Friday, March 19, 2010

I PASSED!! Also featuring markets, dragons and capsule hotels

I'd just like to start off this post with the news that I passed my last ever CA exam!!! 

Apparently my diploma will be in the mail shortly and should be received within 10 working days :-) So now I am officially a fully-fledged Chartered Accountant which is a huge relief and I never want to study ever again. 

Anyway - onto what we have been doing recently, apart from celebrating passing my CA exam...

Yesterday it was time for a change, so we left K's house to go to a different part of Tokyo. We really liked it there and were sad to go. Would thoroughly recommend for anyone going to Tokyo, the price is budget ($70 per night, per person for a double bed with ensuite) but the actual place is very nice, amenities are great and the location is brilliant.

We checked out early, but left our backpacks so that we could check out more of Asakusa before leaving. For breaky we grabbed a very interesting combo of buttered toast, coleslaw, a fried egg topped with ham and half a banana (very yummy). Then it was onto the legendary markets.

This was the best move ever! About 30 seconds down the first arcade we realised that something was up. There was a crowd of people waiting outside the 5-story pagoda and a little way down the street we saw a little temple garden filled with important-looking people and a big golden dragon! No, not a real dragon, one of those long ones held up by guys with poles. Then the music started, coming from a moving pagoda with women playing traditional instruments and dressed in traditional make-up and kimonos. The procession went from the garden to the pagoda, preceded by these cute little school kids carrying staffs with bells on them. Then they started doing some speeches that we couldn't understand so we left.

At the time we had no idea what the special occasion was, but we found plaque in a nearby shrine that talked about festival rites performed on the 17/18 of March to honour one of the deities that supposedly protected the temple from raccoon dogs, or something along those lines. Anyway, it was very cool.

Then we meandered the markets, which were really interesting. There were sooo many little stalls. Like Bali but not, because the stalls are all orderly (even the roller shutters are painted with lovely Japanese landscapes), the place is really clean, the salespeople don't hassle you or rip you off, the merchandise is great quality and it doesn't smell. 

Basically this was an entire day of shopping and food. First I had this 'ice-cream burger' which was a wafer shell filled with sakura (cherry blossom) ice-cream. Then I had this chocolate custard sandwiched between 2 waffle/pancake things. Michael tried the chestnut flavour but it wasn't as good as the chocolate. We bought a nice set of chopstics and I got some gloves because it is REALLY COLD!

Then we picked up our bags from K's and went to the new place near Shinjuku in Akebonobashi (Ace Inn), which is a capsule hotel and not as nice as K's. You get a locker and a coffin shaped capsule with a mattress, in a dorm room with about 28 other people. It is shared bathrooms. But it is less than half the price, so more money for food and entertainment, yay!

Anyway, we dumped our bags and continued our shopping and food spree by going to Sunshine City in Ikebukuro. It was once the biggest mall in the world! Now - not so big, but still at least twice the size of anything in Perth. 

We started at Macca's and then tried to do some shopping. Trying on clothes is a pain because you have to take your shoes off before going into the fitting room (not cool with lace-up sneakers), then you have to tie your hair up in these little hair net thingies, plus the sizes are not quite the right shape for me! I felt super-under-dressed, since all of the girls around that area were pretty dressed up, and there's me with my cargo pants, t-shirt, fleecey jumper and sneakers!

The fashion is definitely centred around denim, plaid or tutu mini-skirts teamed with either boots or knee-high socks with high-heels (haven't seen one pair of ballet flats yet!). The clothes shops definitely catered towards that kind of thing, very eclectic but girly, with lots of frills and shirts with english slogans that make no sense. Shops which sell sensible and casual clothes are few and far between, but I still managed to find 3 nice tops that weren't too crazy.

We stayed at the shopping centre for dinner, we had some surprisingly good Italian food, finished off with a delicious banana, chocolate and custard crepe. Mmmmm... crepe.

By the end of the day my feet were in agony, but we saw heaps so it was worth it. I limped back to the hotel and had an awesome sleep (possibly due to the fact that Michael and I are in separate capsules, so no fighting over blankets!).

We are having a lazy day today - maybe will go see Tokyo tower a bit later, and then go and try some of the local sake to celebrate, did I mention passing my exam??

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