Friday, January 29, 2010

Bread Project part 2

Above we have the delicious MELON BREAD, which tastes like a giant macaroon. MMMMM. Below that is Strawberry-jam-filled bread, not to be confused with strawberry-flavored bread. The latter tastes kind of bad, in my opinion. Too cake-y. The former was strawberrylicious, but also kind of too sweet for me. Below is a shot of the bread aisle in a konbini near my dorm. Some of the more savory breads. Cheese bread, sausage bread, etc.


A lot of large department stores in Tokyo have basement floors like this. Many food vendors will have small displays. The selection is vast! Many traditional Japanese foods, like tempura, bento lunches, and sushi were out on display like works of art. It smelled amazing. There was also a wide variety of pastries and bread! One place even had a glass-window kitchen, where two pastry chefs were making strawberry shortcakes (see Shibuya Part 3.1).


HACHIKO (Shibuya Part 2 of 3)

At Shibuya Station, the Hachiko exit leads you to a small square packed with people! In the center is this statue of the famous dog Hachiko, who faithfully waited for his master at the train station every evening for over 10 years after he'd pasted away. Now it's a popular meeting place! And a tourist hot spot. I was one of maybe a dozen foreigners who walked up to take a picture of him. After wards I sat for a while and observed the scenery. There were a lot of high school kids and trendy people standing around and walking by. Just behind me was the famous crosswalk. And, closer to the station entrance, is the entrance to the Tokyu Food Show, a basement floor food market with dozens of specialty stores selling all kinds of food and desserts.

Shibuya Exploring


By the way guys, I'm posting this directly from my cell phone, which I fugured out how to do. sweeet! Today after school I wandered around Shibuya for a bit. In shibuya, there are several things you must see:
1) The dog statue
2) the crosswalk
3) the food show
Now, of course, I made this list up. There's definitely a lot more to see in Shibuya besides this. But these were the things I was *most excited* to see.

Above you will see the cross walk, made famous by many movies and TV shows. It is an iconic image of Tokyo. This view is from the 3rd floor Starbucks that is part of a 6-floor multimedia store. With 1 whole floor of manga! I need to hurry up and learn to read Japanese.

This is also where the shot from Lost in Translation comes from. You might remember, the filmmakers couldn't get official approval for a shot of this crosswalk, so they just took their camera up to the Starbucks and perched it at the window seat. Guerrilla film-making for the win!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Mou Ichidou, Onegaishimasu

Some cell phone pictures. I've been e-mailing these and many more out! Want to see anything specific? Let me know and I'll send it to you.

The lonely vending machine. There are about 20 vending machines within a 100-meter radius of my dorm. This one is positioned in a parking lot. It's creepy (and eerily inviting) at night.

Shinjuku Station on my way home. Shinjuku-eki is CRAZY during rush hour, and this isn't even it. People line up neatly to get on the train.

Making a mushroom parley omelette on my new, 100-yen frying pan.

This is my dinner from Mos Burger, the most delicious fast-food chain ever. It's pretty posh for fast food, and more expensive, but even so. This meal was only around 650 yen. And White Grape Soda! sugoi oishii!

In other news, I played with Japanese Schoolchildren today. We drew pictures and flew kites. I attached myself to a very nice girl called Yuuna-chan. When we left at the end of the day she took my hand and we walked part of the way home together.

Monday, January 18, 2010


I still don't have a camera cord BUT! I do have my CELL PHONE! WAHOO! Photos GALORE!


Here it is! White and flippy!

We decided to get teriyaki on Friday night. We walked to a teriyaki bar about one train stop over. We were having a hard time reading the menu, so a nice businessman helped us! He is pointing out what things are for Jamie, Joe, and Dave!

Dave is ready for some teriyaki. That smudge at the bottom is my thumb. I'm still getting the hang of this thing.

Kevin is ready for some warm sake.

Jamie and Joe got really giggly with sake in them.



This is your host Abby, signing out!

BUT BEFORE I DO!!!! You can email my phone! For freezies! (I think...) Send me an email at !!!!


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Fay took some pictures too

Pizza face kawaii~!

Here's one of us in Shinjuku after dinner (ramen!!) and one on the streets of Ikebukuro, the most beautiful city ever.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, and Cute Flip Phones

Yesterday Fay and I had an adventure! We went to Ikebukuro, and let me just say, BUBBLE TEA MAID SPECIAL. Also, boy's love *everywhere*.

I only took a few pictures but here they are. I'm definately going back, though. Or, alternatively, spending all of my time there.

First we hit this Sanrio store, as Fay is a fan of Hello Kitty. It was all pink and frilly and they had cute cake-making supplies!

Our main goal for going to Ikebukuro was so that I could track down some boy's love vendors. And oh boy, did I find them. There are a few streets surrounding a skyscraper called Sunshine City (aptly named) that are chalk-full of anime merchendise, mostly catering to female fans. Plenty of pretty boys, romance comics, and doujinshi. here's the first place we hit, one of the many K BOOKS branches. It had a lot fo merchendise but no comics, so we moved on quickly. Not before I dug through some Sengoku Basara keychains, though. As I was oogling over them, a girl next to me was like, "You like Sengoku??" and I said yes and she got so exited! It was amazing. We oogled over the keychains together. Ashley, I think you would die of happiness here. So much Gundam 00 and Hetalia, among others.

The next place we hit was Animate, a 6-floor anime store, 3 floors of which is wall-to-wall manga. This wall in particular was completely boy's love novels.

And here's one of the many sections devoted to this manga artist, Ono Nastume, who Abby showed me and I keep seeing! She's hot stuff right now, which is great because she started out as a doujinshi(fan-comic) artist. Some of her stories have been scanlated already, I suggest looking them up. The one I linked to is also a cute anime now.

The third and final place we visited was the Ikebukuro branch of MANDARAKE, and okay, it's been decided that it's the most wonderful place ever. Most of the store is devoted to doujinshi (rows and rows and rows, like a warehouse!) but in the back they also have a lot of used manga, and the boy's love is sorted alphabetically by artist name, which means I can easily find the artists I like. I was too excited to take pictures but I did buy this comic:
By Suzuki Tsuta, one of my all-time favorite artists! The above comic ("The Guy Three Doors Down") is a sweet story of a man who gets a second chance at his first love. This comic was only 315 yen. That's dirt cheap, folks. The other comic I really want to buy is Otomen, which is a shoujo comic about a manly boy who secretly likes romance comics, cooking and sewing. I recommend both to anyone who likes romance comics.

I also forgot to take a picture of the maid bubble tea stand, but it was amazing! There was a bubble tea stand and an adjoining crepe stand, both run by an array of cute maids. They called me mistress and were very cute and understanding when I didn't understand "hot or "cool". Fay got a "Maid Special" crepe, which means she got to pick anything she wanted to be put inside it (fruits, creams, and chocolates to choose from!) and she got to pick a maid. We didn't understand what this meant until she was given a special treat with her crepe: a polaroid of the maid she chose, with little hearts drawn on it! !!!

OK, Sekaido art supplies. Located in Shinjuku, a 6-floor art supply store and also ABSOLUTE HEAVEN. I think I'll be in danger of spending all my money here. The quality and variety is just insane. It's also all in Japanese, so I'll need to figure out what everything is.
Stickers (on of many rows)

A wall of markers. I got too excited after this point so no more pictures for now. Just imagine rows like this, for every kind of art supplies imaginable. Going on and on forever.

This is a sweet japanese brush pen!!! It's actually a *brush* as opposed to a felt-tip brush pen. So beautiful.

And finally...a shiny new flip-phone, complete with phone charms. Everybody, from kids to old surly men, have cute phone charms here.

You can e-mail my phone for free, so here's the game: e-mail me some international love and I'll e-mail you back with a picture of something from wherever I am at the time. If you want to see something specific then let me know and I'll track it down. Here's the address:
go go go!!

Friday, January 15, 2010


I didn't want to post anything until I had my pictures to upload with them, but it looks like that might be too much to ask. I don't have the USB connector for my camera, and I've been trying like mad to find something that would work. I might just have to go to Akihabara this weekend and buy one, which would suck.

So, here are the updates from this past week! Be ready for a lot to read~


I talked to my momma on skype and took a shower with my BRAND NEW GREEN TOWEL FROM JUSCO! Then I went downstairs to make my delicious bread and cheese feast! You can get 8 slices at Jusco for 88 yen, and Japanese bread is fantastic. It toasts perfectly, which I cannot comprehend. Joe was making breakfast, too, so we chatted about Photoshop for a while cause we are both nerds like that. I went back upstairs and had a nice long chat with the folks. The cat is doing much better, for those of you wondering.

When Maria and I finally got our butts in gear to roll out to Harajuku, we realized a bunch of other people were going, too. We set out in a huge pack for ~*~HARAJUKU~*~. Trains are still terrifying, but we got there ok. We were greeted out of the train station by a huge crowd of people. Sunday is the day when everyone goes out to shop or flaunt their new outfits, so it was PACKED. The main walkway was so crowded it was hard to get around, much less go into any of the shops, but we had fun marvelling at all the cool stuff. When we got to the end, we turned the corner and BAM there were trillion story Forever 21 and H&M buildings right next to each other. Awesome.

We also found this tiny little used clothes store across the street that had tons of amazing stuff for like 90% off. Maria got three dresses for about 250 yen. Woah. From there we decided to head back to the station, but when we got there we saw some people dressed up like super crazy ravers and another dude with a FREE HUGS sign, so we stopped for photos. Right there across the street was Meiji shrine, so we had to go adventure~!

The shrine was beautiful, and there was some kind of big to-do that day, because tons of people were there. There was a HUGE arch under which you entered the shrine, and there were huge barrels of sake and wine lining the path, then beautiful ice sculptures. There were so many of them! Definitely over 50 sculptures. Hopefully I can post pictures soon, I took photos of almost all of them.

When you get to the entrance, you have to wash your hands in the traditional way before going into the temple. I gave it a shot, I hope they don't mind if I didn't do it quite right, haha. There was a giant crowd upon entering the main area. They were lined up to say their prayers and throw their offering into the offer boxes. Some people from our group wrote their wishes on slips with offerings and put them in another box that was farther away. We wanted to put our wishes on one of the wooden tablets, but they were 1000 yen, a little pricy.

I got my fortune slip for 100 yen, and though I can't read it, I'm going to ask Aki to help me soon. I had to wait in line, and then when I got there, I paid my yen and held this little box upside down and shook it. Inside are chopsticks, and one will fall out of a tiny hole in the box. On that chopstick is a number and your fortune slip corresponds to that. We left the main temple after all the photo ops had been op'd and walked out into an area selling food. I couldn't resist! I got a mochi, which is a bun filled with beans of some kind and steamed. It was soooo much better than the kind you can get at Jusco.

By the time we were done, the sun was setting, meaning it was FREEZING. We hopped the train home and went to Jusco for supplies. On the way we saw this doofy car with sexy anime ladies painted on the side, it was baller. Then we came home and played some Super Mario Broz and went to bed.


I woke up late, finally. I had to force myself to sleep cause of the jetlag. When I finally got around (you're welcome, John), I invited some dudes from my dorm to try and find the Sega arcade with me that was supposed to be like 3 stops over. I left with Jacob, Dave, Matt, and Kevin to find ~*~SEGA~*~

We decided to walk, cause 3 stops isn't too far. On the way, we saw a girl getting ready for her Coming of Age Day cerimony. She was all decked out in her kimono and her mom was taking pictures of her in front of the house. We asked to take her picture, and turns out she spoke very good English. Her mom was SUPER EXCITED that we wanted to take her picture, she was very flattered. It was really cute. From there we kept walking and got a little lost, so we went into a convenience store to ask directions. Luckily Kevin speaks very good Japanese, but even so the people at the counter had NO IDEA what we were talking about. They kind of pointed us in one direction, so we just decided to wander around.

WANDERING IS AWESOME, we found the Sega place. It was decrepit and totally SHUT DOWN and boarded up with metal plates. Oh well. It did have a badass picture of Sonic and Tails riding through the air on an American football plastered to the side of the building. BUT! Lo and behold! There was a temple not so far in the distance! ADVENTURE!

We had to climb these windy roads on a hill, but eventually we hit some stairs that led up to the temple. While we were going up, three ladies were going down, and they said to us, "hurry, hurry, you're going to miss it, hurry!" And this of course was in Japanese, so I only understood "hurry," but HURRY WE DID and we got to the top and BAM! There's a dude on top of this huge ladder in the middle of a crowd throwing stuff out to the crowd! We tried to catch one, I think they were some kind of banner, but none of us got one. It was still fun, and as everyone dispersed, we got led to another group of food stalls! And I got takoyaki. Which is fried octopus balls. They were good, but smelled very fishy and the octopus was chewy... I couldn't eat all of them myself, so I brought two back for Maria.

There was also a statue of an angry monk, which we asked a nice Japanese lady to take a picture of us in front of. Cool. Then we went wandering again. At the temple were tons of graves, piled on top of each other on the hills. They were really beautiful. We saw a little boy pumping water to clean a grave with, which was extra cool.

On the way back we saw a cute cat (which everyone at the temple was taking pictures of instead of the beautiful buildings haha!) and got ice cream. At home I made CURRY ALL BY MYSELF AND IT WAS DELICIOUS AND I AM A PRO. Then I beat Dave at Mario Kart. Good night.


FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL! We got up way early to get to the bank before school so that we could pay for our commuter passes. The trains at rush hour in Japan are nuts. Everyone just pushes in until they fit. It's like sardines. And everyone is DEAD SILENT. It's quiet and packed and you can't breathe... It's very odd, something I'm slowly getting used to. We got to our stop at Tamachi station ok, but we got a little lost getting to the bank. We managed to find it ok, but they didn't exchange currency until 10 30 AM, so we just went to school and watched people play Bomberman in the Student Gov't Lounge until classes started.

First I had Art History. Shrug. It was ok. Then we had lunch time, and I ate some of my delicious left over curry! I got my commuter pass at lunch. What you have to do is go get your Temple ID, which you can only do at certain times, but it goes very quickly. They take your photo and you wait like 3 minutes and then they print out your card. Then you go get your commuter sticker from another office, and from there you can go to the train station's office and buy your Suica card. I got mine to go through Gotanda station, which is the cheaper option. It costs about 15900 yen.

Then I came back and went to my painting class. I'm going to have to buy a ton of supplies which kind of sucks. When that was over, I hung out with Li and met this cool kid Asif, but no one was going home, so I went back by myself. I was very proud of myself for figuring it out.

Maria and I watched The Hangover and played Mario Kart then went to bed exhausted.


I rolled out early to go with Dan to the Ward Office at Kamata Station to get my Alien Registration card. It didn't take too long, and the people spoke fairly good English. They told us to come back in 2 weeks to pick up our cards and WHOOSH! Off we went to school! On the way, we found Mika, so we all went to school together.

It was my FIRST JAPANESE CLASS YAY! We are learning at a very fast pace, I don't know how I'm going to keep up. We learned all the greetings, thanks, and goodbyes, as well as the first 2 lines of hiragana. Whew! At lunch, Faye, Mika and I had a fun bank adventure where I made an ass of myself trying to speak English at the lady at the counter when Faye speaks very good Japanese. Then I had printmaking with Joe and our teacher Daisuke is THE CUTEST MAN EVER. We got out a little early and I hung with Lisa for a while, then had Japanese and Chinese Lit with Faye. Our teacher for that class is this badass feminist lady. Her favorite French Feminist is Guillaumin, I can tell.

After class Joe, Maytee and I went on an ADVENTURE to find Sekaido, the art supply store in Shinjuku. Our map was USELESS, so after wandering around for a while, we asked some Japanese high school boys that were playing Kingdom Hearts on their PSP (hahaahaha) to help us. They WALKED US OVER THERE LIKE 1/2 A MILE cause they were AWESOME and at the end I gave them all high fives, cause they rocked. They thought it was really funny. People in Japan don't really high five. Haha.

TURNS OUT THOUGH we went to the wrong Sekaido, cause this one didn't have any paints. There is another one on the OTHER side of the train station, but we messed up. We got a few things we needed that they DID have and went home. I hadn't eaten all day, so Joe and I went to McDonald, which is amazing here. The Coke is much sweeter, and the burger was very peppery and tasted like the cow might have been healthy. CRAZY RIGHT? Oh man, and I ate fries mmmmmmm.

Then I watche Dave and Paul play Left 4 Dead and did some homework and slept.


Oh man, j/k about that Art History class being alright. We spent THE WHOLE CLASS PERIOD on how to write a thesis statement. IT. WAS. AWFUL. Maria and I left the class seething. Then I had painting, and the teacher was a little pissed that I didn't have my painting stuff yet, but I promised him that I'd get it on the weekend, so we're all cool. He showed paintings he liked, most of which I liked too. When we split into groups though, and I went with the Intermediate class which is with 4 other Japanese girls, NONE OF THEM SPOKE. It's really nerve-wracking that no one talks in class. I asked Sora about it, and apparently Japanese kids don't talk in class because they don't want to mess up their participation grade. Weird. Since I didn't have my paints, I left a little early and met up with Minh for our PHONE ADVENTUREEEEE.

We went to Shibuya to get our phones since we heard that the SoftBank in Harajuku was out of prepaid phones and that the one in Roppongi was sketchy. We eventually found the right one (the English speaking one, there are like eight SoftBanks in the 4 block main part of Shibuya alone). They didn't have any prepaid phones either, so we had to go to the Japanese-only SoftBank, which ended up being ok. They spoke enough English that we were able to get what we needed, and the people at the English-speaking SoftBank told us exactly what to get. We had a 30 minute break where they were registering our phones, so we rolled out to Mos Burger and got some food and then went to Shibuya 109.

Let me tell you about Shibuya 109. It is an 8 floor Japanese mall extravaganza. IT IS JUST FULL OF WOMEN'S CLOTHES THAT ARE BEAUTIFUL AND PERFECT. Oh man, it was like being in a colorful heaven. Amazing. And the shoppers and clerks there are dressed perfectly and have amazing make up. Wow.

We went back and Minh and I got our JAPANESE CELL PHONES YEAHHHH! Then I came home and tried to make rice but the kitchen sinks are clogged so we weren't allowed to use the kitchen, so I had to make rice in the upstairs rice cooker which, I found out, doesn't work. I finally asked Paul if I could use the kitchen rice cooker and he said it was ok. I made rice balls with the terrible soggy mixture for lunch, we'll see how that goes.


I left my purse at home and had to RUN FROM THE STATION TO GET IT and I barely made it to class on time LAME.

Japanese class is still intense, we have our first quiz on Monday and we have to know all the hiragana and all the numbers AAAAAGH! I'm going to have to study my butt off! Then we had lunch.

The rice balls were totally inedible. So gross. So I went to the convenience store and got a Cup Noodle, which was so good here. They actually have little pork bits in it that aren't hard and gross. Maria accidentally got a milk out of the vending machine, and she only drinks soy milk, so I got to have it and it was SO GOOD! Milk here is really excellent. :)

Then I had printmaking, which, again, was uncomfortably quiet, even though Joe and I tried to talk. Our teacher Daisuke is like a really legit good printmaker. He has a press from the 1930's and does the prints on stone (I am a terrible artist and can't remember what they are called), but anyway, he showed us his work and it's pretty amazing. He's SUCH A COOL DUDE. Here's his website:

Thennn we went to our Lit class, which is still super bad ass. I love our teacher (the feminist one). I found out that Jessica and Kevin are in my class, so we hung out and then went home together. BUT I missed the stop at Gotonda and got separated from them, but I got home ok.

Maria and Minh and a bunch of kids went to the Student Government party, but I went out for teriyaki (grilled/barbecued chicken on a stick) with Joe, Jessica, Jamie, Kevin, and Dave. A nice Japanese businessman helped us order, and the boys got hit sake and were giggly all night. It was all good fun, except that all I had eaten all day was that Cup Noodle and we only got one teriyaki apiece and I was SO HUNGRY, so Jessica and I went back and then hit up Jusco and McDonalds since the kitchen is still off-limits.

Then I passed out. Goooooood night.

The Bread Sub-Experiment

I've become obsessed with the konbini bread sections. Each convenience store has a section devoted to different kinds of single-serving breads. There are dozens of different kinds, ranging from sweet to savory. Here are some of my first conquests. More to come.

Two varieties of red bean bread, one with the beans less mashed and the other with them very mashed. Think crunchy and smooth peanut butter and you're close. They aren't crunchy though, just delicious. "koshi-anpan" (the smooth kind) and "(something-something)*anpan" (the less-smooth kind)

Curry Bread (karepan), with a bite taken out of it because I couldn't resist.

*kanji mystifies me

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Meiji Shrine - Memories longer than the road that stretches out ahead

It's coming-of-age day in Japan, apparently a day for everyone who is 20 years old to hike up to the shrine and pray. I figured if there was any day to go see Meiji, it was today.

Mieji Shrine is located in Yoyogi Park, and you can get there by exiting from the Harujuku station. You walk uphill for about half a mile. The shrine is set deep in the magestic and tranquil park.

A lot of young women in very stylish kimonos.

Huuuge trees.

Right after I walked inside the main courtyard, some security men came along and parted all the crowds to either side, and a wedding procession walked through.

At the heart of the shrine, everyone lined up in a huge mass to pray. It's one of those toss-in-a-coin-and-bow/clap-twice shrines. Having studied the procedure somewhat, I lined up with everyone else and tried it. I think I did everything right, except I only clapped once before I prayed. Also, I forgot to take my earphones out, and I forgot to wash my hands (there's a place to wash them before you enter the main courtyard). Does this nullify my prayer? I was so nervous that I couldn't concentrate well anyway.

My prayer was something like, "Dear Japan, if you don't mind I'm going to be living here for a few months, so please guide me in being a respectful visitor, and teach me the secret to your charm and beauty." Aimee Mann's cover of "Two of Us" was playing in my ears. Semi-appropriate.

After leaving the park, I decided to wander around the main alley in Harujuku, and came acorss this small shop that sells merchandise of Japanese boy bands. Below is one of the many walls of ARASHI necklaces.

I have a runny nose, and since it's rude to blow/wipe your nose in public in Japan, I used one of the facemasks I bought. I wore it the entire time I was out, hoping that it would hide my gaijin-ness from at least a passing glance. By the way Sid, I forgot to tell you I stole your glasses-frames.

What do you think? Pass/fail on blending in? I think it worked as far as passers-by, but if anyone got a good look at me they could totally tell.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


I woke up wayyyy early again, close to 6 AM here. So I got on the internets and chatted with my bros! It was awesome hearing from Marc, Mike, and Babs. Oh, and I skype chatted with my family last night, I forgot to say. That was nice.

When I realized that my teeth were probably growing things, I logged off and went to get ready. Unfortunately, there were still no towels to be found, so no shower. HOWEVER! I went down to the kitchen to learn the ~*~MAGIC~*~ of the Japanese microwave. It’s not too hard to figure out, but all the directions are in Japanese, which makes it slightly more precarious. I made one of the pork buns I got at Jusco (our grocery store) last night and drank nummy Peach Tea. While I was microwaving, I met Joe, who is a cool dude and knows how to cook. I’m hoping that sometime we can have a cooking lesson party, or at least learn how to use the rice cookers properly. I sat down to eat and met Katie, who knows super a lot of Japanese and was very sweet. She had toasted bread and jam and yogurt for breakfast that looked so good I wanted to go get some like right then.

SO I decided to go out to the 100 Yen store and Jusco with Lisa, who lives down the hall from me, Keisha, and Maria. They took a while getting ready so I made a cute door decoration, which I will post later. At the 100 Yen store I picked up some gloves for ice skating (they required us to have closed fingered gloves, so I couldn’t wear the ones Kim gave me), a basket for my toiletries, a strap for my bento, and a pink hand towel so I don’t have to keep wiping my hands on my pants when I wash them. There are no hand towels in any bathrooms in Japan that I’ve seen. They all have air dryers to stay eco-friendly. We went to the marvelous second and third floors of Jusco next, which are like a department store. I got a towel finally (YAY), but did not find my other two essentials—an alarm clock and a robe (for the walk of shame between the showers and my room). I decided to wait on the bread and cheese for a little bit, but Lisa and Keisha wanted to shop still, so Maria and I left on our own ~*~ADVENTURE~*~!!!

We walked past the Jusco, past the convenience store, all the way to a big intersection, where we turned right and walked under a bridge to UniQlo, which is a Japanese clothing store! AWESOME! It’s a little bit like a more conservative H&M. There were some totally rad leggings that had the texture and look of jeans and some super duper rad teeshirts and sweatshirts. The clothes were really cute, but luckily we managed to escape with our money in tact with the promise of shopping another day.

On the way back, I bought an ice cream bar at the convenience store (vanilla covered in chocolate with hazelnut mmmm). Then we ran into Lisa and Keisha again, who were struggling with a huge bag of rice, and since Maria and I are strong male body builders, we helped them carry their groceries back to Ontakesan. We got back close to 2 PM and as I started to unpack and eat my delicious ice cream bar, Aki came through the hall asking for anyone who was going ice skating to go downstairs because they were leaving RIGHT NOW. So I panicked and ran downstairs with ice cream in hand to put my shoes back on, unknowingly leaving my door WIDE OPEN FOR THE MASSES but luckily when Maria ran upstairs to get socks she found it and closed it for me. And so we began our expensive adventure to Akasaka.

The train tickets cost SO MUCH MONEY TOTAL. Almost $10 both ways, I think. The train lines are very confusing and I’m really worried. I don’t know how I’m going to get to class on Tuesday morning. There are so many places to go! And tickets to buy! Once I figure that out, I’ve heard, things will be a lot easier. Also with my commuter pass I can go on that line for free, though I’ll still have to buy tickets for the other lines, like the main Tokyo line, the JR.

Akasaka was amazing. The rink was pretty small and already super uneven and covered in ice shavings, but it was in the middle of the city in the open air, and there was a huge Christmas tree next to a huge TBS piggy (their TV station’s mascot). There was also a huge TV over the rink showing new dramas, and lots of beautiful lights. There were also a lot of people, and a lot of really cute Japanese kids falling on their butts everywhere. To skate it was $15, and we figured out the shoe sizes pretty quickly. For future reference, my shoe size is 23 cm. By the time we got there, Becca and the kids from Takadanobaba (her dorm) were already there and had been skating for a while. I met Ai, Li, Long (whose nickname is now Short), Meiti, and Jed. All very cool kids.

We had a grand old time skating, but soon it was time to go. I made plans with Becca to have dinner tomorrow night and then went back to the train. I was SO THIRSTY, so I got a Coke at the vending machine, but it’s rude to walk and eat/drink, so when we had a 4 minute wait between trains I CHUGGED THAT COKE LIKE THERE WAS NO TOMORROW. On the train ride back, we stopped through at Harajuku and saw this old dude with a HUGE HAT covered in lights and knick-knacks. Awesome. Sunday is the day that people who like street fashion dress up in their new outfits and promenade around Harajuku. Tomorrow is Sunday. IT IS TIME. We’re totally gonna go.

When we got back, I tried to make my soup, but I couldn’t figure out how to work the hot water dispencer, but Aki showed me. J I talked to Dan while I ate cause he was in the massage chair right by the hot water dispenser, and apparently their group found a whole bunch of cool shrines right by the campus, so I might try to find them one day.

Maria and Minh wanted to go out to Shibuya (we convinced Minh not to go to Roponggi because it is super dangerous), and a bunch of people in my hall wanted to go to an onsen (hot sring bath), which sounded excellent, but we were worried about staying out too late and missing the train back from Shibuya, and Minh wouldn’t be able to sit with us in the hot spring cause he’s a dude, so we rounded up some folks and went in search of a local bar.

Sora and Chad came with us, they are very cool folks. Sora is 28 and Chad is from Hawaii and was freezing the whole time we were out. Not too far from our dorm is a cute little bar that is American/Hawaiian surfing themed. The lady was very nice and helped everyone order. There’s a discount for anyone in Sakura House that makes all the drinks a flat 500 yen. Nice. I didn’t get anything, but it was fun watching Mihn slowly descend into a tipsy stupor. When we realized that Jusco was about to close, we booked it over there and I bought some BREAD AND CHEESE YES! The only kinds that they seem to have are cream cheese and camembert. They had one thing of bleu cheese and some slices of Kraft Cheddar and American cheese, but I trust that that is a “cheese product” and not actually cheese. The rest of the gang bought a six-pack of super cheap beer and drank it outside of the Jusco like hobos. It was pretty fun, except that it was FREEZING and poor Chad only had on a sweatshirt. When we were done, we recycled the cans. It’s eco-friendly, and our dorm is very, very dry. If you so much as walk in the door with an empty can to recycle it they’ll send you home. You have been warned.

I was very tired by then, so it was bedtime! Good night!

Food Porn and Ice Skating

Some of the food I've bought! Clockwise from top right, fried chicken yakitori, semi-dried soba, rosu hamu, frozen o-den, and strawberry yogurt. :))) My bidget for food here is a biiit bigger as long as I do mostly grocery shopping and not eat out a lot, so I'm really enjoying myself. I also bought the most delicious clementines (a traditional new year's food).

My purchases from the 100 yen shop. I need face masks because I have the sniffles and I'll be squeezing in with morning traffic on my way to school. Clockwise from the masks, there's envelopes to send things to people, a mini cutting board, body wash, soap, and food containers. :)

My stationary store purchases. A ledger book (very good for a sketchbook, and only 450 yen), and those adorable red-and-blue envelopes.

On the subway to Akasaka for ice skating. It was the kind of train that is open all the way down. My favorite! People are really quiet on the subway.

Ice skating! That's Jed and Meiti on the left and the boy in the back was so nice and taught me how to ask for someone to take our picture (the victim was an unassuming little girl who said "hai chiizu"), and I forget his name. And that's the TBS mascot in the background. TBS is the big public television station here.