Woke up early. Stomach still uneasy after yakiniku the night before. Checked out of the ryokan. A nice older gentleman took us to the Hakone tozan railway stop nearest the hotel.
The railway was notable in that it featured several switchbacks through the steep hills of Hakone. Mostly commuters on the train.
When we arrived at Odawara it became apparent that we lacked a ticket for the tozan rail and therefore couldn’t get through to the shinkansen terminal. I spoke to a train attendant who sorted it out for us and led us to the shinkansen terminal.
A quick shinkansen ride led to Tokyo station, after which we transferred to the marunouchi line. It was delayed due to an accident. We ended up heading in the wrong direction for a few stops before exiting and boarding a train in the opposite direction. I blame tokyo station’s constant chaos for this.
We were back in Akasaka and hoped to drop off our bags at the capsule hotel we were staying at that evening. They didn’t have a place to stow our luggage so they just kind of left it in the hallway which was a little disconcerting.
Now really hurting for some food, we tried to scrounge up some Western breakfast to no avail. We stopped at a French restaurant hoping they’d have some breakfast but they only had bread. A middle-aged japanese woman asked me where we were from and told Lani she was beautiful.
Breakfast hopes dashed we pivoted to lunch at CoCo Curry. I am in a deep state of infatuation with japanese curry. The service here was quick and the food was delicious. I’d eat it again right now.
After lunch we headed towards Meguro station to see the institute for nature study which is a botanical garden. Unfortunately it was closed. Every garden we’ve tried to go to in Japan has been closed. Frustrated and tired of walking we hailed an Uber, our first one in Japan, and ten minutes later we were riding in a black boxy electric car driven by a man named Kenji in a suit and white gloves.we got out at our next stop, the micro pig cafe.
The cafe asked us to return in about an hour; we had a reservation but hoped to walk in a bit early. With an hour on our hands and not wanting to go anywhere we ducked into a donut shop and hung out for about 45 minutes. The donuts were dense and not very sweet. The only employee was a teenage girl who spoke fluent japanese and English and said she used to live in Australia.
Then it was pig time. I have no idea whether or not this place was ethical but the pigs seemed to be in good health. They mostly wanted to snuggle and sleep in our laps. A French couple came in with their young daughter (had to be less than a year old) and a pig almost bit her face off.
The pig cafe was a bit of a racket, almost $40 USD for 30 minutes . It was a highlight of the trip nonetheless and we were glad we took the time. We walked back up a steep hill to Meguro station and marvelled at the food displays outside various restaurants as a soft rain began to fall.
Next we returned to the capsule hotel in Akasaka to check in. The $20 we spent to reserve a capsule got us access to a locker into which medium sized luggage could fit in addition to our capsule. In the basement locker area there were also several showers. We stashed our luggage and headed out for an afternoon drink.
It seemed like most of Akasaka wasnt ready to drink at 3:30 PM. Eventually we found a bar on the seventh floor of a small mall that offered private rooms to drink in. They served us appetizers with our beers and sake, entering only when we buzzed for them on a small button in the room. I would love a privacy bar like this in the US though admittedly it seems like an artifact of Tokyo citizens’ forced proximity.
We stumbled out into street and then into the first sushi place we could find. The sushi was buttery and fresh and i could have eaten my weight in it. In the US I will tap out of sushi at a certain point as my hackles about raw food begin to rise. Here in Tokyo I had no such feeling; I ate that tuna like it was garlic bread.
After dinner we checked out a karaoke bar where we made a fool of ourselves for 30 minutes. We felt famous; it was our lost in translation moment.
The evenings final stop was bar cerveca, a well-advertised bar featuring beer from around the world. Ironically the owner was uncomfortable with having us and we didn’t stay a long time. They had 60s jazz on in the background; everyone loves jazz here.
We drunkenly hit the pillow at the capsule hotel before 8pm; I woke up at midnight and started writing this post.

I guess overall the difference between theoretical japanese and the japanese you need in practice is what I’ve noticed the most on this trip. The best example of this might be an exchange I just had with a bartender; I could express fairly eloquently where we came from and where we were going, but I didn’t know how to tell him how I liked my whisky served.

I woke up in the middle of the night starving. Headed out on to the street in search of late night ramen and found a well lit place with some locals enjoying large bowls so I thought it was promising. Unfortunately it failed to deliver. It was the kind of meal that smelled like cheap cooking oil. I filled up on carbs just to ensure I could sleep and walked back to the hotel. 


Editor Emeritus at Team Lunch.

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