Subject: Tokyo take 5 or 6
Holy frogs legs-
What*s new since the last time Ive written? For the majority of y*all probably not a whole lot, had a few fun days at the office, some drama with your boyfriend, dinner with the family, cooked up a nice Italian antipasti lunch, etc... for us its an entirely different story. We:ve lived another lifetime in the last two nights since we left the Manga Manga web cafe and powder room.
We just love Tokyo and everyone who lives in this wonderful city more than we can explain in words.
Poetic, isn:t it?
So that night we left the cafe and I walked directly into the cat cafe next door, thinking Brett wouldn:t notice but he did... apparently some of the sake had worn off as he checked his stats on the web so we tucked into Arabian Nights- another gimmicky restaurant to have two more beers before Brett was tipsy enough to play with cats.
Not sure what it is with Tokyo and gimmicky restaurants but Brett and I are suckers for the Euro Disney feeling that makes us nostalgic every time we walk into one. Arabian Nights- get a drink while a life size genie walks by to greet you- CHECK, eat dinner at a combo candy bar, toy store, 1920s shogun Japan themed restaurant where you can buy veggies after your meal CHECK, have drinks in a bar where the bartender dresses up as a frog and acts out indecent acts as he pours your drink and you not only order a drink but a country he acts out that frog with as he serves you CHECK, eat heart shaped sandies and slurp lemonade at a maid cafe CHECK, pay 5 bucks extra to play board games with the maids CHECK CHECK CHECK....
BACK to the point- so finally after two beers and a picture with a GENIE IN A BOTTLE I finally convince Brett to go to the cat cafe. The cafe itself wasnt] as cool as I imagined. To be honest I just don:t think cats are that fun (sorry but they:re just not dogs) and paying 10 bucks to play with them for an hour was sort of a rip off............. but in the end we got our money:s worth when we experienced first hand the OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) that has been recently adopted here by basically 80 percent of the population since the SWINE FLU OUTBREAK.
From the looks of the subway station and the fact that roughly 10 percent of the population is wearing those white masks, you would think you were in the movie Outbreak and that not only did most everyone have the disease but also some weird mutation of it that was going to GET YOU FAST!
u get the point.
In fact, as soon as we just switched hotels in Tokyo from Shinjuku to Shibuya we received a MUY IMPORTANTE NOTICE in our hotel room that read as follows+
- *ATTENTION HOTEL GUESTS
Thank you for your stay at our hotel.
To prevent the flu infection, we advise you to gargle as well as wash your hands, which is reportedly effective.
Thank you for your understanding and cooperation**
(gargling will prevent me from catching swine flu- says who- Sanjay Gupta from CNN???) Apparently so.
Ok, so anyways, I:ve also seen instructions on how to wash my hands in most of the restrooms in this country. Everyone in America apparently needs a lesson because these folks are simply put not messing around with the germs on their hands. There is apparently a six step process that you should go through with the soap and we are not just talking lathering up your hands, don:t forget to go through each finger and especially your wrists as well.
So we get to the cat cafe, take off our shoes, put on their slippers and the hostess proceeds to take us to the sink where we wash our hands the American way, which apparently she just wasn:t too happy with so we were told to re-wash as well as use their container of Purell before we were actually allowed to step foot inside the cat sanctuary.
Fast forward ten minutes, it was pretty cool, we stroked a few cats including those adorable Persian ones with the smashed faces that are actually super duper cute.
On the way out we watched two Japanese girls wash their hands the right way. Brett and I were blown away. Five minutes later they had used about 40 times the amount of soap as us losers and were probably actually clean.
At this point I:m just confused. Did we never actually learn how to wash our hands or is this country just taking extra precautions. The way Nels explained it is that there are really no real problems in Japan the way there are in the US so when something like SWINE FLU comes along the entire country puts forth their best effort to combat the monster with ALL ARMS.
Pretty impressive really.
So after we got our washing skills put to shame we went to a Golden Gai bar called Lonely. It was at a Golden Gai bar the other night that we got to experience the Japanese version of the Bachelor- priceless. The Golden Gai bars are located on a few narrow alley ways in Tokyo. They are an impressive set of wonderfully unique watering holes, each of which cannot fit more than 5 or at the most 10 patrons at a time. Each one is different and has only one bartender who really has his or her entire life in about 100 or 200 square meters. You really get to know each bartender by spending an hour or so in their bar. Apparently some of them hate foreigners but Brett and I never were turned away from any of them and felt more than welcome at each one. Again, just gotta love the hospitality of the Japanese.
Brett and I stumbled upon the Lonely bar by accident. Just saw the sign, opened the door and walked right on in to find this adorable 70ish year old man whose life story could be read on the walls of this bar. His favorite Anime character, Tomorrow S was drawn in quite a few places, pictures of his friends, his favorite Japanese board game, music videos of him karoking to the Beatles played on a TV in the background. The best part was that this man spoke no more than 10 words of English but Brett and I were able to spend 2 hours in there with him and over a few Sapporos we learned about his life, the book him and his bar were featured in and who his favorite baseball player was. He even taught Brett how to play the Japanese version of chess. He was just too much.
Fast forward to today- we stumbled upon an Armani fashion show which was gorgeous and really interesting, then went back to the fish market Tsujiki, had some more AMAZING sushi. Hate to break it to you but the sushi in the US is for the most part an absolute joke compared to the melt in your mouth deliciousness of the fish out here. Even salmon roe, which is normally something that tastes like you ate a raw whole goldfish in the states is somehow really good here.... maybe its the years of training of the chefs and the proximity to the world:s largest seafood market... not sure what it is but its DAMN GOOD!
Then we went to Kabuki-Za, the famous Kabuki theatre to see an act of Kabuki which was so beautiful and really interesting. They even had a little headset that gave an English translation of what was going on. An entire Kabuki performance is about 4-5 hours long and we were not about to sit through that many hours of a play when we had gimmicky frog bartenders outside so we bought seats in the back row for just one act (it was only ten bucks- what a bargain!).
Apparently we got to see the most famous Kabuki actor whom Japan has labeled a **living national treasure** I wouldn:t have been able to tell the difference between him and the other men playing Geisha (all the actors are men by the way).
Do we have anyone like that in the US? Pres Bush maybe?
After Kabuki we went to the best bar I:ve ever been to in my entire life. LITERALLLLLLLLYYYY. In fact its so poppin I don:t know if you can call it a bar. It:s more like a way of life. KAGAYA. It:s run entirely by *Mark* whose crackpot behavior has made the bar famous. Lucky for my wonderful husband and I we get to the bar the minute it opens and get Marks attention for an hour and a half before the regular Tokyoites come in.
Mark is just his name for people like us who can:t pronounce his real name....Where do I begin? With the robot who Mark turns on to bring the obligatory hand towels to your table? The way Mark translates the menu by stroking it and telling us how sexy it is and explaining that not only do you pick a drink but also a country. I choose Soju with Green Tea and Brazil. Mark prepares my beverage than disappears into his closet where he dresses up in a Carnival outfit, he loads up his CD with samba music and comes out hollaring like a madman as he serves me a drink in a cup that shakes and wiggles every time you pick it up. Brett had to pour his drink out of a glass with a little boy peeing. Like I said, it:s a very interesting country.
When you want to eat you don:t get to pick what you eat, just what type of menu you order from, here are a few of the choices*
- Hey master,
You know what today I:m feeling free, get me sothing.
You know what I:m talking about.... 2625 yen*
- Hey master,
I wanna breake down tonight
I;m not tomorrow,
I:m no future,
Because I want to eat many, many foods
No limit to drink... 4200 yen*
Those are exact copies of their English menu... no jokes folks.
Then before he brought out the food he came out of the kitchen with a tray of different shapes and types of chopsticks holders. I choose an elephant and Brett choose a cat. Then Mark explained each of our choices. He said it was his way of fortune telling. The outcomes are too graphic for this email but I can divulge next time I see you if you:re really interested.
Here it is on You Tube but this is to be honest a tamer version. During our time at the bar he also set up a frog puppet show and told us and the entire bar to call *Dick* to come out. He then came out of the closet dressed as a frog and what happened after that you can probably guess...
When we paid the bill he brought it rolled up in a Barbie dolls mouth which he made Brett take out with his teeth as he exclaimed *Sexy BOY from San Diego! Sexy BOY from San Diego!!**
Ok it might be time to go but tomorrow is our grand finale in Tokyo, then its off to Takayama, Kyoto and Nara where we will continue to have more fun than we ever imagined....
Frogs and ramen,
Sarah and Brett