Around New Year and it’s awesome surprises

Hey there, the free days around New Year’s always get kind of stuffy, so I was always out doing different things. What exactly I did, you’ll read now.
December 28 was my last workday before going into holiday until the 6 january. It was as calm as ever, I worked quite hard and sat there until 7PM before going home. I was glad to finally come home, knowing I didn’t have to get up for work the next day. Relaxing into my bed until 3PM the following day, I took a really good rest before getting ready for another round of Harajuku. Since I didn’t see much, I wanted to discover it more, the taste I got was just too great. Wandering around, looking at all the actual shops that are spread around that little street I couldn’t resist my inner voice. It told me to not buy anything, but being the girl – and especially saleshunter – I am, I just had to buy some things, considering most things were down to 10€ each. Which was suppossed to take up 3 hours – at most – turned into 5 hours and some new pieces to wear. Actually I wanted to save some time so I could do some necessary grocery shopping for the upcoming holidays, just in case. Instead it got a little late, so 7eleven had to do, thankfully they had some nice 3minute-meals. When I got home I was eager to prepare some food, hadn’t eaten much that day. Half through all the preparing Agustin came into the kitchen and joined. We had some nice chat, ate together, enjoyed TV and drank some Mate-tea – the original argentinien way of course. Yuya-san came home a little bit tipsy sometime during the evening and we had our short little chat, before we all bid our good nights to each other. I went up to my room around 11PM got to bed to read and relax.
When I woke up the next morning I cleaned the room, doing some Osouji – the cleaning before New Year – and even rearrenged my room a bit. That night I had made an appointment with Eric, the birthdayguy from Gamuso the weekend before and when I finished cleaning my room it was already time for me to get ready and leave. He is an awesome guy (like everyone here). We met up at Asagaya railwaystation and he gave me the chance to choose our diningplace. – chinese, turkish or thai, and thai really sounded the best to me, so he took me to the best thairestaurant he knows, which happened to be only 50meters away. Sitting there 3 whole hours, we ate and discussed, I learned a lot about him e.g. that he’s lived in Tokyo for 26 years, he’s american but doesn’t feel at home at all in california, works as a synchro-voice for adverts and videogames and all this different, random, super interesting stuff. You already get what I mean when I talk about people being interesting and I don’t think there’s ever going to be an end to it – not for me at least. Anyways, I also learned many things from his experiences he has made during all those 26 years in Japan. It’s always helpful to get such advices, to get stories and experiences told, from people who actually know what they are talking about. Since everyone here around me is older, more mature and has seen a lot of things, it helps myself to develop, get a new perspektive to different kinds of things, though nearly everyone has thought of me as an already very mature person. To me, there are still things I know I have to fix, so I’ll take everything in I get offered. Either way, the food was so delicious and just perfectly hot! We had some meat (I’m a sucker for asian meat), some springrolls and a little bowl of cocosmilksoup. After those said 3 hours, we decided to leave for maybe karaoke. Just taking a quick round around Eric’s apartment we went for a near Karaokebar (there’s a difference between karaoke bar and karaokebox), but it was closed – it was sunday though – and a karaokebox with only 2 people isn’t as fun, so in the end we just went to gamuso. Who was there? Laura of course and some other people, too, but since it was sunday and the next day was New Year’s Eve I supposse everyone wanted to stay at home and relax before the big night. It was empty quite early, Laura left around 2AM and then we were only 3 left, Eric, me and the Bartender PV (don’t ask for his name, I’m not sure how to write it). We sat there for quite some time, just talking and telling jokes or funny stories, until I said I was hungry. Eric took that as an idea to go out for another hour or two, so we kinda ended up in a little restaurant just to steps around the corner and full with people – an that’s always the case, regardless of what time or day, at least Eric told me so and he frequents there. PV came about 15minutes later, since he still had to clean up the bar and close up. Coming back to my hunger, Eric had already ordered some more meat, actually it were tomatoes and lemongras wrapped in bacon and some meat filled with cheese and oh my, I could’ve died that moment I tried that, it was just so incredibly delicious. Somehow everything is, you just need to know what to pick. Accompanying the meal, we had a little glass of sake and that was hell’a interesting and cool. The glass was placed on a little plate, just fit for the glass, before pouring in the sake and the girl who poured us, didn’t stop so the glass was overflowing of sake and ran down into the small plate. Why? There’s actually an awesome but very simple reason behind it – You can drink more than the glass can keep. The most delicious midnight snack I’ve ever eaten, followed by something so interesting and typically japanese to learn about. Plainly an amazing night. The night lasted until 4:45AM before Eric, PV and I decided to leave. PV, took another way home so we two took a stroll for the conbini to buy some last things and then he brought me all the way home, while having a nice chat.Before I got to bed, it was already past 5:30AM and I originally wanted to get up early, doing some last Osouji and then visit the Shrine. Luckily I got up quite early, considering I got to bed this late.
The next morning I was up at about 12AM, got out of bed and put on clothes and make-up, to finally start my trip to the shrine. Tetsuo-san suggested me to visit the ‘Meiji Jingu Shrine’ which is the biggest shrine in whole Tokyo, located in a park between Yoyogi and Harajuku and it is freaking huge. Just as I was halfway through the park, I came to the second gate, where there were lots of people standing and watching something. When I came into view I saw what all the commotion was about as there were passing 20-30 people, all dressed in a special, traditional japanese looking outfit, I assume they were some kind of priests. Everyone that was watching them started following them after the last one had passed all the way to the shrine. When we arrived there, the priests were going on the right side under some sort of shelter to say their prayers and the crowd on the left side had to search for a place behind the people who were already there waiting for the priests to arrive. Then there was a small basin filled with water where people were suppossed to wash their hands with sacred water, though there was also a special way to wash yourself, first the left hand, then the right one and then pour some water into the right hand again to wash (or moisture) your mouth. After that I continued my way and tried to find a place to watch the ceremony with the priest, but there were so many people that it was hard to find a place for a little girl like me, so I headed on to the actual shrine. Going through the big, impressive gate I came to an open place where shrinevisitors were scattered, the majority though was standing in front of the shrines main building. There was a pond of plastic in front of it, where people threw in a coin and then prayed, also a very traditional ceremony here in Japan. I continued my way, stopped by a booth where they selled typical good-luck-charms for New Year’s and then went home again.
After coming I instantly started getting ready for the night, showering, putting on make up and then clothes – it was such a hassle. I left home a little late and somehow it got a little bit fucked up, because in the end I waited for around 2,5 hours to be picked up and stuff happened and here and there, but in the end everything went well. My friend Keigo picked me up in Shibuya, he took me to his friends who were sitting in a restaurant. We introduced each other and then I had a little meat and some drinks, before we went out on the streets to buy some more alcohol and celebrate the countdown with everyone else. On our way to the club, everyone a glass of sake or champagne in hand, I asked if there were any fireworks to see and my friends looked at me like I was a ghost. ‘What fireworks? There are no fireworks on New Year’s in Japan!’ and I looked just as stunned when they said that. So yeah, we stood in front of the club and suddenly everyone started screaming and applauding, we hugged each other and said our comgratulations before lining up once again, finishing the last bit of our alcohol. Luckily the bouncers were nice to me so they let me into the club where we partied until morning, drinking and drinking some more, before we decided to seek refuge in an apartment belonging to the others, but before that, we had to take purikura’s – my first purikura (japanese for ‘Picture’ are small pictures friends or couples usually take together, you can photoshop them directly after taking them).  We just stayed there, relaxing, sleeping, talking and so on until it was time to go home quite late in the evening. I came home around 1AM and just fell completely drained into my bed and slept until 3PM the next day. I did some laundry and relaxed the whole day, though I stayed up quite late.
On thursday though I slept until 3PM, too, feeling a little ill with a paining, throbbing throat. Sat in bed all day and worked on my computer until it was time for me to get ready, because Keigo wanted to take me out to eat ‘weird food’ and we actually did. We met up at 18:30 at the Subwaystation in Minami Asagaya and took the train to Yotsuya and back to Shinjuku (it was actually just to see something at the station in Yotsuya), where we first headed to a japanese restaurant, but that was closed. So Keigo brought me to Kabukicho (the dangerous part of Shinjuku, where there are three mafia’s reigning – chinese, korean and japanese), but it’s actually not that dangerous if you don’t get involved with persons there and it was good to learn about that and see it once so I’ll know that this part of Tokyo isn’t too good for me. Either way, there were like really cramped, small, narrow, dark and dirty alleyways, stuffed with restaurants and we went to one of those restaurants – a chinese one with a not so nice atmosphere, but we still took a seat and looked through the menu. We choose to eat some chinese style vegetables, a crab, some fried scorpions and pork brain. Yeah, right, pork brain and scorpions, but it tasted really good. The scorpions were crunchy, more like a little snack without a distinct taste, but good and the pork brain… I admit that I was kind of afraid of trying, just the fact to eat brain was a little scary, but when I tried it, it tasted delicious. I ate it together with some soysauce spring onions and a little bread and it was really good, just, my stomach turned over after most of it, the thought sinking in, but I still cleared all of it. We sat there and talked some more before we decided to leave and get something real into our tummys, so we went to the yakiniku place we passed by on our way to the chinese restaurant. I thought I was brought to heaven when I stepped into the place, everywhere were Kpop-posters hanging, a big TV screen displaying all kinds of Kpop-mv’s all night long, the food was awesome and the place was just wonderful. I want to go there sometime soon again, really. Anyways, we ate some yakiniku, which basically is description for grilling your meat yourself, so you order some kind of meat, chicken, beef or pork, and you get a portable grill, heated with coal, where you grill the meat yourself and it tastes amazing. The drinks were delicious, too, and everything was just so amazing about that places. Somehow 2 more hours passed until we were finished and we decided it was time to pay and leave, so we headed for the station that was about 7 minutes away and we each took the railwaytrain home. After coming home I went straight to bed, due to me being sick and I hadn’t actual felt that well that night, so I slept like a baby until 2pm the next day. I tried continueing this post and did some other stuff before getting ready for I had an appointment with Eric. We wanted to meet up for some really good sushi – and hell it was the best I’ve ever eaten. First we ordered some tuna and salmon nigiri with ginger and wasabi, then we got some fried squid with tasted awesome (because I normally don’t like squid that much) and the last we ate were some tuna-spring onion maki. It was pure heaven, too good to be true and definitely a place I’ll take my sister to when she comes here. Asagaya is a lovely place to live in, it serves you everything you want. Eric and me left the sushiplace to go for the karaokebar that was closed when we had our last meeting. It was actually pretty fun, of course it was awkward at first, singing in front of strangers with a shitty, sick voice at that, but as the evening grew old it grew quite funny, too. Later Izumi and her friend came, too, and so we sat there and had plenty of fun, bawled along to songs and drank our drinks. Somehow the evening had to end and I ended up at Eric’s apartment with a glass of wine in hand and some selfmade tortillas infront of me. We talked all night long, showed each other music and fell asleep along the lines. I left his apartment an hour after we had woken up and the view from his apartment was amazing, if the weather’s fine you can see the fujiyama behind lots of houses. Coming home I just went to my room, cleaned a bit and sat in front of the PC, so here I am now – finally finished.
I hope I can update faster than the last days in the future, it was probably just due to the free days I’ve had. I’m starting to work on monday again and then everything will take it’s old rhythm again. Take care~

See you soon~

credits for my header picture goes to Ben Beech, a photographer I got to know on New Year’s day in front of the club. He is one awesome photographer. The picture on top displays the view from Nakano (near Asagaya) to the Fujiyama.

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typical New Year’s decoration, kind of good luck/prayer sign

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Harajuku

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another New Year’s good luck charm

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my delicious midnight snack and the sake

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Eric, me and PV

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Front Gate to Meiji Jingu Shrine

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the Priests

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the sacred water to wash your hands

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the Shrine itself

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the Shrine itself

Purikura

Purikura

Purikura

Purikura

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fried scorpions

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pork brain with soysauce springonion

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the Yakiniku place

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left: raw horsemeat right: kimchi

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yakiniku

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tuna and salmon nigiri

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tuna and springonion maki

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Eric, Matti, me Izumi, Hyosuke and Daisuke at the karaokebar

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Tortillas

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Asagaya from Eric’s balkon

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Asagaya by night

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2 thoughts on “Around New Year and it’s awesome surprises

  1. Well I don’t know about the scorpions but we do have brain here in scotland , so I think “My exciting trip to Japan ” should be “my exciting food experiences in Japan ” Anyway it seems everything is going just super , shane the job starts again on Monday , but without the job ….no money for fun !
    Big Hug from a big Scotsman x

  2. Oh my dear, I would have bet you would never touch that kind of food – scorpions and pork brain…. I must say I’m impressed! Not sure I wouldn’t even have touched it.
    But your Christmas & New Year seem to have been fun – meeting lots of new people and party, party, party 🙂 Just the way you like it… Big hugs from wee mama

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