A Walk Down Memory-dori

Today Kira and I got some unexpected time to ourselves. Janet’s friend Kyoko has two sons and she invited our kids to spend a part of the day with the exploring a little bit of Tokyo. Our offspring were not overly thrilled by the prospect of this outing, but Kyoko had it all planned out and it would have been rude of us not to accept.

After a leisurely morning we met Kyoko, Hedei, and Aki near out hotel. Both of Kyoko’s sons are older than Melanie, with Hedei in college. I am led to understand that his English is as good as his mother’s, but I did not talk to him for very long. We walked with all of them over to the ticket counter for Tokyo Cruise, wished them luck and said we would see them again in four hours.

Kira and I wandered around Asakasa for a bit, took some pictures, and bought some souvenirs. We thought for a couple minutes on how we wanted to spend the rest of our alone time and both agreed there was only one thing that made sense. We hopped on the train to Roppongi and went to Moti for some more butter chicken.

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It was nice to go back when we were not so tired and could enjoy the experience even more. I guess we made enough of an impression when were there two nights ago because the wait staff remembered us. We talked to our waiter a little bit and told him about living in Tokyo 25 years ago, but remembering Moti butter chicken. He to.d us that he had been working there for 26 years. Odds are he served me at least once before a couple of decades ago.

After lunch we roamed around Roppongi searching for old haunts. We found a Mexican restaurant in place of Henry Africa’s – a pub that was popular with foreigners. We decided that after all the time we spent waiting to meet people in front of the Almond that we should actually go inside. The iced coffee was adequate , the pastry we shared was quite good and the air conditioning was worth every penny. (We were later informed by Hedei that this is the hottest day of the summer so far.)

As we ate our pastry we decided to search out one more nostalgic location. Both Kira and I worked at a sandwich shop called Wall Street Sandwiches. The shop closed years ago, but we thought it would be fun to see the building it was in. We both remembered some of the details we needed to find it and when we finally got to the stair case leading down into the shop it was very satisfying. The shop doubled as a bar in the evening hours and we could tell from the signs that the Bar Mellow Tone was still in business.

After our trip down Memory-dori it was time to go and meet the kids in Harajuku. A quick train ride over on the Yamamoto line and we got there about ten minutes early. Due to the particular mixture of communication devices we didn’t have a way to contact the kids. They were running very late, but we had no way of knowing until they got there. It seemed fitting to wait like this at a designated spot with no method of checking in because that was how we usually met up with people back in high school. Of course it is a little different when it is your own children you are waiting for and we were relieved to see them coming out if the train station after a very hot 30 minute wait at Harajuku station.

We said a wick goodbye to Hedei and Aki. Snapped a few group pictures of all of the “kids” and headed off the look at Meji Shrine.

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It was a very hot walk to the shrine, but I thought it was a good contrast to the bustling city that has been most of our experience so far. We will be seeing more of this Japan after we leave Tokyo next week, but it was a good sample for now.

After the temple we went right back into the thick of things by visiting Takeshita street where we were inundated with the sights and sounds of what I always remembered as Harajuku. We mostly looked, but Melnie bought a couple items at the 390 store, where everything was 390 yen. I bought a belt at the same store because earlier in the day the button had popped off on my shorts (too much butter chicken?) and I had to continually pull the up to pent them from slipping off completely.

When We reached the end of Takeshita street we started heading back to the train station. The plan was to eat dinner in Shinjuku so we could be there after dark to see all of the neon signs and lights. At this time the clouds started to roll In and we could hear very loud thunder. As the rain picked up the hundreds of people on the streets all started to run for cover. I am a little ashamed to admit this, but the image reminded me of a Godzilla movie as everyone seemed almost panicked to get out of the street before the storm hit us in full force. We were no exception to this and we barely made it into the opening of a trendy clothing store before monsoon type rain and winds washed over the street. After waiting for 5-10 minutes we started leap frogging between stores during lulls in the rain. We all got a little wet, but not completely drenched. Blue sky returned before we even made it back to the train station and the sun right after the rain gave us a nice rainbow to look at.

Once in Shinjuku everyone was getting tired from the long day and we ended up in a sort of English pub for dinner. Sarah order fish and chips, Melanie and Kira got pizza, Michael got chicken strips, Janet got a salad and I ordered ton-kastu and a beer. It wasn’t very authentic, but by then we just wanted a place to sit down and to not have to think about what we were eating. Once we got some food in us there was some decent conversation. I remember quite a bit of laughing at any rate. And we did get our look at the lights of Shinjuku when we were done.

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