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 because I started writing this post yesterday but a bunch of things happened (some of these things called work, other – Netflix) so yeah… The title doesn’t fit anymore. But it did yesterday, around 9 or 10 pm.
Also, there was another earthquake yesterday. I’m starting to get used to them (not sure if that’s a good thing). Don’t like the feeling, though: kinda reminds me of airplane turbulence or drive in a very old car (with terrible shock absorbers). I’m prone to motion sickness so these earthquakes make me a little bit sick (fortunately, none of them lasted longer than one minute).
Anyway, I managed to do some shopping before the rain started falling and earth started shaking 😉 This time I went a little crazy. I bought:
snacks (because life is boring without snacks)
a piece of watermelon (unfortunately, fruit are expensive here)
and last but not least, buns and chocolate cream!
I almost ended up buying black caviar instead of chocolate cream because: no Japanese. But I used my brain cells and concluded from its placement in the fish part of the store that that the probability of this being chocolate was close to zero. And found chocolate cream few minutes later standing next to jam 🙂
Going to Asakusa few minutes before dusk turned out to be a great idea. There was almost no crowd (at least for Sensō-ji), people were walking and admiring their surroundings instead of running around, and almost everyone looked genuinely happy.
Of course I had to take some pictures around the temple itself 😉
After the sunset I went on stroll along the alleys full of the traditional arts and crafts shops. Again: no crowds 🙂 Photos may not look so good (I don’t have a fancy camera, sorry) but everything felt more real.
Loved the atmosphere!
What’s more, I managed to buy a gift for my mom – and she’s not easy to shop for. I remembered her saying a while back that she would love to have wind chimes so when I saw a pottery shop I just had to buy a small bell! I would love to show it to you but my mom sometimes visits this place to see the photos (she doesn’t know English), so I don’t want to spoil the surprise 😉
I’ve never been afraid of wild animals (except for bears but hey, bears can easily kill you!). So imagine my surprise when I felt terror at the sight of a small turtle. In my own defense I must say that it was one spooky turtle…
OK, maybe not that spooky.
But let’s get back to the beginning of my day. Meeting the turtles happened somewhere towards the end of it.
I’m not sure if I’ve told you this, but I got rid of my sleeping problems (hopefully for good). So now I have mornings! To celebrate, I spent the entire morning watching a certain Taiwanese drama that started off great (for a Taiwanese drama ;)) but quickly went downhill. I blame hormones for the fact that it moved me to tears a couple of times! So if you’re here because you are looking for a review of Easy Fortune, Happy Life – I’m not sure what to tell you. First episodes were great, the rest – not so much. I liked the heroine. Male lead is hot but his acting was poor and his character is so much worse than his rival that I wanted him to die some terrible death. I want some happiness for Dong Jie. And for Yan Yang. These two made it watchable. But still, I probably won’t ever rewatch this.
I went out around 3 pm (this time to avoid scorching heat, and not because of Netflix) to 木場公園都市緑化植物園, a botanical garden in Kiba Park. I was a bit disappointed with the quality of this botanical garden. I kinda understand why there is no entrance fee. It’s more like a botanical patch in a medium-sized park.
There were five or six fenced-in paths like that.
I wouldn’t call it well-tended…
So the garden was a bit of a bust, but maybe it’s because of the weather or the fact that it’s September? Who knows. However, I liked the park. It’s a nice place, especially for runners. Lots of vending machines (= water) and tracks with cute distance markers.
Tons of people (of all ages) working out and running. Awesome!
One more thing I liked about Kiba Park was that:
Huge bridge connecting two parts of the park. As I said before, I’m not a fan of bridges, but this one is so massive that it’s impossible to not feel safe here. Unless there is an earthquake. OK, mind, why would you do that?! I refuse to do listen to my treacherous thoughts. Let’s talk about turtles.
Okay, long story short: after Kiba Park I went to Kameido Tenjin Shrine. There is something you should know about this particular shrine: it’s a home to lots of turtles (and carps, but that’s irrelevant to the story). You can usually watch them from the bridges over Shinjiike pond in the shrine grounds.
(I love this place.)
I paid my respects to the god of learning (because one should never anger the god of learning) and decided to spend some time watching turtle from my favorite platform. Suddenly, I heard this unsettling noise somewhere near my feet. I looked down and saw it: a small turtle crawling out from under the railing and towards me. (This is where I should add that it was getting dark.) It did not respond to my voice and when I took a step back, it followed me. Freaky! Somehow, it reminded me of zombie which made this situation so much worse. But being a child of modern era, I still recorded the crazy guy:
Few minutes later a middle-aged sararīman showed up and started taking pictures saying that this was sugoi (I agree)! He also asked where it came from but my stupid brain understood the question too late, after I already told him that I did not speak Japanese. He left me with the turtle (by then I was sort-of ok with it and a bit afraid that someone would come and crush it) but came back after 5 minutes. I think he used that time to check some English sentences on his phone because he asked me where I came from and about the duration of my stay (I think…). He was really surprised to see that the turtle was following me (it’s a good thing that he did not hear me chatting with it about the dangers of staying on a sidewalk) so he took more pictures and went home saying “bye bye” and bowing his thanks (I think he recorded the turtle and me, walking together). Few minutes after he was gone I heard more rustling and another turtle started crawling towards me. I didn’t want to touch them (because wild animals!) and I had no food to lure them into returning to water so I spent fifteen minutes encouraging them verbally to get off the sidewalk. Finally, they relented. And now I think I’m a turtle whisperer (or a turtle bait). This was a bizarre experience!
On my way back I decided that I’m completely unprepared for hot weather, so I went shopping. Bought a yoga T-shirt (so expensive!) I already love, cotton pants (I really hope that they are not pajama pants!), and a nifty handbag described as a “multi-functional shoulder.” Fortunately, I did not bring more money with me – I found a shopping mall and that could’ve ended with me being broke.
I also bought groceries – this time I managed to spot butter! Everything that was not butter was cheese and they usually write English “cheese” on cheese 🙂 I think I’ve mastered my process of elimination skills! And as at 8:30 pm it was still close to 30℃, I also bought some ice cream (not that good, but still cold!) 🙂
And these eco-thingies here are wet towels. You get them every time you buy food. At some restaurants they give you “real” wet towels (by real I mean cloth), at pubs, burger joints, and Starbucks you get these paper towels. I think it is great. Kudos to Japan!
Rain stopped so I went out and found a convenience store (konbini) next to my subway station (Monzen-nakacho), which is awesome. The store is big and well-stocked (especially with fish and seafood) so I managed to find a dairy section with lots of western-looking products. And this is probably where I should point out that I was looking for milk because that’s how I like my coffee: with milk. So I found almond milk (so expensive!) and soy milk (I’m not a fan) standing next to something much cheaper and non-fat-milk-looking:
Bought it together with a bunch of other “normal” products (water, cheese, bread, pancakes) and went home to my coffee (I brought it with me from Poland). Fortunately, I opened the alleged “milk” first. Yeah, that’s not milk. That’s sweet yogurt. It’s quite tasty but there will be no coffee today. And tomorrow I’ll probably just buy a can of hot coffee from a vending machine downstairs (I love vending machines!) because I want to walk around my neighborhood and visit some of my favorite places that are conveniently nearby.
And that’s what google translate tells me about my not-milk:
to improve the intestinal environment, established a tone of intestines