Saturday, November 23, 2013

capsule life in tokyo

When in Tokyo, we wanted to get the full experience, so we started our time there by renting two nights in one of their famous Capsule Hotels where you sleep in what look eerily like morgue drawers. And not only did we get a capsule, we got a capsule for two.

Like we had hoped, it was in a room full of capsules. We even had a radio and TV in ours. The first thing Andrew did was lay down and watch Sumo wrestling to recover from a night of sleeping in the Food Court in the Taipei Airport. Soon after that, as we were lying in our capsule, watching Japanese TV in our hotel-provided pajamas and eating wasabi peas, there was an earthquake. It was like, every stereotype rolled into one.

We were on the bottom row

View from inside the capsule for two.

We didn't know what to expect from the hotel, but in the end, it wasn't too bad of an experience. The capsule was cozy and the hotel was quite nice. The only thing we didn't like was the fact that we had to keep our bags on the first floor, bathe on the 3rd floor and sleep on the 5th floor. It was a lot of elevator rides to get stuff done. But beyond that it was a really nice experience.

One thing we wanted to do in Tokyo that we really hadn't done yet on the trip, was just be tourists. We wanted to go out and really explore the city. We only had 9 days in Tokyo and wanted to really experience it.

Our first day out we headed to the Shibuya district which was known for crowded streets and lots of shopping (something we found the whole city full of). It was everything we expected it to be. Right out of the subway, we hit the busiest intersection in Tokyo and wow, it was busy.

The mobs waiting for the walk signal. They are serious about only walking when the walk signal is green in this city.

Every man and woman for herself.
Another reason we headed to Shibuya was because we heard there was a really nice park with the Meji Jungu Shinto Temple in it. We couldn't find the temple, but we really loved the park. There was a farmer's market, a half pipe, a snowboard jump with trucked-in snow, and tons of people practicing choreographed dances, playing sports, having picnics, and a million other things. We saw tons of small dogs and even a few cats being walked. All and all, it was great place to see Tokyo-ites enjoying their weekend. There was also some beautiful fall scenery to take in.

Farmer's Market

Just a couple of the hilarious little dogs, and one goat

After a good time spent in the park, we headed back into the hustle and bustle of Shibuya looking for a famous Ramen restaurant.

Shibuya at night is what you picture Tokyo to be like.
A very popular style of restaurant in Tokyo is one where you order and pay for your meal outside of the restaurant from a vending machine that spits out a ticket. You then go inside and hand the ticket to the chef who makes it and hands it to you. It's Tokyo-style fast food. The Ramen was good, not great, but good enough. It's Ramen, even the stupidest college student can make it but it's hard to make into some gourmet meal. (Though this was much better than your grocery store cup of noodles!)

The vending machine, which luckily had pictures for us foreigners. Not all of them do.

At this particular Ramen shop, there is a long counter divided into individual booths. So you don't have to see your neighbor while you eat, I guess? We figured out how to fold back one part of the divider so we could see each other--and share our noodles, as we always do. Now we can say we've had real Ramen!

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