I finally caught a break so I’m trying to catch this up before the next wave of events happen.
It’s been a solid three weeks since my friend from back home came to visit me. She was my first visitor since I moved here (yay!).
I took her sightseeing to a few places I’d already seen and also some new. It was nice to have a travel companion for a few days, especially since she’d never been to Japan before and like me, has little grasp of the language.
I took her to karaoke, of course, because Lost in Translation. She loved it and so much so that later in the week we went back!
We also took advantage of the pre- beach season and headed to Tokyo Bay for surf lessons on one day and a Thai food festival the other. It rained almost the entire week she was here but we still enjoyed it because now it’s muggy and hot. It would not be pleasant to do as much sightseeing as we did in this weather, so the rain as unruly as it makes my hair was fine.
Ocean Glide, the surf school we chose is located near Enoshima Beach and offers lessons in English. Our instructor, Simon, was very nice and is fluent in English and French. He is, apparently, a pro surfer for the Japan team, so we felt pretty safe going out with him. He took turns pushing us on our boards into the waves and we went out for about 3 hours or so. The lessons were around 5,000 yen each person including wet suit, board and instruction.
I returned to Kamakura during my friend’s stay so she could check out Daibutsu. We stayed at Iza Kamakura, a hostel near the beach. The staff spoke pretty good English and the hostel itself was cute and in a pretty area. Here we were also able to rent bikes for easy transportation around. I liked Kamakura when I visited in February, but I fell in love with it after navigating it on bicycle. On this portion of the trip we visited the Zeniarai Benten Shrine tucked away in the mountainous areas surrounding Kamakura. This shrine is for prosperity and involves taking your money and running water through it.
There is a hiking trail that connects the Great Buddha to Zeniarai, but it is not for bikes as we learned the hard way.
Another place that we went that I must ABSOLUTELY write about is the infamous Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku. There have been many a blog post, news article and video made about this place but nothing prepares you for what you’re about to witness. It was the strangest event I have attended in my entire time here. And you know I’ve been to the annual penis festival, so you know it had to be crazy. There are literally no words to describe this show. It runs 90 minutes and it is packed with robotic creatures, lots of chanting, lots of drums and so many dancing Japanese ladies. No clear story line on this one and it has nothing to do with the language barrier. This show is subtitled. No one around me foreigner or not, knew what was going on. Kinda great!
It’s expensive; the food and drinks are just okay. It is definitely worth the experience though. Not sure if I’d go back again with any other visitors, except for maybe my little sister and best friends, but only because I would like to be there to see their reactions.
Here are some pics and this is a link to the time Anthony Bourdain went:
There is one more place of the many, many we visited that I would also like to plug. My friend’s one request after surfing in Tokyo Bay was to visit an owl cafe. We visited the Owl Village in Kichijoi. It’s 2500 yen/ hour per person and it comes with a free drink. You get to play with the owls a few minutes at a time, which allows for the owls to rest between being exploited for human entertainment. They were cute though, not going to lie.
I think the first friend’s visit to Japan was quite successful. We crammed a lot in even though she was only here for a week. If you plan on visiting Japan, I’d suggest a stay two weeks or longer, because there is soooo much to see and the travel time alone merits a longer stay if possible.