But two days ago, I took the final (and only) exam of my 13-week Japanese conversation course. I passed, and that means I pretty much don't have to worry too much about school. I still have to go, though.
This week was also the second half of my parents' visit to Tokyo (including our trip to Seoul.)
Due to my impending examination, I spent most of Monday and Tuesday studying, with the exception of a brief venture to Shinjuku and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building. Aside from housing the headquarters of The Government, it has an observation deck that granted us yet another spectacular view of Tokyo.
We had dinner at a place called The Lion Beer Hall, which is a German-inspired restaurant in Ginza. They serve sausages, fish & chips and pizza, and occasionally a group of lederhosen-wearing Japanese will fill the spacious room with Bavarian folk music. It ranks among the top five on my list of WTF? But in a good way.
On Wednesday, I took the test. I did quite well, 102 points out of 120 (which, in reality, means nothing if I can't actually speak to Japanese people on the street, but it's nice anyway.)
After it's completion, I set my brain for celebration and relaxation, and we headed for Shimo-kitazawa – everyone's favorite Tokyo hippie hideout. Even in grey and cold weather, the area is a great walk-around, with tons of small shops selling arts and crafts, used clothing and records (you know, hippie stuff.)
After some tea, cake and three magnificent records bought, we decided to move on.
A travel guide to Tokyo had given us the idea to visit a restaurant called Jidaiya, in Akasaka. There are hundreds of restaurants in Tokyo that claim to have more or less "genuine" Japanese cuisine. Some merely serve very good sushi, like in Tsukiji.
This particular establishment is the most honestly Japanese place I've been to, with some of the best food I've ever had. This included sashimi, tempura, miso, yakimono (a simple piece of fried fish) and plain, white rice. All of it absolutely superb, and the staff was extremely friendly.
Yesterday was my parents' last day in Tokyo, and the sun was shining. They wanted to check out my accomodations, past and present, so we visited Shimura sanchome and Kugahara. It was nice to see the neighborhood again, greener than before.
We then set course for Ebisu, and the Tokyo museum of photography. An exhibition about photography's evolution in Japan, and one by Japanese photographer Yanagi Miwa were interesting enough. Especially the former, which included large daguerreotype images of daimyo and their samurai from the mid 1800's.
Given the quality of Thursday's dinner, it seemed impossible to find Japanese food that could match it for our final dinner in Tokyo. So, we instead opted for some righteous indian food. Curry, naan, pilau rice and mango lassie. A perfect finish.
These two weeks have been amazing. I've seen areas of Tokyo previously unknown to me, and revisited past favorites.
Now, the countdown begins. Today I have 29 days left here, and I hope to make the best of them.
Back in Kugahara.