Tokyo, Japan

Today, we finally arrived at the last country in our journey through Asia: Japan! Unfortunately, we arrived too late to meet our Airbnb host, but we did find the apartment in the Ikebukuro area of Tokyo for tonight (we head to Kyoto bright and early tomorrow morning!).

We discovered several fun Japanese things:

  • First and foremost, the subway is not nearly as hard to maneuver as an English speaker as everyone warned. We made it here fine and were able to find our apartment through the winding streets with no problem at all.
  • The vending machines on every corner helped us greatly when trying to find our way to and from the main street to our dinner and back- and, I’ll grab heated coffee from one tomorrow morning!
  • 7/11, which is a big deal here, has an ATM branch which fortunately is compatible with my debit card, meaning I have access to banking on essentially every street corner (who knew).
  • When life gives you lemons… ask the friendly Japanese man who offered his translation services to help you order what you really wanted: a Japanese whisky.

So, we found our apartment fine and were desperately hungry, having gone since lunch without food (we arrived at the apartment around 10:30pm). We noted a lively looking bar/restaurant near the subway exit, and figured it would be an appropriate place to grab food.


Turns out, this was a great guess. They were cooking the food (including whole fish and skewered meat, along with vegetables) above an open flame, fanning it to prevent the flames from charring the meat and to keep the cold away as the door opened and closed. The huge bottles of sake and other wines (I didn’t get a good picture, but think probably a couple liters at minimum) were stacked in front of the other patrons, all in the space of about seating for 30.

Anyway, we sat down to order, looking through the non-English menu. Someone helpfully gave us a specials sheet with English translations, so I ordered the sashimi and Perry got the Yakitori. My sashimi was beautiful, and really delicious as well (not to mention great value for the price!):


So, for our second course, we thought it would be fun to relax with a Japanese whisky, of which several were pictured on the menu. We thought the point and smile method might work; it turns out that the waitress’s confused looks (again, a clear give away that we should have re-thought our order, it seems like confusion and dismay is a universal expression) were definitely warranted. She brought us a bowl of cut oranges, and a bowl of cut lemons.

So, this time life actually gave us lemons. Our solution: order whisky. A really friendly guy in the bar had approached us as we sat down (just a neighborhood business man looking to practice his English, we think) and mentioned that he had recently been to Las Vegas and would help if we wanted to order. We kind of laughed him off, but ended up really appreciating his help (and smiling through the laughter as everyone slowly realized what had happened). Overall, I would say it was a fairly good start to our experience here in Japan, if only because the food, atmosphere, and interaction with locals was so great.

Now, we’re off to bed and heading to Kyoto early tomorrow!

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