Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Day Four: Shizuoka and a Slap in the Face

Yo. Today we woke up and walked to Shinagawa Station to get tickets for the shinkansen (bullet train). I had no plans of taking the shinkansen due to the price, but Kyle offered to pay for us all. When we were trying to talk to the ticket officer, he was saying that we needed to enter a secret code (pin number) for Kyle's card, and we were in turn trying to explain that credit cards don't need pin numbers. So we backtracked to the nearest hotel, my old hotel, and exchanged some more USD for yen, but we wouldn't end up needing it as we ended up with a different ticket officer and this time didn't require us to do anything special. So we went to Shizuoka by my suggestion. We rode the kodoma train inbound for Nagoya. It's about 325 miles away from where we're staying and it takes a little over an hour by bullet train. I went there two years ago on my last trip to Japan too. We walked from Shizuoka Station to Sunpu Park/Castle and promptly preceded to Momijiyama, the tranquil and beautiful little tea garden on the park grounds. The English electronic audio guide was of course, George Takei, just as I remember last time. I swear to you, it was him. He must have recorded it. Once we got to the tea house portion of the garden, we went inside and I asked for hojicha, excited to share it with Kev and Kyle; it's my favorite tea. One of the ladies working there was really nice and spoke English with a really good accent. I told her in Japanese that I had been there two years ago. We talked in Japanese a little bit after I told her it was my major and we talked about where we were from. She said she had visited LA and San Francisco before. She started talking in Japanese for a bit about a famous restaurant in SF that had rice and you could go with kids and family. That was all I caught out of it. We also went to the statue of Tokugawa Ieyasu, one of the shogunates that ruled Japan hundreds of years ago, and saw the mikan tree he planted himself.

The interior of the bullet train, a middle school near the castle, and two photos of the castle proper.

A panoramic of the garden.

The pathway to, and the interior of the tea house.

Chashumen again, a cool cartoon painting on the side of a museum, something funny and mildly racist, and a humorous sign written in Engrish.

After that, we found a ramen place for lunch called Nishikawa. It sat about seven people and we all got chashumen. The pork was sliced thin this time; a nice change of pace. Then we went to the Don Quijote that I also visited two years ago. It's a great discount store for just about anything you can think of. They had cheap DVDs at just 500 yen each. A bit later, we stopped in a Stabucks to use wifi and find a tea shop so that Kyle could buy some for a gift. The shop was pretty cool; apparently Shizuoka makes the most green tea in all of Japan. I told one of the workers that my friends were looking for hojicha and they said they didn't have it, but they gave us a sample of some sencha that was pretty good, and Kyle liked it, so I asked how much it was, and he showed me what packages were that kind of tea. So Kyle bought a bag of it and we were on our way. We took the shinkansen back around 3:00pm and arrived about an hour later where we relaxed until nearly 8:45pm.

A snack I had; french bread roll with a mango custard inside. Japan seems to love mango, and since it's also my favorite fruit, and I can't complain at all. I tried just about everything I saw that was mango flavored.

Around that time, we headed to Shibuya and found the Alcatraz ER Bar. This is a prison hospital themed bar and boy was it neato. Our table was in a jail cell, and the bars slid closed behind us. To call a waitress you needed to bang on the bars with a metal stick. Kevin and I ordered the experiment set which had test tubes of white curacao, lemon juice, blue curacao, rum, and something else I translated as, "vine." All these things could be mixed into a beaker of orange juice, and it changed to a green color afterward. It tasted pretty good too. Kyle got a drink that was inside of a mannequin head and it had coke, lime, ginger ale, and tequila in it. After a bit, some crazy music started playing and the girls in the cell next door told us to look out into the hallway. We did and we saw one of the waitresses with one of the customers. Everyone started counting up in Japanese from one to three and on three he took a shot of tequila and then the waitress slapped him! So once that was out in the open, I really wanted to do it. We called a waitress over and I asked her in Japanese what that was and she pointed to it on the menu. She asked if we wanted to do it, and I asked Kev and Kyle and they both wanted to after a moment of thought. Within a few minutes, the same music started back up again and they came for us in our cell. We counted up from one to three and took the shot and then the waitress grabbed Kyle and slapped him. Then she grabbed me and slapped me. And then following the pattern, immediately grabbed Kevin and slapped him. Right across the left cheek each time and in almost rapid motion. Afterward, the main waitress put the microphone up to me and said, "Speech," so I said "Tanoshikatta!" (it was fun!). They all seemed impressed with my Japanese. Then Kyle stumbled to try and repeat what I said and it came out more like tamagotchi. Kevin said, "Kakkoii! which means cool or awesome; a word I taught him and Kyle and they have been saying over and over since then. It was all so much fun! You can watch everything after the shot by clicking here. We paid our bill and left, realizing too late that we forgot our umbrellas inside. It was a little drizzly outside and we got a bit wet, but it was okay. I was a bit buzzed since leaving the bar; the first time since coming here. We left Shibuya around 10:00pm and came back to the hotel. All in all, a good night.

The entrance of Alcatraz ER, Kyle's drink, a peach chuhai and swiss roll, and Shibuya crossing at night.