I realized today that I forgot to update about food in Nara! We went to an amazing sushi restaurant for lunch, which specialized in fresh tuna dishes. I got the O-toro sashimi, one of the best and most succulent types of tuna, prepared fresh with just wasabi, radish, and a side of white rice. Perry got a bowl filled with rice, seaweed flakes, green onion, and a double layer of tuna belly, and both were accompanied by miso soup (strangely, the first miso soup we’ve actually had here- a lot of the Japanese food we’ve had here is funnily not the Japanese food that seems so incredibly ubiquitous in the United States, which isn’t too surprising).
For dinner, we went to a local pub, where the older locals really made it a great time for us (including toasting to us with sake and attempting to joke around with us in really broken English and Japanese, which was pretty funny). I didn’t take too many photos, but we both acknowledged that we were having too much fun with the Nara locals to really think about what we were eating. We tried the Ume-Shu (plum wine) and Ume vodka-like drink (very low alcohol content though) as well as several traditional Japanese foods: the fermented soybean natto, which everyone was shocked I was eating and enjoying (the waiter and the locals all made the “do not do this” expression and again, I did it anyways); the steak and grilled chicken plates, the ‘crab butter’ which was essentially the brown parts of the crab (I think the fat or the intestines? I can’t remember which, but the kind that unless you’re a die hard crab-picker, you don’t go for) formed into a really thick mousse and served with cucumbers; a soy broth soaked egg; a fried pork stick. Overall, it was a great way to learn a lot about modern Japanese culture and have fun while doing so.
Today, we took the train from Nara to Kyoto and Kyoto to Tokyo, ending up here in the Roppongi area of Minato City, Tokyo (Tokyo may be the most impressively large, populated city I’ve ever been to – at one point, I really think we crossed the street at a four way cross walk with at least 500 other people at one intersection, and we experienced the subway guards pushing more people onto the subway trains, oops for taking it at rush hour). The snow made it a very pretty ride (both pictures taken without filter through the same window).
Upon arrival, we decided to wander the Roppongi area, which is famous for its nightlife and artsy feel. We walked through the main area and then to the Tokyo Tower, one of Tokyo’s main tourist attractions.
The Tower itself is pretty cool – I think going at night was an advantage, because everything was totally lit up and you can just see how huge this city is (and it kind of runs into a couple other cities, about 4km and 13km away, like Yokohama).
Then, we took the subway to a different trendy area of Tokyo called Shibuya, where all the masses of people were. I cannot express how many people there are in that area, at all times. We spent a considerable amount of our night waiting in line for the best ramen bar in Tokyo, an underground joint that has an automated machine and serves you at an individual ramen cubby, with 8 rolls of toilet paper in the bathroom and kleenex boxes lining the tops of the walls behind the seating (presumably to offer you mitigation opportunities for your tears after the spicy ramen). It did not disappoint; we both got the basic ramen with a half noodle refill, a spiced egg, and extra spicy sauce (I should have ordered spicier, but alas).
After that, we crossed Shibuya and went to a very nice cocktail lounge which served fancy Japanese cocktails, both of which were delicious (the type of place where the emphasis is definitely on the flavor and creativity of the drink, rather than its alcohol content, which was really nice). Now, we’re back at our apartment planning out what we’d like to do tomorrow!