Ok, slight delay, but it's Tokyo time! We took the bullet train from Kyoto to Tokyo. It's really fast (hence the name.) We were paranoid about getting to the train (as the tickets were expensive) so we got to Kyoto station really early (I think 3 hours early.) Fortunately, there are lots of things to do at the train station. There were a bunch of shops selling anything you might need or desire: books, gifts, sundries, snacks, booze, gifts - you name it. There also were a ton of restaurants (lots of plastic food displays - they actually are downright artistic.) We actually enjoyed some snacks from the convenience store and some fine sho-chu on the train (made the trip quick and pleasant!)
We arrived at our hotel, the Dai-Ichi Annex, which was nice, if not a tad on the small side (and if you're wondering, Paul did look like Bill Murray from 'Lost in Translation"!) We went out to dinner with our friend Izumi, who worked with Paul in the states. We went to a restaurant where you cooked your food on a little grill in the middle of the table. We had great beef and some exceptional seafood pancakes - oh and chu-huis (lemon sours - my new favorite drink in the world - literally!)
The next morning we (and seemingly every schoolchild in Japan) went to the Tokyo Tower for a a panoramic view of the city. We were actually supposed to be fishing that day, but the windy weather squashed those plans. As much as I hate to admit it, we did eat at the McDonald's there (we were really hungry!) Actually, my Ebi Filet-O (shrimp burger) was really tasty, and Paul's Tamago Mac also looked good (I think there was egg on it...) We couldn't go all the way up in the tower because of the wind, but we saw a lot nonetheless. When we got back to the hotel, Paul decided to take a nap (it was his turn to be under the weather on vacation) and I took a walk. I found the Fine Food market (also attached to a train station.) Oh my God. I could live there. All kinds of delicious-looking food, seasonings, snacks, meats, seafood, produce...I feel like Homer Simpson...mmmmm...seafood....
That night (Friday) we went out with Izumi and her Canadian boyfriend Jeff. We went to a happy hour at a bar called "Gas Panic". Yes, Gas Panic. I had a cho-hui and Paul and Izumi had a concoction called a "Banana F**k." It was weird to be in a bar with Western bouncers. We then went to a really good sushi train restaurant (where the sushi drifts by on a conveyor belt, and you take what appeals to you) and I paid my respects at the (seven story!) Virgin Megastore, where I bought 3 Pink Lady CDs (Izumi called me a nerd because I'm such a fan!) After dinner we went to another bar for more sho-chu (where we discovered chestnut sho-chu - yummy!) and met some guys from Belgium. We made it an early night because paul was actually fishing the next morning.
Our last full day in Tokyo, Paul went fishing and I went sightseeing with Izumi. We first went to the Tsukiji fish market, which was awesome. They had vendors offering everything from pickled anything to the craziest seafood I've ever seen, as well as expensive knives and cookware and beautiful produce. We ate at the most famous restaurant there, Daiwa - a 15-seater that we had to wait an hour and 15 minutes for. But, I have never had fresher, more delicious sushi in my life. My mouth's watering just thinking about it! We then went to a touristy area to buy shoes and sho-chu and do some people-watching. I also taught Izumi how to pray at the temple there (imagine that!) I couldn't leave without visiting Harajuku (thanks, Gwen Stefani) and it was the Japanese version of England's Carnaby Street. The "little bo peep" look is everywhere and so is the goth look. I got some "Engrish" shirts there - no sheepherding for me though!
That night we went to a restaurant that featured "Akita Dining" - I was relieved that Akita is a region in Japan - not the dog. It was definitely awesome. Paul had 2 plates of beef that he cooked on a hot stone (he could cut it with a fork, he said it was the best he'd ever tasted) we had fried crabs (the whole crab, shell and all), chicken sashimi and an awesome hot pot (need I mention the lemon sours?) They had these traditional Japanese gods wandering through the restaurant and scaring the patrons - which I thought was really funny. We then headed the the Geronimo Shot Bar. You can see the trouble a brewin' - can't you? Paul was on a mission - if you do 15 shots there (in one night) you get a plaque on the wall and a t-shirt. Needless to say, there is a plaque on the wall now that says "Homer Trump - Eric Choi is a Buttwipe!" I'm so proud. We went to another bar called Wall Street or something like that. We had a LOT of fun!
The next morning we met up with Taka (another of Paul's former co-workers) for more sushi train and a little snack shopping. We then headed to the airport and (reluctantly) headed home. We'll be back!