After we got bored of our little experiment, we continued our exploration of the area surrounding our hotel. We must have walked a good 3 miles! I found a bank to exchange my currency to Japanese yen. It was kinda funny because luckily, the cute teller at the bank only knew a little bit of English. She was very patient with me, and some we were able to get the transaction complete. My knowledge of Japanese is limited to ”ari-gato” (thank you) and "kon-ichiwa" (hello.) I was amazed by how we could communicate without language. Communication is simple with short phrases, hand gestures, and a smile. I should have learned more Japanese phrases before I left! It was interesting being different in Japan though… I noticed that when talking with people, they wouldn’t directly talk to me unless I approached them. Even the people passing out fliers on the street ignored me. A disability is usually coupled with “shame” in most Asian-Pacific cultures. It must have been shocking to them see this smart-ass guy in a scooter laughing at random stuff! Anyways, we decided to stop by a grocery store to pick up some lunch. I’ve gotten into the habit of eating a light lunch, so all I picked up was a salad and some sesame balls. The hotel gave out complementary bottled waters, so we were good with drinks. The hotel also hooked us up with kimonos to use instead of bath robs!
After a quick "siesta," an old friend from college that lives in Japan stopped by the hotel to catch up before we left for a Japanese Baseball game in Yokohama. It was great to connect with someone I had not seen since before my surgery! (My "BS" life... hahaha!) I was great to catch up and update each out on the news of our mutual friends. Our friends from Japan for LiveSTRONG swung by the hotel and we embarked on our next adventure, a subway ride to the stadium. The forecast called for rain that evening. We took the train and the subway to Yokohama. Public transit in Tokyo is great, but if you have mobility impairments, it is very time consuming. Going around the subway station was difficult because the signage was very difficult to find and not all trains have platforms that have elevators. Couple that with the fact that boarding the subway would have been possible if I didn't have someone assisting me. Along with the stigma of disability, I can understand why I have always been "blessed" with rain during events we plan, but part of me likes, but also got to meet some pretty cool people through Japan for LiveSTRONG. We got soaked, but it was interesting to witness a familiar game in a different environment. There were so many coordinate cheers... that made the game fun to watch!
We took the train back from the stadium, but we were hungry. Damian and I decided to get off the train a few stops early and explore Shinjuku district and grab some dinner... We ended up exploring many narrow streets filled with little restaurants and shops. There were plenty of authentic Japanese restaurants! Problem was that we didn't understand the signage. I was a little nervous because I was in a scooter that draws a lot of attention in an unfamiliar country. I figured that you only live once... It was kinda exciting because we didn't understand the signs so we relied on our "animal instincts" to find food! We walked listlessly around for a good 30 minutes before Damian instictively put his nose in the air and literally smelled a restaurant he wanted to check out. I was game cause I was hungry! Damian said that he was familiar with "yakitoris" so we decided to go in. First problem was that the scooter could go up the one step into the little street restaurant. We ended up parking it outside and Damian and a waiter helped us in. A "yakitori" restaurant is very similar to spanish tapas with small dishes. There were some pretty interesting stuff on the menu! After consulting with the waitress, we decided on a few items and we didn't get anything too exotic. We were WRONG! Damian thought "yakitori" meant fish and chicken like it does in the states. We ordered the "white meat with horse radish". When it came, we quickly devoured the dish! It was SO TENDER and fresh! Turns out "yakitori" in japan is chicken only! We had just eaten RAW chicken! We couldn't believe it... Instead of saying "it taste like chicken" we were saying "it taste like fish"! ;P Anyways, I kept the pepto bismal close by that night.... I'm happy to report that there were no "complications" from eating raw chicken! I will probably never do that again!
Next up exploring Tokyo on our own!
Next up exploring Tokyo on our own!