x every day: Japan day 2

07 April 2008

We got snacks from one of the many convenience stores, thinking we would find somewhere to sit down, eat breakfast, and figure out what to do. Half of us were then waylayed at Mr Donut, while others still held out... until we hit the next convenience store. The underground mall (Subnade) wasn`t open yet, so we went to the Shinjuku-gaien-- a huge park in this neighborhood. It`s supposed to be one of the best places to see cherryblossoms. Most of them were past prime, but we saw traditional teahouses nestled on the grounds, huge fish, massive stone lanterns, and then we got caught in a rainstorm.

Once it let up, we walked back to the Subnade, which was rather boring. We spent a while in a little pharmacy, where I was amazed by the sheer quantity of mascaras. At home, in Fred Meyer, you`d find maybe two dozen different mascaras. In this tiny shop, there must`ve been one hundred, at least. There was also a really strange double-ended product called `eye awake.` (I can`t find the double quotes on this keyboard) I got the impression that it made Japanese eyes look more `Western.` There was also doublesided tape for such purposes. Wow.

After the Subnade, a rest at the hotel, and then we were off to find lunch. I was so hungry that I was dizzy, having only had an onigiri and an inari. I wasn`t in much of a state to make lunch decisions for everyone, but Erik persevered and found me a vegetable curry that was amazingly tasty. I got rice to go with it and it was enough to fill me up for the rest of the day.

On to Harajuku for the afternoon, which was a bit of a disappointment for me. Figuring out the JR train system felt like a triumph, but Takeshita Street was just like St Mark`s Place in NYC-- lots of little stores all with the same music and disposable goods for sale. At Harajuku Street we wound through alleys; Erik, Tiffany and I together, and Josh and Aspen together. We saw a few more interesting things that way, and compared experiences when we met back up by the train station.

Back to the hotel again, then out to look for a place to drink. Wandering the east Shinjuku alleys with their vertical signs... Oh it`s so beautiful. Even these so-called sketchy alleys are clean by American standards. We finally found a place that had a bit of English on their sign and didn`t charge a cover-- the Monster Bar. It was like a pink 50s diner. I had a lemon beer and fries.

Back to the hotel again, after picking up sake and whiskey at a convenience store. The plan was to drink (not me, of course, I`m still in the throes of this strep throat-like experience) then walk around the Golden Gai-- a network of alleyways with tiny bars off limits to gaijin but lovely to look at. We didn`t make it. Erik and I crashed in our room and the others drank for a while in Josh & Tiffany`s room.

I can`t believe I haven`t mention the bathroom yet-- the crazy toilets and the bathtub of which I am much anamored. More on that later, maybe.