Day 1 – Tokyo Drift

Upon landing, I walked up the Jetway into the airport and then fell to my knees, weeping and kissing the ground. At last I had returned to the land of my birth. (I was born in Okinawa for those of you do not know…) My people welcomed me with open arms. Misou told me to get up off the floor and get my ass to the baggage claim. (When we get to Saigon, though, she gets to weep and kiss the ground.)

We had no problem getting through immigration and customs, despite all the swag we’re smuggling through Japan to give to relatives in Saigon. After escaping the arrivals zone, we wandered around a bit in search of a money exchange station that would not shaft us too terribly, and then we bought some Skyliner tickets into Tokyo. It took less than an hour to reach Ueno Park, so when all was said and done we were practically at our hotel by about 4:30 pm local time.

Now all we had to do was walk a few blocks to the Tougeneya Hotel, which is conveniently located at 3-17-5 Higashi-Ueno, Taito-Ku. Unfortunately, we had no idea what “3-17-5 Higashi-Ueno” meant, and we soon realized that we are more or less illiterate here in the world’s largest metropolis. Lucky for us, we’re traveling geniuses: we quickly spotted a local map posted outside a First Kitchen (more on this soon) and deduced that Higashi-Ueno is a district in the Taito-Ku prefecture, 3 is the third ward, 17 is our block, and 5 is the building number. Piissu no keeku!

After checking in and showering, we hit the streets of Ueno Park. We stumbled upon a great little resutoran called Isomaru, where I spoke to our waiter in Japanese so broken that we had the entire staff laughing at us. We had some braised clams, prawns, squid, scallops, and a maguro donburi, washed down with a Coca-Cola for Misou and a mix of shōchū and Hoppy brand beer for Brandon. Oishii deshita ne! (Or, in the words of a Japanese girl we met on the street: “Tasty, tasty!”)

Our first clue that Isomaru would be a good place to eat was the line sitting outside

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8 thoughts on “Day 1 – Tokyo Drift

  1. Hope you guys are enjoying yourselves. Love the pictures!! Last time I was in Tokyo the exchange rate was 330 Yen per Dollar. That was in 1968.

    1. Thanks, Mike! … I wish that were still the exchange rate now. These days buying a beer in Shibuya requires you to take out a loan!

    1. They have changed dramatically since the 70s. These aren’t anything like the one Mom hauled back from Okinawa that we used to play with in the basement as kids. They have about 20 pegs now, and a bunch of crazy crap all around. The parlors are choked with smoke and filled with the mind-numbing din of what sounds like a Pizzacato Five song on crack. The chainsmoking fellows who play them have the same glazed look of the old women at the slots in Atlantic City, and they pat the ball launch button with the same openmouthed indifference to winning or losing…. I wanted to play, but the sensory overload and smoke of the place was too much for me to stay in there for more than a couple of minutes. Also, I couldn’t figure out much change to put in the slot. 😛

  2. Hi, great blog! I will be checking into the same hotel on 28 Dec. I’m pretty sure that i will have problem locating the hotel then. I will be arriving almost mid night from kyoto. How to get to hotel fr the station?
    Mind sharing how much was your dinner at isomaru?

    1. Thanks for checking out the blog! We hope you’ll enjoy the hotel. We thought it was quite nice for the price, and it was convenient. Call ahead and ask the receptionist how to get there through the secret underground tunnel so you can avoid the cold walk. (It involves taking the elevator twice, and the tunnel gets you all the way across all the big streets so you come up on the street a block away from the hotel.)

      I don’t recall how much the Isomaru meal was, but I remember it being one of the cheaper ones we had in Tokyo. Maybe about $30-40 or so (with beer and shoju)?

    2. Correction: I just looked it up in our notebook. The meal at Isomaru was, in fact, ¥4930–closer to what we typically paid for a big meal in Tokyo.

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