Sorry it's be so long since I've blogged! Christian's been here, so I haven't wanted to waste any of his time here (not that I've totally succeeded). But we're taking a break this evening before meeting John for dinner.
I've been doing my best to show Christian all the best of Tokyo, and be a perfect tour guide, which is complicated at time, because a lot of the things we're doing I've never done before, and because Christian can actually read Japanese better than me. But so far, we're doing a great job.
As you can see, Christian is fitting in perfectly here in Japan (except for the fact that he's nearly a foot taller than everyone). But we've been having a really good time, I think. We went to Asakusa, which has the biggest temple in the Tokyo area, and the Meiji Shrine, which is wonderful. Asakusa is pretty touristy, with tons of shops with souvenirs and ice cream and silly things, but it seemed like a very "japanese feeling" thing to do his first day. And the Meiji Shrine is fantastic, because one minute you're in the middle of a tons of people in harajuku, and then you're walking along a beautiful quiet path through a forest. With all the enormous trees and the stone lanterns you can almost imagine what it was like in Japan hundreds of years ago.
Besides that we've gone to a see X-Men, and believe it or not, seeing a movie in Japan is a very different experience. When you buy your ticket, you reserve your specific seats (this can be done days in advance), everyone is always very polite and quiet during the movie, and everyone stays to watch the credits out of respect. We also went to Akihabara, which is the electronics/nerd area, the Ueno zoo, Shibuya crossing, the observation deck in Shinjuku, and Studio Ghibli, which is the museum for the Miyazaki films (I've never actually seen any, but I plan to after this!).
The maid cafe was something I was sort of interested in, but also kind of dreading, because it seemed like it would be sooooo awkward. For those of you (most I would assume) that are not familiar, a maid cafe is a little coffee shop like place where young women dress like sexy maids. They use very formal language and greet you as "master" or "mistress", give you extremely attentive service (not the norm here), and pretty much act like you are amazing. You, of course, are paying for this. These places are generally frequented by awkward young men who don't really know how to socialize with the opposite sex, and are more familiar with girls in comic books than girls in real life. Some of them are weirder than others (I've read at some places you can pay for them to spoon feed you). We went to one that seemed fairly low key. Christian got a tea and I got a melon soda. We had to make heart shapes with our hands and say "cute" words to make them taste better. The our maid mixed the milk into Christian's tea, and he had to say "nya nya" and make hand motions when it was enough milk (nya nya is the japanese version of meow meow). So after that, Christian had chosen to take a picture with the maid. She made him wear a head band with bunny ears, and signed the photo for him. I had chosen to play a game with our maid, and I chose one that was basically rock 'em sock 'em robots. She let me win, but kept it almost suspenseful the whole time, and was very impressed every time I beat her. Then we got some souvenir candy to take home. It was definitely a weird (and pricy) experience. But the maids were really nice, and really good at making the whole situation feel more like a game than an awkward social encounter. I've actually had much more awkward experiences just trying to make myself understood to a waiter in Japanese. So, all in all, a success.
The zoo was also really fun, partly because Christian had never been to a zoo before, and partly because they had just recently gotten new Pandas, so everyone was still really excited and enthusiastic about them.
I got a panda cell phone charm to commemorate the experience (although the charms at the zoo were no good, so I ended up buying it at the observation deck in Shinjuku).
Studio Ghibli was more than anything, beautiful! The building had such interesting and fun architecture (sadly photography was not allowed). Every room was so colorful and fun, and there was just incredible detail to everything we saw. Some rooms had fun little optical illusions and animations, and some showed sketches and tools. We got to see a cute little 10 minute original film too. Even the tickets were awesome! We had to buy tickets on a machine in a convenience store (which was a totally debacle, and we actually ended up buying them for the wrong day and not realizing it until that day). But when we arrived, they exchange the ticket for a souvenir ticket that has 3 film frames from one of the movies.
We're not totally sure, but Christian thinks mine might be from Grave of the Fireflies. I definitely want to watch at least one or two of the movies now, so that I will have a better idea about what I saw. But it was definitely fun not knowing anything.
Whew, well, that probably doesn't sound like all that much, but it sure feels like a lot. Tomorrow we are going to maybe try and see the imperial palace, and a history museum. Plus John and Christian's cousin Lindsay is supposed to be here for a day, so hopefully we can meet up with her. On Friday, we are going to Kamakura, which is supposed to be a beautiful place full of temples and shrines and history. I'll be sure to take lots of pictures of all that! So, all of you wonderful readers can look forward to these fun opportunities (as well as many more, like cake buffets!) when you come visit me and John in the future.
One last things, that I have to note before ending this post is about Don Quixote. I know I already devoted an entire post to the store, but at the rate we're going, it may require a weekly update. One day Christian and I made the amazing discovery that they have a ROLLER COASTER on the roof! This is totally for real, although apparently the neighborhood protested it, and so it's never been run. Also, Sunday morning we saw a man standing inside with his pants and underwear pulled down to his ankles....doing we're not sure what. This morning, there were film crews inside. You really never know with this place....