Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Visit from the 'rents!

Kinkakuji - Kyoto
Being visited and playing host is awesome for a few reasons:

1. You finally have an excuse to do "touristy" stuff. I know that where I'm from, there's a slightly negative nuance to doing things like exploring your own city that you've lived in for over 10 years, or taking photos of the statue you pass on your commute 5 times a week. In Japan, tourist stuff is affordable ($3 tickets to temples, all-day bus passes for $10, group pricing at restaurants), and in some cases cheaper for foreign passports than for residents! I'm looking at you, Japan Rail pass!

Check out japanican.com for more deets on tours n stuff. Also, make sure you get your rail pass BEFORE you come to Japan.
Chinatown - Yokohama

2. You get to see your stomping grounds through someone else's eyes. That creepy statue in the small alley where you saw a bum taking dump in the middle of the road? Well, the rain washed away that dookie and your host only sees an interesting city ornament and want to take pictures!

3. Your guests may give you an opportunity to interact with the city that you might not normally take. I discovered the many cheap buses to Haneda airport from all over Yokohama, as well as a station exit that would have saved me lots of time an energy getting to my private lessons over these two years! 

Anyhoo, here's how it went: the first night, I picked her up from Haneda. Baggage claim is pretty slow. That night, we checked in to their hotel in Landmark Tower. The front desk had trouble finding my reservation, and after 20 minutes, found and upgraded the room! We ate tonkatsu (breaded-and-fried pork cutlet) nearby and that was that.

Uhh ohh, will that double my credit balance?
The next day, I met them in the afternoon, and after trying Mr Donuts, we went to Kamakura to enjoy a nice walk to Zeni-arai benten. This is a temple where it's said that any money you wash will be doubled. We had to meet a friend for dinner and ordered random Japanese dishes: Chicken katsu, sashimi platter, and a pork bone soup. Because we were juggling luggage and lockers, we only had time to ride the Enoden line from start to finish and didn't actually visit Enoshima.

Freddie having way too much fun
blessing himself for love

Wednesday was Kyoto. We took the bullet from ShinYokohama to Kyoto, arriving just before 1pm. We scored discount daypass bus tickets, and saw KiyoMizuDera. We were going to see Ginkakuji but arrived just a few minutes too late. Then, we got lost trying to find our apartment. Once we did, turns out it was very new and very unused. The owner left us with his pocket wifi because I needed it to keep in touch. Parents tried 生搾りchu-hais (fresh-squeezed malts).
Kiyomizudera - Kyoto

We used AirBnB.com for our reservations.

Thursday was Kyoto part two. Parents tried double-soft toast and we buzzed off to Kinkakuji. Then Ginkakuji, where we did most of our gift-shopping. For lunch, we had Italian, but the dessert was a deep, rich green tea cake. 

Outside da Ghibli Building
Friday we started by going to the post office, where there is an assistant who helps you choose the right line to stand in for your bank or post services. Like a hostess or maitre'd for a post office! A month ago, I went to Lawson's, a convenience store to purchase tickets for the Ghibli Museum. It was fantastic, and worth the wait. The 'rents didn't really know what they were seeing, but they liked it for sure. In one of the first lower rooms, there was a 3d-animated mobile of Ghibli stuff going on. There was also a 3-4 minute animated short of evolving prey running from evolving predators. The bottom floor also had a 13 minute animated short about an old couple who help mice defeat rats in sumo games. The story is both sweet and cute. 

The second floor has a history and sketches of Ghibli classics as well as a bookstore. The third floor has the gift shop, a Neko-bus playground for preschoolers, and a deck with spiral steps to climb to the roof, which has the giant robot from...Friday night was capped off by an hour-long JR ride to my station Tsurumi, where we had yakiniku. Mom and Dad loved it!
Runebox - Ghibli

This thing is from Laputa...
just don't translate that
title to Spanish!
Saturday, we were all kind of exhausted, so the folks came over to see my apartment for a few hours. We whisked off to Akihabara and walked through a 5-floor arcade, just to take them into the antithesis of sensory deprivation. Then we headed to Shinjuku for Sekai-no-Yamachan seasoned chicken wings, miso-tonkatsu and microbrew. After that was the Robot Restaurant!

Sunday morning was breakfast at DeliFrance, my favorite pastries in Japan. Unfortunately, their coffee is both expensive and indistinct. We waddled out of that place and spent a few hours in Chinatown, where we had a few dumplings, bought some trinkets and finally headed off to Haneda airport!

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