Odaiba, Skytree, and Alice 10: Japan, Days 16, 17, 21, and 22, a travel log

Day 16

For my second one-on-one lesson with Ramen, he, Kami, and I went to an okonomiyaki restaurant in Waseda. Okonomiyaki was one of the first things on my list of things to do in Japan. Okonomiyaki is basically a vegetable and meat pancake that you make at the table. It was a defining feature of my favorite anime, Nabari no Ou, so I wanted to see it (and eat it) in action.

Waseda, right outside the train station.
Waseda, right outside the train station.

The first thing I learned is there are three kinds of “okonomiyaki”: okonomiyaki, monjayaki, and dessert monjayaki (I don’t remember what it’s actually called). Monjayaki is like a stirfry, and therefore dessert monjayaki is a stir fry except with fruit, cream, and other sweet things.

The second thing I learned is how to make it. We were guided to a table with a grill set into its surface. We started with monjayaki and ordered all kinds of stuff to put into the batter: egg, mochi (which I didn’t realize could be savory until then), pork, roe (salmon eggs), and all kinds of vegetables.

Each person orders what they want in their monjayaki and then, once it’s done, you use these itty-bitty metal spatulas to eat it straight off the grill. Generally, each person shares their monjayaki with the other people at the table.

okonomiyaki
Okonomiyaki.

Okonomiyaki is eaten much the same way, except, when cooked, the batter turns the ingredients into a pancake that you then cover in mayonnaise, teriyaki sauce, green flakes of something, and fish flakes.

The ingredients for the dessert monjayaki come in a cup and arranged as beautifully as any parfait. The interesting part about the dessert version of monjayaki is that it uses corn flakes and some kind of sweet cream as the base. I had never had corn flakes as anything except breakfast cereal before coming to Japan, and now I’ve had it in two desserts.

We ate all thee kinds and had a great time. It was so much fun, it almost didn’t feel like an English lesson, but I suppose that’s the way learning a language should feel.

Day 17

Today was our second visit to the elementary school, and it went incredibly smoothly. I always thought that I’d enjoy teaching older students more than kids, but where English is concerned, I wouldn’t mind teaching elementary classes. It’s just a lot of songs, dances, and easy worksheets. And the kids are so happy and full of energy.

After class, Kami and I went to Starbucks because the seasonal drink is finally here: the sakura (cherry blossom) latte and frappuccino. Very sweet, very delicious, very pink.

Sakura frappuccino at Starbucks, the spring seasonal drink in Tokyo.
Sakura frappuccino at Starbucks, the spring seasonal drink in Tokyo.

After we finished our drinks, we headed to the mall at Kita-Senju to find notecards. We have our final exam at the end of the week and I am determined not to fail it. If I can write everything I need to know on a set of notecards and review them a few times, I’ll probably be alright.

The mall (or department store) at Kita-Senju.
The mall (or department store) at Kita-Senju.

Day 21

Test day. I passed! To celebrate, I went out to coffee with Kami. Then I got myself a yakisoba bento and strawberry ice cream, and settled into my room to work on my lesson plans.

Day 22

Today was my last Saturday in Japan, so naturally, I had a lot of sightseeing to do. R and I had the whole day planned out: Odaiba, Shinjuku, and back to Akihabara.

The Skytree.
The Skytree.

We started out early: 8:30AM, to be exact. We stopped by the bakery for breakfast and then headed for Odaiba and the Skytree. At 2080 feet tall, the Skytree is Tokyo’s tallest TV tower. It has floors upon floors of department stores in its base, and up near the top, there’s a viewing deck. It reminded me of the Space Needle in Seattle.

The view from the first deck of the Skytree.
The view from the first deck of the Skytree.

After the Skytree, we took the monorail over the Rainbow Bridge. It isn’t rainbow-colored, but if I remember correctly, when it opened, it was lit up with different colors.

The rows of escalators inside the Skytree.
The rows of escalators inside the Skytree.

After Skytree, we went to Odaiba. Odaiba has a boardwalk and tons of surfer-themed restaurants right on the walkway. It reminds me a lot of southern California. Almost all the signs are in English, which makes me think that this is a big tourist spot for foreigners.

The monorail across the Rainbow Bridge.
The monorail across the Rainbow Bridge.

On the other side of the large shopping area is the famous, giant Gundam Statue. Apparently, they have a reoccurring show where clips from the anime, Gundam Wing, play in the background and steam comes out of the pipes on the statue’s back. I had heard it was big, but I didn’t expect it to be that big. I’ve never seen the anime, but this statue made me want to check it out.

The Gundam Statue in Odaiba.
The Gundam Statue in Odaiba.

We took the train to Akihabara because Alice 10 was performing. Unfortunately, there were no pictures allowed in the concert area. Boy was it fun. Alice 10 is part of a larger group of J-Pop bands, all of which performed that night. There was an open bar with the first drink free. I had a rum and coke (actually two) and a hotdog. It was a fun night. It made me want to go to more concerts, as I haven’t been to many of them in America.

We got home late: tired, but happy.

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