The farmers stayed later than planned in Yamanashi (many wanted to try the roller coaster behind our hotel) so we went back to Tokyo on our own, finding an incredibly convenient and on-schedule bus that went directly to Tokyo Station from the bus station smack dab next to our hotel. Much easier than expected.
Two hours later we were back at the Super Lohas hotel and soon after, having the classic experience of getting lost in Tokyo. But with time, we found our way to fancy Ginza, a 20-minute walk from our hotel, once we figured out where we were and needed to go. We managed to find a popular, hole-in-the-wall restaurant called Andy’s (a Brit named Andy who married into a restaurant family here) but it was only open for dinner. Not to worry. We found another hole-in-the wall place, ban-nae, underneath the Yamamote subway line (It was kind of eerie when the train rumbled above the ceiling we sat under) that had fantastic pork ramen, gyoza and edamame. There was a reason the place was packed with solo Japanese diners. The restaurant staff didn’t speak much English but were very kind and even walked us over to Andy’s, a few doors down (where we met Andy and reserved a table for Saturday night).
On to the two grand department stores, Matsuya and Mitsukoshi, where we toured the food halls in the basement and saw all kinds of amazing stuff, including square watermelon, very expensive cantaloupe and waygu beef and Yamanashi peaches selling for about $8 a piece. We also managed to find an famous old coffee shop Cafe de L’Ambre, a kissaten/coffee shop that serves only coffee and unusual coffee at that. I had a #7 hot and cold coffee with a meticulously poured layer of sweet milk on top, served in a shallow wine glass. (“Don’t stir,” I was instructed)
Tonight we had a lot of fun at Nemuro Hanamaru, in the 5th floor of the Kitte building on the elegant side of Tokyo Station– a “conveyor belt restaurant” where different dishes (mostly sushi but also some great fried chicken/karaage and odd stuff like grape juice, tiramisu and French fries) glided by on a moving belt while we sat, at the counter.
A nice young guy and his 13-year-old son (in photo above) sat next to us and helped us figure out how to do various things and even insisted on buying us a plate of tuna sushi. People here have been so incredibly nice. In Tokyo Station, no fewer than four people asked today if we needed help. And we did. And they helped. (I’ve learned it pays to ask even when you think you know what you are doing because often you don’t. Or the people offering to help have a better idea!) I love this country!