Friday, 28-11-2014. Day 100.
Lost Items, Train Tickets, Strange Events
Late Night Disturbance
About midnight I woke up to the sound of grunts and moans from the hallway. At first I thought it was the guy who lived in the apartment across the hall trying to get through his door. I figured it would stop soon; instead, it got louder and more intense. I was curious, so I got up and looked out the peephole.
And there he was, a man bent over at the waist and leaning on the elevator, making all manner of guttural sounds that didn't sound dissimilar from a Minecraft zombie. At first I thought he was having issues with the elevator and groaning in frustration, but I soon changed my mind and suspected he'd had a little too much to drink. It was challenging to peer continually out the peephole, so I gave up and went back to bed. The man in the hall kept at it for about an hour, and I really found it hard to get back to sleep.
As he grunted and moaned, I thought about checking on him. But I didn't speak the language and had no idea how to call for help, so I wouldn't do him much good. After about an hour he stopped making noise, and I drifted off to sleep. 30 minutes later, though, the whole thing started up again. He kept at it for about an hour more until it ended with a loud clatter. I think he fell down the stairs.
When the morning arrived, there was no evidence that he'd been around, and none of the girls had heard any of his noises, which makes me think it may have all been in my head in Murakamian fashion.
On Moving Apartments
Today was all about taking our JR Exchange Orders to the JR Office at Tokyo Station and converting them to Japan Rail Passes. But first, we had to leave the apartment and switch to a nearby hotel. Our first plan had been to leave for Osaka today, but we extended that earlier in the week when we weren't sure when our Japan Rail Exchange Orders were going to arrive.
And that brings us to hotel booking services. As much as possible, Samantha books our stays through Airbnb (that link will get you $25 credit on your first stay with Airbnb). But when that doesn't work out (due to either availability or pricing), her fall-back is Hotels.com, and one nice bonus of using hotels.com is that every 10th night you book with them is free. Well, it's not a categorical free pass, but rather a discount of a certain monetary value. If your bill is less than that value, then your stay is free.
So we pulled out that discount for our stay at the rather ritzy Rhiga Royal Hotel, a place that was well above our budget (without the Hotels.com discount, of course).
We couldn't check into the hotel until later in the afternoon (you know, that old story), so we walked toward the nearest subway station to catch a train to the Tokyo Station. On the way we stopped to get something to eat at a place called Aba's Café. We picked it because 1) we were hungry and 2) it had a display board outside with some English food options.
Once we were inside, though, we found the menu was entirely in Japanese. Fortunately, between Google Translate and the help of some of the other patrons in the place, we figured things out and had a nice, tasty meal there.
From the restaurant, we had a short walk to the subway station and a quick ride to Tokyo Station.
Turning the JR Exchange Orders into JR Rail Passes was remarkably easy. Not only were we able to get our seven-day passes for Saturday through Friday, but the woman helping us also reserved our seats on trains to Oskaka, Hiroshima, and back to Tokyo.
After we scored our passes and tickets, we were going to take a walk around outside Tokyo Station and see what there was to see ... until Frankie realized she no longer had her camera. After a quick verbal retracing of our steps, she realized she'd left it at Aba's Café. So we jumped back onto the subway and walked back to the cafe where we found her camera waiting for her. We were fortunate it was still there, and it was a lesson for all of us in keeping track of our stuff.
Waseda El Dorado
Across the street from the cafe we saw a crazy looking building, so we went to investigate. This was the Waseda El Dorado,
And what a crazy building it was. It had rainbow-colored tiles, some tiles with embedded faces (see header image) and all sorts of intricate mosaic work on the floors and walls of the inside corridors. There was even a strange chair made out of a giant carved wooden hand. There were apartments on top and businesses—like Dorado Gallery, Baroque, Old Times Vintage Watches, and a barbershop—on the ground floor. It was fantastic.
Tokyo Rakkyo Brothers / 東京らっきょブラザーズ
Later, after we'd returned to the hotel, we started to think about dinner (as we do). We were a little in the dark on where to go, so on a lark I pulled up Yelp and found Tokyo Rakkyo Brothers. One English review on Yelp called it the "best restaurant in Japan ever," so we took on the challenge of trying to find the place.
Found it we did, but there were no English menus, so we resorted, once again, to Google Translate, pictograms, and vague descriptive gestures to choose our meals. It all worked out fine, and the food was good.