Yargh! I had an absolutely wonderful day today, and forgot to load the battery in my camera. Don’t you just hate that?
The day started out at Yoyogi park, where had a hanami (cherry blossom-viewing party) party. I can’t believe I’ve never been to Yoyogi before; it’s amazing! There were maids, 50’s greasers dancing, jugglers, street artists, musicians, a sea of people engaged in drunken merriment, and a good portion of the park’s blossoms in bloom. My friends and I waded out to an island in the middle of the lake there and played music, but an hour or so in, The Man (a polite Japanese policeman) came and shut us down. He didn’t actually have a general issue with us being out on the island, but wanted to make sure the numerous kids out playing didn’t try to imitate us and drown. Fair enough, I guess- I’ve never been a fan of endangering small children. My friend heard some Tokyo YouTubers were having a get-together at the same time (along with every other gaijin in Tokyo), but never tracked them down. We did find my buddy Kris Tate and his gang, though.
The merriment lasted until dusk, when we headed over to Tokyo’s best gyoza joint, Gyoza Rou, tucked away in a Harajuku back alley. Six dumplings, grilled, or boiled, for 290 yen? Hell yes! I’m a grilled guy all the way, but I have to admit, the boiled ones came very close to making me want to switch.
After dinner, it was time for…hookah! Wha? I had no idea they had hookah bars in Tokyo, but there are at least two near Shimokitazawa on the Keio line (you might want to go with someone who’s been before; I don’t know if I could find it again). It was cheap, too- 600 yen buys you an individual hookah with free coal refills. I got a mix of peach and melon, which was pretty good, but a little harsh. The winner was definitely the melon/rose pipe my friend Colin ordered. We were feeling pretty good from the beer and gyoza in our bellies and the shisha in our lungs, and had a conversation that rambled over love, life in Japan, our portending job searches, and the epic parties yet to be had this semester. I caught the not-quite-last train home, a departure from the norm, and got to zone out to NPR podcasts, my favorite soundtrack to my daily two hours (average) of train rides.
Today was a good day, and tomorrow’s back to sorting out the end of break. Somehow my inbox has crept up from zero, I still have to finish tax stuff for school, and I’ve got a queue of product descriptions for obscure Japanese goods to translate for a new job. Things are coming together nicely for our big party this Thursday, and classes kick off next week. Life’s busy, but the sakura are blooming, and the future is bright.
PS: The hanami should be even better next sunday, so if you’re planning on heading out, you’ll probably find me and my buddies on or around the lake in the middle of the park. Want to make sure we meet up? Drop me a line.