Tokyo Day 2: January 1, 2020 - New Year's Day

New Year's Day and some sightseeing in Tokyo!

I'm writing this so late Japan time... It's currently 3:45 AM. I should be asleep!! But I woke up to pee, and there's a dripping noise going on that's annoying me awake, so I'm going to finally write this post before I forget again.

January 1st: tourist mode is go

New Year's Day was a full day for me! I woke up at 6 AM after sleeping for only 4 hours... probably I can thank jet lag for that one, still throwing off my schedule here and there.

Nico contacted me around 9ish, asking whether I wanted to go out anywhere today or if I was still going to stay in the house today. Of course I was ready and raring to go!

... By 10, my plans to make tamago kake gohan and do my homework had been abandoned, I'd eaten a banana instead, and I just crawled back in bed and rested my eyes. Not even napped, exactly, just wanted to be warm and shut my eyes for a while. Jet lag... My nemesis...

I got up at 12 and went exploring in a Nico-ward direction. She'd directed me to meet her at Roppongi Station, and I was going to get there on my own, with only Google Maps to guide me!

First I got my very own Pasmo card at the station! ... I valiantly attempted to do it in Japanese, but I elected to switch it to English in the end, because my confidence just wasn't high enough.

I was disappointed, as I made my way to Roppongi, that my brain kept instantly focusing on the English in every sign along the way and ignoring the Japanese, reducing my ability to practice. But so it goes.

I met up with Nico, and we chatted about how I had given her my cold (it's not true! the doctor said I'm not contagious!) and we hoped she would feel better quickly. Along the way to the show we were headed toward, we passed through this square with this famous spider statue and some beautiful flowers around it...

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We stopped in at Starbucks and went to the event Nico had wanted us to see, an amazing drumming/dancing performance by a bunch of taiko(?) drummers. It was so cool, watching the drummers enthusiastically move to the rhythm of their drums in sync... I loved it!!

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After that, the next performance was a dragon(?) dance, which Nico assured me was good luck for the new year.

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Be that as it may, it seemed like we both lost interest after a little while, and we got up to wander into the nearby TV Asahi place. Nico scolded me once again for not knowing Doraemon, and we looked at all the souvenirs of the different series. I'm sorry, okay! I'm uncultured!! Even in my own culture I don't know all the good stuff! I've never seen Buffy the Vampire Slayer either!

After wandering around the Lego store and commenting on how expensive the toys are, we decided to go to a temple and Tokyo Tower, and we set off at once. We went to the temple first.

Nico: It smells like a temple...
Nico: Wait, no, it's that sweet potato stand.

We both kind of balked at the giant crowds of people. (Neither of us is particularly social or comfortable around large groups of people...) But the smell of karaage filled the air and reminded me how I had only eaten a banana for the day. Truly, is there anything so delicious in scent and taste as fried chicken?

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But we went into the main temple, and Nico gave her characteristic amazing guidance. ("I think you clap twice... Or maybe that's only at shrines, and it's rude to do it here?" or something like that.) We gave our offerings of coins and prayers for the new year, and then went to pick up our fortunes down below. Nico's was Good, and mine was Quite Good, though we don't know which is better. And I got a tiny maneki neko to keep in my purse for the year! But my fortune said "Don't move now". It's okay, I'm going to move in April!

We stopped by the board of bad luck for the year, where Nico said that everyone has a certain number of periods of difficulty in their lives, and this board shows who is going to face that difficulty when. It turned out my birth year was in the "coming up next" section for women, so I guess I have that to look forward to...

Along the way, we saw the area where sticks of incense were burned, and we saw people wafting the smoke toward themselves.

Nico: If you pull this smoke toward a body part which has a problem, like your face-
Mari: (laughing) WOW.
Nico: -then it'll help you get better.
Mari: I can't believe you.
Nico: It's so mean... I'm sorry...

We paid 500 yen each (highway robbery!) to go into the mausoleum of the shogun who had founded the temple. I couldn't really understand what the tour guide was saying, so Nico, Tour Guide Extraordinaire, translated for me after she'd finished, and added jokes and generally made it way more interesting.

At this point we were about done with the temple, so we set out to the nearby Tokyo Tower. Somehow, in both my previous visits to Japan, I had never actually been to or near Tokyo Tower.

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I was greatly amused by the tiny Tokyo Towers that they had seemingly as traffic cones.

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And delighted by this amazing lighted smaller version they had.

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We went inside and looked around at the One Piece styled cafes and so on inside, though I was too tired to want to climb up the tower. We were both getting pretty drained at this point thanks to our jetlag, though. It had only been about three hours we had been out wandering, and it was still only 4-ish, but we were both so tired already. The promise of gyoza got us moving, though. Nico picked a restaurant, and we got up and dragged ourselves out the door, laughing back and forth about needing the smoke for our brains to make us less dumb. (Particularly when, as we entered the train station, I realized I couldn't find my Pasmo card that I'd bought that very day... it turned out it was in my coat pocket.)

The gyoza place she had chosen, GyoPao near Roppongi, was super cute, and we sat down and ordered lots of dumplings. There were no grilled gyoza left, but they did have fried gyoza, which I was all for. And their soup dumplings were... utterly amazing. I'd never had soup dumplings before, but I wished I could have eaten a whole meal of just those. Except not really, because all the other stuff we got was good too. Nico ordered for us, choosing the fried and soup dumplings and two different raw egg dishes (one with rice for me to try since I'd been interested in tamago kake gohan, and another which was spicy with noodles which we shared).

We talked about my plans to meet people - and how many people there are to meet! It's not likely I'll be able to meet all of them! While we were on the subject, Nico accidentally slipped and asked if I was going to "eat everything". (then quickly corrected herself to "meet everyone") As a voraphile, it's important for me to do both!

Now with full bellies, we were even more sleepy, so we paid our bill and set out for home. After we left, Nico commented that no one else in the restaurant had been Japanese. So I guess we went to a touristy place. Oh, well. We were tourists that day! (Nico: "No, I'm a local." Sure, Nico. Sure. Just admit it, you're a New Yorker now!)

We went our separate ways in the subway, and then I went home and crashed so hard I nearly flipped the bed.

It's taken me an hour to write this post, so I'll get to the post about Day 3 when I wake up again!