A few days in Tokyo

The plane Vanilla Air left a little late again, then they land out on the tarmac so you have to get a bus over to the terminal. My bag took ages to come out and all this snow balled into us being quite late for our dinner reservation. We remember to get cash out at the airport as we had spent everything already at Niseko. We got the Skyliner to Nippori station, then the Yamanote line over to Shibuya where our Air BnB apartment is. We got here nearly an hour after I had predicted, but it seemed ok as the guy was still changing the towels and stuff.

The room is pretty decent, it has a little kitchen, a separate bathroom, a double bed in a large room and a balcony. It is just a short walk up the hill from Shibuya station. We jumped into a cab and went to the Gonpachi restaurant. This is the restaurant that they shot the fight scene of Kill Bill in. It is all very cool and wooden but looks a bit different to the movie, heaps of famous people have been there too and their photos are on the wall. Celia was there with our Mum’s cousin and other family members. The food was delicious, all little share plates of things like yakitori, tofu, tempura and soba. We learned that with the soba after you finish dipping all your soba in the dipping sauce, they bring out the water that the soba was cooked in and you pour it into the left over dipping sauce to make a delicious soup. After dinner the 3 of us went back up to Shibuya station and had a coffee at Starbucks and people watched for a while.

We spent the whole of Wednesday shopping! We went to UniQlo, Forever21, H&M and all the little shops in Shibuya and Harajuku. At 5pm Celia and I had our hair appointments booked. I got my hair chemically straightened and she got a cut. It is so different over there…they go through a million towels and are slow and very precise. The wash basins are soo comfortable, you could lay there for days and they even put a warmed towel under your neck. They also give a head massage in the basin, but then also another head, neck and shoulders massage in the chair! I was pretty worried about my hair because the ends are so damaged from being coloured, but he was careful and put less on the ends, he actually had to trim some ends off because they were so bad! But 3 hours later I walked out super straight and it was a lot less expensive than in Cairns. We had burgers and pasta for dinner near the Harajuku station.

Thursday rained all day, not pouring down rain, but drizzle. I’m glad it wasn’t too heavy because I was supposed to keep my hair dry for a day. We tried to find a cat cafe but it was closed, and we ended up in the love hill district with strippers, hotels and sex shops, we even saw a film crew so wondered if they were making a porno. We went to the Streamer Coffee Company for a delicious coffee and we had a camouflage donut that was covered in green tea, chocolate and caramel icing and a banana caramel cake. We headed back to Harajuku to look around some more and go to the 100 yen shop. We bought loads of stuff there including lollies and crackers. Then we went to Akihabara, the electric district. We bought a new wide angle camera lens for the Olympus which is awesome and about cheaper here than home plus we get it tax free when we show our passport.

We also went to a Maid Cafe. It was a very surreal experience, like Disneyland on acid. The girls were dressed up a maids with the black and white aprons and frilly knickers and they talked in a really really high pitch. First they light this fake candle and welcome you to their happy fun world, it is all hilarious and awkward. There were a couple of other guys in there and they looked so shy and happy, it was cute and creepy. I had an ice cream sundae that looked like a bear with biscuit ears and chocolate eyes, Chris had a beer and looked super uncomfortable. We had a photo with one of the girls and got a keyring. I would never do it again, but it was a pretty funny experience.

For dinner we met Celia and a couple of her friends at a dumpling restaurant call Din Tai Fung in Shinjuku. The dumplings were delicious and you can watch them making them. The pork ones have soup inside them so you need gently pick one up and put it on your spoon that has dipping sauce and ginger on it. Then bite the top off making sure you don’t waste the soup. One of the dumplings was a green vegetable one which I really liked, we also shared satay noodle soup, sweet and sour soup and dessert dumplings with red bean paste and purple yam.

After dinner we went to Golden Gai which is also in Shinjuku. This is an area that is made up of tiny weeny bars that hold only 4-10 people each. Many have cover charges of up to 2000 yen! There are so many, like around 200, that there is a map. After walking around to find one without a cover charge we finally picked one. It was up some very steep stairs and was a long skinny bar with a bartender called Nikko who had Kiss and Metallica DVDs playing. It was pretty awesome, we had a couple of drinks and made some origami. Nikko worked that bar every night of the week until 4-5am….so crazy! He never sees daylight.

Friday was our last day in Japan. We had lots more luggage so spent the morning packing. We went to Sengajaya to help Celia move from here tiny little apartment to a bigger apartment with a kitchen, bathroom and 2 rooms with tatami mats. It’s still small by Australian standards, but it’s really cute with tatami matt floors. We came with us back to Shibuya where were collected our luggage and had lunch at a cafe down the road that had baby goats out the front who we had watched eat their wooden house over the past few days. We headed back to Nipporoi to get the Skyliner to Narita. We spent our remaining yen on cakes and biscuits.