I have to admit, I did not expect Nezu Shrine Festival to be so… full of life, I guess?
I loved every second of it. I took way too many pictures and recorded way too many videos. Won’t post them all here, but if you are interested, you can find them on my YouTube channel.
As usual, I met a nice stranger. Maybe I looked lost? Anyway, some older Japanese man asked me if I spoke English and we talked for a while about the festival, Poland, and my job. Apparently, I was very lucky because this year’s festival was special: normally, they move 7 or 8 floats, but this time there were 30 (he said 300 but I’m pretty sure that was a mistake).
After all the floats reached their destination (Nezu Jinja), everyone went to enjoy the festivities around the main shrine. The place was crowded. But not too crowded: walking around or finding a place to sit down to rest and/or eat something wasn’t a problem. It was a nice kind of crowded, especially for a solo traveler like me. There was something semi-familiar about it. Probably because the event was very local (I saw maybe 4 or 5 foreigners) and it seemed that it was very important for the community. Lots of families with kids, people in traditional clothes, almost everyone paying their respects at the shrine before going to the stalls.
Oh yes, stalls. With food. Yakitori, takoyaki, okonomiyaki, ikayaki, karaage, jaga bata, kakigor, dango, ringo ame, choco bananas, bebi kasutera… So many different types of food that the first thing I did was checking some basic “Japanese festival food” online – just to know what to expect (and how to eat it). My chopstick skills are still far from perfect, so I decided to focus on stuff that’s “on a stick” or “eat with your fingers”. I ate some bebi kasutera (so good!), some sort of hot pasty with pumpkin filling, and kakigori (or shaved ice). I know these were the safest choices and next time I’m going to try something more… unusual. I promise 🙂
After yesterday’s bento dinner I’m eating a very European breakfast: coffee with milk (buying milk is not a problem anymore :)), hot butter rolls and some strawberry jam.
And you should know that this is THE BEST STRAWBERRY JAM I’ve ever eaten (I’m really happy that my mom doesn’t know English ;)). Chocolate cream I bought a week ago was a disaster (still is, it’s in my fridge…), but this jam… This jam is just too good to be true. I’ve seriously considered sending some home but I think that’s against the law. So I took this picture to remember the brand, so I can buy it whenever I’m in Japan.
I remember reading somewhere that Japanese strawberries are delicious – well, if they are responsible for this taste, they are more than delicious!
So today was a konbini bento day. I bought (and ate) my very first konbini bento!
I went to a supermarket somewhere around 3 pm because I read that that this is when there are “bento special offers” (apparently, bento boxes are prepared twice a day: for lunch – 12 to 1 pm – and for dinner – 6 to 8 pm – and there are special offers for them around 2/3 pm and 9 pm).
Anyway, the one that I bought was really good (yay!), but (of course) there were many parts of it that I did not recognize (even after eating them). And I had some trouble heating it up. Do you heat up something that’s meant to be eaten cold (or at room temperature)? Or maybe eat everything cold? After some careful deliberation, I decided that I want my bento hot, removed some parts that seemed like “eat-me-cold”, and microwaved the rest for 1 minute. Everything tasted good, so I guess this was the best course of action 🙂
Hello, World! The way you’ve been shaking lately, you should probably try and relax a bit.
But seriously, the ground’s been shaking since an early morning today, with two magnitude 3 and 4 quakes at 05:24 am and 08:35 am and lots of aftershocks. Strong enough to keep me awake from 5 to 10 (not because I was afraid but because every tremor would wake me up – it was like sleeping on a waterbed), so now I’m so sleepy! I wonder if September’s always like that here (and by like that I mean with daily quakes).
Anyway, yesterday was interesting! Ever heard about the Japan Rail Pass? It is this awesome ticket-thingy that you can order only if you are not Japanese and when you are still abroad. I usually use this website because it’s cheaper than buying it in Poland. I have no idea why. So I got mine in July:
… and yesterday I went to one of the main JR Pass exchange offices in Tokyo to, well, exchange the order for my pass. I chose Tokyo Station JR Pass exchange office because it was close to my route to Nakano. Going to Tokyo Station was a piece of cake. Finding the office – not so much. I got lost at least three times, asked some foreigners checking their JR Passes for help (unfortunately, they exchanged theirs at Narita, but good luck we’re sure it’s here somewhere), and finally used my final weapon: finding main entrance. It worked – office is next to the central north gate 🙂
I have to say that JR personnel is not only very nice but also knowledgeable. And they speak English very well! Exchanging my order for the pass took me less than five minutes. I was also given simple and easy-to-follow directions to the nearest currency exchange office with good US dollar exchange rates (they had terrible PLN exchange rates, thank goodness I did not bring any Polish currency!).
JR Pass (front)
JR Pass (back)
One more very important thing about the JR Pass: if you have it, you can use all Shinkansen (fast trains) (except Nozomi and Mizuho lines), local and express JR lines (similar to subway lines), lots of various JR buses, monorail to Haneda Airport, and JR line to Narita Airport – for free. As you can see, I’m a fan 😉
So after I got my JR Pass I went to Nakano Broadway. It’s a shopping mall of sorts, with lots of small shops for different subcultures.
This was my second time here, so I wasn’t that overwhelmed anymore and this time I bought some stuff I’m really happy about 🙂
As I wrote in my previous post, I took the wrong train home and spent lot of time riding the subway. Well, it happens to the best of us 😉 But thanks to that I met a new neighbor (girl from Colorado) who reads Japanese a bit, she helped me find butter at the konbini.
I also got (and ate) delicious soba – used it as an opportunity to practice my chopsticks skills (you know, practice makes perfect…) 🙂
It’s time for Sunday lunch! Sort-of. Well, I don’t feel like eating bread (again) and I still have my reserve of meal replacements, so today I’m eating (drinking?) this apple jelly for lunch.
Advertised as “Delicious & Healthy,” this one is a tad too sweet for my taste. But I’m in love with its simplicity: you don’t have to boil/microwave it, it doesn’t take up a lot of space, and you don’t feel hungry after eating it. This one has 72 kcal but I’ve also seen jellies that have more than 200 kcal and less than 30 kcal. Awesome!