Looking back, I’m really confused about what actually happened this day. I have tons of photos, obviously, and they are all organized by day…. but we lost a day flying to Tokyo and so the dates are all wrong and I’m just confused. I mean…I think I have it figured out. If not, I’ll do a little PS later or something.
So day three! After an emotionally exhausting day at the Ghibli Museum the day before we decided to stay relatively close to our neck of the woods in Shinjuku. We hadn’t really explored at all and I knew of a pretty epic department store where you could get gourmet food in the basement. (Totally weird, right?) Even stranger, the Isetan Department Store is connected to the Subway station so we figured, if anything, we would buy a few things to go and head somewhere else. This speaks volumes about how different/clean Japan is. When you think of a subway station here in the states, this is what you imagine:
But in Japan the subway stations are full of fashionable boutiques and restaurants. They are also connected to crazy glamorous department stores. Like, Gucci glamorous.
Anyway, Napkin and I headed towards the Shinjuku station and the Isetan Department Store. When we got there, it was absolutely insane. Something that was really hard to get used to in Tokyo was the amount of people EVERYWHERE. Everyone is polite and quiet but you get bumped and pushed everywhere you go. This is because of the sheer mass of people crammed into small spaces. It’s really intense. For example:
It was like this everywhere. But for good reason! Gourmet food is everywhere!
Uh oh! You see those red pants? That’s me. At one of many super fancy sweets counters. I had made a promise to myself that, while in Tokyo, I would treat myself to fancy macarons. I’m not sure how this little french cookie got to be so popular in Japan– but they are super hip!
This was the first time I tried to order anything in Japanese. It was a little shaky and embarrassing– but I did it! (With the help of a picture book, ahem.)
Look at these treats!! Desserts have an almost romantic gift feel to them in Japan. …You just remember this the next time it’s Valentine’s Day and someone gives you a plastic bag full of fun size M&Ms.
We were pretty exhausted by the whole experience (you’ll hear this a lot from me) so we decided to head back to the hotel and take it easy for a little while– we had made plans to meet a friend of a friend in Koenji for a Halloween Party.
My dinner was the following:
(Sorry, I took this picture after eating half. The macarons I chose were: Chocolate, Cafe, Framboise, Yuzu, Sea Salt and Caramel, and Pistachio. They were just as good as you would expect.)
When we got back to the hotel, we got a message from our friend telling us that he was sick and wouldn’t be able to meet us at the party. I’m going to make a little side-note here to tell you that keeping in touch with anyone was almost impossible in Tokyo. We had wired internet in our room but it was super spotty. There was wireless downstairs in the lobby but if you could even open an email with it you were lucky. Free wi-fi is basically non-existent in Tokyo (we learned that the reason for this is because phone-data packages are so all inclusive that most people don’t need it.) There were a few places where you could register for free wi-fi (like Starbucks) but you had to have wi-fi to register for wi-fi, making it really complicated. I learned after coming back that tons of people tried to get in touch with me (both in Japan and the States) and I never got anything from anyone.
…It’s nice to know that I DO, in fact, have friends though.
Anyway. Going back to the hotel. So we got an email from our friend saying that he was super sick and couldn’t meet us at the party, but he sent us the address to the bar and told us we should stop by anyway. Napkin and I talked it over a little bit and then decided, “Why the heck not. Let’s go.”
Napkin then started assembling his costume (which was this guy from Gremlins) and I quickly realized that I didn’t have a costume! So I left Napkin at the Hotel and ran to the nearest convenience store to get whatever I could find. I came back with hair ties, eyeliner and fake eyelashes. I did a couple test runs and decided that making devil horns out of my own hair was probably the best I was going to do. This was what I came up with:
So off we went. (Another shameless instagram pic.)
What we didn’t realize was that Tokyo doesn’t celebrate Halloween the way that we do. I heard that Roppongi and Harajuku were a little more celebratory– but on the train from Shinjuku to Koenji all we got was super weird looks.
We started to doubt our plan.
(Here we are! Awkward on the subway!)
I must have been a little overwhelmed (or I exhausted, which I think I was the entire time) because this apparently happened:
That’s right. That’s your girl passed out on the train. Next to another girl (that I don’t know) who is also passed out. And we are passed out in the exact same position. This did not happen on purpose. WHAT
So Napkin and I got off at the Koenji station and started walked towards the bar, Dynamo. We looked in the window and saw that no one, NO ONE, was in costume. I immediately panicked. My smart husband had prepared for this by choosing a costume that could easily be tucked away into his backpack. However! I, the more theatrical of the two of us, looked like a dummy. I scrambled to the corner and combed out my ridiculous hair and did what I could to not look like an-Amy-Winehouse eyeliner-school-drop-out.
We sat down and I ordered a drink (all drinks were 500 yen, the bartender just handed me a list) and when Napkin said that he just wanted a water– the bartender asked that he order something else or leave. Apparently, with no cover charge, you had to order something. Napkin doesn’t drink so he paid 6.16 USD for a coke. We were off to a rocky start.
I went to the bathroom (see above) and while I was there, Napkin started talking to people around him out of desperation. There was a DJ playing some pretty rad old school stuff and when Napkin asked him if he knew our friend by any chance, the DJ realized who WE were! Our friend had told his buddies to be on the look out for us if we showed up! We were saved! We had friends!
The night totally did a 180 after that. We met some pretty great people, my 500 yen drink was one of the strongest I’ve ever had in my life (so I had another) and then we decided to do some spontaneous late night karaoke. Karaoke in Japan goes like this: Bars don’t close unless people leave. Karaoke places are open all night. The reason for this is because most trains stop running at midnight and don’t start up again until 4:30 in the morning. So if you miss your train (and you’re in the mood) you need something to do! Like drunkenly sing with your friends!
That’s right. Karaoke Kan. The karaoke franchise that looks like an office building. They are EVERYWHERE.
This is pretty much the last picture I have that isn’t blurry. (Because everything was blurry, at that point.)
While waiting to be signed up for our room (thank goodness for our new, Japanese speaking friends) a teenage boy had a very epic tumble-while-puking episode to the floor and someone asked me to leave Napkin and go home with him because he was more handsome. When I shook my head, something along the lines of, “is it because he looks like Nicholas Cage?” was said and the other boy did this:
That really sums it up. We were lead to a room where I may have had a beer (I don’t know) I “la-la-la’ed” along to:
while one of our new friends totally ruled it like a pro. There was also Beyonce. There was also Wu-Tang?! Napkin and I sang a duet, I think. Then our friends got us a cab and we headed back to Shinjuku. Where we apparently got ourselves to our room and fell asleep. The funniest part about the cab ride (other than the fact that it’s a really distant, fuzzy seeming memory) was that we apparently got the cab 30 minutes before the trains started back up…
I guess when you gotta go, you gotta go.
That whole day was probably one of my favorites of the whole trip. New friends!! And it’s not the last you’ll hear about them either!