This was Tokyo Station Saturday at the start of the long weekend. It was just a touch crowded. We had no reason to worry...we had reserved seats on the Shinkansen. But all those people and commotion increased my stress level a tiny bit. But one look at any of the signs soothed me.
I love the timetables at Tokyo Station. They look exactly what they should look like. With 10 mins to go before our train was to leave, up to the platform we went. It was a rainy day...stupid typhoon. (More about that later.)
We were not taking the most super fastest express train. But it still looks pretty fast. It still looks fast, even though this is the back of the train. It has a kind of sinister look, if you ask me. In the short time before our train was to depart, I was able to snag a pic with two other flavors of Shinkansen.
The closest one is the fastest. It was what we took to return to Tokyo...but I don't want to get ahead of myself. Back to our trip. As I have said before, a good bento is needed when you ride the bullet train. I think there is a law somewhere. And...I am no rule breaker.
That's my girl's on the left. It was some kind of Thai rice bowl with pork. And on the right...I had me some fried chicken with a tasty sauce. And you know I rock the tall boy can. Both were damn tasty and the beer hit the spot. Our train ride was a bit long but mostly uneventful. This was not a guarantee...see, there was a typhoon headed up the island of Japan. We were heading west, and the predicted path of the typhoon was mostly eastern in nature. From the train all was saw was clouds on rain. After 4 hours, and a train transfer, we arrived at a tiny local station called...
Awaraonsen. It is a small onsen town on the Japan Sea coast. Onsens, for those people not down with the lingo, are hot springs in Japan. Usually they consist of a hotel built over a natural hot spring which allows for some killer baths. Yes, you usually have to bathe naked with strangers (of the same sex)...but it is totally worth it!
hotels in it. They call it an "Onsen Town". After calling the hotel from the station, we were picked up and brought to the hotel. It was a bit surprising that it was so big. And it was not in the mountains or set far away from the town, was I was expecting. No, this one was in the center of a tiny town...a tiny town with 4 big onsens.
Our room was enormous. It was a 2 floor suite with 3 rooms, large bathroom, jacuzzi, and tatami flooring everywhere. (Somehow I have no good photos of the room...strange.) As soon as we arrived, I hustled to grab a bath before our dinner. It was the perfect antidote for the long trip and cloudy weather. I came back to the room to find the staff setting up our dinner. I love dinner your room. It's like "breakfast in bed" x 10!
This was the first course. Lot's of traditional foods. Nothing super fantastic, but it's rude not to try the strange looking stuff. The tofu was good.
Courses 2-5 certainly made up for the first course. The raw beef was a first for me, super high quality, thinly sliced beef, which you then dip in a sesame sauce: it was pretty amazing. The mini-steak was good, but it couldn't compete with the prime cuts. And the tempura and sashimi were very delicious as well. There was a soup as well, and beer, and beer, and a bit more beer. It was one of those meals that takes 3 hours. Time well spent. After the dinner, the staff hooked us up with a nice surprise. They gave us a chance to take a bath the private bath for couples.
As I said before, bathes are usually separated by sex. Because of that, I have never had a chance to enjoy a onsen soak with my girl. This is NOW not longer true. We had this secluded bath, with adjoining room, all to ourselves for a solid hour. The bath was on a deck facing an Asian style garden with a steam running through it. Since it was so late, the pics leave a little to the imagination, but trust me...it was fantastic. After a wonderful hour, it was back up to our room for a nice sleep.
Through the night, unbeknownst to me, the typhoon past our area. In the morning we were left with less rain and more clouds. The above pics were taken from our room on the 11th floor. The area was so flat. It reminded me of my days in Iowa: Hawkeyes stand up! But in this case, they are growing rice, not corn. And in Japan there are mountains in the near distance, not so much in Iowa.
I was able to enjoy another bath in the AM, before grabbing some breakfast. Which, to be honest, was a bit disappointing. Another disappointing thing for the whole weekend was the fact that because of the rain, I had to go with my older New Balances. But, I was able to rep my newest shoes with my backpack.
It worked out pretty well. It is a touch small, but that is a good thing since I hate huge bags. It was able to hold my reading material, some snacks, wallet, and camera. So, back to the story, we checked out and then made our way back to the train station. We were heading to my girl's parents house outside of Kyoto. It was local trains all the way. I am not train otaku. (Otaku = obsessive geek) I will keep my obsessiveness to shoes, cars, and music. But, one can not help but love the variety of trains they got in this country.
The bad-ass old school locomotive work horse is a true winner. We arrived safely to their home and it was straight up relax city. I read a ton (more on that coming soon) and enjoyed watching some soccer on their huge new TV. Interesting fact: It is impossible to take a good picture of a TV that shows the scale without getting out a rule...and this automatically pushing you far from taking a good picture.
On Monday, a National Holiday, we got to eat my fav: yakiniku. I was only able to take one pic between stuffing my face. It was better than usual. They changed butchers. Yeah for improvements!
One Tuesday we made our way back to Tokyo, via Kyoto station. It is the time for summer festivals, and even Kyoto station is getting in the spirit.
And that was our long weekend. A good time was had by all. As you can see, it tool a while to get back into the swing of things in Tokyo....but we are firing on all cylinders again.
#1. So....ignore the beginning of this track. It's some lady talking important sounding nonsense. Just wait for 50 Cent to come sauntering in. Usually, I can take or leave 50. Sometimes I can groove to his stuff. But this re-working of "Just a Little Bit" is pretty damn amazing. All syncopated and off beat hotness. It pleeps and bloops with almost no coherence. But hot damn....does it make me smile. [via Discobelle]
#2. I kinda missed the whole Bloc Party hype from a couple years ago. I was already in Japan...and not totally up on it. But, the songs I did run into...I enjoyed. This remix of one of their songs I enjoy a lot, click HERE to hear it and read a bit more about it. It's a solid effort with an interesting mix of styles. I am not sure you could dance to it...but...you can certainly nod your head. [via The Fader]
#3. Let me hit you with some straight up grime. This is no mash up. No combination of different micro genres. This is just hot fire high energy grime monster shit. The words per beat (WPB) is off the charts. Get your ears ready for Durrty Goodz - Axiom. [via Negrophonic]
#4. And lastly for this week. The best mixtape I have heard in a long time.
Produced by Catchdubs and featuring the rhymes of Wale. It is well worth your effort to download this fun summertime jam. It sounds like your coolest friends hanging out in a studio filled with the best beats just having a party. Click HERE to download. [via Pinglewood among many others]
That is all for this week. Stay tuned for some snacks and books coming soon. And of course we weill be getting back to the shoes too!