after the CROWDSCROWDSCROWDS and intense foot pain at skytree, leff and i decided to have a buffer day. tokyo is not all hustle/bustle/flashing lights/shopping malls, after all. so we hopped a train to nihonbashi to see one of the quieter neighborhoods.
we had one particular destination in mind, ITAKURAYA!!!! what was the attraction to this small shop, you might ask? well, itakuraya makes NINGYO-YAKI IN THE SHAPE OF SHICHI FUKUJIN, the seven lucky gods!!
the little cakes are filled with anko and cooked in iron molds over, i believe, charcoal (could be wrong about that) and they are DELICIOUS *and* beautiful! (i am a major fan of red bean paste AND luck so this was SO up my alley.)
here are the shici fukujin at the front of the store.
and HERE is a short video about itakura-ya if you would like more information! i loved this place. the staff was incredibly kind and helpful! they even heated our prepackaged god heads up for us to enjoy at the park! :D
here are our god heads. are they not AMAZING?!
so tiny and delicate!
and STUFFED with anko!! :D
i LOVE how each face has such personality!
leff and i hung out in the small local park for a while just resting, drinking cc lemon (of course. ha!) and watching some birds act out an attenborough nature documentary. seriously relaxing.
there was a benkei statue across the street from the park commemorating the birthplace of edo kabuki and ALSO a hokusai samurai portrait embedded in the pavement (this makes sense as nihombashi was a samurai town during the edo period! (although maybe it was a hokusai kabuki portrait, now that i think about it. either one would make sense, really.))
additionally, many people (mainly women) were in traditional outfits. how cool to just stumble onto this place! (here's a nihombashi history if you would like to read it. i'm absolutely fascinated by it now!)
another thing that gets my full attention is YAKITORI!!! i believe this is my most favorite of all japanese foods and since smelling the YAKITORI BONFIRE in hamamatsucho the previous day, i had it on the brain! so when leff and i passed a tiny shop selling yakitori WE WERE SO EATING THAT RIGHT NOW
we stood outside of the shop and enjoyed the HELL out of these! LOOK AT THAT NEGI SOOOOISHIIII!!!
some older japanese ladies were very amused at how much i was into this. so i just told them it was oishii!! and kind of smiled and they beamed it me. XD THIS IS WHEN I LEARNED THAT OLDER JAPANESE LADIES HAVE GOT MY BACK!
but back past the pipo-kun we went.
because the hamarikyu gardens were calling our names. can you BELIEVE that this amazing garden is RIGHT in the middle of tokyo?!
a brief aside: leff noticed early in our trip that the crows in tokyo caw like someone is doing a bad crow impression. bwahahah it's TRUE though! just listen!
i love the crows of tokyo. the little old ladies and the tokyo crows and i will TAKE ON THE WORLD XD
anyway, there is such a beautiful "floating" teahouse at hamarikyu. we did not get matcha as it was too warm that day but OH I WILL GO BACK ONE DAY AND HAVE MATCHA HERE
this view is with my back to the teahouse facing the entrance. it's just...you know?
the gardens are quite large! in fact, we did much more walking here than we had planned. still, there was a very nice breeze and the grounds were gorgeous so who was complaining?
there were also plenty of places to sit. leff went to this kiosk
and got me a crunchy matcha ice cream sandwich. SO GOOD so refreshing.
while i was eating this, a young japanese couple dressed in traditional wedding garb were having their photos taken. THIS GARDEN AMIRITE SO RITE
you know what else is here? yeah, a 300 YEAR OLD PINE TREE all of this picture, right? all of those clumps of pine that look like different trees? NO THAT IS THE SAME TREE IT IS *AMAZING*
this garden has an area where the shogunate used to launch ships. history is everywhere in tokyo but you don't really think about it until it confronts you. it's constantly surprising.
i was also surprised by the quality of light here. this picture does NOT do it justice but, as jens was saying to me, it is very similar to italian light.
after the park we decided that a curry was in order. thankfully, coco bananas (ha! i just call it that, it's really coco ichibanya and it is GOOOOD) was on the way back to the hotel.
this picture, i know, it's not the best. but I LOVED THIS SAUSAGE CURRY SOOOO MUCH
added bonus: got to eat it with a spoon. see, my hands were ALSO swollen due to a bad heat rash (hahahaha I WAS FALLING APART XD) so it was increasingly difficult to use chopsticks. (not a problem normally)
i dropped the word OISHII on the way out the door and WOW it is amazing how knowing one word will make people so happy/make them respond to you so positively.
we finished our buffer day with some more ice cream PINO! PINO IS PERFECTION
TOMORROW ON RAKKA AND LEFF GO TO TOKYO: WE GO ON A YAMANOTE LINE ADVENTURE WOO WOO FIRST STOP THE HOKKAIDO ANTENNA SHOP!! and then akihabara which OMFG I HAAAAATE AKIHABARA but we were not there too long BUT THEN SHINJUKU FOR ANOTHER PARK AND GODZILLA ON THE TOHO CINEMA/HOTEL GRACERY THEN PISS ALLEY FOR BEER AND YAAAAAKITOOOORI it was an amazing day (aside from fucking akihabara. dude, fuck akihabara.) CHECK BACK TOMORROW!