Tokyo was back to it's old hot and humid self and we went up to Asakusa to see the Senso-ji temple which was built in the 600s I think. It's also one of the more touristy areas, especially for Japanese people as the temple is quite important. Sat in the old style lanes of Asakusa and ate brekky bought from am/pm. Had a bit of a look around the area behind the temple and the gardens store walking up the river back to the train station to head to Ueno. We had a quick walk round the markets there before heading back to Shinjuku. I had been eyeing off H&M for a few days and picked up from stuff from there and that was pretty much the day done. Being a Friday we thought the izakaya (Japanese bar/pub) would be pretty packed so we went there about 8pm. Izakaya are a stand up bar, but everyone stands around the bar surrounding a kitchen area where chefs just make whatever you want as you drink. They get pretty rowdy, but it's always a fun, communal rowdy and again, no heroes. Best idea ever, we have had many a conversation to try and make it work for Sydney. The particular one we were going to is called Burrari (half Japanese word for pig, half Ferrari). It kinda has a non-tacky 1950s race track decor.
It was packed. The thing about this place is that everytime a new customer walks in, all the staff shout happily (I assume saying hello) and it really makes you feel part of the action straight away. Within 10 minutes were eating pork skewers, drinking Kirin and talking to the locals! First up was Sara and her mum Harumi, they were punishing the red wines and were blind drunk. Sara was even apologising to the bar staff before we spoke to them ('sumimasennnn, gomen nasaiiii'). They were good fun though, Harumi's English was very good considering she learnt it to go to England when she was 18 and she was now 55! Sara was ok but not confident, she worked for a bank in Shinjuku. They left after phone number and email address exhanges. Harumi offered us 1 nights accommodation when we go back to japan, but only 1 because her house is 'too tight'!
Next up was a 50-55 year old lady whose name I have forgotten but she didn't speak much english. She did buy us heaps of food though. Pork skewers, manju (pork buns), grilled corn and meatballs with egg yolk. We had already eaten some food but she was not taking no for an answer! We made some smalltalk with her using the drinks waiter as a interpreter, but acted as a filter for whatever she was saying. He was a champ and a really nice guy, very good English too. She would rattle off about 5 sentences to him to interpret and all that would come out was 'she hopes you have a nice trip!' I think he was too embarrassed to say what he was really saying.
I got talking to 'big fella' who was a salaryman and pretty tubby and as a result was pouring out sweat. He was a top guy though and worked in the medical part of fujifilm. Random people would keep handing him a cold, moist towel (that every customer gets at the start of the sitting) so he could wipe himself off. No embarrassment, no hassling, just strangers looking out for strangers. Awesome. Turns out big fella had done some uni in Tasmania (just like Yashi from Kyoto).
We decided we'd try another place as this one started to thin out a little bit and the old duck had already bought us so much food, and she still tried to pay our whole bill. The third time this had happened in japan. We bought her another wine and headed across the road to the next place.
We were told last drinks had already been called so we walked out and a group of colleagues from a pharmaceutical company started talking to us. Met a woman called Yukieh (approximate 32-33) and I forgot everyone elses names. They were really nice and spoke English very well. One tip, always praise the Japanese on their English skills. They love the compliment and are more likely to be open with you and speak more fluently, as they're not so worried about being bad at it.
I spoke to Yukieh while Dave spoke to the other 4 people. Yukieh was into playing Role Playing Games on her PSP and DS because her life was boring and it gave her a chance to do something different and interesting. Even though she had been to Canada, Australia and was planning Norway. I had heard about such behaviour from males, but not females...so interesting. Japanese people really go out of their way to stand out, as oppose to Australians going out of their way to conform. Has to be a middle ground somewhere? I guess the RPGames are just another way to express their individuality. Was a great night. Another phone number and email exchange and off home. Via 7/11 for a beer and ice cream.