On the 31st of May, two of my friends (Bird and 9) visited Japan and stayed over at my place.We went to Jonathan’s for dinner, then spent the night chatting and planning what to do during the next few days.
Since June 1st was a normal weekday, I decided to bring them to Harajuku. Takenoshita Street was a lot less crowded than normal. We stopped by a few stores, then took pictures at a Purikura and bought crepes. Then, it started raining. We spent some time in ACDC Rag to avoid the rain and incoming thunderstorm. After the rain lightened, we walked through the rest of the street and went into Alice on Wednesday. It was a cute store featuring a lot of Alice in Wonderland goods. Tired from a day of walking, we took the train to Shibuya and ate at Ichiran Ramen. The food was mediocre, but the experience was rather nice. On our way back to my apartment, we stopped by Oshiage and took pictures of Skytree at night.
The next day was Sports Festival at my school. Spending the morning watching students run relay races was fun, but the most interesting part of the event was the cheer squads’ performances. With so little time to prepare, it was amazing to see how synchronized the performers were. After leaving work, we went to a nearby karaoke and sung for three hours before grabbing dinner at Saizeriya. Coincidentally we were seated next to a group of students from my school.
The 3rd was Akihabara. Fist thinking of going to Akihabara and Ikebukuro within the same day, we later decided that it’s best to split it into two days. Our first stop of the day was Yodobashi Camera, where we spent about an hour or so looking through the games floor. For lunch, we went to the Gundam Cafe. After lunch was AmiAmi, then Lashinban. Sadly, we weren’t able to find an Animate that I enjoyed going to. After walking through Kotobukiya and Hobby Station in Radio Kaikan, we went to GoGo Curry for dinner.
On the 4th, we headed out to Ikebukuro late, stopping by the temple near my apartment first. Our first stop in Ikebukuro was Book-Off, where 9 bought two volumes of her favorite manga, wanting to brush up on her Japanese. There was a bird event at Tokyu Hands and we spent some time looking through the goods. Before leaving, we each bought a small cake. Next was Sunshine City. Feeling strange, I waited outside as Bird and 9 went through the Pokemon Center. Then, we went into J-World Tokyo and took pictures of the many attractions. After dinner on the 3rd floor, we planned to leave, but ended up spending an hour or two in a Sega Arcade. We left for home at around 11pm.
During the next week, I had to go to work, so Bird and 9 explored on their own, joining me for dinner after I get back. We had sukiyaki, Lotteria, Sukiya, and Yoshinoya for dinner that week. On Thursday, we packed and rested, having to wake up at 4am the next day.
Friday the 9th. Gathering our things and hurrying out the door, we reached Tokyo station at around 5:30 and grabbed breakfast in a New Days convenient store. Then at 6, we boarded the Shinkansen and headed for Kyoto. After checking in to our room and leaving the majority of our stuff behind, we went to Sanjo Market, and walked around a bit, stopping by Hon’no-ji temple. We rested in a cafe near Yasaka Shrine, ordering parfaits and shaved ice. After discussing our plans, we decided to go to Kiyomizu Temple, saving Yasaka shrine for the nighttime instead.
On Saturday, we took the train to Arashiyama. Our first stop there was the bamboo forest, then Tenryuu temple. The temple garden was large and very beautiful. The temple itself was relatively small, but walking around in it felt nice during the summer heat. We passed by a large bridge on our way to Monkey Park. Getting to the park was a nightmare. Going 20 minutes uphill wasn’t what I expected, but once we reached the top, we were able to rest in a sheltered place, feeding monkeys from behind the windows. The path down wasn’t nearly as bad. Afterwards, we went to a bathhouse and washed off our sweat. We passed by the Kimono Forest on our way back to the station. The man-made forest would’ve been much prettier in the dark, but being pressed for time, we headed towards Nara in hopes of catching a glimpse of the deers. Sadly, we weren’t able to find any.
Sunday was our last day in Kyoto. We checked out early and left for Fushimi Inari. Despite being early in the morning, the shrine was crowded. Going through the rows of red gates didn’t feel real. The path was a little dim, and everything was slightly tinted red with the sun hitting the gates. Simply beautiful. We stopped by the street vendors on our way back and bought some snacks along the way. The train back to Kyoto was packed due to a nearby train being out of service. Back in Kyoto, we discovered the wonders of coin lockers. Leaving all our luggage in the locker, we roamed around Kyoto station for a while before having to return to Tokyo.
On the following Monday, we went to Asakusa and saw the Kaminari gate. Although I knew the lantern would be massive, it was still shocking to see it in person. We walked around for a while, and returned to Akihabara one last time in case we missed anything.
Tuesday, we relaxed at the apartment, tired from the last few days. Fatigue finally caught up with us.
Coming home from work on Wednesday, I found a Hatsune Miku cat plush tucked in to my bed. Bird and 9 went to Ikebukuro that day and won it from yet another crane game. We stayed in the apartment and chatted as they packed to return to the States the following day.
Life returned to normal for the next week, without much to take note on. C returned to Japan to visit and stayed over at my place on the 23rd and 24th. On the 24th, we grabbed dango and dorayaki from street vendors, then headed into Akihabara. On the 25th, we met up again in Shinjuku and had dinner at Tsurutontan. The portions were huge.
June was filled with many adventures. With finals and summer vacation coming up, the next month will probably be more relaxing. Again I shall wonder what the next month has in store for me.