Friday, September 5, 2008

Wondering in Harajuku and Aoi

My adventures in Tokyo have their moments. When I have off time from work I must do something. I feel like my off days are wasted if I do not get into something. Although, there are times when I just want to relax and take it easy, those times are rare. Yesterday, I ventured out to Harajuku to hang with Tommy and my other art friends from Vietnam.

Now, there are not the type of guys that you call up and plan to meet some place. They are more free flowing kind of people. You just have to know where I hang out and go there to meet them. Usually, they can be found at the bridge in front of the temple in Harajuku. As usual they were there selling paintings and hanging out. They are always happy to see me. They consider me to be not a normal western person; which is the main reason they have taken such a fondness to me. Tommy does the majority of the talking as he is the leader of their little gang. They are really laid back at all times. As soon as Tommy spotted me he gave me a hug and suggested that we buy from beers from the convenience store. I agreed of course and soon we had beers for the four of us. There are few things better than sitting on the streets drinking beer and hanging out. Tommy smoked some spice with me and we talked about random things of life and the universe.

Thin(Vietnam name) paining live on the streets of Harajuku

After some time I wanted to wonder around a bit. Tommy was all for it and off we went into the depths of Harajuku. The whole area carries with it a more relax feel then say Shibuya. People who hang out in Harajuku often are different from most people in the city. In Harajuku they can be accepted and do pretty much do what ever they please. The alternative lifestyle of Harajuku is what attracts me to the area. No worries in Harajuku!

Tommy and I ended up stopping at a cool art gallery. If you have not seen this place it is well worth checking out. If go all the way the end of main street and cross the highway there are lots of little sides streets. Wonder around for a bit and you will find this little gem in Harajuku. Remember a city hunt always has it rewards. Anyway, we hung out for a while and drank a beer. As luck would have it Tommy started talking to a fellow Giajin named Eric from Cali. He was very friendly and quick to make friends. We talked about Tokyo for a while before making our way back to the front of the temple. Eric parted ways and we are making plans to hang again soon. This is proof that Gaijin in Tokyo actually do talk to each other. The situation just has to be right.

Drinking with Tommy at the art gallery

My wife meet me in Harajuku to hang out with me. M.K. states that she is hungry as hell so Tommy suggest a good curry shop in Harajuku. We say goodbye to Tommy`s gang and make our way to a great little curry shop. I am very keen on curry. I love the stuff! This place has some damn fine curry. Even M.K. loved it; although I think it was because she was just very hungry and anything would taste good. Curry must have a proper balance of spice and hotness; and of course the nam must be up to snuff. They really hit all points. The nam was great! I has a type of nam that I have never tired before. It came in mid size slices filled with meat and onions. M.K. played it safe and want for the normal over sized nam. We both had chicken curry and lamb curry. I will have to go to this place again.

Hungry, Hungry M.K. loving her nam and curry

After curry came a little shopping for me. M.K. loves to shop with me for some reason. While this is usually a female habit I have somehow picked up the love of shopping. Maybe, I have spent too much time with M.K. and she has implanted this love of shopping into my head. Either way it is fun to shop around and find cool stuff to wear. We went to the WeGo. It is a cool place that opened in Harajuku eariler this summer. It is mostly a vintage shop with very good prices. I picked a great pair of jackboots and a attractive looking pair of jeans; attractive because they are tight punk style jeans except no holes. A fashion show was in order when we got back to the house.

The Che hat is just for effect. I am not turning red! LOL

Before we went back to Aoi we stopped for a cup of coffee at a nice little coffee shop in Harajuku. It was a good place but they served my coffee in a strange coffee bowl. I guess it is one of those things that can be spoken of as `only in Tokyo.`

Drinking it was very awkward

Well, after a fine day just hanging out it was time to bed down for the night; at least for M.K. My off days are currently Thursday and Friday`s so while M.K. had to sleep I did not. I put her to bed and surf the net for a while until I got board. I decided to wonder around Aoi for the rest of the night. I ended up walking around drinking and taking a few photos. Here is the result:

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Antonio Inoki SakabaBar and Grill

Recently, I was invited by the staff at my job to go out for a little drinking. They have been working hard recently and wanted to get a little drunk and blow off some steam. Well, it is always nice to get out with co-workers with so I agreed. They decided to meet up in Ikebukuro after everyone was finished; they usually finish after me due to their heavy work load. My fellow teacher Hamed was also attending so I looked forward to the outing. I have recently only started exploring Ikebukuro so this was a good chance to discover a new place. They took me to something I never expected to see in Tokyo; a pro-wrestling bar and grill!

I always thought that for the most part Japanese to do take to pro-wrestling well. I know that they have pro-wrestling but I assumed it was only a passing fancy for only the those who get really board. As it turns out the Japanese love pro-wrestling. They love it enough to have a bar and grill themed after the Hulk Hogan of Japanese pro-wrestling Antonio Inoki Sakaba!

The entrance to Antonio Inoki Sakaba Bar and Grill

I felt a little shock walking into the place. Hamed just had a look of a deer in head lights. I really think he was beside himself in the mist of such an odd but fun place. The entire place was pro-wrestling themed out to the max. When you enter they ring a fight bell just before taking you to your seats. The bar area is a wrestling ring; which adds to the charm of the place. The seating area I found to be interesting. Almost all the seating is just like the ring side tables which the announcers set at during a match. There were plenty of TV sets constantly showing Antonio Inoki Sakaba`s best fights. I got to see this guy take on the legend Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant. Also, order the salad for some extra fun. Just trust me on that one.

The menu was very American style but themed for pro-wrestling. The oddest of the choices was a sausage on a hook. I do not know how that is connected to pro-wrestling but it sometimes better not to ask in Tokyo. I did not try any of the food myself, due to the fact I had a big lunch, so I cannot say if it is any good. Although, the beer selection is up to snuff. They actually have Coors! It is rare that I find any place in Tokyo which sells Coors. It is one of the best beers from America; a real treat for me for sure.

I really suggest checking this place out. It is something different and fun to do in Tokyo. It is really easy to find actually. When you arrive at Ikebukuro station exit the central east gate. After that, turn left and it is right beside the Big Camera shop. Have fun and let me know what you think of the place.

This is why you should order the salad