Return to the Rising Sun, Days 14-15: At the End of the End

And then there were three.  I just finished walking Mat to the train station as his flight leaves at about 10am.  For the remaining three of us, it’s going to be a long day of waiting at the airport.  Their luggage is too heavy to lug around to explore more of Shinagawa and we get the boot from our apartment at 10am.  But I get a bit ahead of myself.

On our last full day in Japan, we left our oh so wonderful house in Kyoto and boarded another Shinkansen which rocketed us back to Tokyo, specifically Shinagawa.  On the train we discussed what we wanted to do.  Originally, Mat (feeling much better) had hoped to visit an onsen or Japanese hot springs.

In years gone by, this was a luxury that would ordinarily be denied to Mat due to his tattoos which were traditionally taboo for onsens.  Japan has begun to lighten up on that decree especially when it comes to gaijin (outsiders).  Though Mat was feeling better, his feet were badly blistered from all of the walking around we had been doing and feared they would not let him in.  Dave was not really interested.  Amy was and so was I.  However that desire was tempered by the knowledge that getting to the onsen would have resulted in a 3 hour round trip train ride. After spending 2.5 hours on the bullet train, I decided I didn’t really want to be trapped on a train for another three hours, especially when I had a 9 hour flight to endure the next day, so I declined.

Instead, we deposited our bags at the train station and went to visit Shibuya.  Shibuya is a famed shopping mecca and is also famed for the legendary dog, Hachiko, and for having the busiest crosswalk (6 ways) in the country, possibly even the planet.  Amy went to do some shopping at the famed Shibuya 109 while the rest of us killed some time at yet another arcade.

With that done, we caught the train to Shinagawa where we would spend our final night.  The place wasn’t too bad and was the first home that actually had some beds.  However, the bathroom was a mold ridden mess.  We spent a few hours relaxing before we headed out to a final group dinner.

We ate at Tsubame, located at Shinagawa Station.  This was easily the best meal we had during the entire trip.  We had two plates of incredible scallops for appetizers and they were basted in garlic and parmesan cheese.  For myself I enjoyed salmon meuniere and had a rare indulgence with a black beer called Kostritzer.

Mat had to get up at the crack of doom so we turned in not long after our dinner.  Being an early riser, I walked Mat back to the airport before returning to pack everything up.

For us, we’ll head to the train station at 10am and catch the Narita Express to the airport where we’ll be in for a long day of waiting before our flight boards at 4pm.  For me, once I recover from the jet lag, it’ll be back to business as usual.  I’ll have about a week off before it’s back to the business of theatre with 2 reviews waiting for me at Omaha Community Playhouse and a special invitation from the Barn Players Community Theatre.  Then I hope to return to the stage myself.

But with these final words, it’s time to officially bring this adventure to a close.

Return to the Rising Sun, Day 4: Going Home Again. . .Well, Sort of

When it rains, it pours.

And I mean pours.  I awoke at about 4:15am and rain was just coming down in buckets over Shinagawa.  Still, there was something peaceful about listening to the rain pelt the ground as I went to the kitchen to post pictures and write yesterday’s article.

We ended up being pinned inside the apartment until nearly noon when the rain finally let up and cleared.  We decided to make our way to Ikebukuro which had been our base of operations for the Tokyo Maximum tour four years ago.  The place had changed a bit in the intervening four years.  A few new businesses had sprouted and the McDonald’s where we had eaten a few meals had been remodeled.

The first thing we tried was to relocate the Mountain Dew machine for Dave.  Alas, our efforts were for naught as the machine was no longer there.  Instead we walked to the ramen joint that always has a line out the door to find that there was a line out the door.

We debated waiting, but as it was already 1pm, we opted to have okonomiyaki instead.  I settled for a regular okonomiyaki and water while most of the other chose sets which included rice and cabbage salad.  We had a leisurely lunch and then left to start walking around the district.

The sky had clouded up during lunch and a few sprinkles began to fall.  With the sunshine, I had left my umbrella at the apartment.  Dave asked me if I were going to buy a new one, but I declined as a few sprinkles were not going to bother me.  Mother Nature proceeded to call my bluff as the rain began to intensify.  I ran into a nearby 7-11 to purchase yet another umbrella, but Andrew bought one big enough for us to share and we shuffled around the district to Tokyu Hands.

Tokyu Hands is a department store and I took a brief glance around the store before heading outside to wait and did some people watching.  Saturday was a good day to get an idea of the massive population size of the city as the streets were jam packed with people.

Eventually our group came together and began making our way to Sunshine City, though we had a brief stopover at Super Potato, a vintage video game store.  This time Mat’s GPS did not fail as we reached Sunshine City in record time.

Most of the group opted to go to a Pokemon store, but as I had no interest, I watched a rather interesting Hawaiian dance demonstration going on at the bottom of the mall.

When the rest of the group came out of Pokemon, we decided to grab some dinner at Café Miami Garden known for pasta and pizza.  I split a pepperoni pizza with Andrew who kindly picked up the tab.

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After dinner, we spent the rest of the evening at the arcade.  I found a machine that had Elevator Action and played a few rounds on it before teaming up with Mat to do some major league damage on Luigi’s Mansion.

It had been a long day and we returned to the apartment for another night of rest.

Return to the Rising Sun, Day 1: Getting There is Half the Fun

It was a journey 4 years in the making.  After the end of our escapades in Japan (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7), my friends, Mat O’Donnell and David Sundberg, and I decided we would one day return to experience it anew.  With Mat’s impending wedding in November, it was decided that the adventure would take place in August 2016.

After months of planning and preparation, the day finally arrived to begin our return to the Land of the Rising Sun.

It takes a lot of time to get to Japan and I mean a LOT of time.  On August 16, Dave and I awoke at 2:30am.  Our first flight of the day would leave at 6:20am.

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Dave is bright eyed and bushy tailed for the day ahead.

My good friend, Jeff Bevirt, picked Dave and I from my home and drove us to Eppley Airfield where we met Dave’s niece, Amy Joy, who would also be joining us on the excursion.

We would be using United Airlines.  This was my first time utilizing their services and it was pretty good all the way around.  When we arrived at the nearly empty airport, a friendly desk agent took our passports and quickly checked us in and checked in Dave’s suitcase.  Using the “gussie” system of packing, I would be checking no luggage so I’d have one less thing to worry about.

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Transportation to Japan provided by United Airlines.

United likes to board early and we started getting on board nearly an hour before our flight started.  I happen to think this is a good business practice as if everyone manages to get onboard early, we can leave a little early which is exactly what happened.

After a brief flight, our little group laid over in Denver for an hour, where we scarfed a quick breakfast from McDonald’s (oh, how I hate to rush a meal) and boarded another plane set to take us to Los Angeles.

At LAX, I made my only miscalculation of the trip.  I decided to change my dollars over to yen while I was there.  I got a pretty good deal, but would learn that I should have waited until I reached Narita International Airport in Japan as they give you a much better deal.  My dough would have netted me an extra 15,000 yen had I waited.  So take my advice, if you go to Japan, always exchange your money at Narita.

We waited through a 2.5 hour layover at LAX before finally beginning the long haul of the trip.  I love to fly, but 12 hours is an awfully long time to be on a plane.  They do their best to distract one with a wide variety of entertainment from movies to music to TV shows.  To pass the time, I read a new Sherlock Holmes pastiche, began a new Nero Wolfe novel, watched a little TV as well as the films Money Monster and Insomnia.

There was something profound about this trip, especially as I was taking it in the daytime and could look out the window.  There’s something deep about looking down on the majesty of the Pacific Ocean and seeing nothing but blue as far as the eye can see.  We also went from day to night to day in a flash as we crossed over to the other side of the planet.  And there was something about flying over the edge of Alaska that put a smile on my face as I looked down upon it.

The food wasn’t too bad on the flight.  United prides itself on its 3 course meals and served us a lunch of teriyaki chicken, rice, vegetable medley, and salad with southwestern rice.  For dessert, they served us a wonderful vanilla bean gelato which was some of best ice cream-type food I have ever eaten.  Before touchdown, they served a breakfast of Udon noodles, though Dave had to be a rebel and order the scrambled eggs.

As I said the journey was long and I only napped for about an hour as excitement fueled my body.  Upon arriving at Narita, we waited for Mat who was delayed as everybody on the planet decided to land at Narita at the same time he did.  This slowed down his going through customs and immigration which my little group blew through in about 15 minutes.

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Japan, I have arrived.

We collected our resident expert, then got our J-Rail passes so we could travel through Japan.  Then we hopped on the Narita Express for a 90 minute journey to Shinjuku to arrive at the first house we would stay at through Air BnB where we met Mat’s friend, Mauricio, and his girlfriend, Allison, who would be joining us on a part of the adventure.

Despite being beyond the point of exhaustion our little group went out to dinner at a place called Pronto’s which is a bar/restaurant.  I normally don’t like to eat late, but one thing I appreciate about Japan is that we share a similar size appetite as all servings in Japan are small.  I had some juicy fried chicken with a splash of lemon.  After dinner we stopped at a mini-mart to get some things for breakfast.  I grabbed an orange juice and some of the famed pancakewiches of Japan.

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Pancakewich

I passed out and I mean passed out on my tatami mat to end this day’s adventures.

A Journey Beyond Imagination, Days 7 & 8: Traditional Tokyo & See You Later

Author’s Note:  This is my 50th post.  I didn’t quite know what to expect when I started this blog, but I’m glad that you’ve been here to share the ride.  It’s been a true pleasure to share my escapades with you.  I look forward to the next 50 stories.

In what seemed the blink of an eye, we were on our last full day in Japan.  Once again we had the day to do whatever we pleased, so Mat wanted to take Dave and I away from the touristy part of Tokyo and experience its real side.

Early in the morning, the three of us caught a subway to the Azabu-Jaban district.  Once we stepped out of the subway station, it seemed like we had journeyed back in time.  No traffic.  No noise.  All was quiet, scenic, and peaceful.  The streets were lined with little homes.  It was a magnificent world.

As we walked along the streets, Mat demonstrated his knowledge of Japan as he launched into an interesting lecture on the anime series, Sailor Moon, and its connection to the Azubu-Jaban region.  He pointed out that a lot of the embassies were in this district and it was incredible to pass all of these gated homes and see which ambassador was living there.

We also passed several schools, explored a little cemetery, and visited a couple of shrines.  After the shrines, Mat took us on a scenic route through a little park.  As we wandered through the park, I suddenly had a great moment of clarity.  Every once in a while, I have these moments and when they hit me everything seems so crystal clear and simple.  It’s as if God has momentarily opened my eyes and is letting me know that everything is going to be all right if I keep the faith and that right now, even if it doesn’t seem like it, I am exactly where I’m supposed to be.  As I watched a waterfall in the park, I let myself sink into that moment.

All too soon, we were on our way again.  Upon leaving the park, we found a little library and Mat and I decided to stop inside for a moment while Dave waited by the fountain.  When we entered the library, we were given special passes so we could use the resources.  Mat and I examined a few newspapers and then went back outside to collect Dave and find a place to eat.

I discovered a rather inviting little café and we decided to grab a meal there.  I seem to recall that we had the special of the house which were pork cutlets and rice.  After the respite, we headed to the subway station and were off to visit the Tokyo Sky Tree.

The Tokyo Sky Tree is one of the tallest structures in the world.  I thought the view was amazing from Tokyo Tower, but it had nothing on the Sky Tree.  The Sky Tree has two observation decks:  a high one and a REALLY high one.  Needless to say, we visited both.

The view from the REALLY high deck was jaw dropping.  I don’t think I could see the whole city, but it couldn’t have been far off.  From this height, one could see just how massive this metropolis truly was and it was a sight I will be unable to forget.  I only wish it hadn’t been such a cloudy day because I would have been able to see Mt Fuji in the distance on a clear day.

Once we had had our fill, we headed back to our hotel to get ready for a final group dinner.

We went to a traditional Japanese restaurant called Izakaya.  Upon entering the foyer, we were required to remove our shoes and were seated around a long table.  We sampled many different foods, but what made the dinner truly special was the company.  We had been together for most of the week, but this was the event where we truly got to know one another.  We had begun this journey beyond imagination as touring companions, but we were leaving as friends.

The next day arrived and we packed our bags and met in the lobby to say our final good-byes.  Mat and Dave had an earlier flight which would ultimately take them to Mat’s hometown in Phoenix where they would rest up for a few days before Mat escorted Dave back to Omaha and visited his family and friends.  Mat had been right. . .I did have the time of my life.  And as we said our farewells, our eyes all shared the same idea. . .our little trio would return to Japan to experience it again and anew.

After I saw Mat and Dave off, I walked Mike to a Hello, Kitty store in Ikebukuro so he could get some souvenirs.  As we headed back to the hotel, I noticed a ramen restaurant that our group had passed on multiple occasions.  The food there must be incredible as there is always a line out the door and Mat said the same had been true when he had first visited Tokyo two years previously.  For once, the line was short and I was sorely tempted to wait and try the ramen.  But it wouldn’t have felt right without Mat and Dave to share it with, so I resisted the urge, though we three have made a vow to hit it up when we return.

About 1pm, my bus arrived and, once again, I rode the 90 minutes to Narita International Airport.  I stopped and exchanged my remaining yen for dollars and made a bit of profit on the exchange.  Yukie helped get us our boarding passes and saw us off, taking a final photo.  But I knew it wasn’t good-bye for Japan.  It was merely see you later.

The flight home was a bit smoother as the Gulf Stream now sped up our flight, reducing it to about 9 hours.  This time, there was an empty seat between me and the other person in our row, so I was able to stretch out and get a bit more shuteye.  I remember it was about midnight when finally got back to my home and my internal clock was screwed up something awful.  It was nearly 3am when I fell asleep and I actually slept all the way to 11am.

The jet lag which I had managed to keep at bay in Tokyo struck me with a fury when I returned to Omaha.  I imagine jet lag is what being drunk must feel like except without the misery of a hangover.  Every few hours, I would nap for a little while as my body battled to reset its biorhythms.  It took over a week before I was fully recovered.  As I shook off the last remnants of Japan, I finally realized the adventure was over, but the memories will last forever.

 

A Journey Beyond Imagination, Day 6: Odaiba & Gundam & Tricks & Onsen

So the whole gang was together again for a visit to Odaiba.  After breakfast, we caught the subway to Odaiba and made our way to the Diver City Mall.

We had actually seen Odaiba from the top of Tokyo Tower back during the sightseeing tour on the first day.  Specifically, we could see Odaiba’s Statue of Liberty and Rainbow Bridge (a replica of the Golden Gate Bridge).  Seeing them again up close was just as awe inspiring as seeing them from a distance.  After soaking up the scenery for a bit, we headed to the top of the Diver City Mall which housed the Gundam Museum.

The museum is dedicated to Gundam Wing, a very long running anime series in Japan.  I’m not overly familiar with the series, but it has the vein of humans piloting giant robots to fight off giant monsters.  It was a very intriguing exhibit which showed the history of the series and had innumerable toys, clothing, and various other swag available for purchase.

After wandering through the museum, we headed outdoors to see the famed 60 foot Gundam statue.  It was truly an awesome spectacle and the statue had a light show later at night that we would watch.  From there we went back inside the mall and headed to the Tokyo Trick Art Museum.

This was one of my favorite events of the trip.  This museum has all of its walls painted in such a way that it almost seems 3D and allows people to become part of the art for photos.  We got pictures of myself showing my death defying martial arts skills as I balanced on the tip of a sword wielded by my ninja opponent, Mat suffocating under glass, and Dave holding open the jaws of a hungry beast to keep from being devoured.

When we had finished our tour of the museum, we got to split up and go off on our own for a while.  Mat, Dave, and I searched out a place for lunch and ended up being persuaded to eat at a ramen joint when the owner promised us free rice.  Now that I think about it, none of us got any rice.

From there we found a classic arcade in the mall and all of us enjoyed a little blast from our past.  Pac-Man, Space Invaders, and Kung Fu Master (known as Kansu Master in Japan) were just some of the games from yesteryear that we played.  After funning ourselves out and a little more exploration, we met up with the group by the Rainbow Bridge to get ready for the second half of the day’s activities.

The group was given the choice of one of two activities:  going to the SEGA Joypolis amusement park or going to Tokyo Oedo Onsen Monogotari, a Japanese hot springs.  Now I love amusement parks, but I wanted to experience something indicative of the Japanese culture and had opted to go to the hot springs.  Dave was the only other person who opted to go to the onsen.  I suspect Mat would have preferred that activity, but he has a couple of tattoos and people with body art are not permitted in public hot springs.

So Dave and I were off to the onsen where we became part of the traditional Japanese culture.  For starters, we had to take off our shoes before entering the hot springs.  We were also required to wear a yukata, a Japanese robe, inside the onsen.  The inside of the onsen was set up as a medieval Japanese village and market place.   There were places to eat and games to play, but the hot springs is what it was all about.  They were so peaceful and relaxing.  After luxuriating in the hot water for a bit, I went and had a 40 minute massage and then went to the enjoy the outdoor hot spring.  Dave and I both agreed the outdoor spring was the best as a light rain had started to fall and the combination of that plus the hot water really induced relaxation.  I really wish we had a couple of more hours to spend there.

Before we knew it, our time was up and we headed back to Diver City and took in the spectacular Gundam Statue light show before heading for our hotel.  My relaxing time at the onsen plus all of the running around we had been doing for the past week finally caught up with me on the subway as I dozed off on my seat.  Yukie said I fit right in with the Japanese businessmen who often take catnaps on the train.  Dave gently shook my shoulder to awaken me right before our stop and it was back to our room to unwind and sleep before our last day in Japan.

 

A Journey Beyond Imagination, Day 5: Duel with a Tyrant

On our fifth day in Tokyo, we would be enjoying a free day. Now the one regret I had about the entire trip was that I was unable to climb Mt Fuji with Mat and Dave. We are discussing possibly returning to Japan within the next few years so all three of us can climb it, but I’m getting away from the thread of this tale.

I had planned to spend the day climbing Mt Takao, but when my eyes fluttered open that day, I heard the unmistakable sound of rain pounding at the window. Being an island nation, Japan is a lot like living on the coasts in that it rains often and unexpectedly. In fact, it rains so much that umbrellas are available, cheap, in every local shop. I got a call from Yukie saying that the mountain climb was canceled due to the weather, so he refunded my money for that excursion and I joined Mat and Dave on their explorations for the day.

We made a quick stop at Family Mart to pick up some breakfast and then we were on our way. Mat wanted to take us to a cosplay exhibition called “From Cloth to You”. As we were walking to the exhibit, the rain began to pour buckets on us. I was getting drenched, so I ducked into a local store and picked up an umbrella for 400 yen.

Soon we arrived at our destination. It was an old, seemingly abandoned building. The rooms had a dank, basement feel and left an interesting aura for the event. The paintings were rather good and had a wide variety of flavor. Some were typical anime fare. Others had a horror theme. Still others a surreal feel. We spent nearly two hours admiring the artwork and from there, Mat led us to a place to which he had truly been looking forward.

Shortly before our trip, it was announced that a mall in Tokyo was going to be opening a special theme restaurant for one year. It was called the Biohazard Café and Biohazard is what Resident Evil is known as in Japan. I still remember the message Mat sent me with the link to the article. He said, “If you think this isn’t on the agenda, think again!”

I was very impressed with the detail that went into the eatery. Newspapers articles were hanging on the walls discussing the strange murders and disappearances going on in Raccoon City. There was also a special exhibit of S.T.A.R.S. (the special police force in the game) items. The restaurant was all you could eat in the style of a Brazilian steakhouse. What that means is that servers bring cuts of meat to your table until you tell them to stop. For sides, there was some type of bread that was quite delectable and “Healing Herbs” salad. Mat and Dave each enjoyed a Code: Veronica (mint julep) while I satisfied my thirst with water. It was a very pleasant meal and I was especially impressed with the lamb. What I found most interesting was the fact that it cost more for men to eat at this place than it did for women. This is because men can typically eat more than women.

The centerpiece of the restaurant was a life sized replica of the Tyrant (the main monster from the first Resident Evil game). At 9 feet tall, heavily muscled, and a right hand that had razor sharp claws, this beast was truly a force to be reckoned with in the game. When we were nearly finished with our meal, the servers began putting on a little dance show for the patrons. In the midst of the show, alarms started going off and the servers began protecting the customers. The Tyrant had come to life and was threatening to annihilate everything and everyone in its path. The servers bravely fired on the creature, but to no avail.

Time for the reinforcements.

Bravely, I dove into battle and picked up a fallen gun that had the kickback of a feral mule. Taking careful aim, I aimed for the Tyrant’s external heart and took it out in one, clean shot. Victory!!! I was covered in smooches by the grateful waitresses and lauded by the clientele.

Seriously, one of the servers did pull me into the fray and she handed me a gun so I could deliver the killing shot to the Tyrant. My prize was a badge certifying me as an honorary S.T.A.R.S. member that I still have today.

After lunch, Mat wanted to take us to a place called Namja Town in Sun City so we could try some of their ice milk. Now here’s where things got funny. Mat was using a GPS system to help guide us through Tokyo and it seemed to work very well. The only place his GPS didn’t seem to work was in Ikebukuro. In that region, that device sent us all over the map and always to the wrong destination. So we walked. . .and walked. . .and walked.

As we continued trying to get to Sun City, I managed to finally find a vending machine that had Mountain Dew to Dave’s joyous glee. Vending machines are very prevalent in Japan. They can be found on every street corner and contain everything from soda to sushi. Japan seems to be partial to Coke so Dave had to make do without his beloved beverage of choice. When I pointed out the vending machine, our lovable Dew junkie practically danced in the street and I half expected him to bow in homage to the machine. He immediately bought 3 cans of the stuff and these were tallboy cans, so each was about the equivalent of two normal cans. As the machine wasn’t far from our hotel, Dave raided it a few more times before our trip ended.

After 90+ minutes of walking, we finally found Sun City and enjoyed some of the famed ice milk which wasn’t too bad. From there, we headed back to our hotel, only making a brief stop to pick up some burgers for supper. After all the running around of the past few days, I was ready to take it easy. I took a long, hot bath, watched a movie on my laptop, and went to bed.

The next day our tour group would be heading to Odaiba.

A Journey Beyond Imagination, Day 4: Lines, Lines, Everywhere’s a Line

At long last we were going to experience the centerpiece of the Tokyo Maximum Tour.  Today we were heading to the Tokyo Game show, the second biggest video game show on the planet and the biggest that is open to the general public.

Back in the day I was a pretty avid gamer.  Even today, I break out my old systems once in a while to enjoy my collection.  So the idea of getting to see new technology and test games that hadn’t hit the market yet held a certain appeal for me.

Our group had special passes that allowed us entry to the show an hour before it started.  This was the best part of the day as there was time to slowly explore all of the vendors and get some sneak previews of new games.  But once the show was open to the rest of the public. . .Whoa Nellie!!!

Now I knew what a sardine must feel like.  Over a quarter of a million people were at the event and I felt squashed.  Lines to sample new video games quickly stretched to multi-hour waits.  Fortunately, I had my trusty Kindle to pass the time in line, but standing in line for 2 hours to play a new game for 15 minutes didn’t seem worth the wait.  I had hoped to play Resident Evil 6, but that ended up being one of the most popular games at the venue.  The wait got so long that the line was actually shut down on a couple of occasions.

Not that there weren’t interesting things to watch while I waited and wandered.  Legends in the video game field appeared for discussion panels and to introduce new games.  The legendary Japanese pro wrestler, Jushin “Thunder” Liger, made an appearance to promote a new wrestling video game and even competed in a match at the show. 

After a while, I managed to find a quiet corner where I could read and people watch until it was time for our group to head back to Ikebukuro.  If I had to do it over again, I probably would have cut this day short and gone to Tokyo Disneyland which we passed on the way to show.  In fact, I just may hit that place up when I return to Japan.

We were on our own for dinner that night, so Mat, Dave, and I did a little exploring on the streets of Ikebukuro.  A parade broke out in front of us a few blocks from the hotel and we found a little festival going on.  After wandering about the festival a bit, we continued up the street where we found a McDonald’s.

I admit I did want to eat at a McDonald’s in Japan just to say that I did it.  I expected to be able to find one, but what I didn’t expect is that I would find one every 6 blocks.  They were everywhere!  Aside from the fare one would expect, the menu also contains items for the Japanese palate.  Mat and Dave ordered Tsukimshi (Moon Viewing) burgers which were hamburgers topped with a sunny side up egg.  Egg burgers are quite popular in Japan.  I opted for a lettuce and pepper sauce burger which I found quite tasty.  I definitely wouldn’t mind this sandwich finding its way to America.

After dinner, the three of us met up with Mike and Yukie and we left to enjoy one of Japan’s favorite pastimes. . .karaoke.  Mat opened us up with a rendition of the opening theme to Golgo 13 (an anime series) which he sung in Japanese.  I followed up with a powerful rendition of Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire.  From there we were all took turns singing our hearts out for the next two hours and we closed the evening singing five part disharmony.  What a festive night.

It was back to our rooms to rest up for the next day.  This would be our first free day that we could use to examine Tokyo any way that we desired.