Tokyo, Yamagata, Fukuoka

My second trip to Japan was over the New Year period and went Tokyo, Yamagata and Kyushu as part of my trip. I have great friends in Japan so I wish I could go more regularly. It is with Armenia, Taiwan and Ukraine my favourite destination.

My photos are of mixed quality because my first camera broke. I bought a new camera in Tokyo but it was stolen (in London) within weeks of returning. I also lost the contact of several kind people I met by chance which was worse than losing the camera itself.

In the evening I arrived I was due to meet Hatch outside Hilton Shibuya where I was staying for one night. The idea was that I would call if I had any difficulty. However the traffic from Narita to Shibuya was terrible and my mobile would not operate in Japan. I arrived over an hour late and had no way of contacting Hatch. Fortunately she had waited for me. So I quickly refreshed and went out, and she took to a real nice izakaya.
An izakaya is a kind of Japanese pub that is often good for Yakitori. The izakaya we went to had really nice miso.

On another day of my trip I went to Yamagata where I met Yuki.
The weather in Yamagata was much colder and there was heavy snow.

I really came to appreciate something about Japan while waiting on the train platform in the freezing cold for my train back to Tokyo.
The vending machines sell hot cans of drinks (well you kind Vending machines in Japan for everything, from Ice cream to ‘adult’ stuff.. In the UK our vending machines generally just sell cold can drinks no matter what time of year. Really nonsensical and I guess sales are almost nonexistent in winter. A few places might have paper cups with hot drinks but there are relatively rare and nowhere near as practical as hot cans and hot bottles than you can buy in Japan.

I bought British Royal style milk tea and the bottle could keep my fingers from freezing in the cold and the hot drink was soothing. Was it British style?.. Well I remember reading a blog on the internet that said it was awful. I actually like. So, is it really British style…no… Its different but it is still nice. I would even buy if I could here. It is tea made with milk, but a bit sweet and the milk content a bit higher. You can the same drink (perhaps a little less sweet) at some Malaysian restaurants, where it is named milk tea.

Another great thing to do is see the lights. Which my kind friend, and ex language exchange partner Mika showed me. I also met Emi and we saw some area of Tokyo with a nice tea house. unfortunately I can’t remember the name but we update here once I enquire again.

Anyway when I was in Yamagata, Yuki and I had a walk around and also had some udon at a restaurant which is a speciality for this region. I returned to Tokyo the next day.
Another friend I arranged to meet was Hiroko, in Yokohama. She took me to a very restaurant in China Town that had a really nice view overlooking Yokohama and I really enjoyed the time we spent and the food.
I can’t remember what we had now except for that one dish was chicken cooked on a bed of chillies.
I also had a nice time meting a great friends from university at different times, Izumi, and Miho was well as meeting a friend I met in London, Miyoko for a short time.
Most of my time during my trip though I stayed with good friends Atsushi and Youngmi. Who kindly offered me a place to stay.
On New Year’s Eve I went into Tokyo to visit more friends and met up with Fumika and her husband to be Graham.
It was really nice to meet them. On the way back, I took what would normally be the last monorail train to go back to Atsushi and Youngmi. However I feel asleep and missed my stop. Furthermore I did not have their address or telephone number as my phone I took battery had died! I was very fortunate that the train was still running as it was New Year’s day and retraced my route to the correct stations. However as I arrived at the station I could not take a taxi (no address etc) but instead I tried to make way back based on memory!..In Japan this is not so easy but I made it back but late but fine.
I had a traditional New Year Japanese dish (and later Korean).

A few days later I made my trip to Fukuoka.

In my first trip to Japan I did not go to Fukuoka and therefore did not have the opportunity to meet an ex-uni friend Shinya. This time I was able to meet him which was nice. It had been at 7 years since we previously met.
I also met Kazuyo, my kind friend I had met when I used to help an international student club in Wimbledon. She took me to Canal City, an interesting shopping centre, and also I tried some ramen that Fukuoka is famous for. We also saw Fukuoka Tower which had a very beautiful sunset. It was really nice to see. Fukuoka is a nice city, one of my favourites in Japan. It doesn’t have too much to see but it is of a more laid back atmosphere than Tokyo, nice places to eat.