A Travellerspoint blog

Relaxing and shopping with Rie and Kiyo

'We're gonna need a bigger suitcase'

overcast 27 °C
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The last two days have been indulgent and recuperative, filled with yummy food, atrocious TV and vast shopping centres. Seriously, we have seen what must be one of the worst TV news shows on air - the anchors are joined by a chicken mascot, who sometimes joins them for pointless outside broadcasts and product placements. Wow.
Last night Rie cooked up a feast, and we all helped... sort of. We made 'pot stickers', known as pan-fried pork and chive dumplings back in Oz. Folding and sealing them proved a little tricky, as Plane Boy's complaints and Kiyo's amused photography attested. Nevertheless they were yummo indeed!
We've also visited Rie at work (she and Kiyo have staggered their days off just for us), bought some more model train carriages and gawped at the huge expanse of some of the shopping centres here. Plus some R&R, which is also nice.
That's about it for now!
Sayonara from Plane Boy and Nerdia.

Posted by NarLin 01:56 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

Food, glorious food

Meatloaf schnitzel exists, people!

overcast 22 °C
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Well, we had a nice sleep in this morning, followed by some lounging around cleverly disguised as 'watching TV in order to practise our Japanese'. Then Rie took us to a local bakery (called Boulanger Vague, tres amusement). This was a revelation - dozens of decadent buns, croissants and doughnuts with all sorts of fillings for 105 yen (about $1.20) apiece. We bought up big and ate most of them for lunch... mmm, camembert and walnuts baked inside bread rolls...

Next Kiyo drove us all to Kawagoe, a nearby Edo-style village. There are about a dozen ancient wooden buildings constructed using a special layering technique that renders them almost completely fireproof - their facades are all scorched black but the structures are sound, and really quite beautiful in an austere way. The tourist shops were surprisingly cheap, too, and we picked up some small gifts and knick-knacks (including a $10 fob watch!).

Kiyo was keen to show us 'Sweet Street', a side road filled with lolly shops of all descriptions and mobs of visiting schoolchildren buying everything in sight. Nerdia enjoyed a few cigarette lollies (long since banned in less smoking-tolerant Australia). The area is known for its sweet potatoes so they are in everything... including the local beer and icecream, which we duly sampled before heading home for a rest.

In the evening we took a bus to a local chain restaurant - and ate ourselves stupid. Plate after plate of delicious morsels arrived and the four of us approached our task with great gusto. Our dishes included chicken skin sausages (rolls of mincemeat and vegies covered in chicken skin - sort of Japanese KFC?!), 'biggu' pork katsu (English translation on the menu was 'whopping'), cherry tomatoes wrapped in bacon and more. Much, much more.
Beer was followed by cocktails. Nerdia strenuously denies attempting to sip hers through the swizzle stick.
The meal culminated - well after we should really have finished eating - with what can only be described as meatloaf schnitzel. Stuffed with cheese. Oh yes, it really was crumbed and deep-fried meatloaf.

Now we're back home (buses run all the time here!) and contemplating going to bed early. Meatloaf schnitzel makes you sleepy... or maybe it was the beer...

Oyasumi nasai from Plane Boy and Nerdia.

Posted by NarLin 04:53 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

Farewell to Hiroko and Jun...

...hello to Rie and Kiyo!

overcast 27 °C
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There was an entry yesterday but clever Nerdia managed to delete it instead of uploading it. Yay.
So, to recap... yesterday we had a more leisurely start (apart from poor Jun, who had to go to work). Hiroko took us via yet another train line to the vast Lazona shopping centre in Kawasaki. Nerdia went nuts and bought three pairs of trousers at Uniqlo (hey, that's a lot of shopping for her), and our traditional model train set beneath the Xmas tree will get a big boost this year with the fabbo Japanese trains we bought in Bic Camera. They're meant for 3 year old children, but hey. Plus Plane Boy can play the Shibuya line door music with his new keyring. Had a red hot go at the 100 yen shop too - Nerdia even bought an apron for those student BBQs. (Still thinking of work while on holidays... almost Japanese!)

Yummy lunches at the food court, followed by extra yummy icecreams at Cold Rock... sitting next to a teen dressed as Strawberry Shortcake. Red and white gingham dress with mock corset and full tutu skirt, knee length white stockings, bright red shoes and wicker basket with strawberry motif. Seriously.

Today Jun took us to a gorgeous little rest spot under the trees beside a tiny creek in their neighbourhood, but we were chased home early by the first rain we've seen so far. Never mind, Hiroko had cooked another fabulous meal, which we shared with Rie (long-term family exchange student) and her husband Kiyo when they arrived to collect us. After a long chat and some photos we bid farewell and 'mata ne' (see you) to Hiroko and Jun, then set off for the 2 hour trip to Rie and Kiyo's new 'castle'. (And it sure is a castle, Mum and Dad - will send you photos!)

Japanese TV is even funnier after a few champagnes - they even have a Sam Newman equivalent. Tomorrow we're off to see some more of 'old Japan' before hitting the town at night - yay!

So it's oyasumi nasai (goodnight) from Okegawa,
Plane Boy and Nerdia.

Posted by NarLin 05:15 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

A Short Walk Today...

...only 9 kilometres.

sunny 25 °C
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Today we travelled on another train company's line (Tokyo has many different ones, each controlling various lines quite independently) back into Tokyo to climb Tokyo Tower. This is an orange and white replica of the Eiffel Tower plonked right in the middle of Tokyo. A swift lift ride to the viewing deck halfway up yielded panoramic surround views of the city. Apparently even Mt Fuji is visible on clear days, but not today. One floor below was a second deck with peepholes in the floor, which gave nicely dizzying views right down to the ground. One dad was merrily tipping his kid's pusher over the window, showing that fathers are the same the world over.

After that we headed into Shinjuku for lunch and a wander through the busiest part of Tokyo. On Sundays the traffic lights are switched off so people can walk unhindered, which is called 'pedestrian paradise'. After a stroll through the so-called 'seedy' district of Kabuki-cho (quite all right during the daytime!), we perused the fantastic range in the biggest book shop we've ever seen and had a magnificent meal at the Ton Katsu Wako chain restaurant.

We then thoroughly explored Tokyu Hands, a sort of KMart/Big W equivalent spanning several floors of an enormous department store building, before fatigue overcame us and we headed back home for a rest.

Oh yes, and Nerdia did indeed try the on-sen hot bath soak and found it quite refreshing, though she suspected it was cooled a bit just for her. ;-)

Nerdia and Plane Boy.

Posted by NarLin 02:15 Archived in Japan Comments (2)

These boots were made for walking...all day :)

A leisurely 10km stroll with Hiroko and Jun

sunny 25 °C
View Japan 2010 on NarLin's travel map.

Hiroko (another Bordas exchange student) and her husband Jun very kindly offered to host us for part of our trip, and we've had a great time experiencing 'old Japan' with them today.

The four of us rode many trains and walked many kilometres to visit several ancient shrines and temples - plus Japn's second biggest Buddha statue, an astonishingly huge hollow bronze Colossus from the 13th century. Nerdia braved the crowded internal stairs and can now claim to have been in Buddha's belly.
We ate a lovely lunch of pork and vegetables (yes, Nerdia ate pork!)... plus fantastically yummy multi-flavoured gelato ice creams in groovy square-shaped cones. Oh, and toffee apples are nothing compared to toffee grapes - huge single red globe grapes on sticks, coated in crunchy purple toffee which is quite nice despite being the same flavour as the infamous grape Fanta.

Tiny, pampered dogs are everywhere - and by 'pampered' we don't mean they're treated to the occasional chew toy. Oh no, these miniature pooches are carried around in arms, sling bags, even baby prams! Most are wearing kitsch little jackets, fluffed up like pompoms and look delighted with the whole arrangement. We even saw a lady cradling a cat on the train! Charlotte would really like it here, though she lacks the Japanese sense of restraint.

Hiroko and Jun have a very stylish condominium in a lovely quiet 'suburb' on the outskirts of Tokyo, and are very gracious hosts. They're treating us to some delightful home cooking and all the fancy appliances of modern Japanese living, such as auto-flushing toilets with heated seats. Nerdia might even try an onsen-style hot soak...maybe.

Tomorrow we're off to explore 'modern' Japan, atop Tokyo Tower and beyond. Wonder if we'll walk 60,000 steps again, which is what Jun calculated we did today...

Nerdia and Plane Boy.

Posted by NarLin 03:27 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

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