July 14-15, 2016: A Disastrous Dinner for One

I don’t see my housemates very much. There are two of them that I still have yet to meet. I am convinced that they do not actually come home, at least the American. By the time I leave in the morning, the house is empty. And when I get home at night, I pretty much go straight to my room and close the door and crank up the AC. After a long day out, I kind of just want to be alone on my computer so I can jot my thoughts down. Sometimes while I’m sitting on my futon, I feel the house shake a bit. It isn’t much, but it is absolutely noticeable. I have yet to decide if it is just passing cars or a minor earthquake, which we were trained for. There isn’t really anything in my room that can fall on me, nor do I have a table to hide under though.

On my way to work, I passed by a couple of mail carriers who looked just as confused as I do. Presumably, they can’t find the houses they’re supposed to deliver mail to because the addresses are not easy to find. It’s good to know that the people that find houses based on Japanese addresses for a living can’t do it either. In Shinjuku, I saw these men doing some kind of odd job. They sit on a chair on the side of the road or on the overpass, and they have this contraption that looks like a counter. I think they’re counting cars for the transportation department as they pass by. But there are several different buttons, so I think he has to keep track of the type of car. This is a terrible job. He sits in the hot sun all day (and then later in the day it became a thunderstorm) and you have to concentrate on this mundane job. You can’t lose focus or you’ll miss a car. There were others further down that seemed to be counting pedestrians. And most workers in Japan wear armbands. If I could read Japanese, I could tell you what their job was.

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I had a really good lunch at an Indian restaurant. I had a minced chicken curry with unlimited naan and yogurt sauce. The naan is enormous and super soft. I could eat that bread all day. The samosa, my usual measure of an Indian restaurant, was mediocre but the curry and naan was delicious. It was more expensive than my recent lunches but I would definitely go back. I dare say it is the best naan I’ve ever had, certainly the freshest. They do a lot of curry in Japan. It is not quite like Indian curry, it is a little sweeter.

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After work, Blaire and Emma and I went to visit the Tokyo municipal building. There is an observation deck that is free and open to the public. There was a nice view of the city but it was kind of foggy and rainy today. You could hear thunder claps. On a clear day, we would’ve been able to see Mt. Fuji. So I was a little disappointed. But it is another place I can check off my list.

We also had our second Japanese class today. It was  big step up from the first class when we just learned phrases. The class size also significantly dwindled to just 7. At this point, if you didn’t attend today’s class, it is too late for you to catch up. We learned some grammar and it is very complicated. It is very different from our own sentence structure. In a way it is kind of elegant, but hard to grasp for a native speaker of English.

After class, I ended up on my own because everyone was going home and of course no one lives with me. Most of them ate already. Some of them were going home to eat. So I was left on my own. Usually, I don’t mind eating by myself but I had a bit of an ordeal. I picked a small restaurant that had a decent amount of people in it and sat at the counter. And then it all went downhill. The menu was solely in Japanese and there was no English nor any pictures. So I pointed at two things, assuming I was getting two dishes of food. But I had actually ordered from the drink menu…they brought me out a tall iced tea and a beer. And then, the chef wanted me to order food and gestured for me to write down my order in Japanese. Obviously, that wasn’t happening. So I insisted on pointing at the menu. I recognized the Chinese character for beef and just my luck, he says there is no beef. So dejected, I just picked two random things. I got standard chicken yakitori and also a bacon wrapped eggplant. I would never order eggplant of my own accord but it was an accident. Needless to say, I will not be eating alone anymore. But it is very difficult to pick restaurants. Especially because a lot of restaurants are not on the ground floor. They build upwards. There are lit up signs on the sides of all these tall buildings advertising the names of restaurants (in Japanese). And usually in the US, you can look inside but when the restaurant isn’t on the ground floor you don’t really know what you’re getting yourself into. Consequently, there are a lot of lights. All of Tokyo looks like Times Square.

There is also a surprising number of black people sort of loitering around in the streets. Jason informed me that they’re Nigerian and that the Nigerians run most of the clubs in Tokyo. I’m not quite sure why, but that’s what they do here. And they are looking for potential clubbers for their venues. They certainly stick out in homogenous Japan so I couldn’t help but notice.

Somehow, Selah and David were able to get tickets to the Ghibli Museum even though the Loppi machine said they were sold out the day they came out.  I don’t know what happened, but when I went back to Lawson it was still sold out. So I’m glad
I was able to go to the exhibit in Roppongi.  But while I was at Lawson, I picked up a pack of pancakes. These convenience stores have everything. They’re great for breakfast food or for drinks or for lunch food or even for dinner if you’re feeling lunch. The 7/11 doesn’t have the same old stuff you’d find in America. They have Japanese snacks and ice creams and drinks and a whole refrigerator of sushi and onigiri. The pancake sandwich was really good, cause they’re slathered in butter and jam. I think the coolest thing is the vanilla ice cream in a pouch. It is actually really good. It’s very sweet and icy. And you just squeeze it out of the pouch.

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This was also our final day of orientation after 5 grueling days of going through English exercises. We kind of spent way too much time on orientation. It was excessive for us native speakers of English to do the full exercises at length.

After work, I met Danny for dinner and brought along some friends from the program.  But we had some time to kill. So we explored the BIC Camera department store. The department stores are insane in Tokyo. They all take up around 8 floors and they’re packed with high end clothes and then other random assortments of things. They also have good food. They’re just so full of stuff. And there are a lot of them. They are so big they even operate some of the train lines. They’re named after department stores. I think the idea is that they operate the lines that lead to their store to attract customers? It kind of makes sense, but could you imagine if Macy’s operated a train? The department stores here are just on another level. We also went to a 4 story Uniqlo to kill some time. They literally have all the colors of everything. There’s an even bigger one a few minutes away. I don’t know why they’re so close but Uniqlo has a big presence here.

So we met Danny in Takadanobaba, the neighborhood around Waseda University. There are a lot of college age students in this area. We had a hard time finding a place to eat because with 6 people we were a rather large group. Most of the restaurants (on the ground floors at least) are tiny holes in the wall that have counter seating. They don’t fit too many people. We tried a BBQ place but they were all booked. And so we wandered around a bit until we found a place that could take us. And I had a bowl of sashimi. We tried to get into the cheap 1920s themed bar next door–that’s 1920s Japan–but we couldn’t all fit. So what ended up happening was that some of us went home and me, Darin and Danny hung out. It is good having friends all over the world. That’s what college is good for.

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