Tokyo: Japan day 11

Wow, and now it’s the last day, or more accurately, also a half-day.

My last Airbnb place was slightly more capsule-y than the one in Hiroshima. Instead of curtains covering one of the longer sides of a queen, this one covered the foot of a full sized. This meant less privacy but it was also a better hostel in general in terms of decor and vibes, so I didn’t mind.

After checking out I headed first to Maruzen Maranouchi. Despite not being as tired, I still managed to get lost. I eventually made it there, and oh, it was worth.

The stationery floor also had a fountain pen area, with pricey-looking pens stowed behind a glass counter. After some hand wavy translation abilities from both our ends, I found out that the Pilot Metropolitan pen I was looking to buy was not sold, but instead had its Japan-only counterpart. I happily bought this pen in a cream-white marble color and a fine nib, a bottle of ink, and a few cartridges. The customer service was really great and this pen was definitely one of the best purchases on my trip based on the shopping experience and joy of it being my first fountain pen.

After this I headed over to Ginza, where I got some food at the MUJI flagship store. That’s right. MUJI.

The first Muji I’ve ever gone to was likely in LA the summer I was there. I thought it was a novel concept, a cool-looking minimalistic store touting the next and greatest in Japanese-style living. It was cool to finally see the store; the first time I heard about Muji was senior year when my compilers partner told me that they were amazing pens. Well, here I was, at HQ, ready to buy those pens.

Each floor was spotless, with ceiling-high shelves full of merchandise. There was floors and floors; floors of clothing, floors of food, floors of storage. I spent most of my time in the stationery floor, browsing the wares and filling my cart hoping (and adding prices) to meet that sweet tax-free minimum. It was an excellent adventure, and I had enough Muji pens for a good chunk of lifetime.

I hurried out of the store, suitcase bulging, ducking under cover from the bright sunlight, as I made my way towards where I was about a week ago, but this time it would be for udon. My friend AC had taken our chef’s advice and gone there, and he said it was good, and I was ready to find out. Frankly, I hadn’t had Japanese udon yet the entire trip, so it wouldn’t take much to please me.

I got a standard udon meal with two dipping sauces, one miso and one soy. The miso one was a little too thick and flavorful for my mood, but the soy one hit the spot – the perfect amount of sweet, salty, savory, and lightness coated over the chilled noodles really hit the spot. I also got tempura with it, which was a nice contrast. I was worried at first that lunch would take a while, but honestly the food disappeared from my plate way too fast. I savored my bites towards the end, realizing that this would be my last meal on the streets of Japan.

Tokyo Station was a little more friendly the second time around. I get my luggage from storage and find my platform. Another American traveler mentioned that she had a reserved ticket, which threw me into temporary chaos when I realized that I too would need a reserved ticket. I lug my burdens around to the ticket counter floors above, make the next train, and am still making good enough time. A huge relief, really – it would really suck to miss an international flight.

The train was fast, and I forgot to look outside too carefully, noticing only when the city disappeared and we were deep in forest, reminding me of the trip from the airport into the city. I was exhausted from my travels and was extremely relieved to be on the plane, and even more happy that it was a shorter leg, despite including a layover.

My layover in Calgary proved to be more fun than expected; I met a Cornell student in the lounge, wrote half a dozen blog posts about Japan, and munched. There was also a lot of natural light which helped me stay awake in hopes of winning more against the eventual jetlag. The rest of my travel passed by quickly.

And finally, I was home. Suitcases full of goodies, a mind full of good memories, a heart happy to be back.

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