Yesterday morning, a group of students from the university came to my residence and took a group of us newcomers over to the Shinjuku city office to get some important paperwork done. We arrived at the office, and proceeded to spend most of our time sitting in chairs, waiting for someone to tell us what to do. The process was a little tedious, but there were several breaks in between which allowed for lots of time for socializing. At one point, I found myself seated next to a guy named Brandon and we ended up talking for quite a while. During a lunch break, we joined another group of people and wandered around Shinjuku area for a couple of hours. We had some cheap ramen at a local shop, came across an small shrine, and browsed around a manga/book store for a while.
(I just absolutely love that every one of these little altars has a juice box offering at its feet).
After it was all said and done, we left the office around 1:30 to head home. I’m a little annoyed by how long the whole process took. I feel like if I had just gone on my own I would have been done a lot more quickly, however the process was a little complicated, so it was nice to have someone to walk me through it. And I met some people along the way, so I guess it’s a bit of a compromise.
As we were headed towards home, Brandon told me about how he was going to Yokohama – a city just south of Tokyo – to meet up with some friends, and he kindly invited me to tag along. It was about a 1 hour train ride, and we only got a little bit lost while switching lines, but we got there in the end and met up with Brandon’s friend Shiori without too much trouble. The nice thing about Tokyo (and in this case, Yokohama) is that there are Starbucks literally everywhere. Which means that even though neither Brandon nor I had a cellphone with data, we were still able to have an almost constant source of wifi as we tried locate Shiori in the crowded train station.
Shiori lives in Yokohama, so she was able to take us around and show us some parts of the city. I must say, Yokohama is one of the prettiest and funkiest places I’ve seen so far. The whole area is pretty much white and silver, but reflections off the buildings give it an almost iridescent look.
Shiori was eager to practice her English, so we were able to have fun chatting about all sorts of things. I even learned a new Japanese saying – “yabai” which apparently can pretty much be used for anything.
We wandered around an amusement park which sits along the water, and lights up at night.
We also found a Pokemon Centre in one of the nearby shopping malls which had every Pokemon thing you could imagine.
Eventually Shiori had to go, so Brandon and I wandered around the local shopping malls, enjoying the many strange and unexpected stores, and taking in the scenic views.
We even went into an arcade and played a Japanese drumming game, similar to the North American “Rock Band”.
One of my favourite moments had to be when we ran across a “Moomin Stand” which sold bubble tea with a theme that is based on the Moomin series of book by a Finnish author named Tove Jansson. These are books that I grew up reading as a kid, but had never really encountered them anywhere else in my life. My Moomin dreams had finally come true.
Eventually Brandon and I both got pretty hungry, and decided to go in search of curry – something we had both been craving since lunch. After many struggles and retraced steps, we finally found a reasonably-priced Thai restaurant with a decent vegetarian selection.
Tired, full, and happy from a long day of excitement, we headed home. We had quite the exciting time trying to board the correct trains, as many were being shut down as the evening was getting late. At one point we were hurried off a train by an attendant who sprinted through the cabins to make sure the train was empty.
Finally we reached home safe and sound, and both ready for bed. Yabai!