Thursday, May 24, 2012
Landing in Tokyo
This past week and a half has been absolutely crazy. We flew into Tokyo on Sunday night, with no idea where we were going to live or stay, spent the night in a business hotel near the airport, found someone from church to stay with the next night in a high rise apartment in the poshest part of the city, took several trains to find his place, apartment hunted like crazy, initially thought we had somewhere to move into but then found out we can't until June 10th, and then took a bullet train all the way up to Tohoku (about a 4 hour trip), stayed there about three days, came back down, found a temporary housing place, took more trains with all our luggage to get there, and HERE we are. geeze louise.
So now I'm posting photos from the first day, and hope to stay in order as I catch up. Our first morning was spent in the market district where we had incredibly fresh sushi and saw some expensive fruit (ex: 50 dollar peaches), and other cool street wares. All our stuff was packed up and we were too exhausted and overwhelmed to get our camera out, but I did do some iphoning. We then trekked up to Akasaka, and very gratefully dumped our luggage in the spare bedroom of a fellow church member's apartment. The view was incredible- everything was so lush and green, even in this huge city, and at least in Akasaka everything smelled like....flowers, plants, and...life. It was an extremely refreshing change from Manhattan. We left the apartment to explore our surroundings. My favourite things were a very peaceful park teeming with trees and undergrowth and scattered with cool stone statues and lanterns, and a tiny little shop where a man was selling little dogs made out of cardboard boxes.
The shop was closed, but all the cute little animal faces in the window caught my eye, and as I peeked inside for a better look, this adorable little old man came up to the door and let us in, and told us the whole story of his shop. When he was a little boy he lived in an apartment that didn't allow pets, so he made a little dog out of a cardboard box and took it everywhere with him. He kept treasures in his head..(box). When his family moved, the dog, Hako Inu (box dog) was mistaken for a regular cardboard box and was left behind. Since then this man had imagined that Hako-Inu has been searching for him and has made an entire story/ art project/ shop out of the idea. There are pictures books of Hako Inu in different locations, looking for him, there are various sizes of cardboard dogs you can buy, and there are little posable wooden ones. I can't even tell you how charming and touching it was standing in that little shop, listening to this man tell his story and show us his creations. I actually started crying. I bought a little wooden dog to take with us on our travels, and I plan on photographing him in different locales to send to his creator. Oh yeah, and a Japanese recycling division picked Hako Inu up as their mascot.
I'll try to explain everything we ate...but there's A LOT to go through- first off, Japanese convenient stores are the best thing that has ever happened to me. They have every treat and snack you could imagine, and almost everything is only 1-3 dollars. There is no get-what-you-pay-for aspect....in fact there is no concept of quality vs. quantity or form vs. function either. Everything I have bought so far, whether it has been food or some kind of product has been surprisingly affordable, and the quality has blown me out of the water. I experienced the same feelings last time I was in Japan, but I am still surprised every time I grab something cheap and it totally exceeds my highest expectations.
So these foods above (the ones we actually bought and ate, not the 'status' fruit) Each item was only about $1.50- $1.90, and there is nothing in the U.S. I can think of that even compares with any of the items, even for like $4. The drink carton is this cultured yogurt drink, but it's really thin like juice, so it isn't thick and creamy like a typical 'yogurt drink'. It is sweet, tangy, and refreshing. The fruit jelly (they call them 'zellie's') it my favourite. They have all kinds of flavors, and they all have real slices of fruit suspended in a clear gelatin that is somehow nothing like jello at all. It just tastes like fresh fruit juice, but in a jelly form, and sometimes there are even coconut jelly pieces mixed with the fruit. Also their fresh fruit tastes like candy here, and they sweeten everything with grape sugar, not corn syrup. The other items are a layered cake and custard filled mini buns, which all tasted like $5 bakery items from a decent french bakery in New York, and yet they were under $2 and packaged. So far Ryan and I have been spending something like $5 a meal each and it feels like we're eating like kings. glory be.
Posted by Kitsune-kun at 6:28 PM