Tuesday 18th August – Asakusa

Sitting in the ryokan, listening to the cicada/semi who’s chorus of chirruping was great to wake up to, I’ve decided to fill you in on another details from yesterday.

I felt like Naruto and got to try ramen!

To be honest, it’s not been the best meal so far, but it wasn’t too bad despite having only one piece of meat. Which incidentally Tom didn’t even get! He looked solely for meat, and ended up with tofu! Aw! Luckily enough I’d finished when I went to the otearai (toilet) as a coin got dropped in my bowl anyway.

So to move onto today, Colin tried the Western breakfast which contained a Western assortment of:
Pasta (twisted)
Orange juice
Sweet potato

The fish was the main part of this Western meal. Hm…

Today we are going to relax and shop around the ryokan area, so in case there is little to report, here are some of the little facts which I’ve noticed:

  • The lifts are small. Tiny. The one in this ryokan can’t even take the weight of four people sometimes so it takes twice as long to get to our room. And in general, despite the high technology everywhere, the hover sensitive toilets, doors, taps, soaps, hand dryers and even bins, the lifts do not have this function. So when you enter or leave one, you need to hold the door back as they are quick to crush you otherwise!
  • The roads outside are huge! Petros sais that this is something to do with keeping the air cool but I wasn’t really paying attention at the time as I was too busy roasting! But the air conditioning indoors is GREAT!
  • Everywhere seems to have some kind of either calming music or jaunty, low quality jingle. Shops, traffic lights etc., and loads of people who are paid to stand on the pavement and continuously shout for customers. Even occasionally in English!
  • The kanji for Oishii, tasty, is made up of the characters for beautiful, and flavour.
  • The kanji for Hisshi, frantic, is made up of the characters for certain and death. Rather apt!

Okay so now I’m back in the Ryokan and looking to update this journal online (fingers crossed). I’m cuddling my new fox squirrel who I saved from Grumpy san, and drinking a nice can of iced cocoa.

Today we started off shopping but there was simply too much to chose from. However because we had all split up, I got to practise my Japanese which was limited at best, but I got the impression that it was greatly appreciated. When buying a bag, the lady initiated a conversation which simply put, involved the Japanese version of:
‘Good morning! This please.’
‘Thank you.’
‘How much is it?’
‘___ yen.’
‘Thank you,’
‘Would you like a bag?’
‘Sorry but I don’t speak much Japanese…’
‘Ah yes please.’
‘First time in Japan?’
‘Where are you from?’
‘England. Japan is very hot. England is cold!’
‘Where are you going?’
‘Kyoto tomorrow. Yay!’
‘That’s really hot.’
‘No! Fuji san after. Hot?’
‘No very cold.’
‘Yaaay! Perfect!’
‘Here you go.’
‘Thank you very much.’
‘Thank you very much.’

Yes there was a little confusion but yay! This is a big step for me. And another big step, I saw some lollies, read adzuki in hiragana and bought it.  Recognised the flavour first! (it was really weird but kinda nice)

After this I stopped by a shop which caught my eye yesterday. The Ghibli Shop! I seriously wanted to buy everything and it turns out, so did Petros! Unfortunately these wondrous items were watched over by the aforementioned Grumpy san. Not that I think he was grumpy, just incredibly prejudiced against Gaijin. But his shop was great with continuous Totoro music playing and although we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside, plenty were taken of the window items. Here was also where I saved a fox squirrel!

After we visited a temple shortly, and the ryokan shortly, we had a lunch of something a little like Chinese/Japanese McRamen. I finally got a healthy meal consisting of these great chicken nugget things, and gyouza which went everywhere, but were so nice! Strangely enough, this has been the first and only place where I haven’t really liked the standard of the toilet. Go figure.

Then back to the ryokan for a kip before everyone’s favourite… sushi! A little like Yo Sushi! But better, this place has a conveyor belt too. Free help yourself green tea tap at each table, soy sauce, and there’s a big tank of fish in the middle to look at and feel guilty about. They even carried out and killed a huge lobster in front of all of us which I admit really made me mentally cringe. I know that it’s a part of the culture, but I was rather put off after that regardless. Silly I know. However, despite my Igurisu brainwashing, I did try tentacle which was surprisingly nice and soft, yet my brain still shouted ‘Ew!’ And a side note, we walked straight in, but while eating we saw a huge queue going right around the corner. Now how’s that for timing!

We finished off the evening with karaoke where I sucked, but found 3 Wicked songs, Colin and Tom were great again and Petros even joined us for the final number!

So we have to say goodbye to our beloved Asakusa Ryokan early tomorrow but in the meantime I’ll quickly fill you in on some info.

Colin got treated like a dog for being a gaijin by another Grumpy san who he\d only just spoken flawless Japanese to.

Today we visited a street full of plastic foods and other shop necessities which really made us hungry as they are so realistic! And my faith in old Japanese men (oji san) was renewed as I bought one tiny onigiri keyring and the man was very overly polite, bowed low, and really seemed pleased to have a gaijin come, take interest, and buy something in his shop. He was great.

So I think that that’s it for today. I think that I’ve forgotten something besides my conversation with the ryokan ladies who loved my Totoro fan, but if I remember tomorrow…

So sweet dreams, oyasuminasai!

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