But I am already doing this!

In order to boost flagging tourism after the nuclear disaster, earthquakes and tsunami, the Japan Tourism Agency has proposed a bold plan. They’re going to give away 10,000 free round-trip tickets.

Good Morning America says that the catch is that would-be travelers will need to submit a detailed travel plan, and, more importantly, write a review of their time in Japan and post in online.

The post ( found here) states that the funds aren’t approved yet and this wouldn’t happen until April. Also, the bloggers would get a free plane ticket but pay for their own food and hotel.

Still… Vincent and I are here now, in this post-earthquake world, and are testimony to the fact that it’s safe. And the tuna is delicious.


Not only that, but we have seen other tourists (read: awkward white people) out in the city. Mostly near the temple yesterday, but a few elsewhere. A nice Australian man pushing a stroller asked us what tacoyaki was right before we bit into the octopus-filled fried carb balls. He declined, moved on and we haven’t seen him since.


Oh! And there was a group of tourists in line behind us to get into the maid cafe. German, maybe?

This probably is a fraction of the normal number of tourists, but the place is not completely bereft.

It is safe. The city is lovely, the temples are grand, and it’s kind of nice being two of fewer tourists around.

Day 6: Asakusa, Shimotakaido, Akihabara…

This is the day of places where I could not take pictures.

We started out at a temple and the day degenerated from there…

We waited in line for the best tempura. Vincent ordered water in Japanese and the sarcastic old waitress lady made fun of him and corrected his pronunciation. 🙂



As we walked down some back alleys near the temple, Vincent found a knife store…

The combination of tiny, tiny shop, a multitude of sharp objects, a little girl running around, and a fat man sitting on the floor made for what should have been a dangerous situation, but miraculously no one was injured and we made away with an incredibly sharp knife wrapped in paper.


The temple was beautiful. The statues in front were made in the 1960s, and the entrance was rebuilt after it was destroyed but we don’t know what year.

We followed the other tourists in wafting incense, washing our hands and selecting fortunes.



The freakishly veiny foot belongs to a statue guarding the entrance to the temple.



Then we tracked down a maid cafe! After walking until we could barely take another step, we sucked up our pride and asked the nice girl dressed in a maid outfit where we should go…

The maid cafe is weird.

You cannot take pictures inside unless its a Polaroid taken by one of the maids. As you enter, the girls greet you as master of the house. You order drinks and some mediocre food… But the novelty is that the maid will draw on your food with ketchup, shake your drink to mix it, or serve you a drink based on her mood…

Lots of guys came in with their frequent visitor cards and paid to take pictures with or play games with the maids. By games I mean, Connect Four or Hungry Hippos.

And we weren’t allowed to ask them personal questions, which made conversing difficult.

That’s weird, right? We had an English speaking maid, but her English was not great and she didn’t spend much time with us. She did know about Arnold Schwarzenegger, so apparently that’s the famous part of California.



After leaving we drowned the memory in Belgian beer! Upstairs in a smoky little bar we ordered Stella and met Dain’s friend Alan, who hails from San Diego. Alan brought us near his house, in the direction of Kichijoji, to a little underground room called Bar Invitation. The knowledgeable bartender looks like Michael Jackson and chips his own ice into various shapes from one giant block. He let us in for just one drink.