This was my first full day in Tokyo. I started with the hotel buffet for breakfast. 1,200 yen for all you can eat, either Western or Japanese style.
Some of the Western stuff is a little odd, but it’s good enough for me. Plenty of yogurt, and a decent strawberry sauce. Other stuff was available, of course: poached eggs, “baking bread,” whatever that is, Japanese-style bacon and sausages that don’t taste like either bacon or sausages, and some good croissants and OJ.
The most important points here are that: I didn’t have to make it, and it was right there in the hotel, so I didn’t have to find a place to eat breakfast.
It’s the most important meal of the day, you know.
Belly filled, I headed off to Kinokuniya in Shinjuku to get my JLPT application. It wasn’t too difficult. Just ask at one of the desks and you can get an application.
I also picked up a Kinokuniya point card.
That’s one thing you should definitely do while in Japan– pick up point cards whenever you get a chance. They’re very handy. You get points for every purchase, and then you can cash them in like money. A lot of times, though, they expire at the end of the month, so be careful. Better to use them as soon as you can, especially if you’re just on a short-term visit.
You may need an address and phone number for the point card. If you decide to specify one, well, I leave that up to you.
Application in hand, I headed off to Ginza to do some shopping. First I stopped off at Itoya, which is my favorite stationery store. It’s 8-9 stories full of interesting stuff to buy.
If they don’t have it, you don’t need it.
I was looking for the a calendar similar to the kind I picked up 4 years ago, which is a standard yearly calendar on nice paper with a traditional Japanese woodblock print on it. But after combing through the store and the annex, I had no luck. I spent an hour wandering around, because Itoya is a great place to just wander around and look.
I managed to find double-sided sticky tape. I’ll need that for my JLPT application. (To attach the photo.)
It was soon time for lunch.
In the US, I usually watch a show called “Tokyo Eye” that comes on TV-Japan on Saturdays, and they did a show on a Ginza eatery called Rengatei, which is famous for being either one of the first, or the first place to serve tonkatsu in Japan. (Sorry, I can’t remember which.) It’s been in business since the 1890s, if I remember correctly. I’ve been dying to try their tonkatsu, and thanks to remembering to star the place on Google Maps, today was my chance.
Their tonkatsu comes with a pile of thinly sliced cabbage, and I ordered some rice and lemonade to go with it. The sauce they have is a bit thinner than the usual tonkatsu sauce. I poured it on the side, and dipped the katsu in it, as well as the cabbage.
It was a great tonkatsu. I’ve never had anything that light and crispy. The regular is 1,300 yen, and the large is 2,000 yen.
And it’s worth it.
After that, I went to Kyukyodo, because I still hadn’t managed to find those calendars. Kyukyodo is a very nice stationery store, but it can get pretty expensive. The 3rd floor still has a nice gallery full of calligraphic art. This time there was a display of calligraphy carved into wood. There were some really interesting pieces there. I spent some time talking to the dotients in my broken Japanese.
On the second floor, they had some nice seal carving knives, and some great-looking calligraphy books, but nobody was interested in helping me, and I wasn’t interested in carrying them all over Japan, so I decided it was probably for the best.
I’ll get that stuff in Nagoya.
Marunouchi & Maruzen
I got on the subway and rode to Tokyo Station to go to Maruzen. Maruzen’s always a pain in the butt for me to find. I spent a good 10-15 minutes lost around there looking for it. I did the same thing four years ago, too.
Google Maps wasn’t much help, because once I was underground, there was no GPS signal, and one building is a lot like another. I did find it eventually. I didn’t buy anything, though. Again, the issue was the whole “Carrying books all over Japan” thing.
I inquired about the BJT, or Business Japanese Test, because I was thinking about taking it as a backup to the JLPT, but nobody there had ever heard of it, and didn’t know where to get the forms.
I suppose I can ask at Yamasa when I get there.
After that, I headed back, since my eyes were starting to hurt, and it was getting late.
As the evening went on, my eyes were really starting to hurt. I stopped by the drug store kiosk in JR Shinjuku and bought some Visine, and tried it when I got home.
Eyes On Fire
Using Visine was a big mistake. It made my eyes burn even worse.
My eyes have been hurting ever since I got off the plane, and they’ve only been getting worse. So I decided to use Skype to call my insurance company’s overseas “OMGHELP” number. They were very helpful. They told me to go to any doctor I wanted to, and they would pay the claim when I got back, so long as I filed the right paperwork, and I had a year to file the claim.
They even told me the papers to get from the doctor, and not to worry if the papers were all in Japanese.
If you’re ever in that kind of a bind, make sure you get the paperwork taken care of.
I spent a couple of hours trying to find one of the “recommended doctors” on their website, but it was kind of a pain in the butt. I never found any of them in Google Maps. I’ll probably just ask at the front desk in the morning.