So, as much as I tried to stay mad at Blue Eyes (not really… I don’t try to stay mad at anyone) it is impossible to stay sad or mad in Japan. It just is. It is so strange here and I really cannot walk five steps without going, WTF? But in a good way, you know? As we headed out of the train station, the first thing we encountered was some simple pruning going on outside the Tokyo Station Hotel. First, the Tokyo Station Hotel is amazing. I want to stay there, but so far when we have been here, the prices have been sky high. We have a beach house to furnish, remember??? 😉
The hotel was originally opened in 1914, went through extensive damage during The Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 and then sustained further damage during WWII. It was closed for a while and resumed business in 1951. It was then closed again in 2006 for a complete six year renovation and reopened in 2012. It is beautiful, but definitely not traditional Japanese design.
It is literally attached to Tokyo Station, insanely convenient to everything we do in Tokyo. Maybe next time…
For the time being we are saving pennies and staying at a more moderately priced hotel in the Shinagawa area of Tokyo. It’s a short train ride to Marunouchi (Tokyo Station), and the lovely Ginza district. Honestly, it is incredibly easy to get around Tokyo by rail, and that is one of my all time favorite things about Japan. I don’t have to get in a car if I don’t want to.
We exited Tokyo Station and ran smack into these guys pruning a simple tree. Tree pruning, not a big deal, right? But to me, this scene represents Japan, and the fastidious attention to detail.
One tree, two trucks, four guys, and six ladders, and a big green cloth laid out so nothing gets messy. Gardening at its finest. I had to smile at that.
Next stop, the post office, because that is where we get cash. For some strange reason, cash machines are located in post offices and have been since we lived here in the 80’s. The big post office building across from The Tokyo Station Hotel has been turned into an indoor shopping mall, but there is still a lovely and HUGE post office located in the building. Normally post offices in Japan are teeny tiny affairs that barely hold two people. This post office was more the size of an Apple Store. Once we had cash, we went in search of food (food that wasn’t on Kitchen Street, that is). When we are cold and hungry, both Blue Eyes and I like a good bowl of Tonkotsu (pork based bone broth) Ramen. Ramen is very common cheap eats in Japan. Totally fattening, but so comforting. The broth is thicker and so flavorful, and the noodles are fresh, not like Top Ramen. We headed to Ippudo, a little ramen shop we had visited the last time we were in Tokyo. The food was just as good this time.
Once we were both full and feeling a little less punchy, we headed off to do some shopping. I was looking for modern Japanese serving dishes for the beach house, but instead I ended up with bath towels. As we navigated the streets of Marunouchi, we encountered some really cool food carts. Now we have lots and lots of food carts in Portland, we’re sorta known for it, but I have never seen a food cart in Japan. I am here to say, the Japanese do food carts right (at least in my opinion), like they do so many things well.
We headed back to the Post Office Mall and although I was still feeling irritated by Blue Eyes, as we perused the shopping information sign looking for housewares, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud as Blue Eyes pointed to name after name of Japanese stores. The one that got me though was a woman’s clothing store named GOUT COMMUN. These are not Japanese words, so I don’t really know what they were going for when they named this store. I don’t know if it means something in another language, but in English, it is just not a good name, not at all. I laughed out loud and that broke the ice a bit. They also had an over the top humongous fake snow covered tree in the middle of the mall and holographic singing snowmen that ran about every 30 minutes. The snowmen started their thing while we were in one of the stores and the intro sounded like a disney sound track wherein elves are being slaughtered in the middle of an amusement park. I honestly don’t know what was supposed to be happening with those snowmen, but Blue Eyes and I seemed to be the only ones bothered by it. When we finally took a moment to watch the singing holographic snowmen, I had to laugh out loud it was so strange and silly. And, there were absolutely zero children at this shopping center. The adults were, however, mesmerized by the singing holographic snowmen. Japan is a strange place, and maybe I am a bad person, but I find it all so hilarious!!!
Yesterday after Blue Eyes returned from meetings, we headed out to meet my brother (GQ), his wife, and the princess for dinner. Unfortunately, on the ride to Ginza, the little princess threw up in the taxi and so mommy had to get her back home. We did meet my brother, however, and he escorted us to a great little Buddhist accessory store where Blue Eyes was able to pick up a Rindle (Buddhist bell with candle) he had been eyeing. We then ate dinner at a traditional Okinawan Teppanyaki Steak house. Think Benihana, but big enough for maybe 25 customers versus 250, and way way way better for you and without all the crazy tricks.
The food was healthy and delicious including four courses of vegetables grown in Okinawa (appetizer of papaya salad, a small green salad, purple sweet potato, onions, garlic, and peppers), plus tofu, and then a very modest meat course with the highest quality of Wagyu beef. Finally an egg and bitter melon dish was prepared. Very little oil or salt was used in the cooking and it was a fun experience. There are lots of interesting and healthy food options in Japan.
Today I finally made it to the hotel gym. It is small, but really well equipped. I hiked a trail in Queensland Australia (fancy treadmill) while looking out the window at reality:
I am totally enamored with the reflections in the windows of the building across from our room (and the sky of course):
Turns out, I am pretty easily amused! 🙂
Tomorrow, more shopping and lunch with my brother. Maybe I’ll make Totally Caroline totally envious Caroline (insert blowing kiss emoji here) and seek out a Pierre Herme Ispahan Croissant. They have everything in Tokyo!!!