Saturday, November 28, 2009
Day two and we were off to famous fashion area Harajuku, a hustling, bustling collection of winding alleys and main streets, packed with vintage and new clothing shops, and even packed-er with people. Lots of foreigners, actually, so it felt quite touristy, but there was pretty good shopping to be had. We also ate really good crepes here (blue cheese, walnut and potato; and pear, dark chocolate and ice cream).
We didn't go into this place though: condomania. We thought the picture in the window was entertaining enough.
Harajuku is also a famous hangout spot for people who like to dress up... well, as weirdos basically. They go to show off their flashy gears, and other people go to gawk and take photos of them.
These guys were awesome. They just stood in a big circle and lurched around to rockabilly songs, occassionally stepping forward into the circle to do a sweet air guitar solo, or dashing to the sides to reshape their gravity-defying hair.
This group was all about 1950s rock 'n' roll dancing. We thought this was pretty cool, probably because we felt some connection through our swing dancing.
The girl on the right here was amazing. She has kind of a nightmarishly cute harlequin thing going on. Her friends could try a bit harder though.
These guys get full marks for combining bear suits with ninja masks in a kind of goth/furry combo.
Actually, it was a little bit cold on the streets so we thought maybe the full array of costumes might not be on display. We were still well impressed with what we saw though. Then, after Harajuku, it was on to Akihabara, the gadget/geekery capital of Japan, and thus the world.
I felt pretty at home here, and dragged Mirabel around a ridiculous eight-floor otaku (the Japanese word for comics/video game nerd) shop, which had action figures, trading cards, manga and general nicknacks as far as the eye could see.
Then it was off to Club Sega, where I unleashed my Virtua Fighter skills on an unsuspecting Japanese public. Actually, I got served pretty badly at first, but won a few games later on. I got my own sweet ID card though, so I can save my game info and use it next time. Now I just have to find where the VF machines are at in Sendai...
Finally, we moseyed back for dinner with Josephine, Caroline and Ellie at a very busy, friendly, and cheap izakaya (bar that serves loads of different food). And after that, we went for a (quite expensive) cocktail at the actual hotel from Lost in Translation (I had a whisky, naturally). The view was beautiful, but our little camera was unable to do it justice. Here's a shot of the elevator though.
We should have been on the lookout for a good camera in Akihabara...
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Last weekend we went back to Tokyo for the first time since our whirlwind arrival. The occasion was to meet up with our pals Caroline, who was visiting from New Zealand, and Josephine, who has been on the JET programme for a couple of years, and who lives in Nagoya. Also, of course, we wanted to explore some of the big city, do some shopping, see some sights, and go to Disneyland. But before all that...
First up, we met our friends (along with our tour guide, Tokyo resident Ellie, who is another from the Christchurch crew, although a new aquaintance for us) for sushi at the restaurant that (supposedly) inspired that bit in Kill Bill.
Sadly it was too full for us to sit in the open area that is famous from the movie, and we were instead seated upstairs in a somewhat less hectic/interesting dining area. Norah Jones was playing as background music, which was pretty whack, but the food was delicious.
Then we were off to a super cool club called Super Deluxe. They were supposed to be having a Lady Gaga night, with people dressing up as said pop diva, which we found intriguing, so we set off to find it.
Instead it turned out be... um, well, sort of a design presentation, with video and images by a group (?) of artists/directors. Not sure, really, but they did show some amazing pictures of cat sushi.
Then a bunch of them danced a quite impressive boyband-style routine. I don't know why.
And I discovered my first interesting beer since I came to Japan: Tokyo Ale. It's a malty brew which I can sum up in just a few words: yay, it's not a lager!
Oh, and actually there were quite a few women dressed as Lady Gaga.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
The other night we were feeling a bit peckish and too tired to cook, and somehow we decided that getting a pizza delivered was a great idea. So we hopped on the Domino's website to try and figure out what to attempt to order, when up popped a promotional video for the "Cheese Fantasy" Quattro, an artery-clogging behemoth of a pizza, created by splicing the unholy essences of four pizzas into one grease-heavy deep-dish monstrosity.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you "Cheese Fantasy":
One quarter bacon and tomato, one quarter chicken and artichoke, one quarter lobster and americaine sauce, and one quarter whipped cream and berries. One-hundred percent evil. We absolutely could not pass up the opportunity to purchase a pizza so ridiculous. Think of the blog post we could write, we said to ourselves.
But oh God, the grease. See how it pools ominously under the first lifted slice. Watch as it coats the fingertips with a thin, shiny film. There is so much cheese on this thing it might as well be German house music. Here's the kicker, though:
It comes with maple syrup. The Japanese do a lot of really good food, but boy do they know how to screw up a pizza. We felt ill.
I'm quite proud of the fact that I actually ordered this over the phone, though. Think about it for a second, and imagine trying to order a pizza in a language you barely speak, getting a delivery to an address you can't remember most of the time, and having the guy on the other end ask you things. It wasn't easy, but I can check that off the list. Most importantly, however, following this episode, we never have to eat the Cheese Fantasy Quattro ever again.