The second to last week in February was the “Returner’s Conference”, a conference for JETs going home the next year, or otherwise not reconstructing. Although Kenji is staying to work in Fujioka next year, he is nevertheless not going to be a JET anymore, so he got to attend the conference. Since it was Mon-Wed, we both went to Tokyo Saturday morning to spend the weekend. It had been too long since we’d been!
The first stop, of course, was Ameyoko for our favorite Turkish kebabs, then onto Yokohama to check in at the hotel.
After that, we went to take a tour at the nearby Kirin Beer Factory. This is something I would TOTALLY go to again. The tour is free, and while you can’t take pictures during it so I can’t actually show you how neat it was, let me tell you… it was pretty darn neat. But then the best part was after the tour, where you are given tickets to get a free beer and two refills, in order to try the different styles of Kirin beer made at the factory. We also got to try out the new beer, which wouldn’t be released for another 10 days.
Now, you only have about 30 minutes after the tour to actually use the tickets, which meant trying three full glasses of beer rather quickly. We were just finishing when our tour guide announced it was about time to go, and everyone who still had drink coupons started trying to pass them off to other people, who were already full of beer. Kenji and I were laughing at this going on at the other tables, when I turned and saw a ninja had placed two tickets next to my elbow while I was laughing at others.
Well, that was a challenge that simply wouldn’t stand. So after a fourth beer, and feeling good, we walked back to the station.
Spoils: the beer and beer tickets, a snack, and the little cup of new beer to try.
After leaving, we got caught at the intersection of DOOM trying to get to the station… three sets of train tracks, all starting and stopping at different times, making it impossible to get across all three at once. We finally got across only to find… yet, we didn’t have to cause the station was on the other side of the tracks. Whoops. ANYWAY! ON TO CHINA TOWN!
Yokohama’s famed China town gates.
Yokohama right now, and really Ueno too actually, looks like a panda exploded cuteness everywhere. China is lending Japan two pandas for Ueno Zoo, and the country has Panda-fever. Yokohama apparently decided to cash in, because panda stuff was EVERYWHERE. We got tired soon after that and went back to the hotel.
The next morning was pretty grey and windy. We walked around Yokohama, got starbucks and breakfast, then walked some more in the shopping areas.
At the same time, a marathon was scheduled to end in Yokohama, so they were closing off streets. We didn’t want to be trapped, so we kept going to the famous red brick building.
I kinda forgot the name, but we ate lunch there and it was REALLY good! After that we walked back to the hotel, then went on to Shinjuku to see a friend for dinner, before I headed back to Gunma.
Yokohama, nice and grey
It was a good trip, if short. And Kenji really enjoyed his conference too.