dill & fennel


Traveling during a pandemic: part four

Before it was clear we were headed for a pandemic, I booked a “treat yourself” trip to Japan. After a great first year at Slack, I wanted a nice non-work trip to really relax and refresh before going back into 2020 with a renewed sense of vigor. Previously, I wrote about my time in Onomichi.

Yakitori party/焼き鳥のパーテイ

After a drink at my hotel’s bar, I got a hot tip to check out a yakitori place a ten-minute walk away. I threw on my coat, and walked over, enjoying the peace and darkness of a city that actually sleeps.

The place was called 鳥徳 or Toritoku, and immediately on entering I was befriended by a Brazilian guy and his partner and their older math teacher friend. We talked for a while about tattoos, and drinking, and I mostly kept up in Japanese, which felt like a huge accomplishment. I stayed after they left, and then met a cadre of carpenters, including a very grateful American man named Jason (hi Jason!). The drinking continued as we cleared the place of all of its chicken bits, and all gotta a little cheerier and a little louder.

Finally, around midnight, I left to walk home. Somehow I’d spent quite a bit of money, and was a bit more tipsy than I figured. When I got back to my hotel, I had the presence of mind to take a bath, and wash all my clothes, then throw a few things on the charger for the next day.

I had an inkling I’d have a hangover…

二日酔い

Ouch. I woke up with a wanging headache, and managed to get dressed and fill myself with the multi-course breakfast, including a very tall dairy-free pancake. I finished packing, then checked out of my hotel, quickly hopping on the phone with Chase to address my ticket issue and try to head back to the states earlier, in light of the US state department’s recommendation.

Cut to four hours later

Good news: I started playing animal crossing Bad news: Chase never picked up (shakes fist at Chase Bank), and at the four hour mark, the call suddenly disconnected. What. The. Fuck.

I gave up.

I walked around for a while to find ramen and at least fill the hole in my stomach.

Back to Tokyo

Freshly full of karaage and ramen from a cute local shop, I hopped on the X train, followed by a trip on the Nozomi high-speed Shinkansen to Tokyo. Unsurprisingly, I spent the whole train trip playing Animal Crossing and trying to appease that bastard Tom Nook.

Animal Crossing interlude

Animal Crossing was a favorite of mine in college on the GameCube, and each iteration is a simple joy. The Switch update is the best version yet, and looks gorgeous. If you’re the type of person who enjoys games like Harvest Moon, or just has a lot of time over the next few months while we’re all social distancing, I highly recommend picking this game up. Email or text me for my friend code so we can trade fruit, or whatever. My island is called Lesbos. So far we only have peaches on Lesbos, which is kind of a cliche, but oh well.

Asakusa

Found my hotel, and checked-in. There was art all over the place, including some from Frankie Cihi from Terrace House. Dinner was a chill diner meal of yakitori and some cucumber stuff while watching a weird 罰ゲーム (punishment game) tv show. I rounded out the night with Devs episode 4 and some Animal Crossing.

Day two in Asakusa

It was David’s birthday (hi David), so I woke up at 8:30am to play Animal Crossing with him and his pals. This continued through breakfast, where Haley (hi Haley) even visited my new island.

Later, I went to Fuglen for coffee and was recognized from tv by a Kanae and her boyfriend. I read for a while over a tasty cup of Columbian coffee, then headed back to my hotel for some shochu. After a shiokoji shochu-induced nap, I headed to get onigiri from the oldest onigiri shop in Tokyo, Yadoroku. Wow. It was so, so good. Afterwards I wandered around and ran into my first 外国人を入れない on this trip. Dang.

I ended up at a shop called 初代チョベリバ for a few drinks and chicken parts, then went home to read and watch tv.

Overall, a pretty chill day.