Have a look at some meat.

I just learned the word for a restaurant under the train tracks is ガード下 (gadoshita).

I love the ambiance of these places. The rattle of the train overhead has the added benefit of masking the (more than) occasional earthquake.

Gadoshita are also known for having cheap food, usually grilled meats. We ordered chicken skewers, fried tofu, kimchi, and ホルモン煮込み horumon nikomi — stewed innards.

Learning new vocabulary isn’t always fun and games. From the translated menu:

I realize this outs me as a person who takes photos of the word “vagina.” I consider myself an adventurous eater, but I draw the line at womb. Though, meat of the head? Yum! Make mine a double.

“Like it, like it! Love love love!”

Last night Dan and I explored the northern part of Tokyo, beginning our promenade at the Nippori station in search of Fabric Town.  WHOA.  This place is my dream come true — fabric store upon notion shop upon specialty lace shop upon fabric store line a full city block; I vow to visit again with a better purpose and more projects in mind.

From there, we walked south to Ueno Park, famous for its springtime cherry blossoms and home to the Tokyo National Museum, The National Science Museum and The National Museum of Western Art.  Because it was getting dark, we decided to visit the museums another day and instead wandered to the Ueno station area, looking for dinner.  Under the train tracks, the nightlife was starting to get loud, and we found 大統領 (Daitouryou, or President) a bumpin’ little izakaya (bar that serves food) and had to stop.  There were no English menus or photos in sight, but the smells of the grill drew us in.

With tables spilling out onto the alley, smoke and beer and grilled meats aplenty, shouting patrons trying to converse over the rattle of the train above, Dan and I sat down and realized our task ahead — that we would actually have to order something.  Our method of choice thus far has been to blindly point at the menu, hope for a few winners, or at the very least for something identifiable.  In the super-packed restaurant, we were seated in a booth with another couple, and I’m sure my panic-stricken face was enough to clue them into our situation.  Tomo and Nana became fast friends as they helped us order (though I realized a language barrier still existed when we ended up with a plate of assorted grilled chicken innards, the house specialty, which surprisingly I enjoyed) and introduced us to shōchū (Japanese liquor tasting sort of like vodka).  I followed Nana’s lead and drank my shōchū with sour lemon soda.  Dan and Tomo drank their sweet potato shōchū (mojōchū) straight up.

As it turns out, Tomo and Nana were from an area an hour outside of Tokyo and were spending the day in the city.  They practiced their English, and we recited the few words we know in Japanese.  But really, our communication consisted of mostly hand waving, laughing and crazy gestures.  “What do you plan to do in Honolulu?”  Nana pretends to swim, and we all laugh.  “What sort of work do you do?”  Dan pretends to type on a keyboard, and again, laughter.  They recommend we visit Tokyo Disney Resort and Nana shrieks “Like it, like it! Love, love, love!” It was easy to see why we became such easy friends.

Well, that and the shōchū.

Mothra has landed.

We finally made it to Tokyo!  Dan and I arrived in Tokyo on Saturday afternoon, after a smooth and quiet trip across the northern hemisphere.  We saw some beautiful scenery out the window as we flew over the mountains in Alaska.  I think I’ll put that on my list of places to visit.  But back to our current adventure…

It felt like we had A TON of luggage.  We literally only took what we could carry, er, fit on luggage carts.  Here is Dan under the arrival board at Narita Airport: 5 suitcases, 2 backpacks and a briefcase.  We’ve become minimalists (though I still managed to bring 11 pairs of shoes).

After the 2 hour bus ride from the airport into Tokyo, we took a short taxi ride to our apartment in Shibakoen.  Our studio is small but very nice.  Dan found the Super Toilet…enlightening. Later that night we took a stroll through the neighborhood and found a small izakaya restaurant, and after much pointing and head nodding, ended up with some delicious grilled skewers, sashimi and beer.

Our first few days have been eventful — lots of walking and checking out new neighborhoods for our next apartment, a little shopping and sight-seeing, but of course all I want to tell you about is the food.  There has been a lot of food.

On Sunday we had lunch at Curry Lab, a super modernish curry restaurant with tiny TVs at every seat.  Dan was lucky to get Alice in Wonderland.  I had a bean and chicken curry, “made especially with ladies in mind.” Dan had some sort of egg and curry mash-up.  In case you need a little help, this is the secret for a good curry (from the menu):

Sunday evening brought us to Nakameguro for a walk along the river and more izakaya, this time with grilled mackerel and crab and radish salad.  Mmm.

Today we found ourselves at our first ramen house.  I seriously need to practice my slurping.