Today we walked to the subway instead of Yuki's dad driving us and I'm so glad we did. Yuki's neighborhood is so quintessentially (such a great word) Japanese, I don't know how to describe it, but I'll try (hopefully we'll walk again so I can take pictures). The houses are all small and walled in, but everyone has gardens, potted plants, little cactuses and other green things growing in the space and ledges that they have. The roads are all only big enough to fit one car - one tiny Japanese car, the cars here are definitely more narrow I think. We walked up a big hill and there was a little park with a bamboo forest and when we got to the top of the hill there was the neighborhood shrine next to the street. Yuki said that the Japanese think that very old spirits live in these shrines so no one likes to tear them down.
After we hit her little downtown area and we went into a grocery store (lots of different types of meat and seafood, and fruits I'd never seen before, along with your usual grocery store stuff) and a 100 yen store, aka a dollar store.
For lunch we ate at a sushi place where the sushi rotated around on a conveyer belt and a guy makes the sushi in the middle and people sit around it and pick off the plates that they want. When you've eaten your fill, you count up your plates and pay for each plate. Japanese sushi is so much better than the sushi in the US... but there were some really... interesting ones as well. Like one with what I think was a bunch of minnows slapped on top - tried it, I give it an "eh." Here's a video of my daring, but doomed taste of octopus sushi. I needed a lot of green tea to get that all down.
After, we walked around the Shinjuku district/prefecture/whatever and walked around some department stores. Expensive, but very, very cool stuff. I really like the Tokyo style. They wear lots of layers and flowy stuff on top, maybe some leggings or above knee-high socks with boots. Another thing I've noticed, Tokyo gals wear awesome high-heels. Major shoe envy going on here. Someone ignorant of Tokyo style might say that they guys here are all metro, but I think they're all just very stylish - tight pants with a funky pair of shoes, maybe a scarf, hair artfully messy, you get the picture (Japanese guys know how to accessorize). Lots of guys have an ear pierced too.
Anyway, after Shinjuku Yuki had to go to class so her friend Kosuke showed me around, he studied at a small school in PA so his English was really good. We walked around Harajuku, where Gwen Stefani's clothing gets its name from. The main street had all really expensive Ginza-type stores, but the side alleys had really cool little shops - I found a 500 yen shop ($5 store). I was too nervous to try on any clothes though because I have no clue how the Japanese sizing system works and let's face it, Japanese girls just don't have big butts and guns like me - pow pow!
Anywho, Kosuke had to go to class after Yuki joined us again so we met up with her friend Long (Chinese raised in Japan, he's studying at U-M fall and winter semester) and ate at a Korean barbeque restaurant. You order your meat and/or vegetable and they bring out a little coal thing with a wire thing over it that you can cook the meat on. Yuki ordered beef and tongue... the tongue was also just an "eh"
An intersection before and after the crossing sign turned green:
An unintentionally funny shirt (at least to me) from a department store in Shinjuku: