small-ish town, japan
For the Lunar New Year holiday (and coincidentally, Valentine's Day) I went to visit my friend Matty J in Toyohashi, about an hour away from Nagoya. This was my 4th trip to the Land of the Rising Sun and I enjoyed it just as much, if not more, this time around.
I had just a brief amount of time after flying into Nagoya then taking the train to the main area. After I bought my JR ticket to Toyohashi, I set my ipod down on the ticket counter...I think I had about 30 things in my hand. What am I, a rookie? I've been backpacking by myself for the better part of 6 years and yet I made quite the amateur mistake. After frantically checking all of my bags, it occurred to me that I was in JAPAN and should probably check the ticket counter just in case. Sure enough, the man behind the counter went into the back room and came back with my ipod, telling me to "Be more careful." Crisis averted.
And another (I have to give my camera's lomo style setting full credit for how this turned out).
The AMAZING GIANT WOMAN.
I hauled it to Atsuta Shrine (the 2nd-most sacred in all of Japan) just in time for sunset. The amazingly beautiful roosters were pecking all about.
Shrine at dusk.
I had really miscalculated my travel time, especially just barely missing the subway and having to wait for the next one. I had to be that "ugly American" and push my way through rush-hour foot traffic (people for as far as the eye could see) and then sprint to the JR platform to make my train to Toyohashi in order to make it there in time to meet Matty as he got off of work. And I just made it!
Cautionary tale. I don't know...would it be worth it to look this cute?
Toyohashi is well known for chikuwa. Apparently, it's not just for eatin'.
Matty took me to his favorite yakitori place, which was DELICIOUS. SO DELICIOUS. Omg. Japanese food.
Edamame for an appetizer.
Chicken heart yakitori. Surprisingly awesome.
Bacon-wrapped mushrooms. DELICIOUS.
After, we went to his friend Mune's bar, Bar Rosie. Then we proceeded to drink jager bombs (in honor of Jersey Shore...I wish I could say that I was kidding) like we were 21. It got messy. We took a taxi home, my first time in one in Japan. They have automatic doors. And the driver was incredibly polite, unlike many of the creeps in Korea. The next morning was not enjoyable. Until I rallied and we went for ramen. Real, Japanese ramen.
Delicious! But....$10! But...I didn't pay! Matt's really sweet lady-friend, Hiroko paid for lunch.
Then she took us to the Toyokawa Inari Shrine, well-known for its red-bibbed stone foxes everywhere.
Matt and Hiroko reading their fortunes. I think mine said I would come into some money. That has yet to come true.
This place looked like the setting of a fairytale.
The famous stone foxes. We learned that the red bibs are meant to protect them from evil, not just a messy dinner.
Lady with hand-protectors from the cold.
That night, we went to eat more yakitori. I liked this place. They used sake crates for seats.
Matt's friend Mune. Smiling. Candid.
Head and all. Delicious.
Japan cat band. I bet they can really wail.
Downtown Toyohashi on a Sunday:
Fascinating. $20 for a cantaloupe.
But! $1 for a Mexican avocado!
Best Valentine's ever! Matty cooked me dinner!
Was totally bummed to leave Japan and Matty, but I had an amazing time. And whatever...Chicago is only 2 hours from South Bend so I'll see you in a few months, Matty!