today was simply amazing! where do i even begin?! i guess with breakfast like i always do hah...
i had an onigiri (rice ball filled with something on the inside with seaweed wrapped on the outside), and erik had some sort of pizza bread
my onigiri was filled with shrimp and mayo...yum yum yum!
at 11am we had planned to meet with my friend lyle. i had started chatting with lyle sometime around january 2010 because i had seen one of his very helpful videos on youtube. he had recorded the walk from the NEX platform at shinjuku station walking to the hotel sunroute plaza shinjuku, and since that's where erik and i were staying for our trip in march 2010, this video was amazingly helpful!!! it showed us exactly how to walk to our hotel, so i thanked him for making it. i have since sent that video to countless other people wondering how to get to that hotel from shinjuku station. but many of you will probably recognize THIS video that he took:
it's really popular!
anyway, we met up with him in yurakucho, and off we went to go view some japanese art galleries from local artists! this was great because through chatting, i mentioned to him hw it would be cool to do "non-touristy" things since we've done (or will do) pretty much all of them. we wanted a real japanese experience, and to see things maybe tourists wouldn't go see, and he helped us do exactly that!
walking to our first gallery
(lyle was great and took some photos of us while we walked around today! here is one of them below)
i really liked this woman's photography a lot
these were done by kid's, and their photos were in the corner of each one
this little girl's mother folded origami for her to add to her painting
here we are with the owner of the building (on the right) and his friend on the left!
having a great time! :D hahaha
one of the sections had photos from the tsunami affected area. the biggest two are a comparison photo. the one on the right was taken in may, and the one on the left was taken in july. there were a few other comparison photos, but these ones were the biggest
it was sad because while we chatted with the owner, he told us how one of his friends died in the earthquake/tsunami. we told him we were so sorry to hear this :( so many people were affected by this terrible disaster.
it was such a pleasure chatting with the people there. they were so kind, and we will never forget them. off we went to the next gallery!
here we are!
and i got a picture of the artist standing next to his artwork (the one on the left)
we actually saw art galleries for about 5 hours! it was great! chatting with the owners of the galleries and the artists was such a great experience. here are more shots
walking to the next gallery building we passed by this really pretty reflection! today was the first day that wasn't overcast while we were here, so the clouds looked nice
there were a TON of galleries in this building. doesn't it look cool from the outside too?
while we were chatting outside about the building, we spied a woman in kimono standing in a 3rd floor window! lyle remembered they were doing tea ceremonies today, so we sprinted to the 3rd floor!!!
we got to experience a private tea ceremony! can you believe it?! a tea ceremony is a cultural activity involving the ceremonial preparation of matcha (powdered green tea).
i'm not sure what you call these, but we ate them before we had the tea. they were chewy in the center, and had a very thin, hard, outer coating.
around the room there were pretty glass bowls and cups. the woman preparing our matcha made these herself! she's a glass blower! i really liked them a lot.
thanks to lyle again for these next two pics of us!
it was really SO. COOL. actually, it was so great that i decided i had to upload a video that i took from when she was making lyle's! here you go!
other shots i took of the room
another guy in the room had made this for the window! not only does it look really cool, it helps keep the room cool too :)
we explored the back allies of the building too which i really liked!
this building had so many cool, old nooks and crannies
another gallery in the building had really neat darumas!
here is us with naoko as she explains the white daruma to us (photo thanks to lyle)
she was so sweet to talk to. and she gave us our own daruma!!! it somehow came up that we were married and she went to her office door to get this for us! how cool!!!!! we were so surprised and thanked her very much. cannot believe this amazing day! here is our daruma!
after we said our goodbyes to naoko, we continued looking at the galleries in the building
this jewelry was AMAZING. those are actual leaves and flowers!
what a gorgeous necklace!
this was a brooch, as well as a pendant for a necklace! you just twist off that part that hangs down and you have yourself a pendant!
and what an amazing watch!!!
here is the last one we saw. this one was neat because those are strips of newspaper! so, the artist didn't color it or anything, just took colored sections of newspapers, cut them out, and spread them further apart and then sewed them together.
here you can see the writing on one!
they were also shaped in really interesting ways too
afterwards, we were headed to the under-the-tracks izakayas (an izakaya is a place that mainly serves beer/other alcohol but also serves food to go with it if you want). lyle knew of a great yakitori place, and he was right! it was GREAT!
saw this on our walk there:
walking around the izakaya area
here we are sitting down at ours!
my ume (plum) drink mixed with shochu
yakitori!!!!! (it's chicken)
and we had liver too! YUM.
there was also this spicy shakey stuff you could add to your food
after the izakaya we went to this "standing bar"
you get a drink and stand to chat with others! it was pretty cool! we actually ran into another american guy named walter who had been living in japan 34 years, and he JUST finished working on the WORLD'S FASTEST SUPER COMPUTER in kobe, japan!!!! it was so cool to chat with him for a bit! meeting all the people today was really such a pleasure.
afterwards we headed onto the trains for lyle's apartment! his wife had prepared a lovely homecooked meal for us!!! we were so excited :)
sitting on lovely tatami flooring we had cheese with smoked salmon, smoked cheese, and dried smoked salmon. all was SO GOOD.
then it was time for dinner! look at all this wonderful FOOD! what an amazing experience!
afterwards we had green tea and rum raisin ice cream with tea!
here are the drinks we had during dinner too! this is a flavor i have never had before, but i enjoyed it!!!
this one was really sweet, but i LOVE sweet drinks, so i was totally fine with it haha
erik had these two:
and as we left for the last train home of the night, his wife gave us a bag of snacks for the ride home! his whole family was so amazingly kind to us. japanese hospitality really cannot be beat! :)
seriously today was THE BEST, EVER. thank you again lyle for giving us such an amazing day!!! we will never forget any of it, and i hope the next time we are in japan we can see you and your family again!