Monday, January 30, 2012

New Years Part 1: Tokyo, Yokohama, Kamakura

I spent New Years in one of my (now) favorite cities in Japan: Yokohama! Not sure why I have this love for cities in the bay, but there it is. I left from Fukuyama station and I was able to take one of the new shinkansen trains, Sakura! The Sakura runs from Kagoshima in Kyushu to Shin-Osaka so I had to transfer, but it was *so* worth the hour to ride it. Unlike the other trains, the Sakura only has reserved and un-reserved (no green car). The reserved has 2 seats to an aisle so it's very spacious and comfy. I really wish it ran all the way to Tokyo.

My love for the shinkansen is yet another obsession I can't explain.

The day I arrived was a reunion/alumni meeting/end-of-the-year-party (忘年会 or bounenkai). My friends and I were able to meet with one of our Japanese professors!! It was so amazing to see her (and my friends) in Japan; she's one of the reasons why I'm here in Japan today.

At a cafe in Shibuya for alumni meeting
Us: What would you like to drink, sensei? There's coffee and juice, etc.
BAMF  Sensei: I'll start with beer.

All in all, our bounenkai was fun! My friend chose a really nice place with good food and we ended with karaoke (as all things should end with).

The rest of my New Years consisted of me stuffing my face with tasty things and occasionally walking, taking the train to said tasty things. My only regret was that Robeks (a smoothie shop in CA, I MISS SMOOTHIES/JAMBA JUICE SO BAD) was closed for the holidays! Yes, things get pretty quiet in Japan over New Years since this is a time where people travel to their hometowns and spend time with their families.

New Years Eve I spent under a kotatsu, eating soy milk nabe and flipping channels between Gaki no Tsukai and Kouhaku Uta Gassen. Gaki no Tsukai is a (usually) hilarious show where a group of comedians are taken for 24 hours, but they must not laugh. Otherwise they get punished. This year was a smack to the bootie, but there was one year where the punishers used a blow dart on the comedians.

This isn't the best one, but you get the idea.

Harsh! On the other end of the spectrum, Kouhaku is a singing competition that`s comprised of the red team (female artists/groups) and the white team (boys) hence the name Kouhaku 紅白. I`m not really sure how they judge which groups wins, but this year the white team won which was a surprise. The boys usually win.

The rest of my New Years was pretty chill.

Stuffing my face Hatsumode in Kamakura at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu shrine. When you reach the top of the stairs, you can see a nice view all the way to the water. Kamakura is one of the most popular places to do Hatsumode, so I wasn't able to explore a lot, but I would definitely go back to see the great Buddha, the ocean, and taste all the yummy foods in the shopping street, like German curry sausages...I'm not sure why German sausages are famous there, but there was a variety of them. The herb one was *delicious*.

I also went to the new Wendy`s in Omotesando.

It was so...fancy

Nothing too crazy, but I was able to see friends in Tokyo and Yokohama. I have no complaints. Hopefully soon I'll post the next half of my winter vacation spent in Beppu, Kyushu!

Tasty of the day:

SAD PANDA (in strawberry, matcha, and chocolate filling!)


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