Tokyo Time: Seeing Tomo-chan and Eating Mr. Kurihara’s Gyoza

On Saturday the 22nd, I spent a leisurely morning getting ready to meet Tomoko in Yokohama.  I felt much refreshed after a solid nine hours of sleep (more so than the other three nights I spent at the hostel, in which someone in a nearby box snored REALLY loudly).  Through some great miracle, I made it to the designated train station without getting lost.  However, I got on the Local Train, so it ended up taking about an hour and a half to get there.

Did you know?

Unlike smaller cities in Japan, several of the lines in Tokyo have different levels of “local” trains, ranging from the Express Local all the way up to something random which name I forget but only has, like, five stops out of thirty or something ridiculous.  I could have taken the highest express train to see Tomoko.

Oh well.

I settled in, greeted their dog Hana(re) and caught up a bit with Reuichi and Etsuko, Tomoko’s parents.  Didn’t get a chance to see Yuko, her sister, but maybe next time.  Then Tomo-chan and I set off to do a bit of window shopping (okay, I bought a new nalgene bottle to replace Casualty #2) and get lunch.  Lunch involved a great deal of me making fun of Japanese Cheesecake (it’s more cake than cheese-y) and trying to figure out a better recipe for the Chicken Asparagus sandwich I ordered (first attempt: did not go as well.  Will try again in the future).

Honestly, this isn’t very exciting, but it was super wonderful to see Tomoko.  She’s very easy to talk to–no matter how much she denies it, her English is as good as ever.  And I like to take my traveling slow.  It’s not necessary for me to rush from one site to the next.

Walking to the mall.  They had a Banana Republic!  Good thing there wasn't an Express, is all I have to say.  That would have been a disaster for my credit card.

Walking to the mall. They had a Banana Republic! Good thing there wasn't an Express, is all I have to say. That would have been a disaster for my credit card.

We eventually made our way back to her parent’s house.  While waiting for dinner, Tomo-chan and I ooh-ed and aah-ed over Sarah’s wedding preparations and caught up a bit more.  I also demanded she join Facebook.  Thank goodness.  Now I can bother her all the time.

Dinner was Reuichi’s famous Gyoza (or dumplings).  I don’t know how he makes them so delicious, but they’re honestly the best I’ve ever eaten.  This is throughout China, Japan, and America.  And trust me, I’ve eaten a freaking lot of gyoza/jiaozi.  That night he’d cooked up three different kinds: regular, with corn, and with a delicious leaf called shiso.  Usually shiso are wrapped around sushi/sashimi at nice restaurants, but I’ve also tried (amazing!) homemade shiso juice.

In fact, I still have some concentrate in my fridge.

I should probably throw that out.  It’s been like two months.  It’s gone bad.

Anyway.

Mr. Kurihara and the amazing gyoza of wonder.

Mr. Kurihara and the amazing gyoza of wonder.

The next day, Tomoko gives Hana(re) some attention.  Thankfully, Hana(re) has calmed down since the last time I saw her.

The next day, Tomoko gives Hana(re) some attention. Thankfully, Hana(re) has calmed down since the last time I saw her.

Because Tomoko is studying to be a doctor, I’d decided to only stay with the family over the weekend.  She had a test coming up (really, when don’t they have tests?), so I went back to Tokyo in the afternoon the next day.  But not after sharing an excellent Korean Barbeque feast at Ichiroya.  It’s apparently a really famous restaurant or something.  I really liked their kimchi, which was something new and different as I don’t usually enjoy kimchi.

They gave us bibs because apparently eating is really messy (It wasn't).

They gave us bibs because apparently eating is really messy (It wasn't).

Me and Tomo-chan's folks, sans bib.

Me and Tomo-chan's folks, sans bib.

We'd done and tidied up our meal.  Delicious!

We'd done and tidied up our meal. Delicious!

We talked a bit about the Japanese elections (which came to a close just this last weekend).  Reuichi was convinced the LDP would lose, and he was right.  I don’t think they’re as affected by the downturn as everyone else, though, since he’s a salary man and so doesn’t have much of a chance of getting laid off.  Tomoko’s studying to be a doctor, and there will always be a need for doctors, and as far as I could tell, Yuko is doing well, too.

Still, I enjoyed talking about it with them.  It also says something of their interests that we could discuss this at all (in English).  Very different from most Japanese families I’ve met who have next to no interest in politics (and usually can’t speak English).

It was sad saying goodbye–not sure when I’ll make it back up to that part of Japan, but I’m crossing my fingers in the winter, and then I was back on the train to Tokyo and the hostel.

More to come from the evening of the 23rd, including a proposal of marriage!

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