I mentioned in my last post that I was going to make the most of the long weekend, and by that, I meant I wanted to go to Nikko – until I saw the price of transport. Of course, I was silly and didn’t realise that there’s a ticket you can buy that’ll get you not only to Nikko, ~2 hours off Tokyo, but will allow use of all the public transport for only 2,400 yen (£20). The price advertised to me by Google maps was 6,000 yen (£42)… for a one-way trip.
So I’ll save that trip for the coming break…
Of course, the weekend didn’t entireeeely go to waste, as I found myself at Waseda Festival (早稲田祭), a bi-yearly event run at campus where every club has their own food stall, or, if you’re a sports club, puts on a show for the crowd. I had no idea how big of a deal this was going to be, and according to one person, “You aren’t a Waseda student until you’ve been to Waseda Festival,” so I suppose I had very high expectations.
Complete with drawings!
It ended up being absolutely crazy – a good portion of the Tokyo population must’ve been on campus. It was even being reported on the news – and coming from little old slightly boring UEA in little old slightly boring Norwich, this was one massive eye opener. They even had a huge stage, surrounded by an overwhelming crowd of people watching the sports clubs put on their dance performances that I’m sure must’ve taken weeks or even months to perfect. Backflips, breakdances, cheerleading pyramids… you name it and they did it without breaking a sweat. These students my age, possibly/probably younger, were all up there giving it their all in some of the sleekest performances I’ve ever seen.
The food stalls, though, were mostly bubble tea (I’ve yet to find tapioca pearls but I promise I’m looking… I also love bubble tea to death so there’s no way I’m complaining.) One stand even had soya bubble tea, which was delicious!
These clubs were pretty violent about getting money to support themselves, and by that I mean I was constantly being stopped and asked to COME AND EAT SOME OF OUR FOOD! DRINK SOME OF OUR BUBBLE TEA! to which I’d lie in response and say that, sorry, I already ate, but I promise I’ll come back. Because, seriously, a lot of that food was EXPENSIVE!
For example, at least 2 stalls were offering S’mores, a food I haven’t had in many many years but I always remember the delicious taste. 300 yen (£2.10) for a box – okay, fine. I’ll bite.
What I got was this.
YES, those are ritz crackers.
So I mean, the performances were crazy, the crowds were insane, but food? Like, the most important thing to me? Definitely a big miss.
So, the normal week began again on Monday. Trump came to visit. I had my normal amount of homework.
Tuesday morning, I’m messaging my friend Nicole at around 8am – we’re saying how sick we are of 9am classes and we just want to chill and for there to be another long weekend.
8:20am. A message comes in: “Have you seen this?”
As I read the message, Trump’s helicopters fly overhead.
So, Waseda University received a bomb threat via an online form, specifically that a bomb had been planted somewhere on campus and it was set to detonate. Classes from periods 1 to 3 – 9am until 2:30pm – are cancelled.
My Tuesday classes are 1 to 3… this all felt super uncanny, like, I had literally just been saying how I’d like to have the day off? In any case, I was already dressed and ready, so a bunch of us went down to the common room to study for a little while… before heading off to have my first Okonomiyaki of Japan!
Okonomiyaki, if you don’t know, are cabbage pancakes served with huge whoppings of mayonnaise and Okonomi sauce (think Worcester sauce). I’ve cooked them a few times in England, but since I stopped cooking animal products, Okonomiyaki went out of the window. (Egg.)
Of course, when in Japan, do as the Japanese do – my rule is that if needs be, I’m vegetarian at restaurants…
So this particular Okonomiyaki restaurant is located inside Ikebukuro station, and the only vegetarian option on the menu was まったり焼 (Mattari yaki – Asparagus, Spinach, Cheese, Rice cake).
It was so beautiful. Just… you know when you eat something and you just suddenly feel so happy to exist in the time and place that you do? It was so stunning that we actually ended up ordering one more to share. Sooooo worth it. I’ll definitely try to make a vegan version at some point. And the most surprising thing was that the cheese didn’t even set me off – I have no idea if it’s my system getting stronger, or if I just didn’t eat enough dairy to get my stomach upset?
In any case – thank you, bomb person, for being fake, and thank you Waseda for the day off so I could go to get Okonomiyaki, I guess?
Day ended with seeing Dennis AKA Sonne in Shibuya (who very much deserves this small promo just for being an amazing artist)