Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Day Three: Friends

Yo. Today we woke up around 9am and headed to Akiba to meet my friend Yami at 10:30am at the central gate. To clarify once more, Yami is American and lives in Scotts Valley but both of his parents are from Japan. His family is the first to move out of Japan, so he is here visiting his grandparents from his dad's side in Hiroshima. He comes to Japan every other year or so and he flies for about $50 because his dad is a flight attendant for AA. He flew the same route as us actually. My Japanese is perhaps a bit better than his, but we're pretty matched. He listens better and I speak better, so together we're one capable Japanese person, haha.

So Yami took us to Book Off, a big used bookstore chain. Everything there was super cheap and even though it was all used, it was all in great condition. Most secondhand shops were like that actually. They had tons of books, tons of games, and tons of music. I bought a MINMI CD and a PSP game for less than 200 yen ($2). Also I bought some doujinshi. I found a great Cowboy Bebop title. Each one was about 105 yen and I think I bought four or so. After that, we went to the Yodobashi electronics store. This place had four or five basement floors, all but one for parking, and nine floors of different stuff. I swear to you, each floor was the size of a single Costco or Home Depot. This place was massive. The eighth floor was a food center with about twenty restaurants. We had Chinese food and a few times we forgot that we were in a giant electronics department store. I had chashumen, BBQ pork ramen, and a coke-hi, which is basically like a jack and coke.

Things in the bookstore: Fifty Shades of Grey, a Sublime CD, a PSP game for $1, and outside nearby was this hotdog place that was stereotypically American.
Some misc. images of Akiba

After that, Yami took us to an arcade he liked a lot. He led us up to the third floor and started playing a rhythm game that he was familiar with. I was already knew what was gonna happen, but Kevin and Kyle didn't, so once he started playing their jaws dropped. I have a great video of Yami hitting all the notes with super precision and then turning to see Kevin's face.

Then we did something funny involving a vending machine.

A note about my travel mates: Kyle pretty much does what he wants, and Kevin follows suit. Kev really looks up to his older brother. So much so that he agrees with everything he says to a point that almost seems like he's going to contradict what he actually thinks. He even walks right next to Kyle, somehow pushing me behind them (the walkways are usually too narrow for three wide) so I have to constantly walk up in front of them so I can hear what they're saying, or remain the third wheel. So that's a bit annoying, but I can't complain too much though. They're both pretty cool, and I'm doing things I might not normally do on my own. So in that respect, it was nice to hang out with Yami. He's a lot like me in terms of things we like.

I found a book that I'd seen online, but it was cheaper here so I bought it. All the Japanese stuff either in San Jose or San Francisco or available online for US residents is super expensive. After all that, we said goodbye to Yami and headed back to the hotel for a bit to rest before going out to see my penpal Haruka.

A picture with Yami, before we parted ways, a cosplay maid advertising something, cheap old school games, and KYARY...again.

We met Haruka and her boyfriend Yasutaka at the southeast exit of Shinjuku station at 5:00pm and they promptly took us to a okonomiyaki restaurant. It was my first time having okonomiyaki, even though mom and Aunt Mindy had it two years ago in Osaka. It was pretty good; they ordered for us and we had perhaps four different kinds. The best part of the whole thing was getting to talk to them. Yasu told me a few weeks ago that he would only talk to me in Japanese, because he says he's not that great at Japanese. I understood a lot of what they were saying, and we spoke maybe 60:40 in Japanese. It was good practice for me, for sure. We had lots of funny conversations. At one point I said, in Japanese, "All Japanese girls are really cute!" and Yasu said, "No" and I replied to that by pointing to Haruka and saying, "Just this one?" to which he gave a funny face before we all broke out in laughter. I asked Yasu if he lived in Tokyo, and he said he did, in Shinjuku with his parents, grandparents, and one older sister. I saw a sign ahead of us that said, "Condomania" so I asked them what it meant. I thought it might have been condo buildings, but it was actually condoms. When explaining, Haruka said, "Not get pregnant."

Entrance to Takeshita-dori, Condomania!, something funny inside aforementioned store, Omotesando, and Kyary. She's a big deal to me.

About this time, we ended up on Omotesando, a long shopping street with expensive big name brands like Louis Vuitton, Dolce & Gabbana, Chanel and more. Oh and I forgot to mention, after eating we took the train from Shinjuku to Harajuku and walked through takeshita dori, a pedestrian only fashion shopping street and one of my favorite places in Tokyo, nay the world. But anyway, while in Omotesando Yasu and Haruka started laughing a lot so I asked them what was up and Haruka started covering Yasu's mouth so he wouldn't tell me before finally saying that Yasu said to her that she loved me. It was pretty funny. Along Omotesando was this place called Forbidden Fruit Cafe that I had heard had an unlisted boutique in the basement floor. We checked it out, and it was super cool. There was a Harley Davidson just in the middle of the store, and all these cool clothes and everything was super expensive. All at least a couple hundred dollars, pretty much.We checked out some cool secondhand shops, hoping to find some kimono for Kyle as a gift to his friends. One of the shops had Santa Cruz apparel, so that was really cool. To think it made it thousands of miles across the sea to this store from our hometown. In that same store, Kyary was playing on the loudspeaker and I knew all the words so I was surprising Haruka and Yasu with my knowledge of girly Japanese pop singers. We went to a lot of other secondhand shops and all of them had vintage American stuff like US army flight jackets, boyscout uniforms, varsity letter jackets, and more. The whole Harajuku area in general is super trendy. We took some pictures together and then parted ways. It was a great day.

Yasu & Haru (They're so adorable!), some SC swag that was a trip to see, and a couple funny store names.

Haruka & Me, Yasutaka & Me, Harajuku Station, yellow watermelon!

Oh, and I forgot to mention what the weather was like here. It's been about 80 F every day so far, and it's really muggy, but we've been getting used to it. I'm sure people in my family would find it just unbearable to live in, but I could deal with it. Such is the price of living in the best city in the world. And..you know, the actual price of living in the city. Tomorrow, and basically for the rest of the trip, we're gonna have a very high chance of T-storms, while still retaining the 80+ temp, but also adding 20+ mph wind.

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