Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Jam-Packed Weekend: Tokyo in the Snow & Strawberries

So I've been feeling like a bump on a log lately and wanted to get out and you know, do things. So I made plans with my friend that is going to school near Tokyo to spend some time with him on Saturday. Small problem: Upon going to bed on Friday (at 10pm mind you, living it up here) my friend warns me to be careful going to Tokyo the next day: they're supposed to get a blizzard.

My initial reaction is severe disbelief. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if "blizzard" equaled like 3 inches of snow. So I kept it in mind to check out the weather before I left the house the next day and went to bed.

So I wake up around 8 (I went to bed at 10 remember? lol) and figure I might as well make an early start of it and head over there. I also figure, oh hey, I'm up so early and I've got time, I can be cheap and take the bus instead of the Shinkansen (bullet train)! Well all the buses were cancelled for the day. And the trains were running late. Hm. Must be snowing pretty hard this morning. So I check the weather, and it says it's snowing but it should stop by the time I get there.  SO, Do I bring my earmuffs? No. Do I bring a hat at all? Nah. I head down to the station around 10, and the train is about 20 minutes late, no big deal. I even manage to snag a seat, even though it got super crowded. Win.

Meanwhile, Shizuoka (the land of no snow) is freezing and rainy, so I'm looking out the window on this train, waiting for snow to appear, and we hit Mishima and BAM snow. All over the place. No sign of stopping.

...Oops? So I get off in Tokyo station, firmly the land of snow for the day, and my friend is sleeping in late due to a long night before, so I have some time to kill. I found on the internet that several years ago, there was a store in Tokyo station that sold all the different kinds of crazy Kit Kats from all over Japan. I searched and searched and searched, no luck. So then I set out in this:


To find me some good ol' cheap gyuudon for lunch. (Also: Pictures) I still have lots of time to kill, so I get on a train to Tokyo Dome City in search of a store called the Jump Shop. You probably don't remember, but I've visited these on occasion: they are stores of a particular brand of manga/anime that sell goods from these particular shows. Which means I had to find it with my slowly dying phone with snow pelting me in the face and tennis shoes slipping in the snow. It took a bit of effort, but I made it! Whee spending money! I didn't buy much though, what a novel idea. But I definitely want to go back to this place when it's warmer, because this:

Now who can pass up a rollercoaster.

So THAT will happen eventually. (Terrifyingly, the ferris wheel was running in this weather. Did not go there) So at this point, I received a reply from my friend, but no further, so I headed back to Tokyo station anyway. (He had fallen asleep again, haha). I set up camp in a cafe and get a phone call from him, where we plan to meet up in an hour. At this point, my phone's battery is at 30%, and stupid here didn't bring her charger with her, so phone usage will be down to nothing unless necessary. So I head over to the meeting place in Shibuya (place with largest crosswalk in the world, if you recall) and wait in front of the train car, outside, where I suggested we meet.

Another great idea by me, waiting outside in the snow! The first 15 minutes, no problem, it's just snow. But then I started to feel soaked. Like, I-just-exited-a-water-ride soaked. And my phone battery was at 14 percent, so I didn't want to change where we were meeting. Yay. (Sidenote: You could tell who was foreign and who wasn't by who was using an umbrella. SidenoteSidenote: I realized AFTER this that I had both a hood on my cloak and an umbrella, and used neither. Victory) So 10 minutes later friend shows up, and we head to the first place we see to get dinner.

At this point, I have no idea how much I resemble a snowman until the server takes one look at me and says, お!すごい雪ですね!(Wow! That's a lot of snow!) I say that I was waiting outside for a bit and he just laughs as he returns to the kitchen. Not chuckles, full on laughter.

As we sat down, I noticed that my bag was utterly white on the front. And I reached back and my ponytail had a half inch of snow on it. I was a snowman. o.o 

So it was very cold as I melted, but dinner was nice. I caught up with my friend, and then we went to Starbucks because warm. We also wanted to take purikura (crazy photo booth pictures), but this means we had to find somewhere and my phone's battery was at 6. I managed to find a map to Purikura Mecca (literally what it was called) but I wasn't able to leave the map up as we looked because battery. So we marched around in the wind for a while and we knew it was by Forever 21 but we couldn't find Forever 21...and when we finally did there was no purikura. But then we walked down an alley to the other side of the building and there it was! Victory! And then we did an hour or karaoke to celebrate. So it was around 8 o clock and I get on the train to head to the Shinkansen; this is when I start panicking as to whether or not they are running. It has been snowing steadily all day, despite the weather report, and other normal trains were delayed or closed. I mean, if they were closed I could still get home by taking normal trains (just take several hours longer), but my phone was almost dead and I couldn't use it to figure out how. 

So once I get to Shinagawa, I book it over to the Shinkansen area and talk to the station man about buying the right ticket. He says the trains are still stopped, and to check the board to see if the train I need is still on the list. I bend down to look at the board from afar: of the trains listed that are late but will depart eventually, there is one that I can take. So I buy a ticket and book it to the queue. Mind you, I still had to wait there for a half hour, so it was by no means a close shave, but still. They kept updating the delay information in Japanese, but the English was staying the same >.< 

And then finally it showed up and finally we left. Hoo. 

And then Sunday my friends and I went strawberry picking: Strawberries are in season right now, and you can pay to eat them right off the vine, as much as you want. We did this, lol. The smell? Beautiful. The strawberries? Delicious. I ate 37. My friend at 57 lol. Then the area was below a famous shrine (Kunozan: home of Tokugawa Ieyasu) on top of the hill, so we climbed up 15-20 minutes to see it! 

And I forgot we were going to do this, so I was wearing way too many layers. Grr. And I forgot my shrine/temple stamp book. More grrrr. But I will return! And then we came back down and ate strawberry ice cream, because it was delicious. 

After we came home, my friend and I were full of strawberries but yet hungry for dinner. The restaurant we go to was advertising strawberry parfaits (noooo) AND when we walk in, what song are they playing? Strawberry Fields.

....All the strawberries. 


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