Tuesday, 9 August 2016

2016 Japanese Travels - Day 1, Welcome to Misato (with Yakiniku)

Despite resting on the flight, upon my arrival in Japan, I was my usual bleary eyed self. Fortunately, by this point I was pretty experienced with the immigration/customs process and the route to Kyle’s apartment so my zombie-like state didn’t cause any problems. Besides, my navigational skills are second to none (or was it none whatsoever?).
After arriving at Kyle’s, the first order of business was to have a sit down and relax followed by a quick catch up. Once I was rested and Kyle was brought up to speed on how completely screwed the UK is, next stop was Doutor to meet a friend and colleague of Kyle’s.
Dotour is a popular chain in Japan, serving fresh coffee and sandwiches. As to be expected in the height of the blisteringly hot Japanese summer, iced coffee (アイスコーヒー) was the drink of the day (the range of iced tea/coffee drinks was pretty impressive). My choice of sandwich was ham salad with Japanese mayo (a few years ago, it was a Dotour sandwich that opened my eyes to the wonders of Japanese mayo). It turned out Kyle’s friend was a fellow aficionado of coffee, but even she had difficulty believing the inhuman amount of coffee consumed during my average work day (computer programmer: device that converts coffee in to software). After chatting for a while, it was still early afternoon so we decided to go out to do a little shopping.
Our two main choices were LaLaPort nearby (walkable) or Koshigaya Lake Town. Those who have read my blog before will know that Lake Town exists in several dimensions to account for its huge size.
Our reasons for visiting Lake Town were two-fold. Firstly, it afforded us the opportunity to wander around in an environment protected from the almost solar conditions outside (air conditioned malls – a must in Japan!). After exploring some of the shops, we got to our second reason for visiting: Starbucks. It may sound like a strange reason, but there we wanted to visit our favourite Starbucks. The Starbucks in question was outside the mall and had a seating area next to a nice artificial stream.
It was also a good opportunity to introduce me to one of the new menu items for that year, Cantaloupe Frappuccino.
A warm day, better get indoors!
After some window shopping and unusual ice drinks, it was time to return to Kyle’s apartment. We had a rental futon that was due to be delivered (after trying one before, I couldn’t go back to the a sofa bed) and were waiting to rendezvous with Yamashita san. Our plan was to go out with Yamashita for Yakiniku. As you may already know, I’ve developed a serious liking for the Japanese adaptation of Korean Barbeque. We ordered a set that was primarily meat, with a little veg. The cheaper sets have much more veg (good if you worried about how much meat you're eating), but we were in a particularly carnivorous mood (Kyle was starting to worry that I'd been possessed by a Bakeneko) so went for the meaty selection.
Meat, glorious meat!
As side dishes, we were able to enjoy some spicy soup and kimchi. Let me tell you, that stuff was way more powerful than the kimchi available in the UK! Spicy, but nice.
Kimchi
The evening provided much meat, conversation and opportunities for me to test how much Japanese vocab I recognize.
As the evening drew to a close, it became increasingly clear that I was entering the realms of sleep deprivation so I settled in to cover the sleep deficit.

The first day isn’t normally a particularly busy one, given the need to unpack and the inevitable tiredness. Fortunately, we managed to get a lot done so it didn’t feel like a wasted day. No matter how much you feel like you want to, going to sleep until the evening is not a good idea. Before long, you’ll find you’ve turned nocturnal!

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