Slept in today since my girlfriend wasn't going to be online due to having school late. I don't envy the work that a grad student has to put into their work but at the same time I might go through the same hell sometime in the future. Not any time soon mind you, I'm tired of school and looking forward to steady work with a paycheck that doesn't amount to peanuts after an entire month of work. Took my time getting out of bed and by the the time I finally got ready for the day it was almost 3pm. Part of me feels bad about not constantly going out and doing things but hell, this is my vacation. If a good chunk of it is to be spent in bed sleeping, so be it. Besides, this trip is more of a marathon than the usual sprint most vacations are. I can take my time.
Wasn't certain where I was headed so I started walking towards the train station before getting on the train bound for Shinjuku. I had a craving for those cinnimon pancakes Tim had shown me last weekend so I figured I would get some and relax in the area. Took a walk out of the station and into one of those massive department stores that seem to be everywhere in Tokyo. The bottom floor was made up entirely of food products, a good portion of which were dedicated to sweets for Valentines day. They really go all out here. Some of the little chocolates and other goodies were so visually beautiful that I cannot imagine actually eating them. I won't want to destroy a tiny little piece of chocolate that has a piece of dried fruit on it shaped to look almost exactly like a gem.
I'm not actually completely certain of all the details with respect to Valentines day here in Japan, but here is what I do know: Basically, girls give chocolate that they've made themselves to guys that they like (or know? I don't really know). By made I mean they get some chocolate, melt it and shape it into something to give the guy. Evidently one month afterwards the guy is supposed to return the favor with white chocolate or something along those lines. I've already seen some commercials showing women putting all this effort into making these chocolates and how they should use Brand X chocolate since it's the best. At least it implies that people over here have heard of a double boiler and know how to use/make one. That knowledge is sadly lacking in the States. Not that I'm a cooking snob in the slightest, but I have seen a lot of cooking shows on PBS and the Food Network.
Anyways, I wandered through the department store, taking the escalator all the way up to the 14th floor, seeing if there was anything interesting on any of the floors. Perhaps not suprisingly most of the items being sold were for women but there were a few sections dedicated to men. Mostly suits that cost around $4000 and up. Jeez. At the top of the building there were several resturants that were fairly expensive. Most of them were advertising their V-day special menus that ran from 6000 to 12000 yen a piece. Ouch. The view from the top of the building was nice but on the horizon you could see a mass of dark clouds headed towards my position. By the time I got to the bottom of the department store the clouds were very close and the bitterly cold winds that were carrying them were assaulting everyone in the area.
I tried walking but the bitter winds made it a difficult proposition so I stopped off in a little resturant to have some Tonkatsu Donburi. The two guys working behind the counter had the look of men who had been at this work all their life and were masters of their domain. The food was already although I don't understand the urge to massive amounts of garnish on top of every dish. I went back outside only to find that the winds had gotten worse. Wandered by the same temple I had seen when I walked from Itabashi to Shibuya and when I walked back to the station after the concert. Couldn't stop and really check out the place since the wind was so bad and there were no buildings to grant shelter. Slowly made my way back to Korea town and found the place that made the cinnimon pancakes. Damned tasty things.
With my pancakes in hand I started walking back towards the main area of Shinjuku, going through the section of Kabukicho that had a bunch of love hotels and male "companion" clubs. When I finally got back into the non-sex part I found a small pet shop there I could hear tiny dogs yelping and begging for attention. Walked through the store to see the small animals. Most of the kittens were napping but a few were hard a work, trying to attach their tails or a small toy. One puppy was having its cage cleaned out and it was yelping and barking for attention and seemed completely let down when the worker finished and closed the cage, leaving the puppy alone again. Also noticed a picture of Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie who had evidently visited the store sometime last year and checked out the animals. Probably the store's only real claim to fame.
Headed towards the arcades to give my Gundam card game a shot. Sat down and watched some people playing for a while before finally playing. I'm doing decently but I'm really starting to find my lack of decent cards to really be a hinderance to playing. After each play you get a booster pack with one card in it. So far, I've played the game six times and of those five have been cards for the other side (which means I can't use them) and one was a neutral card. Other people had left behind some cards that I could use so I took them and left behind some of my EFSF cards to maintain the balance. Felt hungry after playing so I stopped off at a Ramen shop that is part of a chain that also has a store in Akihabara that I always visit. Filled myself up and wandered around for a while longer, almost getting caught in the trap of watching a DVD that showed a series of marble rolling tricks. Damned thing is almost like a black hole, sucking you in and trapping you forever.
Went back to the arcade and watched this one guy play. I swear, he plunked down well over 4000 yen to play and had well over 100 cards for each side. He was also very good at playing. Excellent tactics that would be really nice to follow if I had some equipment that would allow it. Also watched some people playing Virtua Fighter and Tekken. I really enjoy watching people fighting to defend their winning streak, especially when they're at 10+ wins. At that point it seems like everyone comes out of the woodwork to see just how good the person really is and see what they're made of. My favorite event is when the defending champ is down to their last loss and managed to overcome their deficit and maintain their streak.
Watched that for a while before noting it was after 10pm (time really flies when you're playing games and watching people in arcades) and headed home to get some sleep. I walked by the local Bath house, noting that I still haven't visited it yet. Soon I will. But for tonight I got home, chatted with Athena and made tentitive plans for next weekend before signing off and getting some sleep.
Photos for February 1st, 2007