Japan Trip Day 7


THE DAY IN A NUTSHELL:USA: November 12, 2003: Wednesday
Japan: November 13, 2003: Thursday

        • Took the train to Tokyo to see the Meiji Shrine.
        • Ate kaitenzushi with Mom and Patricia.
        • Went to Asakusa.
        • Went shopping in the Senso temple’s street of shops.
        • Ate at an okonomiyaki restaurant.
        • Took the train back and met Michelle at the izakaya again.
        • Packed for leaving the next day.(Technically the next day:)
          USA: November 13, 2003: Thursday
          Japan: November 14, 2003: Friday
        • Rode the bus and saw Mt. Fuji.
        • Shopped in the airport.
        • Went through security and boarded.
        • Transferred in Chicago and arrived in Tampa!


Our last day in Japan began with a sort of disappointment: We found out that my sister had been misinformed about where the Sumo was to take place, so it was too far away to go see it. We’d seen a little on TV, though. We went to see the area where she used to live when she went to Waseda, and we found some nice places to shop, though our last ditch effort to find a DDR machine was also unsuccessful. So I didn’t get to play Japanese DDR. 🙁 Patricia got Starbucks.



Meiji Shrine Entrance


Trees at Meiji

We wandered around the shrine a while, looking at the merchandise and at the beautiful grounds. I lost my umbrella. I don’t really know much about what the shrine was dedicated to except that it has something to do with a certain emperor and his family. You can find out more here at this external link about it.

My mom hadn’t had kaitenzushi yet and Patricia desperately wanted her to try it, so we ducked into a place. My mother liked this too, and I got to try a “begetarian” roll that unfortunately had some cucumber in it that I didn’t like. We got a little snack (and my mother got a Coke), and then it was off to Asakusa.


Senso Temple





Time for the Senso Temple. My sister wanted us to eat age-manju, and they were pretty good but I couldn’t eat a whole one because it was just too much fried batter and crap. I found a BUNCH of cool souvenirs in this place, because the whole street leading up to the Temple is totally lined with shops. A lot of them sell food of the snack and candy variety, and one really nice shopkeeper kept following me around offering me samples whenever I expressed interest in something (so I kinda felt obligated to buy something from him, which I did). We took a look at the guardians outside the temple and looked at the temple itself, and the cool lanterns and the lit-up Pagoda. It was all very cool, but it was now time to eat okonomiyaki.







Cultural Note:

Okonomiyaki is kind
of known as the “Japanese
pizza,” but it isn’t really.
It means you mix whatever
you want in a bowl, cook it,
add seasonings, cut it up,
and eat it. It was tough
for us to find ingredient
combinations that only had


I enjoyed the experience of making okonomiyaki, though it wasn’t one of my favorite food experiences. I preferred the one I cooked–I think it was like corn and cheddar–to the other, which had peppers in it. In any case, we ate all our food (and ordered a bottle of wine, which I didn’t touch), and we had just gotten some of our pictures developed so we looked at them. We chatted about health and food in Japan, and then it was time to head back.

On the way back, my mom’s foot was pretty bad so we sat in the disabled seating so that she would be guaranteed a seat. (Actually, Patricia and I held the rings in front of the seats.) Two elderly ladies started talking about us in Japanese, wondering if we were students and sisters and commenting on my amazing blonde hair. My sister just interjected, “Do you have a question about us?” and of course they were shocked that she understood them. “We heard you speaking so fluently in English,” one said, “and assumed you wouldn’t understand what we were saying.” Heh.

Then my mom got to meet Michelle, at the izakaya. She really liked that place, and willingly ate a bunch of good stuff. I ordered some fries, having missed my potatoes during my stay in Japan. (They’re very non-cheese, non-potatoes-eating people for the most part, unless you go to the fast food restaurants where they’re trying to be American.) I had a Kahlua ice cream thing instead of the green drink (though my sister and Michelle ordered their “Sexy” and “Recharge” again). I have determined that I should not drink alcohol. I fell asleep on the table again.


Sorting gifts


After leaving the izakaya, there was really no time for sleep because we had to leave REALLY early in the morning to catch a bus that only runs to the airport four times a day. I slept for about half an hour after packing up the stuff, and my mom didn’t sleep at all. Our plans to get a taxi fell through–none were OUT that early, it was still dark!–but Patricia’s friend Ed helped us and we made it to the bus.


Sunrise on the bus

Leaving Narita Airport

Once on the bus, we saw some really nice scenery, including a vague Mt. Fuji and a nice sunrise. We ate a Japanese pear Patricia had brought (called nashi), and I slept a bit. Then we got to the airport and hung out for a very long time, shopping in the souvenir stores and wasting the day until the flight was ready to board.


We left


Finally, we said our goodbyes and got on the plane. I had a fantastic time, of course, although I was planning to see Patricia in another month or so from the time we left so I wasn’t thinking I’d have much time to start missing her. She took a picture of our behinds as we left, though.



The flight back was VERY comfortable, for some reason–my mother and I got seats all alone, and I was able to sleep for most of the flight (though I hadn’t wanted to, I’d wanted to work on the calendar more). The food on this flight was fantabulous too (when I was awake for it); there was some unidentifiable stuffing-ish rice thing that was soooo good, I thought I’d just die, it was great. I wish I knew what the heck it was.

Our transfer in Chicago and ride back to Tampa were uneventful (though tiring and annoying, we had to go through customs). We arrived back in one piece, and were grateful to get back to the house, unpack, and do laundry. I didn’t go to sleep for a long time because of all the sleep I had on the plane, but eventually I did go to bed.

I think my favorite things about the visit, besides seeing my sister, were the great food at the soba shop and the sushi place, and the Japanese karaoke. I also loved shopping in Tokyo. My least favorite part was having to ride the train so much, especially when I had no seat and was tired, and having to lug a heavy backpack when my back hurt (sometimes my mother ended up rescuing me from it), and the really awful cold and rainy weather. But I am so glad I got to see where and how my sister was living, and finally got to leave the country I’ve lived in all my life, even if it was just for a little while.

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