It’s starting to dawn on me that there are only a little more than two work weeks left here in Japan. I guess it’s time to tie up all those loose ends before I leave. Going home from work I notice there are people dressed in yellow sitting at pretty much every corner of the way from the Nissan showroom to Yokohama station. They all have a row of clickers in front of them and seem to be straight up just counting people. Way to be strange Japan!
I pester Kenneth to take me to that Mario bar he has been talking about and he agrees to take me on Wednesday. Henrik tags along as well and we make a stop at a proper tempura restaurant on the way. Tempura is basically deep fried food, but not like you get it at Chinese restaurants back in Sweden, where there is an almost impenetrable shell of dough around the meat. Here you get a thin, fluffy crust that you need to be quick about eating because it goes soggy before long. At the best places you get served only one piece at the time just to avoid that problem. It is really delicious, and we learn that you can really deep fry anything if you put your mind to it, as evidenced by the deep fried lettuce we’re served.
The Mario bar is located in the food quarters that is sort of behind the main street in Shinjuku and is just adorably tiny. The owner has gone all out on decorating the place with all sorts of Nintendo paraphernalia. Even the drinks are Nintendo themed, and I go for a Princess Peach. At the table is also Wii controllers so that you can play Mario Kart on a big screen TV (where we proceed to totally own the Japanese).
This Friday’s AW Okamoto-san, Thomas, Henrik and I end up on the roof of the Sogo department store in Yokohama. There they have a beer garden where you just pay a flat fee to eat and drink as much as you want. After a while we’re joined by Jonas and Justin who lobbies for us to move to the Yokohama izakaya quarters instead. Well, we were about done with Sogo anyway so I tag along, the others drop off as we pass through the train station and once again it’s only me, Jonas and Justin. Jonas is praising this izakaya, talking about how excellent drinks they serve, so I’m pretty psyched as all the drinks I’ve had in Japan so far (with the exception of the New York Bar) have been awful.
Turns out that Jonas is a big, fat liar though. The place in question is a very downtrodden joint, the kind where you select and pay for your drink in a vending machine, get a receipt to present at the counter and then receive the actual drink. I’m not sure why they do it like that, but you see it all the time at cheap lunch- and breakfast places as well. The joint is good enough for drinking though and we have a pretty good time. The Japanese frequenting the place are really friendly and eager to talk to us, even though their English isn’t very good. After a while we notice them getting more and more forward, and when I finally get my ass grabbed by a guy who hasn’t even introduced himself the last doubts vanish. I seamlessly transition to the other side of the table so that I have my ass to the wall and go on to enjoy the rest of the evening.
The Saturday is spent hanging out in Asakusa, but there is no getting away from that Asakusa is rather boring district. I pay another visit to the inventor shop, but the nice old man isn’t there, just a bunch of kids that aren’t very talkative. Clearly not as fun, so I move on and just wander about in the light drizzle until it’s time to make my way down to Yokohama where we have tickets for tonight’s football game between Yokohama F. Marinos and FC Tokyo. The game is played at the huge home arena of the Marinos that seats over 70 000 people, as a result the stadium seems rather empty even though we’re something like 15 000 in attendance. The weather continues to be not great and when it starts to rain for real I go and buy a branded poncho which is in fact cheaper than normal on acoount of the rain! Way to go Japan!
My Sunday is once again dedicated to diving. I tag along for Enrique and Claudia’s first real dive. The site is called Eno Ura and it is an extreme newbie site. You have this long ramp leading down into the water, with a rope to hold on to as you stand in line and wait your turn to get wet. There is a shit ton of divers in the water today and they’re all newbies, so as you let go of rope and descend you enter a sort of fin soup. Best strategy seems to be to just hold on to your mask and get to the bottom, out of the way of all the haplessly flapping limbs.
You can really tell that this is a newbie site as there are ropes mounted along the bottom that you’re supposed to follow and little markers on every little noteworthy site where you’re supposed to each take a photo and then move on (don’t dilly-dally, there are other divers behind you, queued up to see the same thing). There are hula hoops mounted on the bottom that you’re supposed to swim through to see that you have proper buoyancy control. Following that there is a little Doraemon statue (a popular cartoon character that is a robot cat from the future, teaching children manners) that garners another obligatory photo and a weird bush-like thing that is chock full of squid eggs. The eggs are kinda cool, they look basically like a string of see-through sausages but are far from hatching so there’s no chance of seeing any tiny squid. Final stop is a patch of anemone featuring a handful of surly anemone fish (you know, the Finding Nemo fish), fiercely protecting their homestead.
Getting out of the water is equally interesting as there is a queue for doing that as well. And God forbid that you take the wrong rope! There is one rope for entry and another for exit and that’s that. It doesn’t matter that the entry rope is free and noone is even planning on entering, you wait your turn at the exit rope. All things considered, it’s a rather bad dive, but a very memorable one!