Rachel in Tokyo

This is a blog about an American law school student studying in Tokyo for the semester.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Fishing Restaurant

My Kameido family celebrated the 10th anniversary of their business a few weeks ago. To commemorate the event, we went to the most FANTASTIC restaurant! Actually my favorite one yet! It was absolutely amazing.

I went to Kameido for one of our weekly english lessons. When we were finished, Sonya said: "tonight is special night. we celebrate. 10 year anniversary of our company. We go fishing."

Well, given the fact that they treat me to a gourmet meal twice a week, and each one is an adventure and is delicious and memorable, I have learned to trust Sonya whenever she puts on her jacket and walking shoes and says: "follow me." I don't ask questions! To tell the truth, the walls of my wallet have such an intimate relationship with each other (there is never any money in between to give them distance, i.e., I'm always BROKE!), many times I have come to Kameido having not eaten all day for I know a wonderful dinner awaits me there. It has become a sense of relief knowing that I can make it from day to day here on very little money and if it runs out, I won't go hungry (at least 2 nights a week!) They have treated me like such family. I will remember them always. I can't wait to someday return to them the generosity they have bestowed upon me here in Tokyo. When I get married, I want to invite them back to the States for a week-long vacation, and FEED THEM! (Sorry for my tangent. But that's what a blog is all about, right?)
So we got to the "fishing place", and I really didn't know if we were going to jump in a boat and fish all night, or if we were going someplace to eat. When we got to the restaurant, they wanted me to walk in front of them. I'm sure they were waiting for my reaction when I saw the interior. On the inside, there were massive tanks surrounding the whole restaurant. It was amazing. The tables were built all around the tanks. The fish swam freely throughout the restaurant, under a bridge, a platform, and more. There were also tanks with oysters, lobsters, clams, flounder and crabs.

When we sat down, they gave us fishing poles and baby shrimp as bait! We put the bait on the poles and started fishing for carp, for tripe, for salmon, and anything else that might bite! Alisha and I worked the first "shift". Then Amy and Nick came to help out! Pretty soon, Amy caught a carp! They netted the fresh carp and the whole restaurant clapped. Within 20 minutes we were eating the victim! Then Nick caught a flounder! One was grilled and then they fried the other. We supplemented our catches with sushi and other exotic foods. Hideki and Sonya think it's funny when I'll agree to try anything. I don't know what all I ate that night. Oh yeah! I almost forgot! I ate this huge conch-like thing! They could not believe I would eat it! But hey, I'm an adventurous American. I'll try anything once! (well, as long as I'm not in a 3rd world country...not so sure I'd eat a cockroach...) My friends Kristina and Jeremy are going to Beijing in a couple of days. They eat cockroaches there, I hear. And dog. Full report on that later.
Alisha is quite the photographer. She loves taking silly pictures of me.

Here are some remnants of my trip to Tsukiji with Jared. I just got them off of my phone.
It takes 2 months for the tuna to make it back to Tsukiji. It is frozen on the ships and the ships stay out for 2 months at a time.
Kristina just went to the fish market and reports that the auctions are now closed to foreigners! That's a shame, because Jared and I had so much fun at the auction! We did ask to see the fresh tuna, too. Maybe we were some of those annoying Americans who ruined it for everyone else! Sorry!

Jared was a great photographer. When he actually returned to the states, he had taken over 8 rolls of film!

Joypolis, Mori Tower and Smiley Kids

This is the most famous building in my little section of town. It's called the MORI TOWER. But what I didn't realize is that the Mori buildings are numerous throughout Japan. I went to meet some friends one night at a Sake tasting and got off at the wrong train exit when I first came to Japan. After wandering around aimlessly, and upon asking several locals where the "mori building" was, I discovered to my dismay that I was lost. Finding one lone Mori Tower in Japan, without more information as to its location, is like finding a lone Mcdonald's, without more than its name, in any city in the US, as there are 1000's. However, this one IS the most famous in Roppongi, and it is close to where I live (if ever you see it on a postcard...)
I went to an italian restaurant one night in Azabu Juban, and saw that they were running a special on "lobster" that evening. I decided to try it, because I've never had lobster for under $12....well, you get what you pay for. These were "baby lobsters." In the States, we call these fellas SHRIMP!
Ever heard of blowfish? Well, if it's not cooked properly, it can KILL YOU! Of course people with gobs of money love to eat this stuff as it is a delicacy. In the really fancy restaurants, the sous chef actually tries a bite before he serves it, just in case it may kill a customer upon consumption. To make sure he's cooked it right. I guess this is one way being a chef can be a deadly profession. I will tell Jared not to work in a restaurant as chef if they serve blowfish. Every year, 3 or 4 people die from eating the stuff! You think they would learn!!!
Here are two children I taught at "smiley kids." Not really taught, more like babysat. When I left work the second day, I vowed never to return to this place near Chiba. Not only was the job not worth my time and effort, but when I left, I had been bitten, kicked, spit on, hair pulled, and more. And I got sick 2 days later from a kid who sneezed on me. Fun. Real fun. I think I'll stick to my clients in Kameido and around Tokyo. They're great! The two kids pictured here, however, were rather cute. One is actually a child-actor. He speaks great English and was really well-behaved. He was cute. The little girl was very special too. But the other kids? I think I'll stay home next time. Ask any of my other clients, and they will tell you. I love kids! But these kids near Chiba were not the norm!

Here are some remnants of Joypolis! This is a special floor that you walk on and make music. Also it looks like water when you walk around it.


Here are some remnants of my Hakone trip as seen from my camera phone and also a little help from http://www.greggman.com/japan/hakone/hakone.htm to explain the phenomenon of the BLACK EGG....read on!

The famous black eggs of Hakone are chicken eggs. What makes them black is they are actually cooked in the geysers. If you climb up the mountain a little ways there are holes in the ground with super boiling water. The water looks light bluish green. Almost like a milky bluish jade green and it looks HOT!!!

We rode these cable cars up the mountain to the pirate ships awaiting us below...

The train that we took to get to Hakone had a "WOMEN ONLY" car. Japanese men have been known to "grope" women. As this practice is unwelcomed by most women (most of the time), some of the metros felt a need to make the women more comfortable and create a men-free zone. This was more needed back in the 1970's and 1980's when women were less revered in Japanese society. As equal rights have progressed in Japan, however, these women-only carts have become more of an anomile. Men know better now. If a man tries to grope a woman on a train car today, a woman can yell "CHIKAN!" and everyone on the train turns around to see who the "pervert" is. In Japan, no one wants to be yelled at in a train! Much less be called a perve!
mmmmmmm...black eggs!!!....deliche!
Sakura in Hakone...
The famous Hakone Castle
My friend Denise, who had to go back to the States. :-( She has promised to come back and visit!
Tomoko and I have decided to take pirate lessons...
But Kris Justice needs no lessons! He is a pirate by heart!

Remembering Tokyo Dome City. What a ride!

Girl's Day

Girl's Day! March 3rd (I'm a little behind in uploading my pictures), was Alisha's day. No, not her birthday, but GIRL'S DAY! Here is a little history behind Girl's day...

The 3rd of March - (by the Solar Calendar) is called "Hina-no-Sekku","Hina-Matsuri" (Doll's
Festival) or "Momo-no-Sekku" (Peach blossom's Festival) which used to be one of the important
seasonal events of ancient China and has now developed into a function symbolic of Japanese arts
and customs and has been in existence in Japan since the Edo Period (17 - 19 centuries).

Momo-no-Sekku used to be held on the 3rd of March according to the Lunar Calendar, though today it is actually not until early April that the peach blossoms begin to bloom, and that is how the name of this festival came about.

On this day families with young daughters celebrate this event at home to ensure their daughter's future happiness. That is, they decorate hina-Ningyo (special, beautiful dolls which are replicas of an ancient emperor and empress and their subordinates).

We ate special sushi. It was so pretty, it was almost a sin to eat it! We had fun...

Hideki and I enjoyed the sushi. It was superb!

And we all know how much Hideki likes his sushi! Here is an example of the what I refer to as the "sushi towers" at a local conveyer-belt sushi restaurant in Kameido that we visited a few months back...
From 3 to 4 towers. They just keep building and building!

Okay! Can we go home now? I've had enough sushi!!!

Friday, April 14, 2006

The Wrong Temple

On our way to the fabulous Kanamari Matsurai, (festival of the steel phallus), we went to the wrong temple in Kawasaki.
This picture is courtesy of Kristina, who has such an amazing blog. She took this picture for me while we were in Kawasaki. I thought it was fascinating. You would never find a sign like this in Florida! Well, maybe an "in case of hurricane...." but definitely not Earthquake! By the way, I've been keeping track- I've experienced 5 or 6 earthquakes here since January! Although this picture is a little out of place, I wanted to post it anyway. It was taken at the castle in Hakone.
Here we are thinking we're about to see the main event, the Kanamara Matsurai, but in reality, through the gate a typical Sunday service awaits us. It was actually a real treat, though, because I saw my very first temple ceremony here in Japan!
But this ceremony was a little different.
I noticed that there were Japanese monks, as well as some Indian monks, maybe they were Muslim priests or something, I don't know, I couldn't really figure it out. The ceremony seemed like it was a combination of the Buddhist and Muslim faiths. The monks or priests, seemed like they were introducing two different religious cultures to the people in a manner of total acceptance.
My friend Jeremy introduced me to the calligraphy books that are available at each temple. I bought my first book for about $10, and now I can take it to all of the temples and get the temple calligraphy artist to sign my book.
This beautiful Pagoda and statue were found at this temple.
Upon leaving the temple, I noticed what looked like a muslim temple to the side.
As mentioned above, my friend Kristina has an incredible blog herself. In fact, she just posted the best entry yet: The TOP 10 CONVENIENCES OF TOKYO! Check it out!! http://kristinaintokyo.blogspot.com