So after another restful morning at the Manga Kisa, it was time to step back into the bustle of a Tokyo morning. Andrea had two friends coming to Tokyo, so we figured we'd meet up. They had been hiking the old Kiso road that spans from Osaka to Tokyo; in the Edo period this was one of the first national highways in Japan. Tokugawa Ieyasu declared this road a national highway in 1602 according to this website: Old Kiso Road.
From what my fiends told me when I was hiking a portion of this road from Tsumago to Magome in June when Kana wonderfully invited me, Ron and Cullen to spend the night at her grandparents' house (I haven't blogged on this but it was a wonderful time and I really ought to...pictures are on facebook though, just click on the picture below), every year representatives from each town/village had to walk to the capitol, generally using this road, in order to pay their taxes in person. According to Google Maps, the route that best approximates (as far as I can tell) the road in question would take four days and 15 hours to walk and is 533 km long. Of course, this is taking for granted modern roads and the Terminator like ability to walk day and night without collapsing. I'm betting 2-3x as long would still be a speedy estimate.
Photos of Vash's Tsumago and Magome Trip:
While waiting for the new additions to our team to arrive, Andrea and I wandered around the fashion area of Harajuku. Most people wandering through this mall were dressed to the nines, Japanese style. I adore Japanese fashions; they're so different from U.S. Fashions and some clothes have such an anime feel that the costumer in me says “oooh!”
The new additions to our team, Steph and Ben arrived at 10am. As a total aside, my best friend Steph (who is married to Ben Moats) had originally planned to come to visit me here in Japan this summer and we had specifically planned to see Tokyo, but that fell through. So it was rather humorously ironic that our party was joined by another Steph and Ben (though the originals are irreplaceable!)
New Steph had lived in Tokyo for four months during college, so she knew her way around and could find all of the awesome shops and places that we would (probably) never have found otherwise. But before we could wander through the shops and things, we had to get clean. This lead us to the Public Bath, or 銭湯 (sentou). This is sort of like an Onsen light, where you have public showers and then the chance to soak in essentially a giant hot tub. If you have Tattoos, many Onsens will not let you in, but Sentous are public property so they can't refuse anyone. (and as over ½ of our team had tattoos, this was an important consideration) Also, Sentous are very cheap, usually around 500 yen plus the cost of a towel and soap (unless you bring your own).
I had a great time at the Sentou! It was not only relaxing, but I got to have a wonderful conversation with one of the Obaa-sans next to me in the tub. She pointed me kindly in the direction of the hot-jets (very relaxing) and we chatted a bit. I'm not 100% sure of everything we talked about, but it was a good time for all.
After the Sentou, we went back to the awesome Manga shop in Shibuya(where I broke down and bought more manga including Book 2 of Monster (which I'll one day be able to read even though it lacks furigana) and another issue of Blackjack (also lacking furigana...what is it with the medical drama manga not having furigana!) and the first two issues of Prince of Tennis, which are a win for the beginner reader, check out my Goodreads Review of issue 1 here: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/116260286
Next we decided to grab food and then headed out for Karaoke. We were going to go to one place, but as we were approaching the entrance, we were intercepted by a very energetic (and cute) young man who encouraged us towards his Karaoke establishment which was cheaper and also included Nomihoudai. He freely admitted to stealing us (どろぼ）and as he even let us negotiate an even cheaper price for two hours, it seemed like a win-win. (Besides, the other place was a chain and this was clearly a small business...so go us for supporting the underdog!) It was super fun!
After Karaoke, we went to a 280yen Izakaya (where everything is 280yen, not including the hidden cover charge that many of these places have, usually around 300yen...it's annoying. A drink or so later, we were all dead tired, and as Steph and Ben couldn't check into their hostel until the next day, we all sought out another manga-kisa. This one was less of a win than the usual because it only had the chairs and you couldn't get internet without going through some complicated cell phone process that all of us tried and failed at, but it was comfortable enough and no creepy music (though my immediate neighbors did insist on whispering to each other all night, it still beat the child murder midis or eight straight hours of Eminem---welcome to Nagoya). That said, in Tokyo at least, Moopa Manga-kisa's are the preferred choice. They also don't charge 500 yen for showers (though you do have to buy the use of a towel and shower stuff if you want it).