Day 179 - Temples and Sushi Trains

Thursday, August 4th, 2016
6th Day In Japan; Tokyo

"Wǒ de tiān" Shimou's cousin says, passing my bedroom and seeing that I'm still sleeping at 9am. That's Chinese for Oh my God. We went to bed at after 3, and somehow they're all up around 8, acting like I'm the weirdo. They just arrived, chomping at the bit to go; I've been vacationing for almost a week, and that's if we ignore the 3 weeks before that. Shimou says this cousin tends to wake up early in general, so this probably seemed like an eternity to wait around. We let them go ahead, giving them directions.

The insects here buzz with ever-increasing intensity, sounding like a futuristic bomb charging up, about to explode. Lots of variation, too, so you never know if a time traveller is hiding in the bushes about to blast your face off. It is Japan, after all. 
The Entrance to the Temple Area
Sensoji Temple

We meet up with them at a famous temple, incense hanging in the air, and people taking pictures all over the place. They have stands that tell you your fortune for ¥300 ($3.30 CAD) which our three travelmates chose to do. Aurora's was bad, so they chose to disregard it. Such is the life of fortunes.

The Sky Tree in the Background
Raw Horse Meat
There's a long market with little shade and many different languages being spoken. We skip it because our friends are ahead, waiting somewhere. After grabbing some Matcha frozen ice treats, we find our colleagues and Aurora's friend, Breanna. While we walk to a soba (cold noodle) restaurant, she tells me about the a restaurant where she she works part time. A highlight there is that they serve raw horse meat, eaten with sauce. She doesn't get it, but it seems to be popular. 

Working to Death

Store Shutters Fighting It Out
She also tells me more about the Japanese culture. People often work until 10pm, starting at 8 or 9 in the morning. They even have a word for being overworked to death, karōshi. The Chinese also have a word for this, guòláosǐ, which is "work labour death." People literally die at their desks.

Noodle Tea?

After eating our small servings of cold soba noodles, they offer us to drink the broth.Yeah, the starchy noodle broth served like tea. Uh, sure... why not. It's... about what you'd expect, nothing special.

The Market

Soba Noodles and Assorted Tempura
Face Masks

Another fun part of Japanese cultures is the masks, like we wear in Beijing. Only, they don't wear it to filter the air. It's for two main reasons, I'm told: first, women wear masks if they're not wearing makeup so that they don't "offend" others with their undone faces; second, they wear them if they're sick to prevent others from getting sick. Super considerate.

Apparently, I donated to 
the Monk today...
Subway Shenanigans

We had a fun walk around the train station after we bought tickets from a machine, which turned out to be for the wrong train line, which is a different company. Two separate companies, I guess. After a half hour of walking to different floors and layers, our Japanese speaking friends figured it out. I can't imagine how difficult this might be if I had to do it solo.

Pocket WiFi

It's WiFi... In your pocket! WiFi wherever you go! What is this insanity! I thought it was just a mobile router around the house! Oh man, that's cool. 

Yuzu arrived and gave us another gift, this time one for me and Shimou, both of them hand fans. She's funny, just showing up is the gift because we're always happy to see her. 

Hand Washing Before Entering The Temple
Praying and Fortunes

Go to a shinto shrine with 5 Chinese women, 1 Japanese woman, and me. The temple was large, we prayed. Praying involves walking up, bowing twice, throwing your donation into the bin, and clapping twice, making your wish somewhere in that process. We then bought fortunes for ¥100 (1.30 CAD); Yuzu's was to keep sunrise in her heart, Shimou's was to be true to her passions, and mine was to be humble and maintain high ideals. 

Feigning Understanding

Prayer area to the back right
Shimou is the go-between of all of us. She will explain things in Chinese, resulting in a collective "Ooooooh" of understanding from the other 4 Chinese women. Yuzu and I, lagging behind, pretend to understand by joining in, eyes darting around, clearly not understanding. 

On the way out, we were consulting a map when another foreigner, who turns out to be fluent in Chinese, appeared. He joined us on our walk out of the forest. Turns out he's Canadian, studied Mandarin in university, and is now studying a couple hours away from Beijing.

All Aboard the Sushi Train

We went to train sushi, which is sushi carts, not actual trains. This surprised Yuzu because they had real trains on the website. Still awesome.  (Video at the Bottom)

Somewhere in Today, Shimou and I went to a Museum
but there was very little written in English, 
so I didn't learn much.  I assure you that there was a lot of 
cool-looking stuff which you won't see here!
Yuzu said that this restaurant was cheaper and higher quality than the other options, which would explain the massive line. Despite such a line, it moved really quickly. We had decided to wait 30 min just in case, but we made it in within 20. 

You can order 3 items at a time, which will all show up within a few minutes. You take it off your train, and push a button saying you received it. There are 3 tracks running around each length of seats. Notable things I tried: Cheeseburger sushi, squid, and raw octopus. Couldn't decide between Japanese desserts, so I didn't. I got their Japanese pudding, and almond jelly with mango. I recommend both. 


Some Famous 
Dog Statue, Hachikō
I asked Yuzu to explain the bowing conventions after a group of store clerks bowed as we left. Do we bow back? Do we acknowledge or thank them? No need to bow back, she said. She explained that the more of the body you use, the more formal it is. She demonstrated the formal box, which uses the whole body, hands maintaining contact with the sides of your body and your neck remains straight as you bend forward. The less of your body moves, more casual. The least casual is a quick glance down and back. I told her that seems like a flirtatious look to the west, mainly if a woman does it.

We'll Miss You-zu

Shimou and I walked Yuzu to the entrance to the subway and said a slightly drawn out goodbye, as this would be the last time we'd see her on this trip. Who knows when we'll meet again, but we left an open invitation for her to stay with us for free in Beijing, and she promised with a lengthy pinky-swear song that she would visit while I'm still living there.

Train Sushi
Back With The Group

In the convenience store, we buy our breakfast, I grab some snacks, and try my nightly tall boy of a random <¥200 ($2.60 CAD) alcohol. Grapefruit-lemon, lychee, pineapple, lemon. Lychee tasted like soap, while pineapple was... interesting. 

On my way out, the shopkeeper had forgotten to give me chopsticks. I quickly took them and thanked him... In Chinese. I wonder how they interpret it. 

In North America, if I spoke Chinese to every Asian person, I'd be considered at least mildly racist. Here.. Ignorant? Stupid? Who knows. 

NOTE: I screwed up with timing and both 178 and 179 were both posted today

Word of the Day - Japanese Edition
English - Japanes [pronunciation]

Editing Music
James Blake

Bonus: Sushi Train in Action

No comments:

Post a Comment