A Honeymoon in Asia - Tokyo - Day 2

I guess when you're on vacation in Japan hangovers are masked by your excitement of being in Japan.

I set my alarm and woke up something like 3 hours later so we wouldn't miss the brunch we were supposed to go to.  Turns out everyone was running several hours late and I could have slept more.  The is the view from John and Masako's swanky Minami Azabu apartment.

we went to brunch at Garden House Crafts in this new little area in Ebisu they developed since I lived there.  There's even a brewery there, Spring Valley Brewery

oh Jonny, it's been 18 years, we could have a kid graduation from highschool by now.

Meguro river and the crush of tourists and tokyoites out to soak in the flowers.

Afuri Ramen is now a chain but they're yuzu shio and yuzu shoyu ramen is the bomb.

the view from Ai and James' huge swank apartment in Motoazabu

JP, a korean guy from my Japanese class was in town for business so he came over.  He pulled these out of his bag and everyone was in love with them.
looks like a good time at Roppongi Hills.

We had Kaiten zushi at Pintokona in Roppongi Hills

At Narita airport, I use a Wacom tablet to draw with digitally and here they have it to sign your credit card signature!

with few options left we went with McDonalds, which is better in Japan.  Look at this fried chicken McMuffin for breakfast!  Ok Korea here we come. (but not before we caught our Far'Fetched Asia exclusive pokemon as we were boarding the plane Yes!).

A Honeymoon in Asia - Tokyo - Day 1

after taking the bullet train to tokyo we had lunch with John and Masako and high tailed it over to Shinjuku Gyoen, the nicest park in Tokyo (used to emperors golf course so the grass is fairway grass).  It costs $3 to get in so it keeps the riff raff out (which you'll see later as we join them at Yoyogi park).  This is an array of Tokyo buddies including my old roommate Naoki and Ritsuko and new child.  Johnny was my roommate in Albany too.

the park closed early at 4pm for some reason (maybe its like that everyday, everyone seemed surprised and sad about it).  There was no way they were gonna get that many people out of the park so we were there until 5:30.  The park peeps make a kind of walking line, sweeping people out as they slowly went across the park.
it was a little after peak bloom so that made magical petal showers when the wind blew.
Ai said they don't check bags at the Sendagaya gate of the park but they did this day, but they only looked with their eyeballs for a milisecond so if you hide your stuff in the bottom of your bag with chips on top you'll be fine.
bye Yuri Buri from FIT and Fumika's hometown, see you next time.

we made our way over to Yoyogi park because it's free and open 24 hrs.  It's more like the party park.  By the time we got there there were people falling over, sleeping in mud, etc...  Agnes from New York and Japan came shortly after Stevie and his brother David found us.

We went to Doma Doma, a chain izakaya and the only real option to fit our big group (we tried Niku Yokocho, a building where the inside looks like a huge crazy shotengai with various eating places, but there was no way we could fit this many people).  After that we went to this beer place in Shibuya and I was super sleepy and took these spicy eyedrops to try to stay awake, looks like the girl behind me did the same thing at the same time.  That lasted for about a minute so we drank little sweet Japanese coffees from the convenience store 2x and went to this pagoda of bars in Shibuya near tokyu hands.

We landed on Rock No Cocoro 
This was the only day where our schedule over lapped with Steven and his brother's and we definitely went big.

Japanese folk will sleep anywhere

it was hot in there and this guy was wearing a lined rain jacket and thrashing around and really feeling DJ Tanuki's music (i made up that name)

It was basically a group of like 6 DJ friends pumping their fists at the DJ booth and then switching places and so on

we went to the hip hop bar on the top floor for one drink and sent Steven's brother back down to the rock bar to talk to some girls and he actually did it.  When we went back down he was talking to a girl and in order to help him out we stayed and drank until 5am.  He got her number so, success.

sleeping anywhere

this Tanuki turned out to be completing the teacher's training course at my old Japanese language school.  We took the first train home at 5 something and died.  What a night.

A Honeymoon in Asia - Kyoto - Day 2

Nishin soba is one of Kyoto's specialty foods.  It's dried herring that's a little sweet with soba noodles. (Jen didn't like how a lot of Japanese food is sweet).

Yuu tofu on the left if made from the skin that forms on top of tofu, kind of like what happens with tomato soup.  Under it is a rice bomb and its all really good.

took the Keifuku Randen Tram to Arashiyama.  It's not the fastest but it meanders by houses and scenic old kyoto


tons of kinds of flowers in this garden

through the bamboo forest

just kickin' it with my Kyoto Krew.

this office has the coolest roof and then the interior is as sterile as it gets.

a white tanuki statue?!!! Gimmie!!!!

Akira san tachi recommended an okonomiyaki place in Tenjin Bashi Shotengai (shopping street) and it turned out to be the coolest place we saw in Osaka.  I wish we had like half a day to explore this place.

Chigusa is the name of the place, there are two entries on google maps so make sure you get the right one.

we got a "Modern" one with noodles inside and their namesake, the Chigusa.  It's the best okonomiyaki I've had.  There were no tourists and it was down and dirty real food.  

coolest lantern

Masami met us and so it was on to second dinner.  We went to their friend's sushi place, Shibasaki, owned by and run by their buddy Hiroshi Shibasaki (seen here).  He asked what we wanted and I said please give us not the usual sushi stuff and away we went.  He made a flurry of stuff we've never had and this was the best meal we had in Japan.  At one point he slapped some sea creature (torigai) on the bottom and it curled up and we ate it.  
As soon as we walked in a customer sitting at the bar turned and saw me and was trying to remember the name of this guy, Hanawa Kun, because Japanese peeps think my hair looks like that.  I helped him out with the name and then everyone in the place had a good laugh.

I'm sure i've had Sansho before but I really noticed it this time.  It comes from this leaf and Shibasaki san gave me a packet of the powdered spice.

Don't know why this came out but maybe it was about how in Japanese lots of things are called blue but they are actually green.  The green traffic light is called blue, so are green shiso leaves and these green oranges that they are calling blue.

glorious fatty marbled Japanese beef.  One of the nights, as a post drinking snack I guess, Akira and Masami cooked on of these kinds of steaks for us that her mom gave her and it was delicious.

this girl was singing a song about kabocha (japanese pumpkin) and it was just an everyday occurrence.

We finished it all off with a trip to a Super Sento in Amagasaki in Hyogo prefecture on the way home.  Yomogawa Onsen Mizuki Hot Spring.  A sento is a public bath, but a super sento is a super sized complex.  We went to increasingly hot sauna rooms all together and then the sexes split up and and hit their respective multiple mineral water hot baths.  They even had this cold room with snow falling in it.  It was like being in a fairytale.  There was a scraper device slowly spinning on the ceiling scraping a block of ice into snow fall.
These are photos from their website of the inside