Waiting for my old friend for dinner, I was able to capture this right in front of Shibuya Scramble crossing with crazy amount of people crossing. I wanted to actually sketch the famous dog sculpture "Hachiko" (as seen in the green stamp below) but it turned out that the area was a dedicated smoking section making it hard to sketch.
For dinner we went to a restaurant that served one of my favorite foods I could rarely get outside of Japan - Dojou! Dojou is a Japanese loach, a small eel-like freshwater fish which is quite disgusting in appearance but prepared correctly, the taste is amazing. Many Japanese hate it or actually cannot eat it due to the appearance, but at the same time many people love it and is treated as a delicacy.
I fall into the latter and love Dojou. Here's all the various types of Dojou's I had as well as other delicacies that are hard to get outside of this country.
For lunch the next day I had Udon Noodles at a fairly standard franchise type of restaurant. Yet they had somebody making hand made udon at the store front so I got a quick sketch along with my Tempura Udon which was excellent.
At Shinjuku station I met up with my uncle to head out to Hakone for the weekend.
I haven't been to Shinjiku station in about 20 years and was completely lost since I couldn't believe how much they expanded this station, mostly deep underground.
Here's my Shirasu Bento (Dried Anchovy) I had for lunch as well as the 'Romance Car' train which we took to Hakone.
Arriving at Hakone Station, my uncle told me we had 15 minutes before our bus arrived and asked me if I wanted to sketch the scenery. There was no way I could sketch this in 15 minutes but I took up the challenge and believe I at least was able to capture the feeling (color was added later). The scene was quite stunning and wish I had more time.
20 minute by bus, we arrived at our Ryokan Hotel - KAI Hakone.
My uncle had arranged everything about this trip so I was pleasantly surprised by how nice the Hotel was. Probably the nicest Japanese style hotel I have ever stayed in.
The room was vertically long but had small alcoves on the sides to break up the bathroom, tiny bar sink area, and an area for lights/decoration. The rear balcony faced the mountain and a stream - stunning view!
When sketching hotel rooms I usually find something really intriguing about the room. In this case it was the fact that they allowed customers to smoke in all rooms and there was not a dedicated smoking/non smoking room. I had a hard time believing this because I could not smell a bit of any remainders of the smoke in the room.
Well, it turned out they had a hidden window behind a Shoji Panel, as well as windows on the side of the room too. I would imagine opening all the doors, windows and balcony would allow great ventilation in the room. Quite clever.
After the mystery was solved, I went to enjoy the hot springs onsen bath - another stunning design where the back of the bath room had no wall and just faced the mountain. It was a little cold at first but once your submerged into the hot onsen bath, it was heaven.
Dinner was kaiseki style and was amazing.
What I love about Kaiseki style is that small beautiful dishes with beautifully prepared food is brought out one at a time - perfect for sketching!
Each meal came with a hand written menu by the head chef of the restaurant. (similar to the writing in the sketch)
There was so much food that I felt like I ate for the entire week....
The next day we took a relaxing sight seeing trip to Kamakura with the Enoden Train - a very popular 2 train car that runs along the sea side. Here my uncle's reading the paper on the train.
Well, that's it for my recent trip to Japan.
I already miss Japan but it's good to be back home in Boston too.