Forgot about one thing that seems to be a theme at present. Dave’s umbrella. When we went to pay for the meal, the waitress went running back to the table to fetch said item, almost as if he’d forgotten it. Obviously his reputation preceeded him.
Well lat night we found a rather good and popular nabemono restaurant, and yet again failed to get out of Shinjuku for the evening. We were both just too tired. After a quick discussion we decided we both fancied a stock pot type meal so to find the above 3 minutes around the corner from the hotel was pure luck. Ordering seemed to cause as much confusion as normal(*), but we did manage to select a sukiyaki, which promptly arrived as a boiling pot on a burner with the ingredients already in it. Even so we still had to wait before we could eat – as we did get our wrists slapped for going to start taking food out too soon, a common theme as other groups were having the same problem. One thing about nabemono dishes is that they are large, with the result that we struggled to finish about 2/3rds of the dish. We both felt rather full afterwards, but happy.
Post the restaurant we decided not to wander as we were both suffering from the exersions of the day (lots of walking), so we hit the local arcade once more. A little baseball batting practice later it was time for a showdown on the GuitarFreeksV game (see the air guitar entry from a few days ago). You can have a two player challenge, so we did. A photo shows our final scores, though I missed the chance to get a screen shot from the first of the three rounds when my attempt was rated at an A compared to Dave’s E. By the end of the game my l33t sk1lz r0x3d Dave. Revenge followed on the DrumManiaV machine. Neither of us had played this before, and over the usual 3 rounds Dave gradually improved. Actually for the last track (a slow one) he was rated as a B. I followed and got similar scores for the first two rounds, so decided to go for a fast track instead as on the guitar game this was easier. Not so here – I made so many mistakes I failed to even finish the track.
* In hind site the problems with ordering were down to the fact I pointed to a picture of sukiyaki to which the waitress responded ‘nabemono’. Now we though she asked us about drink (nomemono), so asked for 2 beers, where as she was trying to make sure we knew what we were ordering.
Many of sakura in the park
When we designed the holiday, the view was we would catch the cherry blossom. The season moves from west to east and is fickle time wise. The blossom only hangs on the trees for about a week, so we were to be pretty reliant on luck.
Given the choice, I think Kyoto would have been the prime place to see the cherry blossom, however on landing we found it had already moved to Tokyo. Yesterday it was too wet to take in a viewing and we did fear missing it all, so this morning we decided to risk the imminent rain and hit Shinjuku-goen, one of the top Tokyo day time spots. Fortunately it stayed dry until after we left.
Japan is a throw away culture, and one of the disposable items is the umbrella. The result is you can buy them very cheaply, which is useful if like us you arrive without one and it rains heavilly. Can’t object at 500 yen for a full size brolly, especially if like Dave you accidentally throw yours away. Almost twice. Of course you’d never find me ever doing that, oh no, and any rumours of having to run back to where I’d taken a photo are purely conjecture.
Well that was an interesting night. The plan always was to find an izakaya(*) to settle down in for the Japanese equivalent of bar food, plus of course sake. There are a few near the hotel – it’s easy to find them as they have red paper lanterns outside. Our ideal choice was one with pictures of the food so we could point and order. The first we went to was full, so we tried a second. This was where things started to get interesting. There were pictures outside, however as it was raining we realised we weren’t going to be able to refer to them. We went in and were shown to the bar. First problem, the internal menu had no pictures and we confused the poor waitress just trying to order sake. Next problem was ordering food, as again the waitress could not understand us, and we her. Fortunately the master (name for the bar man/cook who run these places) could a little and so after a tentative start the alcohol started to flow (with us using mo ichido to order more (it means ‘please repeat’ as used often in Japanese lessons when the teacher is going too fast)), and we started to point and order more food.
A guy sat down near to us, ordered some food and drinnk then settled in. We assumed he was a local. Dave noticed him glancing at us ans we assumed it was because we were gaijin in a very Japanese sort of place. Thus it was a bit of a shock when he suddenly leant over to look at some food and pulled out a phrase book. Turned out he was a Korean business man over for a few months for his company (we think he sells sports socks – his English was not very good and our Korean was non-existent). His glances had been similar to ours – to see what other people were eating so he/we could point a waitress at the dishes so he/we could order. He was joined by a colleague and the conversation between our two groups was on/off and basic, but pleasant. It was toward the end that he dropped the bomb shell on us. He asked if we fancied joining them for a drink else where, then said he’d pay for the first hour. Being Shinjuku and he being a business man, this could only mean one thing. Girly bar. While I could hear yells of my colleagues over the continents yelling to join them and to take pictures, myself and Dave started trying to work out our polite excuses. Fortunately when he went to leave it was obvious we were still eating, and so the Koreans left without us.
The whole meal was an interesting experience, though at a little under 7000 yen, a tad more that we had first expected to pay. With more preparation we would have probably eaten more (read – if I’d remember to take a food book I have with me), but I think we were both close to our limits alcohol wise with a view to feeling rough the next day.
One thing I forgot about last night, which David reminded me of this morning, was that at one point the Korean business man suddenly told Dave he was very handsom !! Perhaps it was not a girly bar he wanted us to join him at after all (actually I do think it was a girly bar, but perhaps he did have designs for Dave – wonder if Mr and Mrs Sadler are reading this 🙂 )
* The closest we have in Europe to an izakaya is probably a tapas bar. These places you either sit at the bar or at tables and order lots of small dishes, normally grilled meats cooked over charcole, such as yakitori.