Sunday, 6 April 2008

Oki-na Gaijin, Chisai-na Kuni (Big Foreigner, Small Country) #6

March 25 - Shibuya, Harajuku and Akihabara

After breakfast, Colleen and I headed to some intense shopping. I'm finding that my Japanese has come back quite a bit over the past few days and dealing with people in stores and restaurants has been great practice.

The first place we went to was Shibuya 109 - I think it's named that because there are 109 different little stores in it! It's a teen girl's shopping dream of both cheap and expensive clothes and accessories. Unfortunately for Colleen, she's gaijin-sized and so, didn't fit most of the the clothes.

Then, onto the busy streets of Shibuya. There are very fancy stores like Louis Vuitton, Prada, and more but Colleen was more interested in great deals.

We stopped at Wendy's as Colleen was missing North American food and ended up with a shrimp burger. Hmmm.

We then went to Takeshite Dori - and this was the kind of shopping that Colleen loved. Crowded, noisy, tons of stores - it was a great Tokyo experience! I even bought a couple things.

Unfortunately there were no dressed up girls at Harajuku Station when we got there but Colleen still enjoyed the experience immensely.

We headed towards the Meiji Shrine but, unfortunately, a bird shared a little joy with Colleen's head so after a quick wash of the hair, it was back on the train.

We headed for that bastion of consumer electronics, Akihabara. I thought I'd lost my subway ticket so I had to pay ¥160 but luckily I found it in my cell phone and was promptly reimbursed.

Akihabara was almost as good as last time and almost as crowded. We went to the Tokyo Anime Centre which was OK but the highlight (for Colleen) was the store.

We then had a nice coffee break where the people watching was excellent, a stop at Yodobashi Camera, and then back to the station.

I think the highlight was when we had our photo taken with some girls dressed up on the street.

Back at Kinshicho station, Yoichi and Keiko met us and we walked into Kinshicho park to look at the Sakura. This time of year is very special in Japan. The cherry blossoms, or sakura, are in bloom and the even of their blooming is called Hanami. Hanami means flower viewing.

We then headed to Yoichi's sister's house which was bitter-sweet. It was great to see his sister and her husband after so many years but is was sad because she has liver cancer. She was up today, though, and we had a very nice visit. Her husband's nick name is Ando-san which means Mr. Ando because when he speaks English, he always says "ando" between words.

We all then went the an Izakaya which is a traditional Japanese bar restaurant. The variety of food that I'd never had before was amazing! I really liked this Japanese version of what looked like a corn dog - it was made from pork and you dipped it in raw egg - oishi (delicious)! There was lots more oshinko (pickled stuff), too. To finish off, we had the biggest o-nigiri (rice ball) I've ever seen in my life! It was like a whole extra meal!

After saying goodbye to Yoichi's sister and Ando-san, we headed home. That was good for Colleen as the smoke in the bar - between the cooking and the fact that almost everyone was smoking in a small place - really bothered her eyes.

All in all, another great day.

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