Wednesday, April 24, 2013

April 17: Tokyo Day 2

 Those of you who know my family know that both of my boys were born during the Month of the Military Child. I did not plan this, but sometimes life is humorously coincidental. Xan celebrated his 7th birthday on April 7 and Will's birthday is April 17. He turned 11. This is the first birthday I have missed, but with parties, cakes, trips to Sasebo and presents all nbeing taken care of earlier in the month (and the fact that Rodney has missed a couple of birthdays over the years) I refused to feel guilty. I called Will on his birthday, texted him and posted to his Facebook account. All birthday bases were covered. Time to have fun with the girls...

As I alluded to in my previous post (I recommend you read it before moving on to this one... some of the context may be lost) I ended with telling you that we were woken up on Day 2 by The New Sanno's test of the fire alarm system. When we checked in, the hotel was kind enough to leave a note in our room explaining that this would happen at 9 a.m. EVERY MORNING WE WERE GOING TO BE STAYING THERE, because of required tests, but that still wasn't much fun when it actually happened. Luckily, it wasn't a shrieking fire alarm bell or anything like that. It was an intercom announcement made by a Japanese man in stilted English letting us know that testing was commencing.

My traveling companions, my friend Rachel, and her sister Roxanne, enjoy shopping. I inherited my love for shopping from my Grandma Ginia, which means I do not particularly care for shopping, I get in to the store, get what I want, and get back out. A shopping "spree" in my life takes no more than a couple of hours and in that time I have visted at least six different stores. I did not get the shopping gene. But, from the start, I told Rachel that I would do whatever they wanted to do... this was their trip and I was tagging along to enjoy the experience. I had to stomp down my kicking and screaming Type A protester inside my brain, but once I put her back in her cell with a gag, I went back to being a follower enjoying the experience.

After eating breakfast in one of the hotel's restaurants, I put on my bright green backpack the kids gave me for Christmas and followed my traveling companions out the door for a day of shopping. First stop: Tokyo Skytree. Tokyo Tower used to be the tallest thing in Japan until Tokyo Skytree was completed in 2011.

To enjoy a meal in the top of Skytree - or even to enjoy the view from the top of Skytree - you have to have a reservation, which should be booked well in advance. We did not have a reservation, so we remained outside to enjoy the Skytree and then headed inside, out of the blustery winds of the day, in to the shopping mall. There were some high-end stores and plenty of tourist shops. Hello Kitty, samurai, Skytree memorabilia, postcards and candy were in abundance. I got Will a samurai helmet key chain I thought was cool from the shop pictured below. Unfortunately, he wanted the headphones I had gotten his brother. You win some, you lose some...

I thought this was funny... I'm not sure if it is Rodeo as in Rodeo (ro-day-oh) Drive in California, or rodeo clowns, like the bull bait people. If it is the latter, the designer got his/her L's and R's mixed up, which often happens when the Japanese try to spell in English. The R and L sounds in Japanese are very similar. Either way, I snapped a picture for my collection of Janglish I find.

After shopping much of the morning, I was getting hungry. We were all a little tired of noodles and rice, so an "American" meal was sounding pretty good. We managed to find one of the two Hard Rock Cafes located in Tokyo and took a taxi from Skytree to the Uyeno train station, where the little sister of the two Hard Rocks was located. The main Hard Rock Cafe is in Roppongi, which is the party district of Tokyo... but more on that in a moment.

A guitar from one of my all-time favorite bands, Aerosmith.
This was the first hamburger and milkshake I had had in months because  1) I live in Japan, 2) I am not a fan of McDonalds' 3) I've lost 50 pounds on the South Beach Diet and none of the menu items pictured above are on the menu. Except the veggies, of course. Yes, it tasted fabulous.
 After lunch was more shopping. We found a MAC counter, which I was excited to see. I know, I rarely wear makeup, but it has been a tradition of mine since living in California that I go to MAC for a makeover for the Marine Corps Ball in November, and buy some new makeup for the year. This year, being in Iwakuni, I wasn't able to partake in my annual tradition. Rachel and Roxanne had planned to go "party" in Roppongi later that night and they convinced me to stay at MAC and get made up while they went shopping at the Gap. Gee, twist my arm... OK, I'll do it. Anything to avoid the Gap.

While there were a few hiccups due to a language barrier, the Japanese MAC girl and I managed to make me look good and not like a Rodeo Crown. Fortunately, be both knew basic colors in each others' languages (more aka, less pinku... arigato), and pointing and gesturing went a long way. And I got some new makeup for the year.

By this time it was about 7 p.m.... time to head back to the hotel and get gussied up for "clubbing." Now, I married young, so by the time I was old enough to really go clubbing (I started school early) I had already graduated from college, had the start of a career, a husband and a mortgage. And the "clubbing" scene in Yuma, Ariz., consisted of two bars, one of which made Geraldo Rivera's top 20 places to catch a disease. I do my best to avoid disease, so my "clubbing" opportunities were sorely lacking. I do not "club," but I do like margaritas and dancing... and, grudgingly I'll admit, I don't mind wearing a dress or skirt two or three times a year. The Marine Corps Ball is always one occasion... this clubbing trip to Roppongi is the other one for this year. I'll reserve the third one in case I have to go to a wedding.

So, I had some margaritas (the hotel exchange is well-stocked with beer, wine and liquor, like any good military outpost should be) and we got ready to go out. This is me ready to go out:

Now, mind you, this is a Wednesday night. Not really a "party" night, but we were limited on time and energy. Well, I was limited on energy. Heels, skirts, makeup, walking, shopping... these are all things I rarely actively choose to do and the combination was wearing on me. I medicated with Patron, shoved my cash and ID in to my bra (I did not want to have to look after a purse) and headed out with my cohorts. We had a drink in the hotel bar to kick the evening off and then requested a taxi from the front desk. Roppongi, here we come!

With the help via FaceTime of Roxanne's friend who was once stationed in Japan, we found El Cafe Latino, a bar that served margaritas... and had amateur salsa dance lessons on Wednesday nights. I was able to enjoy a margarita AND people watch. Good times.

But, soon, salsa wasn't enough for my cohorts, so it was off to find a dance club... fortunately there was a place just around the corner...Greenland. Which should have been called the Jungle Room. Now, being the Type-A non-clubber that I am, I was posting our whereabouts on Facebook, not just to share my experience with my closest friends and acquaintances, but to also leave a digital trail of breadcrumbs in case the three of us went missing. And, also, so I could remember the names of the places we went so I could blog about them later. :)

Here are a few photos I managed to take....

The ladies-only seating area. I wonder if this is to reduce groping in clubs...
No dancing. Hopefully that wasn't the rule in the entire club. If it was, we broke the rule.
Fake foliage collecting dust was all over the ceiling and walls of the place, and the TVs had interesting music videos.

At this point, I was no longer in a condition to take photos. In fact, I just remember that my Type A protester in my brain managed to remove her gag and started to whine that she wanted to go home and get out of the heels I was wearing. So, I vaguely recall hailing a cab, yelling at Rachel and Roxanne to get in, and getting back to the hotel, but I have no idea what time all that happened. We all crashed... until the fire alarm announcement the next morning at 9 a.m....

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