Step Six: Realize Your Lazy Day is Just Filler Until You Post the Next, Really Exciting (No- REALLY) Day of the Adventure

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So day four started off nice and slow, with an onigiri (or two) that I had picked up at the 7-11 the night before. (It was like I KNEW I’d be moving slowly the next morning.)2014-04-05 08.00.35

One was salmon and one was (I believe) Tobiko. As to which was which....

One was salmon and one was tobiko or masago. As to which was which….

 

I took the time to dump all of my photos from the past few days onto my laptop, and reflect back on the trip so far. Slowly, I was allowing myself to accept the fact that I was actually in Japan. Also, I was realizing that I was completely smitten with this whole country, even more so than when I first started planning this whole trip.

Nathan had set it in his mind that I could not truly experience Japan until I had sampled CoCo Ichiban. Nathan can be very correct sometimes. This was one of those times. CoCo was a wonderful experience, from the moment that we walked in the door and received international menus. Not just English menus. Not just picture menus (though there were fantastic pictures involved.) These were INTERNATIONAL menus. If I had wished to order in Portuguese, I could have. Another wonderful thing I noticed (and this is not just limited to CoCo) is how, at many of these establishments, you have the ability to choose a variety of portion sizes. And this is not just your average fast-food sizing; this is full on personal customization. You want a lot of rice? a little rice? Any of the in-between rice sizes? ALL OF THE RICE?!? You got it! The same goes for sauces and toppings.

As I was not currently conditioning for any eating challenges at the time of our visit, I chose a modest amount of rice and chicken cutlet curry.

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It might look underwhelming, but I would probably eat this every day if I could.

As we ate our ever-most-filling delight, I began to ponder where the local Japanese person might go if they were in need of new tea cups, tatami mat, lumber, art supplies, and a hamster, all while checking out a giant tortoise.

“Why, they would go to Joyful Honda!” my cousin gleefully exclaimed. And thus our next venture was secured.

So very Joyful!

So very Joyful!

So basically we explored all over this wonderful land of ALL OF THE THINGS, and I picked up a trinket or two, but I failed to take any super awesome pictures. Every so often, I like to just enjoy being in the moment rather than trying to capture the moment. I wasn’t being super lazy, I swear!

I did, however, think to capture this gem. I think all elevators should carry this, or similar adorable warnings, to keep me from getting my fingers crunched by their doors.

 

Crab will always beat scissors (though I imagine rock might beat crab)

Crab will always beat scissors (though I imagine rock might beat crab)

Step Five: Split Up a Whole Day into Two Posts and See if Anyone Notices.

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As we made our way back to Harajuko station, my cousin and I were greeted along our path by a beautiful display of luminaries and projected light.

I am stealing this idea for my Pinterest board.

I am stealing this idea for my Pinterest board.

There was a number of flower light projections all down the path.

There was a number of flower light projections all down the path.

 

Warning: Luminaries may be able to see into the depths of your soul.

Warning: Luminaries may be able to see into the depths of your soul.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All of which lead us to a spectacular performance of Kabuki Theater.

Even without knowing what was going on, it was pretty cool to watch.

Even without knowing what was going on, it was pretty cool to watch.

Some of the traditional performers from Tōhoku region.

Some of the traditional performers from Tōhoku region.

As we marveled at the production in front of us, wondering at what cultural heritage event we had stumbled upon, an older gentleman behind us took pity on these two clueless Americans. In halting English, and with many hand gestures, he explained that these performers were actually from Fukushima. All in all, the whole production appeared to be a very big “To Do”, with many people enjoying the rare chance to see the Meiji Shrine and its park after dark.

Oh! Candid Shot!

Oh! Candid Shot!

And why, you ask, was this entire event going on? Well, it wasn’t until after the fact that we realized we’d stumbled into the beginnings of the 100th anniversary of the Empress Shoken’s passing.

But we had made dinner plans already, and we needed to scurry on to Shinjuku and the tasty yakiniku hiding there.
As you can see, there was much tastiness to be had.

The meat- It was plentiful.

The meat- It was plentiful.

I even tried my hand at manning the grill!

Actually we did almost smoke the place out, but not while I was manning the grill.

On this edition of Cooking with Kate, there is the possibility of everything catching on fire.

Once stuffed full of tasty meaty goodness, we ventured out to find a nightcap. I now regret to say that we did not have the time or inclination to wait for a spot in the Robot Restaurant, but we can all at least sleep happier knowing that a place like this exists in the world. Instead we found a small, hole-in-the-wall cigar bar, where the main table actually wrapped around the piano, and everything was served in crystal.

That's a 12 year McClelland single malt there, in case anyone cares.

That’s a 12 year McClelland single malt there, in case anyone cares.

It was pretty fantastic.

I had spent a wonderful day, out and about, but the most surreal moment had yet to occur. As we took our train home, I experienced the crush of the late night crowd, and maneuvered my way to grab a much-coveted seat. I may have even joined my fellow commuters in fighting off the inevitable urge to doze off once sitting. Once exiting the train, I immediately found myself naturally heading up the left side of the stairs with the rest of the crowd, without even being prompted. With them, I watched in a detached state, as two inebriated salary men began shoving and punching each other on the stair landing.

I continued on my way out of the station and into the slight drizzle; a realization finally starting to bloom in the back of my mind:

“Huh. I’m in Japan.”

The trains are pretty wonderful to watch.

The trains are pretty wonderful to watch.