wandering around. Tomorrow I plan to throw myself in Harajuku and Shibuya for shopping and sightseeing and probably a couple museums in Harajuku area. If I’m still able to walk by the end of the day I’ll just have a look in those areas at night. After tomorrow I’ll hit Shinjuku for a whole day’s shopping. If that still doesn’t kill me I’ll maybe go to Akihabara for my last afternoon in Tokyo (I’m leaving evening 22nd).
Great experience. And end of my report, day 1. 🙂
So 2nd day was not as fruitful. I went to Harajuku and Shibuya in the hope of seeing teenage gangs in weird costumes. But I was out of luck. I went to the Meiji Shrine nearby, visited a 浮世绘 museum where you had to take off your shoes, some indie record stores, and had a walk in 竹下通. Harajuku was oh so crowded. Being a Chinese I thought I was immune to crazily crowded places, but this time I was still surprised. I have never have seen so many people on a normal sunday afternoon.
Then I went to Shibuya for some random shopping. And it turns out things sold at those dept stores are either crazy in price or crazy in style. I guess I’m too old for Shibuya (BTW I did see a few girls with overly done eyelashes/liners and jawdropping outfits in Shibuya). I just bought a scarf in Muji.
At night I thought I should go out see Tokyo at night (that’s what the city is famous for, isn’t it). So I hopped on the loop train and got off at the station close to Tokyo tower. Turns out it was not as spectacular as I’d expected. So I rambled for a while and went back.
The third day was fun again. I went to Shinjuku solely for shopping. And I ended up carrying three huge bags back to the tiny little apartment I was staying at. It was way over my budget, but I think it was worth it (See, how happy a person can be when he completely emerges himself into consumerism). Also got theskincare stuff to satisfy my mom.
Shinjuku looks amazing at night. It’s been a while since the last time I saw neon light flash like crazy. Was nice back in a real city again.
As a side note, today I did find someone that speaks understandable English. It was the Shiseido rep at a pharmacy. She even described to me what the skincare stuff is like and how popular it is in English. Interesting. But today’s English speaking award goes to a waitress in a random restaurant. She asked me “eat in or take out” and then “here is the menu in English” with very little Asian accent! Just as I secretively wowed, she started to talk to her fellow waitress in Chinese…. So she must be a college student doing her part time job I guess. And college students should at least speak some English. And most ppl I interacted with are waitress, front desk staff, random highschool girls and cashiers. And most likely they are not college educated. Does my theory make sense?
Alright, time to pack up (again). Got to get up early tomorrow. The checkout time is at 10am (ahh…). The hotel is nice and cozy, I like it (well except for the early checkout time). Did I mention I’m lovin’ Sugamo too?
I was wondering where to go. And out of the blue I was taking a stroll in Ueno Zoo. Surprise surprise. 🙂 It was fun! I haven’t been to a zoo for like 20 years. It brought me sweet sweet memories. I love the unexpected ending to my trip in Japan.
Then I went back to Sugamo to pick up my luggage. I had one last visit to that 地藏通 shopping street. I saw smiling buddhas, burning incense, travelling monks, and so many grandmas pass by. All of a sudden nostalgia was in the air. I thought of all the young girls with heavy makeups talking and laughing in Shibuya. One day they’ll end up in 地藏通 saying their prayers to Buddha, shopping for a lucky red underwear. It’s only time.
December 27th, 2009 at 11:26 pm
picture tells better…