Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Wild Day Three in Tokyo

We slept in again.  Amazing.

We got up and headed out of the apartment to find some lunch/breakfast.  We had looked up a location where we wanted to eat, but it wasn't open at 11am, so we decided to wait for 11:30.  We walked around the streets by our apartment going from vending machine to vending machine tasting all the crazy canned delights you can get for 100Yen.

Matt got creamed corn. Mark got red bean. Larissa got hot chocolate which tasted like warm Yoohoo.  It entertained us enough to pass a half hour, so we made our way back to the restaurant only to find that it was locked up tight.  We decided to find another spot and turned down an ally way.

We saw through a little glass door a little bar with men in suits eating noodles. It was plum full, so we started walking away.  A woman came out calling to us and invited us in.  There were six of us, so we pointed out how many, and she assured us that we would be okay.  (Or something like that in Japanese.)

We headed into the packed shop, obviously the only foreigners, and had no idea where she was going to seat us.  She took us back to the storage room and told us to take off our shoes.  We did as we were told and then she led us up into a secret tiny room where two men were eating on the floor with a long table.  We joined them and awkwardly introduced ourselves using the two words we knew in Japanese: "hello" and "delicious".

We had a fun exchange because the woman didn't give us any menus, she just pointed to us asking what we wanted.  We turned to the two men and the one man pointed to his bowl and said, "Number one!"  The other man pointed to his bowl and said, "Miso!"

We all ordered number one.  Of course.

We carried on conversation with them in a funny way.  They asked if we were American, and we tried to communicate that we were in film.  They said, "cinema," and we all said, "Hai!" The one man nodded and said, "Sean Connery."  It was a nice lunch.

We all paid and headed back to the apartment to start our day of b-roll shooting.  Our first stop was the main Buddhist temple in Tokyo.  We got on the train and after some confusion with how to switch trains, we got to a large marketplace full of fun trinket shopping.

The temple was beautiful and fascinating.  People had an interesting ritual that I haven't learned about, so I'm looking forward to looking it up later.  They would go and wash their hands and their mouths out in a fountain, then pay to get some incense and put their little incense stick all together in a larger pot of incense, then waft it into their hair.  Then, they head up to the big temple, donate some money, pray for a moment, then walk in.  Inside are little cans of sticks that they shake up, a stick falls out with a number on it, they match the number to a drawer then open the drawer to find their fortune.  Some are very good, and some are very bad.

I couldn't help myself.  I had to do the fortune, so I went for it and got the "best" fortune. Yay!

In Japan, I stick out - not only because I'm tall, but also because I'm very white and very blond.  While I was reading a sign explaining the fortunes, I turned to see four little Japanese kids in uniforms and yellow hats crowded around staring at me.  I said hello to them, and they lit up with joy.  One little girl stepped forward and began practicing her English with me.

"Hello. How are you?" "I'm doing well, thank you. How are you?" I say.  "I am fine. What's your name?"  "Shawna. What's your name?"  "Chin Yoi.  Welcome to Japan."  "Thank you!" I say.  Then, once the first was done, the second came up and we started all over again.  It was the cutest thing I've ever experienced.  Nice kids.

Matt and I left the temple in search of a snack and found ourselves on some very fun side streets with other street vendors and rickshaws.  We found a street vendor with weird stick snacks, and we decided to test them out.  Matt got one wrapped in a grape leaf with a rice dough that had a sweet red bean mixture in it. We found out it's called "monju." Very delicious.  I had little rice dough balls dipped in sweet teriyaki.  Mega delicous.

After our snack, we met up with the rest of the team and found a little place for a sake break.  After that we had to catch the train to get to the Times Square of Tokyo which is called Shibuya.  It was total sensory overload.  The team was very nice to accommodate me, and had a second night of sushi since I was sick the night before.

We found some friends from the Unreasonable pitch event on our first day, and they took us to a Japanese pub called "180" because the beers are 180Yen.  They ordered up a bunch of Japanese pub fare and we got to try wasabi octopus, deep fried whole fish, delicious Korean pickled vegetables with cow intestine in it, and of course, lots and lots of beer.  We were allowed to ask him anything about Japan, so we all asked all the things we were wondering.  Like, why do people where those medical masks all the time?  Well, my friends, the reason is that those masks are socially acceptable, and people wear them if they forgot to put on make-up, forgot to shave, or if they are sick so that they don't get other people sick.  It's not weird in their culture, and it takes some time to get used to because it's really prevalent.

We stayed far too late at the pub and realized we had to sprint to catch the last train back to our apartment which is in North Tokyo.  We booked it to the station, ran to the train, caught it, then had to transfer, and then sprint to the final train.  We made it right on time, and the doors closed on our heels.

An exciting end to a long day.  Tomorrow, we have an early morning to finish filming in Tokyo at a water conference that one of the entrepreneurs, Pedro of Aquaphytex, is going to, then make our way to Kyoto by 4pm for the second Unreasonable event.  Sounds like we'll get to ride the bullet train.  Toot toot!