Filed under: travel
I had decided to stop in Tokyo for a week on the way home because my best friend from university was working as an English teacher there. Unfortunately, the company she’d been working for went bankrupt a few weeks before I arrived, so she was no longer there to host me. Lucky for me, Ian had gone to great lengths to book the same flights as me, since mine were the return leg of my round-the-world trip and his were booked much later. Otherwise I would have been in Tokyo for a week on my own (at least until I found some hostel mates) Because of Ian’s effort it was even more excrutiating that he (through no fault of his own) missed our flight from Frankfurt to Tokyo.
I arrived in Tokyo at 6am, alone and tired after not sleeping at all on the 8 hour overnight flight, because of worrying. I worried about Ian finding a later flight and arriving safely, then me finding him. I worried about tracking down the name of our hostel, which Ian had booked and printed the reservation for. My 8 hours of worrying meant I had a solid plan in place on arrival in Tokyo, so despite a couple of challenges I got to our hostel in Asakusa around 12:30. By the time I could check in at 1pm I was deliriously tired, so much so I had trouble pulling on the hostel’s fitted sheet so I could collapse on the bed and sleep. I woke up at around 8pm upon Ian’s arrival.
We went out for dinner to a ramen restaurant recommended by the friendly hotel staff, as somewhere likely to be serving by the time we left the hostel at around 9:30pm. It was packed – there were only a couple of tables free, and a couple blocking our way using the smoke machine next to the counter. Through gestures and the odd word in English we established that we had to use a machine to order our food off a menu that thankfully had pictures. By now the couple blocking our path had been seated, because it turned out what we thought was the smoke machine was the machine we ordered our meal from.
Ian advocated a random button-pushing selection. Luckily I was more picky as some of the buttons were the soup base, some were fillings (like dumplings or veggies), some were drinks. Had we mashed the buttons we might have ended up with a pile of drinks and veggies, or more likely be drawn into an even more confusing attempt at communication about what we were doing wrong.
The chefs were super friendly, after we were presented with our bowls they were quick to ask in broken English if we liked it, with big grins on their faces. We raised our eyebrows enthusiastically and nodded vigorously, engrossed in noodles.
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