Sorry for the delay in posting. Japan has been awesome so far! We arrived in Tokyo around 5 pm local time on Thursday (Tokyo is 15 hours ahead of Kansas City). Neither of us were able to sleep on the flight which was about 13 hours, after which we picked up our pocket wifi, got our rail passes, and pulled out some yen since Japan is largely still a cash based society. The pocket wifi is a great thing in that we can use it as a backup for Matt’s work or for wandering around and being able to call and navigate – it runs off their LTE cellular network and pulls 75 Mbps down and 25 Mbps up with unlimited data. Pretty slick, Japan.
We went straight to our AirBnb in Shinjuku, a big entertainment district and apparently capital of small awesome eateries. Matt grabbed dinner and logged on to get a couple hours of work in (since we lost two days in coming here) and I wandered around to see the neighborhood. Turns out we are right next to a little pocket of Korean restaurants and groceries. Since I wasn’t sure if we’d get a chance to get good Korean food on this trip, and since I knew what I would be eating, I went into one and ordered dol sot bibimbap.
The Japanese speaking lessons I’ve been going through every day for the past three months paid off because I was able to ask about a couple menu items, order and pay without having to speak English. After I ordered, a young Japanese woman ran up to me and said in English, “Excuse me, but do you mind if I bother you? My colleagues and I are out together and we were all taking bets on what nationality you were. We heard you talk earlier and we all had different opinions.” Her name was Aiko and she was out with her boss and coworkers, enjoying some Korean BBQ and getting decently sloshed. They were all extremely polite and wanted me to come over to their table and tell them about why I was alone. Aiko spoke the best English because she’d studied in Ohio, but I was able to explain what Matt and I were doing and what itinerary we would take in a terrible mixture of Japanese and English. They just thought it was the COOLEST when I bowed and said in Japanese, “my name is Elizabeth. Nice to meet you, how do you do!” They asked me to take a drink of some kind of Korean rice wine with them, and everyone said “Kanpai!” (which literally means “dry cup”).
Since then, we’ve met up with friends from the US who were here at the same time, along with a Japanese foreign exchange student named Atsuko who studied at my college during my freshman year, and new people like Atsuko’s husband and people from their church. Food has been a big part of our hang outs, and since we’ve both already done the tourist thing here in Japan, food is what I have pictures of 😀
Atsuko and Russell were kind enough to take us around to a couple of their favorite restaurants, their Saturday evening Bible study and their church on Sunday morning. They’re wonderful people and they are a part of a really cool church made up of 50 nationalities, but predominately Japanese. It’s exciting to see what God is doing there. They were really gracious hosts and I hope to continue to be able to meet up with local friends along the way – it really enriched our time here!