Read about Days 1 and 2 in Japan here.
On our third day in Japan, Jack and I woke up and met our friend Nik for breakfast at the onsen hotel, which was again full of treats from the sea that weren’t super-appealing to a bunch of Americans at 8 a.m., but we loved the very normal yogurt with fruit and felt appropriately guilty about it. Our hotel had public baths that we totally didn’t take advantage of, but they were divided into male and female sections and required us to be nude, and while I’m sure Jack and Nik were dying to skinny dip in a hot springs pool together, I wasn’t so sure I wanted to be the lone naked female in our group. So the adorable robes and bags of toiletries you use to shower off with before getting in the baths went to waste. j/k, we totally stole the toiletries, and you can come to my apartment and see my teeny-tiny single-use toothpaste tube any time you like, because I’m saving it forever.
It was raining that morning, but we just had to at least go up to the roof and see the public foot-bathing tub, which was a long trough you dip your feet into while gazing longingly at Mt. Fuji behind you.
Only Mt. Fuji was completely obscured by clouds, and it killed us that we’d chosen this amazing hotel with this supposedly-amazing view and spent one million dollars getting to it from Mt. Hakone, but we happened to notice that there was this very thin break in the clouds right at the base of the mountain that showed how far it stretched from side to side and gave us a good idea of how TOTALLY GINORMOUS it is. It was sort of astounding to imagine how incredible it must look from there on a clear day.
See that line a third of the way from the bottom? Mt. Fuji.
Some nice employees at the train station helped us get tickets back to Tokyo, and we took this super rinky-dink Fujikyuko Line local train that reminded me of the old New Jersey PATH trains out of Fujinomiya back to the regular JR trains. We were just sitting quietly, Nik updating his Instagram and me not, when we suddenly all looked up and saw a TOTALLY GINORMOUS mountain out the train window. I was like, “Is that . . .”, and the entire train turned to see what I was seeing, because my eyes must have been 400-feet wide. Grown men stood up and gaped in aww, and people who were obviously locals took pictures with their phones like they had never seen this thing before. We’d heard that Japanese people truly revere the mountain, but it was so beautiful to see it in action. I’m getting chills just typing about it, because it was such a special moment. We felt like the luckiest people in the world just then, like the clouds had parted specifically for us. And no picture can capture that feeling, but:
While we waited for our connecting train in designed lines that any New Yorker would die for on the NYC subway system,
Jack bought me bag of blueberry Oreo bites, which you can see cost about $1.30US. We were lucky when we went that the yen was at 103 per US dollar, so the conversion was super easy. And it was really fun extracting $900 from the bank for our one fancy dinner and getting NINETY-TWO THOUSAND YEN.
We finally arrived back in Tokyo at Shibuya station, where we visited Gontran Cherrier thanks to Buzzfeed’s 25 Bakeries Around The World You Have To See Before You Die. It was full of Paris-style pastries and, like, fancypants hot dogs that the Japanese women were cramming into their shopping baskets by the trayful:
We loaded up for later, but our real target that day was the $30 Big Blacows burger at Blacows:
It was two giant wagyu patties, colby cheese, lettuce, tomato, fried egg, grilled onions, bacon, and avocado. Impossible to eat, just like I like it. The place was decorated like an old western bar with animal skulls all over the walls, and this was the first place we really experienced a Japanese person wanting to practice his English with us. We didn’t get a lot accomplished, but it seemed like the server thought it was pretty cool to talk to a bunch of Americans, and we loved using our three learned words of Japanese on him, too.
We tried to find bubble tea nearby, but this was the only thing in the area on Yelp:
MR. FRIENDRY!! It can’t be real, right? It has to be a joke. It has to be.
We went back to the apartment for the first time in two days after that to enjoy our pastries, and I happened to pick up a copy of Time Out Tokyo that someone had left on a shelf of the coffee table. An hour later, we were on a train to Eco Edo Nihonbashi Mitsui Hall to see the yearly Art Aquarium exhibit that involved thousands and thousands of fish in everything from household fishbowls to wildly elaborate tiered displays with spinning globes in the center. And at the end, there was this wall of glass panels full of fish with a beautiful animation projected onto it that showed the changing of the seasons in Japan. We thought we were ~so cool~ for doing this regular, non-tourist art thing full of Japanese people drinking cocktails and looking as full of wonderment as we were.
Afterward, we found a bubble tea cafe, because I think we thought at that point that bubble tea comes from Japan. Then I think we thought it was Thai. It’s Taiwanese. But the Japanese bubble tea was really good! It just had these tiny bubbles that you could suck up through a regular straw. There was a smoking room in the cafe where people just acted like smoking indoors is a normal thing to do, and then we went back home to enjoy some fresh air on our balcony. On to Day 4!