It’s All Relative

Gonpachi - all of us together - a rare event
Gonpachi - all of us together - a rare event

My mom and my step-father came to town last week.  It was their first time in Japan.  I mapped out some favorite spots to take them, keeping in mind that they would be spending two days alone in Kyoto.  I eliminated all visits to shrines and temples while we were together in Tokyo which was a nice opportunity to visit some of the less frequented places.  We managed to fit a lot in.  The first full day it rained and I made a few adjustments to the itinerary and we spent the day at the Odaiba Onsen.  My mom didn’t want to go in the baths but we managed to fill most of the day with other Japanese inspired treats (the flesh eating doctor fish, shiatsu massage, foot baths) while the men enjoyed their time in the bath – Thomas Jr. went for the first time too.  I think he liked it.  We had drinks at the Roppongi Hills Club courtesy of our mutual friends Cliff and Isa and ate a very so-so dinner at Two Rooms in Aoyama.  I think that place looks better than it actually is.  We finished the night up at Bauhaus, a small live music club where supposedly three generations of rockers play together – the grandfather is by far the best.  We hit all the hot spots like the neighborhood ramen shop and the conveyor belt sushi restaurant, we even got to go for our weekly fix of La Jolla Mexican on Sunday night.  Lucky for them, they happened to be here during one of the two Grand Sumo tournaments held in Tokyo each year and we went with all the kids to see the opening day.  I think the adults enjoyed it the most.  Hayden is still convinced that sumo wrestlers are not athletes.  They visited both of the kids schools and were there to cheer on the Mustangs in their first Friday Night Lights of the Varsity Football season.  Tom Sr. was in the booth announcing and Hayden threw a touchdown pass to Thomas and won the game.  We spent a day at Tsukiji, the fish market coupled with Ginza and the Mitsukoshi Department Store food halls.  Even though I warned my mom, she tried the gooey omochi ball and spent a good deal of time dislodging it from her mouth and searching for a garbage can (impossible in Tokyo).  While in the area, we met up with Tom for lunch in Marounouchi on his lunch break.  We shopped and ate and walked in Shimokitazawa, a hip urban part of Tokyo where many college students live.  They have the most interesting little stores.  We visited Ningyocho to buy antique kimono and obis – I bought the most fantastic white wedding kimono.  When the box arrived a few days later Tom gave it a strange look.  Then I explained it was going to be hung on a wall.  I think he thought I was going to wear it.  The thing weighs about ten pounds.  After a busy few days, I put my parents on a bullet train to Kyoto where they celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary.  They overdosed on temples and shrines and Japanese food and were spent by the time they arrived back in Tokyo.  We ended the week eating pizza at Savoy, going to the top of the Mori tower, shopping at Tokyo Hands, “climbing”  Mt. Takao via the funicular to watch the monkeys pick bugs out of each other and then we ate at Ukai Toriyama – an absolute must restaurant stop with visitors.  On their very last night in Japan, we ate at T.Y. Harbor, outside on the water watching the Yakatabune boats cruise by.  Then it was off to late night Karaoke with the Hopkins and the Halls.  Could it get any better than that?

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