- 5/5; Dad and my brother join us (surprising us right at our hotel door).
- Lunch at family-favourite “Saboten”, and boy, have we missed authentic non-amateur tonkatsu!
- Down to Minatomirai Station, and we get on the train to Shibuya (TY01), where my Dad and brother go off to Tokyu Hands, and the rest of us head to Roppongi Station…
- …to the Hedgehog Cafe! It’s a 2 minute walk, and tucked into the corner of a block, but the hedgehog & bunny dolls on the patch of grass gives it away. People book in advance for this, but we luckily got in without doing so. We spent 30 minutes there, and it was unbelievably great! My sister accidentally lost grip on a chinchilla, and it rapidly scurried around the establishment; this American man yelled “Chinchilla on the loose!” whilst his kids kept asking “Can I have the black bunny???” A must-go place. You can always trust Japanese establishments to be hygienic and sanitary.
- Then we all meet in Tokyu Hands, where I get brand new watchstraps for my Luminox, and the staff chuckles with, “Ahhh, good choice, ne~” as I choose a military style one.
- We head back to the hotel, as my sister and brother goes off to see their old friends.
- On a side-note, I knew Asa Butterfield was currently in Tokyo as well, according to his Instagram story. I’m very excited for “The Space Between Us”. Of course I tried to look for him (passively), and of course I didn’t see him. My luck doesn’t extend that far.
- My parents and I go to World Porters, which is right beside Cosmo World, and eat at a fantastic restaurant with sushi plates served on conveyor belts. Though, most of what we ordered came from our personalized favourites.
- Takoyaki as our post-dinner snack. I got the very last batch of the day! We then walk around the Ferris wheel before heading back to the hotel. What a great time.
- Hakata Ippudo ramen in Minatomirai’s Queen Square for brunch – we are the first customers, and the staff were literally turning the sign to “Open” as we walked in.
- Then, it is off to Kamakura – after approx 20 minute train ride, we reach, and head towards Zeniarai Benten Shrine which was a 25 minute walk. We stopped to buy a chocolate stick (chocolate…wrapped in chocolate).
- At the shrine, we washed our money within the traditional sieves provided, prayed with candles & incense, paid ¥100 each for omikuji (fortune-telling strips) upon shaking a cylindrical wooden box until a stick falls out (the prognostics for my love life: “If you just continue being patient, all your dreams will come true!”) and wrote blessings for our family on ema (wooden wishing plaques) that we tied up. Absolutely beautiful scenery; gorgeous shrine. Felt at peace.
- We then walked down the famous Komachi-dori shopping street, where we made multiple pitstops:
- Donguri Kyowakoku (Acorn Republic) – one of the official Studio Ghibli shops full of Totoro (!!!) + his pals, Chihiro, No-Face, and many more wonderful characters.
- Ate a soba noodle & tempura set together between the 3 of us.
- Hopped to another dessert place and shared the famous Japanese dessert, cream anmitsu. It contained green tea ice cream, chewy mochi balls, sweet red beans, smooth green tea jelly, and kinako (roasted soybean powder), with a dollop of kurimitsu (dark sugar syrup).
- Stopped at big we-have-everything store for everything.
- Stopped at torii (gates that mark the entrance to a shrine) with komainu on either side; one has an open mouth (“a-gyo”) and one has a closed mouth (“un-gyo”), where “a” and “un” are the first and last characters of the Japanese alphabet, therefore symbolizing the beginning and end.
- Hopped on the train back to Yokohama station to meet with our old Japanese friends, who took us to eat at a wonderful local place nearby – never, have I ever, felt as full as I have on that night. A lottery of tempura, sushi, croquet, fish, and everything else. I found the menus very beautiful, because it looked like calligraphy, even if it was just kanji on paper. Beef slices were our appetizers. My clothes and hair were infused with cigarette smoke galore. Everything was bliss.
- Despite functioning on only 10 hours of sleep collectively in the past 3 days (through attempted plane naps and on-land naps), I never felt more energized upon looking over the town that I fell deeply in love with 10 years ago.
- My goodness, it’s all true. We see a packed train carriage with the doors closing, but a businessman sprints in and there is literally no space, and the train staff don’t shout at him or at people to move, oh not at all – the train staff instead shoves the man in the train, with legs braced in a straddling position for more strength, and manually closes the door on him. This poor man in a suit has no space to move to the point where he cannot even change his facial expression because it’s mashed up against the train door, which further smooshes his face…I felt so terrible for laughing but I blame my Mum who burst out giggling first. I love Japanese people. Their dedication is insane.
- Immediately after leaving our bags with reception, we went on a trip down memory lane, prancing around Minatomirai (“Remember when we thought that was an actual roller coaster of death” “Sweet Factory still exists!” “I know McDonald’s is right up that escalator…” “Isn’t this where you made those skateboarding videos to Avril Lavigne songs”) when most shops were closed (8am), and then walked through Cosmo World (“Wanna go to the haunted house?” “I want to win beef jerky”).
- I snack on a tuna & mayonnaise onigiri.
- But the first true activity was when I brought up going to an Onsen (hot spring bath where you go naked) – my mum and I simply loved going when we were living here, and we had a favorite one opposite World Porters we went to on the weekends. So there we went! When we saw that familiar Onsen logo my Mum got very excited.
- My sister isn’t as big a fan of Onsens.
- I was never really embarrassed to be naked in front of the other Japanese locals in an Onsen, because it’s a culture. I always found the human body very beautiful (maybe a contributing factor to why I’d like to become a doctor) because we should respect and celebrate this vessel we are given to inhabit. This time was no different. Except now I kept thinking of areolar tissue and the rectus sheath. Seriously? Even I can’t stand my own self. Can’t ever escape anatomy.
- I have terrible eyesight and obviously I’m not going to wear glasses inside, so maybe that’s another factor to my lack of embarrassment of my own nudity
- Suddenly we are all feeling light-headed because of the stark heat of the hot springs and cold wind. But first, I had to stand and wave my hands up in the air because we are at the top of a building with a killer view (no, not me as the view, the Yokohama landscape view). We head back to the hotel to check-in (12pm).
- I really have to stop associating every single oblique zebra crossing with the inguinal canal…
- And then we nap. And mine turns out to be not 30 minutes but 3 hours.
- So we wake up and decide to go to Yokohama Station and Mum desperately looks for Cafe De Monde but it’s permanently closed. We end up eating Omurice at a restaurant that plays a surprising array of music for a little Japanese corner shop (“Hair” by Little Mix, “Worth It” by Fifth Harmony ft. Kid Ink, “New Thang” by Redfoo)…
- We get coupons for a free spin on a lucky draw downstairs part of “Join Us”, so we go. We spin this contraption and out pops this yellow ball, and before we know it the man is ringing a bell loudly and shouting celebratory phrases in this public place and gives us a 500 yen coupon to spend!
- Then we walk to Tokyu Hands (!!!) and there I buy a hedgehog calendar, and the calendar of Instagram famous shiba inu Maru recently released for my brother (Christmas present).
- We buy taiyaki, a waffle-shaped fish filled with sweet red beans. Puts London’s version to utter disgrace.
- Then we sit in the Pompompurin Cafe (famous Japanese dog-themed cafe) and even the lamps are in the shape and colour of the dog (but quite pricey dessert considering it’s just a pile of very nice whipped cream in a tart, but it’s a scene of the dog in an Onsen with a piece of mochi as a towel on its head so maybe it’s worth that presentation)
- We walk for hours, and get trapped in the after 7pm sale where every single food store is shouting to get attention to their reduced prices and it is the best thing ever.
- I buy sushi (how can you not), and my sister buys a mochi with a full strawberry inside, and sleep. And once again I thank God because of how lucky I am to be here with my family.
Brother & sister, late twenties, Turkish Airlines
- “I hate Heathrow so much”
- “I would hate working here”
- “Gatwick Airport is so much better”
- “I reckon we’re…2/3 of the way there to check-in”, she says angrily *clearly in the last turn of the queue, just 6 more people away from the counter out of approx 70 people in total behind her*
- “We should’ve gotten coffee after the check-in”
- “We’re not moving at all”, she complains while pushing her lugggae forward a good 3 meters of space every five seconds
- “I don’t know who designed the architecture,” he says in disgust
- “Like clearly organization wasn’t on the agenda,” she replies
Mother, son & daughter, late thirties, approx 8 yrs old & 13 yrs old respectively, unknown airline
- “Who’s fault was this” mother sternly asks as the luggage falls on the stanchon
- “It was the luggage’s fault” she daughter replied not so innocently (we all saw you don’t even)
- “Aren’t you tired mum” the daughter asks watching the mother wheel a trolley stacked with a luggage pyramid
- “Of course I’m tired what do you think” snaps mother, but upon realizing is in public purses her matte lipstick lips and smiles curtly at people around her despite the fume coming out her ears
- “MOVE!”, the mother shouts to the son who is literally sleeping on the floor, face-down (unhygienic I kept thinking, but is literally me all the time)
- P.S. This girl kept staring at me and because her glasses further magnified her eyes it was even more unsettling
I am tired, and quite exhausted –
There could be infinite hours of sleep in the night,
But never enough for the type of rest I need.
As he smiled at the girl who smelled like home, he said:
“You’re my sober fun.”
And I’ll drink to that.