The soundtrack to my life

July 10, 2009

For many years, I have dreamed of having music conveniently playing at key moments in my life – sort of like a sitcom, or a movie perhaps. During a deep conversation with a loved one, some soft music would come on and gradually get louder during important parts; while I’m deep in thought a Sarah Machlan song would play; while running on the beach others would hear a fun fast paced song, like “Life is a highway”. Alas, this is a seemingly impossible dream… but not in Japan. Japan is sort of like a large theme park, in that while walking over random overpasses, at a train/subway station, or even on the street, music is pumped out of (invisible, Harry Potter like?) speakers and into the ears of all who pass by. Some vehicles even have speakers around the exterior, specifically designed to play music for those outside the car as opposed to the inside. I absolutely love this – it’s one of my very favorite things about this fabulous country. Though instead of the music going along with me (as in my dreams), I find myself going along with the music, if that makes sense.

But I digress. Yesterday was my 28th birthday, and I was excited to celebrate it with Jennie exploring the wonders of nightlife in Tokyo. We booked a hostel for the evening, as trains stop running around midnight, and were surprised at how comfortable and lovely our hostel/hotel turned out to be. If you’re ever looking for a place to stay in Shinjuku, the City Hotel N.U.T.S. is a fabulous choice. We ate a delicious light dinner at a very odd cafe, the Christdom Cafe – which had all sorts of icons and cathedral like things in it – the menu was shaped like a bible, and the drinks appeared to be themed. Of course, this was all in Japanese – so Jennie and I chose our drinks based on photos. When our friendly non-english speaking server took our order, she smiled and suppressed a giggle upon my choice of beverage, which was in a round shaped glass and looked mysterious. I knew I was in for a treat if she was amused at my choice. When she brought our beverages, mine was smoking! Literally. It was two glasses in one; the bottom housed dry ice, while the top had a delicious berry flavored martini type beverage. I must have had a curiously delighted look on my face, because she was very specific about communicating to me via Japanese and hand motions NOT to drink the dry ice. I flashed her the ok sign to let her know I understood.. and Jennie and I had a good laugh about what she must have been thinking “I better tell this silly white girl not to drink the smoking liquid somehow…”

Eventually Jennie and I made it out to Roppongi, which I lovingly referred to as “Rospongey”, and is famous for being popular with tourists and having great nightlife. I felt very much out of my element at the sudden abundance of English speaking African (literally, they had cool African accents) ‘recruiters’, whose aim is to walk with foreigners down the street and aggressively try to get them to go to the club/bar that they work for. It was quite interesting, and was a bit intimidating at first – though Jennie and I quickly conquered the shred of fear we felt and had some fun talking with them. We patronized two venues and headed back to Shinjuku where we were staying before the trains stopped running at midnight. Jennie was able to practice her Japanese in caring for a sick (intoxicated) girl in the restroom, which was a very good deed (as she is a friend to all, even those she doesn’t know!), and we even made the last train back to our lovely home for the night.

We still had more Japanese ground to cover, so we decided to stroll through Shinjuku and find a late night snack. We settled on some ramen from a little hole in the wall which was amazing – by far the best I’ve ever had. Ramen is no longer classified as a college food – it’s fine cuisine when made correctly. This completed our evening, and we headed back to our hotel to sleep.

Today, we woke up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, and already conveniently in Tokyo! We headed to Ginza to see a Kabuki show (traditional Japanese dance/drama, sort of like off-broadway Japanese style), and purchased English translators so we could understand what was going on. The storyline was very Japanese, with a sea-prince offering gifts to a beautiful woman’s father so he could marry her, then detailing her trip to the sea and the events that followed. I won’t give away the ending for all of you who will soon be coming to Japan! But Kabuki theater is well worth seeing, it was a cool experience and was neat to see so many kimino-donning ladies in the audience enjoying high-end bentos while watching the show.

Sadly, I will not be climbing Mt. Fuji tomorrow as originally planned due to weather issues. However, now we get to do something else really exciting that was not planned! On a happy note, in the past 24 hours I have found not one, but two items that I have been looking for. The first is a delicious aloe/white grape drink that I discovered while playing soda-lottery from a Japanese vending machine (they’re everywhere), which I have not been able to find again. I found this same very yummy beverage last night, sort of like a birthday present to me from Japan. The second is quite exciting, as I have been looking for this item for about 4 years… in 2005 while I was in Australia, I enjoyed this outstanding pear-caramel gelato. The texture of this frozen treat was unreal, it perfectly captured pear – texture and all – and the fresh caramel was a delicious addition. Since then, I have been searching high and low for pear gelato or sorbet, at gelato shops, grocery stores, fine food venues everywhere – but have never found it. I’ve even tried making it myself. It was not the same. Today, while trying to decode Japanese to find vanilla ice cream at the grocery store, I did a double take. I saw a frozen Hagen Dazs container with a photo of a pear on it. Could this be the coveted pear sorbet? I swiftly purchased the items and anxiously tasted the pear-pictured treat… and success! Indeed, it is pear sorbet, with the same texture that I had been longing for since 2005. I? Officially love Japan.

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2 Responses to “The soundtrack to my life”

  1. TGD said

    Bring me back a Geisha as a souvenier.. HAWWWWWWWWW

  2. TGD said

    Vacation almost AALLLLLLLLLLL GOOOOOOOOONE But you knew that.

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