I'm writing today from the Keio Plaza Hotel in Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo. The same hotel I was at for Orientation after I first arrived. We get another few days of training, and then it's ganbatte! for another year. I'm sharing a room with an Aussie girl living in Aomori city.
Mom and Dad arrived in Japan last week. I picked them up in Asahikawa on Wednesday after school, and we've been touring Hokkaido since. A couple of nights in my town, a night at an incredible onsen hotel in Sounkyo, where I forced them to experience the greatest thing about Japan: the onsen. I think they both enjoyed it, even if they were nervous about getting naked with strangers. Saturday, we had a traditional family car trip, and I drove us all the way out to Abashiri and back. A stupidly long drive, but I had a good time. And then yesterday we flew down to Tokyo together, parting ways at Haneda airport for our separate hotels. I'll leave details of our trip for mom and dad to tell when they get home.
I had forgotten what it was like to travel with my parents. It's been trying at times, but I'm really happy to have them here and to be able to share a little bit of my life in Japan with them. I miss everyone at home terribly, but I think I've made a good place for myself here. I may have come initially to escape from school and to try something new, but I've managed to grow a lot and understand myself a bit better. Gah -- that sounds so cliche. Even if it is true.
Today our Recontracting conference opens, but conveniently not until this afternoon. So after this posting I have plans to go find some food, a good coffee shop and do very little. I feel like I should take advantage of being in Tokyo for free, but I'm exhausted and coming down with a cold. So maybe it's just as well that mom and dad are here -- I can use them as a convenient excuse as to why I can't go out all night.
My hotel is right near Shinjuku station (the biggest train station in the world!) and near some incredible nightlife. And as mom and dad were quick to point out -- near the only place in Japan that you should consider unsafe.
Mom and dad are staying nearby at the same hotel that the movie Lost in Translation was filmed in. It's a really REALLY swank hotel. I had a hard time finding my way in and out again. We had a ridiculously expensive dinner together at the New York Grill. I skipped out on the almost 20000 yen Kobe beef, but I still had a steak. And damn, was it good. I haven't had a big western-style dinner in a while, so it was a lot of food! The restaurant had an incredible view of the Tokyo skyline, but of course I forgot my camera. I'll have to go back and try to get some skyline shots. It looks just like Blade Runner.
After Tokyo, we're headed to the old capital of Kyoto. Famous for temples, castles and tofu! I'm really looking forward to seeing some of the old parts of Japan (and seeing how the hotel I booked for mom and dad in Sounkyo compares to the swish ryokan dad booked for us in Kyoto).