Over the weekend I went to Tokyo. In the process I popped off to New Zealand for a party.
It all started in July last year when I was in the UK visiting my sister. She told me that she had been speaking to Dad and that she was going to go home for Mum’s 60th birthday and not tell Mum. Here’s me thinking ‘now how the heck is this going to work? We’re not known for our ability to not tell each other things like this.’ She also suggested that I come too. So, I paid off my credit card in over time and in January I booked it. Home for 2 days with a day either side of the flying in Tokyo.
On Thursday evening last week I made my way to Tokyo. Spent the night in a lovely hostel in Asakusa then spent Friday in Ikebukuro with my friend who used to stay with my family in New Zealand when she was an international student at another school. We visited Sunshine City and Toyota’s show room.
In Sunshine City we went to Namja Town which is owned by Namco and houses Ice Cream City, Gyoza Stadium and a fantastic curry restaurant that has Miracle Fruit (I’m going back just for some of that because I couldn’t afford it this time!). Ice Cream City is home to many many different, and we’re talking really different, flavours of ice cream. I decided to try Charcoal Ice Cream. It was actually quite nice. Tasted more of less like normal ice cream just with a bit of a gritty after taste. We also encountered a place called Restaurant Napalm. I told my friend that I thought it was rather offensive and she reminded me that the Japanese don’t tend to understand why these things are offensive. I wanted to ask her what she would think of someone calling a Japanese restaurant in the West ‘Genbaku’ (atomic bomb) but I thought it might be pushing it and this was the first time I had seen her in 10 years ish. Things like that can be somewhat awkward when it comes to cultural understanding.
The Toyota showroom was enlightening. It looks like most of their new models are going to be hybrid. I hope they’ve fixed the ‘acceleration issue’.
At the top of Sunshine City was an observation deck. It was fantastic. We could see the whole of Tokyo and maybe caught a glimpse of Mt Fuji in shadow. It wasn’t quite clear enough so we don’t quite know.
At 8pm on Friday evening my flight took off from Narita. 15 hours later, at 3pm New Zealand time I arrived Auckland. I was met by, dun dun dunnnnnn, an alarm going off in the customs area resulting in the backing up of 5 flights worth of passengers. I eventually got through customs and immigration after finding out that my luggage was sent to a different carousel to the one on the board and found my sister and former neighbours who were waiting patiently in the arrivals area for me.
We made our way home where the neighbours told Mum that they had brought the pot plants (or potted plants for those of you who think a pot plant is a certain type of not so legal plant) and could she come and help get them out of the car. My sister and I had slunk right down in the back seat. When she opened the back door we popped up and she got the shock of her life. She was rendered completely speechless and may well have been shaking. The whole thing was beyond belief for her. Especially having received some amazing cupcakes from us saying that were were sorry we couldn't be there in the morning.
We had a dinner of fish and chips and curry from the shops up the road and the lady who runs the fish and chip shop called me crazy. After dinner we watched the two NZ teams playing in the Super 14 get beaten by a South African team and an Australian team, both were good games, though. We were all exhausted by the whole big surprise so we went to bed reasonably early.
Sunday was Mum’s actual birthday so we took our time getting up and had pancakes for brunch. Dad and my sister went off to the new local mall, that my sister had yet to ever set foot in, while Mum and I sorted out the 17.8kg of random unnecessary stuff for storage until I get back. In the afternoon a host of people that Dad had invited on the quiet came over to wish Mum happy birthday. Including my uncle and his wife who had thrown her off the scent by calling to wish her happy birthday in the morning before driving up to celebrate with us. They had in fact been in the same crush as me at the airport the day before but they were in the front and I was in the back, most annoying and interesting.
It was really good to talk to a bunch of different people who have lived overseas and what not about the feelings that I have been having towards Japan at the moment. I think it’s been interesting here and my family friends were able to recognize that in what I was saying to them. However, elements of being here are starting to wear thin and that’s how I know it’s time to go home. That and the fact that I didn’t want to leave to come back to Japan on Monday morning.
Arriving in Japan on Monday night was good though. Free Japanese style curry at the hotel I stayed in at the airport! Also internet, to help me plan my day on Tuesday before cruising back to Takaoka.
I popped into Akihabara briefly before realizing that it’s not really where my interest lies with Tokyo. Then I popped into Shinjuku before realizing that the store I wanted to go to was in Shibuya. Then I found out that I didn’t need to go all the way to Shibuya if only I waited until the next time I can get to Kanazawa. YAY! Lush has finally opened in the Hokuriku!
I am now back. I am exhausted. The whole thing feels like a dream, but it was most certainly worth it!
Mum received the letter that I wrote to her and sent for arrival after I left on Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning (one of the two) and she is apparently very pleased by it. As a result of this whole trip I am marginally refreshed and ready to face the next 4 weeks of work before KOREA! Roll on Korea!!!