Japan Trip Day 5

[daibutsu toon]

THE DAY IN A NUTSHELL:USA: November 10, 2003: Monday
Japan: November 11, 2003: Tuesday

        • Checked out of the hotel and went to the bus station.
        • Took a bus to the Daibutsu.
        • Went to the Hase Kannon Temple.
        • Ate at another noodle restaurant.
        • Took a train to Shibuya.
        • Met Yuichi at a ramen shop.
        • Did karaoke and sticker pictures again.
        • Had a really tiring train ride back.


I woke up in the middle of the night because I’d gone to sleep so early, and eventually I got up and took a shower, then did my hair in cute little buns and put on one of the yukata for the heck of it. I was really sad that I’d missed the chance to hang out in the hotel room with my family for a leisurely evening.



Patricia fixing my yukata

Me in yukata

Patricia in yukata

Tea in yukata

Tea in yukata

Tea in yukata

After my family got up, my sister showed me the proper way to wear a yukata (depending on if you’re a man or a woman, it’s worn differently) and helped me adjust its length, and we took some cute pictures and had some tea. Then finally we packed our stuff and checked out of the hotel.

We stopped at a convenience store and a few nice shops while we were wandering around looking for the bus station. I got some melon bread but I didn’t eat it yet. Soon we rode the bus to another part of Kamakura, where the big Buddha is, and when we got off I ate my melon bread. That was very exciting to me.



Melon pan

Finally we made it to the attraction of the area: Daibutsu. He was a HUGE Buddha statue that was hollow inside, and you can go in him if you want. We admired him and shopped in the temple shops (which sold Daibutsu merchandise and little safety charms), and looked at the little attractions like the Buddha’s incense thing and his huge shoes. It was awful and rainy outside, but we managed to have fun.



Daibutsu’s shoes




Mom & Ivy at Daibutsu

Incense at Daibutsu

Next on the agenda was the Hase Kannon temple, where the figure of honor is Kannon, the Bodhisattva of Infinite Mercy. We got to see her and the huge garden of tiny statues called jizo. Those little statues stand for the patron saint of departed children, and if you want to honor a dead child you can go there and put clothes on one of the statues. It’s sad and touching to look at the statues.







There were several other attractions at the Kannon Temple. One was a system of grottos where you could light candles or burn incense toward certain statues for certain results or buy a tiny statue and write your wish on it to leave in the cave. (The grotto was dedicated to Benzaiten, a goddess of beauty and wealth.) Then there was a big wooden holder of some Buddhist scriptures, and you can push it around in one rotation to get wisdom. And of course there was the statue of Kannon herself. We looked at that as well.



Turn for wisdom

Turn for wisdom

Turn for wisdom

There was a cool wall of places to hang wooden plaques with wishes and prayers on them (you could buy a plaque for 500•), and we read some of the other people’s wishes. (Patricia said that she’d once seen one that said, “I wish for my cat to not be constipated.” My mom joked that she would buy one and write on it, “I wish for my 500 • back.”)



Fish pond

Nice pond


We saw a cool graveyard and some nice swimmy fish on some temple grounds, and finally we decided it was lunchtime. We got on the bus again, made it back to the train station, and ate at a cool noodle restaurant near there. I had udon this time, while my mom had tempura. We stayed there way too long, then decided to go on to our next destination: Shibuya.



We went shopping around in Shibuya, including a store called 109. (A mannequin somewhere looked just like me, as you see above.) We saw some cool electronics and whatnot, and then everything started closing so we decided it was time to check out the ramen shop. As an extra bonus, Patricia’s boyfriend was able to take a break from work to come see us, so he met us at the shop too.



Ramen restaurant

Ramen restaurant



Cultural Note:

Ramen in a ramen
restaurant is nothing
like the “ramen” you
buy in dry packages in
the U.S. It tastes much
better and usually comes
with meat of some kind in
it. But unfortunately,
unlike sobaramen
is not very good for you.


We did sticker pictures again, all four of us. They really love those machines.


[purikura 1]  [purikura 2] 
Then my mom and Yuichi went downstairs to play with games while my sister and I took some sisters-only pics. This machine was cute because they showed you images of two girls and you were supposed to imitate what they were doing, then choose four of the six poses. (We rejected one where we tried to kick at the camera and it didn’t come out particularly glamorous.)


[purikura 3]  [purikura 4]  [purikura 5]  [purikura 6] 
After that Yuichi had to go back to work (even though it was like 9 at night!), and so we left him and we went to karaoke again.

Ivy & Mom karaoke


  [keitai 4]  [keitai 5]  [keitai 6]

Ivy at karaoke

Well, after that we shopped a little more, saw some hotels and some strangely-dressed people, and I saw a Japanese bookstore, including the Japanese kids’ section, which of course interested me because that’s my position in my bookstore at home. I didn’t buy anything, though, because . . . I don’t read Japanese.



Japanese kids’ section

Tokyo nighttime

We rode the train home and I almost fell asleep standing up, it was exhausting! We could have stopped along the way to see if some place had a DDR game, but I couldn’t have played, so I passed it up. We went home and crashed.

Japan Trip Day 2



THE DAY IN A NUTSHELL:USA: November 7, 2003: Friday
Japan: November 8, 2003: Saturday

        • Took our first train ride: Out to Harajuku, Tokyo.
        • Met Patricia’s boyfriend Yuichi outside Meiji Shrine.
        • Went shopping on Takeshita Street.
        • Had lunch at Jonathan’s.
        • Took sticker pictures (purikura).
        • Went to Japanese-style karaoke.
        • Took a train to Shinjuku.
        • Saw Takashimaya Times Square at night, went shopping.
        • Played at a game center and won a prize.
        • Drank coffee at Segafredo.
        • Took the train back to Higashimatsuyama.


In the morning I got to take a Japanese-style shower in my sister’s bathroom, and after that she made us french toast (shown above). We ate at her cute little table and got ourselves ready to go out, after arranging with her next-door neighbor to be home to collect our lost bag. Now it was time for our first train ride: To Harajuku, Tokyo.



[train ticket] The trains are a bit complex, at least to the untrained eye. Because no one in our party except my sister can read Japanese, we couldn’t even buy our tickets on our own; it’s all automated through a machine. My sister bought tickets for Harajuku (we still didn’t have any yen), and we fed them into the proper machines and rode the trains.



Cultural Note:

Trains are usually very
crowded. If you want to
get a seat, stand in front of
someone you think might get off,
and if you’re holding the ring in
front of them when they leave,
you get their seat!

Empty Train

This particular train was very crowded, and we took standing positions holding the rings for the almost hour-long ride. We talked to some little girls who offered us candy, and finally we arrived in Harajuku, where we were to meet my sister’s boyfriend Yuichi outside the Meiji Shrine. (We’d planned to check out the shrine at some point too, but today we didn’t have time.)


Takeshita Street


We met up with Yuichi and decided to go shopping on Takeshita Street, where I was told people sometimes dress up like video game and anime characters and walk around being weird. We only saw a few people like that–apparently the weirdos come out at night mostly–but we did have fun going to shops. There were some funny names on these stores, like “Snobbery” or “Nudy Boy.” My favorite happens to be the hundred yen store.

[hundred yen store] A hundred yen is a little less value than a dollar, so I got some cheap souvenirs and the place was five floors high. We were on a strict time schedule because of Yuichi having to go back to work soonish, so we opted to quit shopping and have lunch, which we did at a place called Jonathan’s. It was a bit Denny’s-ish because it had a large variety of food (some of which was not remotely Japanese), and we all had a nice sit-down meal, catching up and chowing down. I had miso soup and some rice.



Cultural Note:

At Japanese restaurants
you don’t tip; it is
generally included in the
price of the meal.
Most menus are totally in
Japanese (though some
have pictures), so it’s
best to have someone with
you who can read it!


[purikura 7]  [purikura 8]  [purikura 9]
Next it was time for “purikura,” or sticker pictures. This is one of my sister’s favorite things to do, and she has tons of these little things in her collection. All four of us got in the booth, choosing a machine called “Cameraman” (I think it’s Yuichi’s favorite); after you choose which character you are on the display, it calls you by your name and tells you where to stand for the different picture shots. Afterwards, you decorate them.



Cultural Note:

“Purikura” stands for
“Print Club.” Lots of words are sort of
English slang.


Anyway, after all this fun, Yuichi went back to work, and it was time for us to try karaoke.



Karaoke in Japan

Mom & Ivy at karaoke

Karaoke in Japan is good. You get your own room, and there are plenty of English songs to sing (the directory is almost like a phone book!). In this nice establishment, the lights go down and the walls light up when you sing, and also each person gets a drink with their patronage. Much fun was had.





        • “Butterfly” by Smile.dk (Me)
        • “Nothing Compares 2 U” by Sinéad O’Connor (Me)
        • “Building a Mystery” by Sarah McLachlan (Me and Patricia)
        • “Because You Loved Me” by Celine Dion (Me and Mom)
        • “Thank You” by Dido (Patricia)
        • “Wuthering Heights” by Kate Bush (Me)
        • “Thank U” by Alanis Morissette (Me)
        • “Don’t Speak” by No Doubt (Me and Patricia)
        • “First Love” by Utada Hikaru (Patricia)
        • “All the Things She Said” by t.A.T.u. (Me, I did it in Russian for fun)
        • “Cherish” by Madonna (All three of us)


[book off]We finished up our karaoke and went to a discount bookstore called “BookOff,” and I bought a used Ranma ½ manga there, for Jeaux to enjoy.



Now my sister wanted us to go see the Tokyo lights, so it was time to go back on the train. We were getting a little tired (being that we also had a really long plane ride the night before), but that time at least we were able to get seats. We arrived in Shinjuku and it was dark.


We walked around and took some pictures of lights and us being in Tokyo, and eventually found the international ATM we’d been looking for for so long. My mom finally got some yen, and so we decided to go shopping!

Tokyo at night

Tokyo at night

Tokyo at night


We went into a place called Tokyu Hands, but we were running out of time and everything was closing. I managed to buy a postcard for my work pals, which incidentally I ended up sending but it arrived several days after I got back to Gainesville, I checked work’s mail and found my own postcard. Wahh. [tokyu hands]



Cultural Note:

In Japanese stores there
is almost always some kind
of dish or plate onto which
you place your money.
The cashier gives back change
by putting it on the same surface.
Strangely enough, some places
elaborately wrap purchases
(especially if they seem like
they might be gifts), while others
actually hand you a bag, you bag
your purchases yourself.



Mom with Doraemon

A game center was also there, and my sister played a claw drop, winning a Doraemon on the first try. She gave it to my mother because it is dressed like a hockey player and my cousins like hockey. Unfortunately there was no Dance Dance Revolution game there. It has apparently gone out of style somewhat. Too bad, I wanted to try it.

[keitai 1]
We got into a bit of a bad mood because we got word that the delivery of our suitcase hadn’t been successful, and we didn’t know what we were going to do. We stopped at my sister’s favorite café, which is called Segafredo. We had some coffee and rested our feet.


Patricia at Segafredo

We had a rather exhausting ride back on the train, annoyed and depressed about the suitcase (since it contained gifts that we were supposed to give to Patricia’s teacher upon meeting her tomorrow); and now here’s the really bizarre part. When we got back to her house, the luggage was just inside, sitting in the genkan. Despite the fact that all Patricia had on her cell phone was a confused message from the delivery people about her and her neighbor not being home, the luggage was THERE! So we unpacked it and prepared the gift basket for presentation to her teacher and all was well. Weirdly enough, we still don’t know how it got in the apartment.


Lost suitcase came!

We went to bed shortly after arriving home, because we were planning to catch an early train and meet with Patricia’s teacher for a full day of fun.

Christmas 2000

This is Corey. He lived with my parents at the time, so of course he was there for the festivities.


My dad’s parents came to our house for a visit.

Grandma & Grandpa Decker

 Dad was happy to see his folks.


Here we all are! On the left side, that’s Yuichi (the guy sister P was dating), my grandmother, me, sister Lindsay, sister Patricia, Dad, and my grandfather.

Decker grandparents, Dad, sisters, Yuichi

Later that night, there was a dinner. There’s Corey, Lindsay, Patricia, Yuichi, and Dad helping themselves.

Dinner: Corey, Lindsay, Patricia, Yuichi, Dad

We had Heather (who used to live with my parents) and her younger sister Sam there too, and on my other side is my mom’s ‘Net friend Bill.

Dinner: Heather, Sam, Ivy, Bill

Gotta get the whole table! There’s the backs of Yuichi’s and Dad’s heads, and then you see Heather, Sam, and me (with my mouth full embarrassingly).

Dinner: Heather, Sam, Ivy

Rare shot! Mom almost never sits down, but there she is!

Dinner: Mom actually sat down

Yuichi plays piano, you know. Nice pose, guys.

Yuichi & Patricia

After the dinner, we all played a group game. Kind of a tradition in our house.

Game tradition


Here’s the first of many gift-opening shots. Mom and me.

Opening gifts

Mom’s a gift

Opening gifts

Opening gifts

Opening gifts

Opening gifts

Opening gifts