This is the second time I have been to Japan in a week. I had just recovered from the jet lag when my phone rang, crew scheduling was sending me halfway around the world again. I have already talked about how hard it was to leave as there was massive flooding in my hometown. I was here alone, we’ll other than my colleagues, I mean I am not travelling with a companion this time. It left me feeling lonely as last week I had been traversing the winding roads of Narita with a very dear companion. It was very nice to be with someone to have someone to share in the memories and to reminisce with after we returned back to Calgary. I am used to being alone, i have travelled alone most of my adult life though it doesn’t take the sting away when wandering without someone at my side so soon after having been here last.
To ease the loneliness I had made plans with one of the girls to head out to noodle shop Ramen Bayashi or student noodle as she calls it. We recruited our head flight attendant to come with us and make sure we did not get I to too much trouble when left unsupervised, although I got the idea that he would have been the first one to lead the charge for a fun filled night. We took the bus from the hotel again, ditched the pilots, or rather were ditched by the pilots as they decided they were looking for some guy time. Ohsho was our first stop again. We stopped at the fast food type florescent glared restaurant for a line , of gyoza, and a beer, well at telecast they did I again stuck to water. I honestly do not know how one can have a drink and not fall asleep after a long day of travel and work. The Goyza went down easily and this time I had mastered how to mix the sauce. There are various mini decanters of liquids that span the colour spectrum adorning the table. You need to find the right few from the unlabelled minuscule carafes that combine to make a soy sauce based dipping sauce with a bite of rice vinegar and hint of hot oil to compliment the meat dumplings we inhaled. Last time it took a great deal of trial and error to get close to the correct desired flavour. With our appetites whetted we moved on to our planned destination to gleefully find out that the typhoon of the previous week had not lingered nor had any other warnings forced the early closures we had faced the week before.
We continued on our eating down Otosantomoto Road to Ramen Bayashi, Aka Student noodle as my coworkers called it. I had been craving the red Chili soup I had had the week before. This time I had packed my gargantuan appetite and was able to finish the almost two thirds of the soup. We all opted for different variations of the same dish. I am more of a fan of vegetables in soups so I just stuck with the vegetarian option. I still crave that soup though. It was so delicious.
After dinner to help us digest our meals we poked around in the few shops that were still open, most close at 5-6pm. The drugstore and grocer were still open. Both of my crew members were on the hunt for a certain type of cookies, one was searching for moonlight cookies and the other Marie cookies. I have never had either but they swear by them. I chose to acquiesce to my sweet tooth and purchased caramel one of girls who was from Japan had suggested, and a candy with packaging so interesting I had to buy it. The latter was named Ramune, we were not sure what it was supposed to mimic with it’s flavour but later found out it was a popular type of soft drink that is served in a unique marble stoppered bottle. The night ended fairly early for us as we wanted to get back to the hotel and check in with our loved ones at home who were in a local state of emergency due to a flood.
The next morning did not come as early as it had the week before. I slept in a bit later without the pressing desire to make the most of a layover with a friend I had brought like the previous week. This time my plan was to head to town, hit the supermarket, buy a few items I had looked at the previous week Nd had regretted not buying as soon as I returned home. One of the things I wanted to try was the salad dressing that the other flight attendant had cleaned the store out of last week. Roasted sesame salad dressing must be good if you are willing to bring an empty suitcase to fill it with oodles and oodles of bottles of the condiment. It is actually pretty good I have to admit. Since it was Sunday, other than the supermarket everything is closed I opted to head to a mall I had heard about. There are busses run by the hotels Nd the circle line that run to the Aeon Mall from the hotels and the village.
Upon arriving I discovered it wasn’t much different than any other mall I had been to. Other than not being able to understand a great deal of the signs there wasn’t much difference between this mall and any indoor conglomeration of stores in any other city. My first stop was at the Daiso store, a hundred yen store with great selection. This particular kind of store has some of they most interesting wears and would be the equivalent of a dollar store in North America, save the selection and quality is often much better. I love wandering the aisles trying to decipher what unusual and cryptic goods might be. My favourite finds this trip were the portable toilet in a bag for adults, the accompanying cartoon on the package showed a man in desperate need of restroom facilities whilst in traffic. The only draw back I saw besides having to use a plastic bag to relieve one self is that the container is clear. In my opinion it should be patterned or solid coloured so one can push out of their mind what is actually contained within the thin plastic walls of the product. My other favourites included ; chip tongs, to save you hands from getting greasy whilst eating a bag of chips, the plethora of indecipherable chewing gum flavours, juicy shower had e most intriguing name so I bought a package. It turns out it is neither juicy nor shower-like merely a light grape flavour.
Next I took a quick tour around the shops to see what the offerings were. It is interesting to notice the difference in styles for clothing from my native country and others I visit. I found the Japanese women’s wear to be very modest and respectful. Muted colours seem to be the trend in Narita this season.
One place that stood out in my mind was the Arcade. Typically at home an arcade is full of games where one players a video game for a high score, some will issues tickets the player may redeem for prizes. In Japan the arcade was a casino and prize driven game hybrid. The player is to attempt to snag a prize by manipulating a series of buttons. There was one interesting looking interactive game simulating takko drumming i would have tried if it weren’t queued up.
Feeling peckish i inspected the food court for something that would sate my hunger. Other than the McDonald’s I did not recognise a single restaurant. The lovely thing about Japan is how food is displayed by either pictures of a model. It made my decision for lunch very simple. I chose a place that flogged fried kebab on rice, with miso soup and some sort of delicious pickled vegetable. The food was good save one kebab. The one I did not care for was a tough pork-like meat, the others were chicken and lotus root and very tasty. Back on the plane I asked one of the girls that spoke Japanese what the name was of the restaurant I ate lunch at it was Kusi-katsu which means Skewer restaurant in English. She said she liked it but preferred the noodle place next door to the one I chose.
There are central water dispensers in the food court, I noticed most locals drank from those rather than purchase a soft drink. I enjoyed my meal and would try it again. I really love trying new things that I have absolutely no idea what they are until I eat them and then sometime their identity remain a mystery. I felt it was a good deal of food for 680¥ for lunch at the food court. What I ordered I have no idea. I did the typical point at the picture that I have done in Japan in the past and hoped for the best.
On my way back to the entrance I had come in I ran into my purser who had also come to the mall unbeknownst to me. It is funny how there is a whole city yet I seem to run into people I know quite a bit, the reality is that we tend to all frequent the same areas on the same schedule. He had been to the large grocery store attached to the mall and a clothing store UniQlo known for it’s great weekend sales. Most flight attendants choose UniQlo for jackets. Together my crew member and I headed back to the hotel to rest up before our journey back across the pacific.