Our first full day in Japan was amazing! We met up with Maggie’s best friend Shino from grade school. We were meeting her at the subway station on the corner, but we had a problem figuring out exactly where to meet because evidently there are about six entrances. (Who knew?) As we walked up a street we hear a voice say “Maggie?” And then the joyous reunion began.
It was especially good to spend the first full day with Shino because she was the one who first instilled in Maggie her love for Japan and the desire to come here. Shino came 2 1/2 hours from where she is currently living to meet us. We appreciate the full day of travel, plus getting to spend a significant amount of time showing us around, that it took for her. What a great gift.
Shino is in training for a job with Xerox. The trainees live at the corporate site, in a dormitory like setting. Next week she will “graduate” and be moving into her own company-provided apartment. She is lively and gracious and patient and kind. Nothing but complete joy spending time with her.
We decided we were hungry and first went out to lunch. Maggie agreed she was up for trying “real” Japanese food, though that is the most difficult part of this trip for a girl who’d rather be eating Zaxby’s. I had grilled swordfish, Maggie chicken. There were three choices of rice – white, black and white, and a flavored multigrain. We opted for the black and white….a good choice. Here is our lunch delivered…
Let’s see – the big bowl is miso soup. The tiny black bowl were little pickle strips, the little white bowl is salt and pepper. The rice is in the blue and white bowl. Next to the swordfish in what Shino called a potato salad, and next to that green beans. On the very back tray was salad and tofu. I loved it all….Maggie loved the rice. So we had to gave dessert….Maggie going for large buckwheat crepes with chocolate brownies and bananas whipped cream and ice cream. Shino and I each ate the mini crepe, flavored with tea and tiramasu.
Then it was time for the Ueno Zoo.
The pandas are the biggest attraction at the zoo here. This security guard was trying to shoo people away from taking too many pictures. We got our fill, though. We don’t understand Japanese, so can choose to be blissfully ignorant. The pandas were so very cute and worth the trip! We saw a lot of other animals, including elephants, orange flamingos, lions, and for Ursula pygmy and regular hippopotami.
We tried to see a temple after the zoo but it was closed for renovation, so instead we went to a nearby market and Maggie found some souvenirs. I mostly people-watched. I enjoy seeing the different forms of dress, including the kimonos that some still wear.
Dinner was conveyor belt sushi. Maggie had only tried sushi once, and it is not her favorite, but she was a good sport. Trying to avoid raw fish, she tried egg first. (Ick!) She took a small bite, then played with her food thinking we wouldn’t notice. She ate some of my salmon, then also tried shrimp. Ienjoyed it…,she will probably opt for McDonald’s in the future! (I am allowing one or two visits there during our trip.)
We then went snack shopping. Maggie has a few favorites that she used to eat with Shino or that Shino would send her when she moved back home, so they found those so Maggie could get her fix. Maggie also bought a chocolate pastry for breakfast this morning, which she said tasted like cream cheese and chocolate and pronounced it very good. (I had Greek yogurt and nuts,)
We slept about 12 hours Maggie tells me (I was asleep before she got out of the shower), but jet lag has hit and I could still sleep longer.) Those who know me know just how rare that is! I am missing coffee and as soon as I can get roused enough for a shower (or maybe just enough to throw clothes on), I just may try the coffee shop around the corner. (Keep in mind we are 13 hours ahead of you.)
Today we are meeting Maggie’s friend Yuka and her husband for lunch, then I understand we girls are going shopping. My poor aching feet and knees…..we have certainly been getting our steps in. But the day with “our” friend Shino was perfect and we cannot wait until the day we get to see her again.