A Japanese Adventure
An online journal
Once again, we started our day a little later than expected, as we were struggling with jet lag pretty badly at this point. The earliest I was asleep by was around 1am, which was not like me at all!
We took the train from Uguisudani to Ueno around 11am, and spotted a colourful building opposite the station, which turned out to be an incredible 7 floor toy store, which included a basement devoted entirely to Studio Ghibli plushies and collectables! I also won Joe a cute little Kirby plushie keyring for 100 yen on my first ago - I was already becoming a pro!
We walked down the famous Ameya-Yokochō open air market street, to have a gander at all the shops it had to offer. We managed to hunt down some fruit (we hadn't found any since our arrival!), but it was unbelievably expensive, and stupidly I paid £4 for 5 single strawberries, partly out of fruit desperation! Towards the end of the street, we found ourselves in Taito Game Station yet again, a now firm favourite, and decided to have our photos taken in the hilariously named Purikura booth. Yes we are that immature and found the name of this particular one WAY too funny (see below). They were so much fun, but I know Joe didnt enjoy them as much as I did...
After spending a couple of 100 yen on the arcades, we decided to have a wander around Ueno Park. We bought mango smoothies and had a walk in the 27 degree sunshine. The shrines were so beautiful, and the little food vendor vans lined the park and smelled amazing. Close to the entrance of the park was Ueno Zoo. It only cost 600 yen each (about £4), and we ended up spending most the afternoon there with it being such a big place. We both came away feeling a little sad afterwards though, as some of the animals cages seemed a little small, especially the larger cats :( We did see a lot of animals though, and they did all seem happy! We saw hippos, zebras, rhinos, flamingoes, tigers, gorillas, lions, polar bears, Japanese black bears, pandas, tonnes of owls and a Hokkaido brown bear!
After the zoo, we headed back to the hotel for naps and showers, as we were meeting all of my Japanese family for dinner and drinks at 6pm!
We met Yukari-chan at Ueno Station and walked to the Kurand Sake Market. We had bought tickets through Klook before our arrival, for an "all you can drink" sake evening for £23 each. When we arrived at the bar, I finally got to see my Japanese mum and dad for the first time in five years! I remember there were tears on my part!
We spent a good few hours in the sake market, drinking all kinds of different sakes, beers and umeshu (plum wine - my favourite). You could also bring in your own food, so Yukari had brought lots of Japanese snacks including dried squid and these weird peanut pork snacks, which I ended up bringing home a bulk bag because they were so good.
After the bar, my Japanese dad called his pal who owned a sushi restaurant, and booked us a table for dinner. It was the loveliest place, ran by a previous Sushi Champion and his wife. We had two large plates of sashimi to share while the sushi master prepared the main dishes. There were two sea snails each (not pictured), kanpachi, squid, arkshell, flounder, prawns, tuna (my fave), squid, sea eel, urchin and salmon roe.
The sushi master even brought over a handmade Hydrangea sushi flower for one of us to eat. Joe wolfed it down in the end, and said it was superb! It looked too good to eat!
The sushi master and his wife gifted us with three traditional Japanese headbands (they look like very long teatowels!), which are apparently very rare to each house or region, so we were so honoured to have been given some made for the master and his wife!
This night was easily one of the best I have ever experienced, with amazing food, drink and company. A true Japanese experience that we wouldn't have had if it wasn't for my amazing homestay family. We department for Ueno station, happy, very tipsy and a belly full of sushi.
Again, we couldn't sleep.