Met up with our new friend G who we met at Mickey House. G’s been working in Japan for a year and had friends visiting from HK and London so he invited us along for a tour!
While waiting for his friends to arrive, we climbed up the stairs of nearby Atago Shrine to feed the koi fish. These koi fish were way bigger than any koi I’d seen before and they all crammed at the edge of their pond, sucking at air, and fighting for any food that went their way. After much pleading with the staff, G took us up to the roof of his building. Magnificent view of the city, nearby Tokyo Tower, Rainbow Bridge, Tokyo Skytree, and a glimpse of the Imperial Palace.
Walked over to Hamarikyu Garden and enjoyed the traditional Japanese garden in the middle of the city. Sweltered under the hot sun and threw some stones in the ocean while talking about life and work. Interesting that even though Tokyo is such a densely populated city, many people still feel lonely. Eventually, caved and went to the garden’s teahouse for a cup of iced matcha and a traditional Japanese sweet. G’s friends finally arrived and while we were having tea, we made friends with the tourists who were sitting across from us. Exchanged details using J and N’s handy portable Wi-Fi so we could meet up with them later.
Lunch was an adventure at Maidreamin, a maid cafe in Akihabara. A little weird, but fun at the same time! I ordered a cute dish dubbed “Floating bear in the curry pool”, O couldn’t bear to eat his riceball head. (hohoho, punny) One of the maids performed a song and dance, while the other maids (and some other guys who we thought were just patrons) clapped and danced along with glowsticks. One maid went absolutely crazy with her glowsticks like she was at a rave even though the song was super cheerful and bubbly. LOL
As the sun went down, we walked around Yoyogi Park in Harajuku where locals go to hang out and practice their hobbies on Sunday. Saw a tap dancer, a couple of glowstringers, a man making giant bubbles, a man playing Indian drums, etc. Sat down by the pond, had a couple of drinks from the convenience store, and chatted with our new friends. It was fun discussing and comparing our lives in Toronto, Tokyo, London, and Hong Kong. They were intrigued that I went to school in London, Ontario because apparently it always comes up before the real London in Google Maps searches.
At Harajuku station, our group took on another member, S, who was also from London and had been teaching English in Japan for 2 years. The others were planning to have dinner at the robot restaurant in Shinjuku, but they had to make it there earlier before showtime to make sure they got seats, We made a mad dash to the restaurant from the station through the streets of Kabukicho, which was exhilarating and hilarious. I felt like I was in an action movie chase scene trying to catch up to the person in front of me, while avoiding all the bewildered tourists and locals on the busy street.
After dropping off half of our group at the robot restaurant, G brought O, W, and I to Shinjuku Golden Gai, a historical red light district that was preserved by locals and converted to a drinking area comprised of narrow alleyways and short buildings that house tiny bars that can seat a maximum of 5 people. We went to G’s regular haunt, a tiny bar named Kangaroo Court Decision. So amazing, I cannot get enough of that name. We had a round of shochu grapefruits and a great chat with the bartender, which gave G and W a chance to practice their Japanese. Our bartender was really friendly and interested in chatting with foreigner to practice his English skills, so we suggested that he visit Mickey House.
Quick dinner at a great tempura restaurant that offered different salts and sauces to go on our tempura. Tried eel, fish, lotus root, egg yolk, pepper and shrimp, and ice cream tempura too! Met back up with G’s friends at the bar in the Park Hyatt Hotel from Lost in Translation (which I finally watched). Amazing night view of the blinking red building lights of Shinjuku. While the others planned to continue their barhopping, O, W, and I were exhausted so we decided to call it a night.