Slice of Life: Tokyo & Life in Between Homes

By Saturday we should have arrived in Takayama, Gifu Prefecture – our new home for the next year. We are anxious to see where we will be living and to finally see our new town in person!

Monday we went to the Ghibli Museum where we sat in a life-sized cat bus (from My Neighbor Totoro) and saw a giant Totoro at the faux ticket window in addition to tons of illustrations and original artwork from many (all?) Studio Ghibli movies. There was also a short 15 minute movie screening as well. The Museum was a short walk from the train station at Mitaka, and was located on the edge of a nice little park. No pictures were aloud inside though! 😦

Sign post with Totoro on the way to the museum!

Tuesday we spent some time repacking & sending 3 of our larger luggage items ahead to Gifu Prefecture- our new friends, Will & Nicole let us send the items to their apartment since there was no way for us to maneuver the trains with so many things! It only ran about $50 to send 3 large bags ahead, and I highly recommend it- it will make your travels between cities so much more enjoyable!
In the evening we got a chance to meet up with Amber’s friend, Ayako and we all went out for an early dinner. We asked her about this ‘Japanese pizza’ and fried noodles that we had with Akira last year, and learned the name of it: Okonomoyaki, which translates to ‘my favorite grill’. We had this for dinner, and also made little balls of dough with pieces of Octopus in them- this is made yourself at the table top grill also! She also walked us down Yakitori Alley near Shinjuku station. This is a very small/ narrow alley where you will find tiny stalls of street food & skewers, etc and it is awesome! It is tucked away and I’m sure we would not have found it if she had not shown it to us.

Batter and Octopus!

Wednesday we visited Yakitori Alley for lunch & had a great experience there. This year we were more familiar with how things worked and were a little more confident in finding the restaurants that were tucked away & we felt less like tourists! We then left Tokyo by Shinkansen (bullet train) on Wednesday afternoon and arrived in Nagoya where we met some of our new bosses. We went for sushi that evening with them & it was the type of sushi restaurant where little plates of sushi ride around a little conveyor belt. If you order something that isn’t coming around, it arrived on a little shuttle train direct to your table, on a little track above the conveyor belt!

In addition to this, there are often tiny little restaurants in/near train stations where you eat standing up at a tiny counter around the kitchen. There is a vending machine type box outside, where you select your order(s) and pay and in return you get a little ticket or token that tells the chef what you selected. You then present this when you walk up to the counter, get your food within a minute, eat and walk out. It’s very quick and quiet and mostly business travelers on their way home from work. The only sound was the slurping of noodles and the chef repeating the order, or thanking you for coming… it was not a social event to dine here, but it was so cheap, quick, and yummy!

Eat noodles standing at a small counter!