I decided I wanted Yakitori (meat on a stick, literally “roasted bird”) for dinner, and Just In Tokyo suggested I find one of the many restaurants near Yurakucho Station. I chose the busiest restaurant (which was relative – 6PM is early for dinner it seems) and it was excellent. Great food, friendly service, and as a bonus, new year’s Sake. The server explained that it’s a Japanese tradition at New Years to have a barrel of sake and serve a free drink to every customer on their first visit in the year. It came in a traditional wooden cup and tasted excellent!
So yeah, Akemashite Omedetou. I may be spelling that completely wrong, but it’s Happy New Year in Japanese… I learned that on a fairly random new year’s eve, when I met up with some couchsurfers a few hours after my plane landed. The evening included dinner at an izakaya (traditional Japanese pub), wandering around the streets, champagne from a convenience store, bars, and karaoke. Somehow, I finished the evening with a completely different group of people than I started with. Which was fine :) Oh, and the trains were running all night, which was good because I didn’t want to have to deal with taxis on my first night in town.
After dinner I headed to Roppongi. I’ve never been so I thought I’d look around. It’s pretty seedy – lots of strip clubs and fairly pushy (for Japan) touts. Lots of businesses in Tokyo have people on the street yelling things to convince passers-by to come in (or holding menus, or in the case of tonight’s yakitori restaurant simply clapping.) But this is the only place they’ve actually tried to engage me in conversation. That’s as far as it got though – nobody followed me down the street like in the 3rd world…
My mission in Roppongi was to find cheesecake (it’s always good to have a mission.) I found a Starbucks about 3 minutes out of the subway station, but decided that was too easy and kept walking. I finally found a French restaurant that served me some – and then braved the touts again on the way to the subway station, 2 stops from home.