Week 8: BYE BYE TOKYO
It’s finally my last week in Japan! Obviously sad to go, but it’s been fun and I’ve enjoyed every second of my time here, EXCEPT for the hour of waiting for the sunrise at Mt. Fuji. Anyway, due to a couple of issues (packing, packing, and more packing) this post will be a little shorter than the others. Last blog post! Here we go!
Went to heaven again.
OK, maybe that’s a little too short.
Today Ting-san and I finally did the impossible and ran to Tsuta (the 1 Michelin star ramen restaurant) and obtained tickets for lunch! The last time we went, we ran for 2 hours to the restaurant only to find out it was closed on Wednesdays. Redemption!
Coming back for lunch at 2 PM, of course it was everything that I’d imagined. Maybe it was the noodles, or the black truffle oil layered on top, or the fact that I’d run 4 hours and suffered huge sadness in order to finally eat this one bowl of ramen. But it was undoubtedly great. The best shoyu (soy sauce base) ramen ever!
We then went to Yodobayashi Camera in the afternoon where Ting-san, who initially refused to get massaged, got coerced and then destroyed by a massage chair:
After class we went to the Oriental Palace in Harajuku for some souvenir shopping, but at about 5 PM I headed out towards Mita Station to meet Satoshi, one of my Japanese friends. A student at Keio University, one of the best schools in Japan, he brought me along to take a look at his university!
He then took me to Ramen Jiro, a ramen restaurant adored by the Keio students, especially the athletes. I soon found out why:
Tsuta’s ramen was elegant, cathartic, almost angelic, but Ramen Jiro’s was very…different. HUGE portions, extremely oily, so salty that customers always buy an Oolong Tea from the vending machine outside, and with meat so fatty you get sick looking at it, Ramen Jiro’s ramen was a literally a monster. It was so heavy I was literally dying with half my noodles left over. BUT IT WAS SO GOOD (at least at the beginning)
Holiday! Today is a day off thanks to the new Japanese national holiday, named “Yama no hi,” or “Mountain Day.” Our final exam is tomorrow, though, so this holiday really came in handy. So what better way to spend the day than going to Akihabara, again?
First we had some conveyor-belt sushi at Ganso Sushi:
Then back to you know where. I snooped around for cool souvenirs and character goods as always, but I did witness a cute mascot getting smuggled into a back-alley today:
Yeah, then I went back and kind of did some studying.
Ye boi. It’s Comiket time!!11!!223213 After arriving at school at 8 AM to take the exam an hour early, Kevin, Tomaso, and I cleaned up the final exam in half the expected time to leave at 10 AM pronto to head over to Comiket, the biggest anime and manga convention in Japan. Even though I’m a big anime fan, this was my first time at a convention, so I didn’t really know what to expect. We were greeted by this boi:
If not his costume, I definitely respect his ability to swing around a sword for hours in Tokyo’s scorching summer. Super cool!
There were a lot of people:
The convention opens at 10 AM, but apparently there are people who start waiting at 5 AM. There were gigantic lines everywhere, and even though we got there at 11 AM, there were already people leaving, having bought the anime goods they were after.
I have a ton of pictures, but I will end this here with this Pokemon Go cosplay:
After the convention, we went home, took a quick shower, and headed to our sensei’s (teacher) house for an end-of-program celebration. There was lots of sushi!
After things winded down at about 10 PM, the teachers sent us all home to get some rest for the Japanese speech contest the next day. So I went home and went to sleep like a good boy.
I had one more adventure left in me, so I snuck away from the group, boarded a subway towards the famous Tsukiji fish market, and spent the night in a Manga café nearby. The plan was to wake up really, really early tomorrow morning to go see the tuna auction. So I “slept” like 2 hours in a reclining chair (they were out of rooms with mats) in the Com Com Manga Café.
Oh wait, it’s Saturday.
So I woke up at 2:30 AM and headed over to the tuna auction to try and get the ticket. When I arrived it looked like this:
Upon asking the person in charge, it appeared that all the tickets were sold out by 2 AM. This was like my 1291029102th time getting wrecked in Japan because of not coming early enough so I wasn’t that surprised, but I was crushed.
So I headed over to Plan B, which was to eat breakfast at Sushi Dai, regarded by travelers as the best, freshest sushi in Japan. I got there at 3 AM, but there was already a line that wrapped around the corner:
I then proceeded to wait 4 hours in line as I waited for my sushi, working on my speech in the meantime.
FINALLY after getting inside the store and being sat down, I ate the best sushi meal of my life.
But I am never waiting 4 hours for sushi again.
After the meal, I quickly went home, took a 3-hour nap, and headed towards Aoyama 1-chome to the speech contest. Everybody prepared great speeches, and shout out to Mukai-san’s and Nguyen-san’s for prompting a rousing discussion of the nature of Japanese people. Meanwhile, I presented on a topic very close to home to me: “Why I like Anime.”
The class then graduated, and we were off to a restaurant in Shinjuku to eat some yakiniku (grilled meat) with the buddies.
Finally, the last event of today was karaoke. After saying our goodbyes and parting with Akira, Ibu, Saara, and some of our other buddies :( , two of our leftover buddies took us to karaoke, and we sang out our lungs in honor of our last day in Tokyo.
Now, I’m back home, and I will need to start packing everything up and vacate the premises by tomorrow morning. I really suck at packing, so please excuse me as I attempt to stuff all the weird paraphernalia I collected over the summer into my poor suitcase.
We’ve made it to the end! Thank you so much for reading this blog, and I hope it was entertaining and gave you a little bit more insight into Tokyo and Japan. Tokyo is one of my favorite cities in the world, and it’s a little sad to say I know more about Tokyo than my native Houston. If you do ever end up travelling to Tokyo or Japan, here’s to hoping that this blog might help you out in some way. Also, please don’t hesitate to shoot me a comment or an email if there are any questions about your plans. Tokyo is a super fun place, and I hope you were able to enjoy some of it with me this summer.