And did not like it. But I’ll get to that in a bit. First, I need to learn to set an alarm. Went to bed about 2:30am and was woken to Loren opening the curtains in our room because there was some weird announcement being made outside. It was loud and sounded like it was through some loudspeaker or something. I was annoyed that she was opening the curtains, until I checked my phone and saw that it was 12:53pm. WHAT? I apologized profusely and told her that she should’ve woken me up. But I definitely needed the sleep. This jet lag is no joke. Slept nearly 11 hours Friday night, 2 hour nap on Saturday, and then about 10.5 hours Saturday night. Also, it’s about 10pm and I could definitely go to bed now. But I felt much better today than I did yesterday, so maybe it was good to get that extra long sleep out of the way!
After I got ready we set out in search of a nearby bakery for “breakfast”. I had a small pumpkin scone (while good, tasted nothing like pumpkin) and a cinnamon Danish (really just a cinnamon roll). I have not been able to find Diet Coke in this Godforsaken country, but I found it on the menu at the bakery. Score! Wait. They brought me a Coke Zero. Liz knows what happens when they try to give me a Coke Zero instead of a Diet Coke. But I have realized that I don’t think they know what Diet Coke is here and I need caffeine, so I had to drink it. Ah well.
We then made our way to Harajuku, but went to the Meiji Shrine before shopping. It was supposed to rain pretty much all day, so I took my sunglasses out of my purse and put my travel umbrella in and carried my windbreaker/rain coat. As we were eating at the bakery the sun came out. It didn’t go away the rest of the day. I’m not complaining because I was glad it didn’t rain, but it was not what we prepared for! It was hot and sticky again, especially as we got onto the grounds of the shrine. It’s a beautiful park/forest (almost) and had lots of enormous trees. But that made it even more humid.
Once we got up to the Main Shrine, you first rinse your hands and mouth (we only did hands, I didn’t know why people appeared to be drinking the water, whoops) from the basin called Temizusha (the font for ablutions). It is a wooden basin and there are wooden dippers that you get water and pour over your hands and rub together. Then you can enter the Main Shrine. We saw a wedding processional, so that was cool. (We did not get invited to this wedding reception, unfortunately. Apparently they’re not as hospitable as the Irish!) Shortly after the first wedding processional we saw another one! Popular day to get married, I guess.
Up at what appeared to be the entrance to the Shrine were offering boxes. You show your respect by throwing coins into it and then bow twice, clap twice, and bow once. It seems weird engaging in some of the rituals here because it’s not my religion and I don’t want to do something that would be contradictory to Christianity, but it was my opinion that it was merely respectful. I enjoy learning about the culture, which includes religion, but it doesn’t mean I’m participating in it.
We then went into the side plaza of the shrine and there were boxes with sticks in them that you shook and then tipped over. You would get a stick and the stick had a number on it. For 100 yen you could then tell the worker what your number was and get a poem from the Emperor Meiji, he was quite the poet. Mine said: “As clear and refreshing as the rising sun – thus might it always be with the human heart!” Then this was below it: “Let your heart be as bright and clear as the rising sun. Happy indeed is he who brings to all the acts of his daily life the peaceful freshness of the sunrise.”
We then continued to walk through the park land to the Treasure Building, but it was closed by the time we arrived. We each got something to drink from the ubiquitous vending machine. I got a Coke Zero and Loren got a banana milk thing that tasted like a pudding pop. We sat and enjoyed the park area (Yoyogi Park).
Then we proceeded to Harajuku, but unfortunately, we did not see Gwen Stefani. Harajuku had a ton of high-end shopping, but we went down a side street and found some interesting stores and then found an alley that was labeled “Harajuku Street” and so we went down that. It also had a lot of weirder stores, but nothing as “out there” as I had expected for Harajuku. On the main drag with the fancy stores, there wasn’t a Tiffany. I was bummed, but we googled it and there is one in Shinjuku, which is the neighborhood we’ll be staying in before we leave Japan, so I’ll look then! We walked around the whole area for some time before deciding to return to the hotel.
We took a short rest to just get off of our feet a bit before venturing out. We decided to hit up the hotel restaurant because I had seen the menu and it looked like something I could handle. I had plum wine, which was tasty and Loren had green tea plum wine, also tasty. I ordered chicken skewers and a tuna sushi. The chicken was going to take too long to cook, so I ordered the mozzarella and tomato skewer. That was so good, but it’s basically a mozzarella stick with a cherry tomato in it, so what’s not to love? There were two of those (pretty small) and then the single tuna sushi. Loren said it appeared to be more like sashimi, because it wasn’t a roll. I almost ordered the crab and I think I should’ve. Once I got the handle on the chopsticks (which is to say that I could grasp something, very inartfully), I ate a piece of the ginger. Um, gross. I said it tasted like it should be in bath salts or something. Loren put it better: it’s very perfume-y. I did not like it.
Then went the sushi. She told me that I had to eat the whole thing in one bite. It was huge. It felt wrong stuffing that whole thing into my mouth. I skipped the soy sauce because I don’t like it. But I did not like the sushi, which means it was something in the tuna. I can’t describe it, but it was not good. And I was chewing for three years. Even though I did not like that, I will try other kinds and rolls. But I am not off to a good start!
We then went to a Belgian beer restaurant and I had an apple beer. At first it tasted very beer-y, but eventually the apple won over. I also ordered “fried potatoes” aka French fries. They weren’t very food, but it was something. I feel like my appetite is starting to come back, but I’m still not having my stomach growl or anything, so we’ll see how the food thing goes as time goes on!
Well, I need to go to bed so I don’t sleep the day away tomorrow. No, I’m definitely setting an alarm!