Saturday, October 30, 2010

End of term and Guillaume and I rock Tokyo

So, after Guillaume's first visit, I got back to work studying Japanese! The time between his two visits, though, was quite short, so I really didn't do all that much before meeting up with him in Tokyo.

I finished my term here and ended up with an A! :-) Yay! We took the final term Yamasa test again, and I got a 100 on all of the information that I am supposed to know, so that was lovely.

And then, before I knew it, term was over, and I went to meet up with Guillaume in Tokyo for his second visit!

Despite how over-crowded and dirty and fast-paced Tokyo is (can you tell that I would NEVER want to live there?), we had an AMAZING time and ate lots of delicious food! We stayed in Asakusa, so when we first met up, we took a little tour of the area.

And then we headed up to Akihabara, and I felt very at home surrounded by lots of old school Nintendo games!

And of course we had to head up to the awesomest chair ever so that Guillaume could have a little sit in it. Unfortunately, it reeked of cigarettes in the chair room, so he didn't get to enjoy said awesomest chair ever as much as I did the first time I sat in it. :-(

Our second morning there, we discovered that sumo was in Tokyo, and Guillaume desperately wanted to see a match, so we woke up early to get tickets. It was windy and rainy, and as such I think we were lucky, as the obtaining of tickets was actually quite easy, and I hear it's normally not for those waiting for the cheap early morning tickets.

Even with the rain, the line was still kinda crazy.

We had a bit of time before the match started, so we decided to check out Ueno Park, which, as I noticed when I went back there with Josh and Rachel, is a WAY cooler place when it is not so overcrowded with drunk and smoking people there to do お花見 (ohanami - cherry-blossom viewing) that you can't even move.

We went to the museum (the is the wrong word, as there are several, but I can't remember to which one we went) in the park and saw some SUPER cool statues.

Unfortunately, we weren't allowed to take pictures of the coolest ones.

Then we headed back to sumo, which was a bit different in Tokyo. I was quite happy to see another match, as the Tokyo one was SO MUCH MORE intense than the Nagoya ones. It's crazy how much feeling they manage to pack into their 5 second matches.

The match ended late, so we didn't have much time for anything but eating afterward. This was perhaps for the best, as we were both extraordinarily tired.

On Sunday, we headed over to Harajuku, and like with every other time I've been there, I was very disappointed with the cosplay corner. Nothing very interesting to see, I thought. We took a nice little walk in the park there, though, and then checked out the temple (whose name I have forgotten), so that was nice.

This was perhaps the coolest thing that I saw near the cosplay area. How awesome is that?!? I mean, it's pink. With polka dots.

And I, of course, also had to show Guillaume Takeshita street.

Luckily, it wasn't quite as crazy as it was when I was there with Rachel and Josh, but, still, sheer craziness. Barely able to move, much less breathe, we only stayed for about 2 minutes. :-P

We also checked out ginza at night, and I was sad that the kabuki theatre was already being torn down, so Guillaume didn't get to see it.

On Monday, we headed to Hokkaido, and that will be for the next post, but after Hokkaido, we came back to Tokyo for two days, so I thought I would include those two days.

We tried to check out the Imperial Palace, but the gardens were closed, so we ended up just walking around it. We also decided to take these couple days to eat donuts.

(they had DELICIOUS vegan cranberry donuts and pumpkin buns - I mean, seriously, how yummy does that look?)
and shop.

We also did some exploring of the Ginza district.

So yeah, Tokyo was AWESOME, and it was so great to get to see it with Guillaume!
We also ate in lots of delicious restaurants!
Loving Hut had really done some getting amazing since the last time I ate there. And then Hanada Rosso, while quite expensive, had delicious veggie burgers and smoothies.

My favorite, by far, though, was Little Heaven. They had pizza that was almost on par with the pizza we ate in Budapest (I don't think anything will ever be as amazing as that pizza was). The first time we tried to go, we couldn't find it (the Happy Cow directions are quite bad, actually), so the second time, I called, and the guy actually came to MEET us and walk us to his restaurant.
He was INCREDIBLY friendly, and we were SO thankful to him for coming to get us, especially after eating his amazing pizza and gyoza. I was thankful to speak enough Japanese to be able to explain that we couldn't find the restaurant, as his English was non-existent.
He gave me some tips on how to make my own vegan cheese like the one that he makes himself for his pizzas, so I'm excited to try that.
He also had the most DELICIOUS homemade desserts.
If you are ever in Tokyo, FIND THIS RESTAURANT AND GO!!!! I am almost thankful that it's not here in Okazaki, otherwise I fear I would go everyday!

Friday, October 08, 2010

Guillaume Visits: Kyoto!

Okay, so lots has been happening here in Japan lately, and I haven't updated in a while, which as usual means that I have a TON to update about! Before I get ahead of myself writing about the end of term and Guillaume's second visit, though, I think I should finish writing about his first.

So, after Hiroshima and Miyajima, we hopped on the Shinkansen and headed on up to Kyoto. And, as it was the first time, it was AWESOME!

The first thing we did was to look for record stores so that Guillaume could try to buy some rap.

Then we took a lovely night walk around the Gion district and the park beside it.

We didn't stay out late, though, because the next morning we woke up early to go see some monkeys and a bamboo forest!

The area around the monkey temple was super cool and old-fashioned seeming, and even though I'm sure it was a tourist trap, I loved it!
Especially the boats.

And the lily pads.

These lily pads are really everywhere in Japan, and, like with the dragon fountains, I'm not sure I will never get over how awesome I find them to be.

We had to hike up pretty high to see the monkeys, and the view was pretty amazing.

In the temple next to the bamboo forest, there were tons of amazing paintings of dragons.

I totally wanted one.

And the gardens were exquisite.

And, of course, it wouldn't be Kyoto if we didn't visit the Gold and Silver temples. You'll perhaps remember these places from pictures from when I went to Kyoto with Josh and Rachel.

Of course, the rock Garden at the silver temple was once again amazing.

Seriously - these Japanese people know how to do rocks.
And I was once again overwhelmed with the desire to jump over the barriers and roll around in the beautiful, green, squishy-soft looking moss!

After the golden temple, we took a little walk down the Path of Philosophy (at least I think that's what it's called), and we found ourselves at one of the coolest places in Kyoto. I unfortunately can't remember what it was called.

There was this AMAZING building with some of the biggest columns I had ever before in my life seen!
Then there was this super cool seemingly totally random wall.

We followed it down until it ended and then up a mountain path to where we got to see a beautiful waterfall!

It's still amazing to me that such beautiful, natural places can exist in what seems to be the middle of a huge city.

We ate pretty much every day at this delicious restaurant called Cafe Proverbs. And there was the river by Cafe Proverbs, so we went to play on the turtle and ducks stones they use to cross the river.

What else?
It was SUPER hot, so we bought super awesome fans!

And of course we had to visit Nishiki Market again, where we got to eat some delicious soy ice cream!

And we walked around the Imperial Palace gardens, which were unfortunately mostly uninteresting, and not only because it was raining.

Oh, and the last day, we went to an anime/manga museum, which was super cool and having an exhibit about sculptures.