I forgot to mention that, on Friday, I monitored the English club practice making crepes for the school festival. They borrowed the use of the home ec room, but apparently none of them had taken home ec because they didn't know where anything was. First they searched everywhere for frying pans ans could only come up with some exceedingly heavy woks. Then, after they had mixed the ingredients to make the crepe batter, they couldn't get the stoves to light. I was positive this was because the gas main was shut off (my secret knowledge due to seeing a sign saying "turn off gas main when you are finished"), but none of us knew where it was to turn it on. I ran and fetched the teacher in charge of the English club, because he knew how to find it...right next to the sign I had read. ^_^;
The students tried making a crepe in one of the woks, and that proved to be a difficult task. First, the oil all puddled at the bottom of the pan. Second, the handle was metal and got quite hot, so they had to grip it precariously with a dishtowel to keep from being burned. Third, the pan was so heavy that it was difficult to rotate to get the crepe batter to spread out properly. Fourth, of course, the pan is totally the wrong shape to make a crepe. While they were struggling with that, I searched through the cabinets until I located regular flat frying pans for them. That worked MUCH better.
They had decided upon making two kinds of crepe, fruit and salad. The salad one, consisting of cheese, lettuce, mayonnaise, tuna, and ham, apparently tasted very good. The fruit one, made with pineapple/Mandarin orange fruit salad, banana slices, chocolate-covered corn flakes, chocolate sauce, and whipped cream, wasn't quite as effective. The flavors were fighting among themselves, and the whipped cream melted upon touching the hot crepe, so it looked like a squishy mess. There was a discussion at the end to decide what things to improve. Everyone agreed that the really tangy fruit should be left out, but they couldn't think of anything to replace it. Strawberries would be ideal, but they are way too expensive. We'll see what they come up with eventually.
Saturday I met up with wednesday_10_00 at Tokyo Station (communicating with each other on our cell phones in order to locate each other, as we started out on opposite sides of the station). We went to Ikebukuro where we stopped at Denny's for breakfast. We were shocked upon being seated as the waitress handed us a morning menu. They have a special morning menu now? This is a new concept.
As you can see from the pictures, the morning menu offers four breakfast choices: the scrambled egg and toast breakfast, the french toast breakfast, the Japanese-style fish breakfast, and the Japanese-style bacon and egg breakfast. The back side of the menu has dessert and drinks, including (in the bottom row middle) pear juice and kiwi juice. We searched the menu in vain for any kind of potatoes.
I looked around, hoping vaguely that there would be a sign posted telling when they would start serving lunch food, and a waitress hurried over to ask what we needed. When I asked if they could do fries, she ran to consult someone and came back to tell us they could. We proceeded to attempt to order, but she was apparently not the one in charge of our table, so she had to run and get someone else to take our order. (Yes, it took the combined efforts of three people to take our order.)
At this point, since I ordered the egg and toast breakfast (with fries), I must stick in a word about Japanese bread. Japanese loaves of bread all come in a one-size-fits-all cube that's roughly five inches per side. However, there is variety to be found in the number of slices per loaf. You can buy this same sized loaf of bread divided into two, four, five, six, eight, or (if you're *very* lucky) ten slices. The ten-slice loaf, which is what I buy, has slices that are roughly the thickness one would expect. As the number of slices decreases, of course, each slice gets thicker. The average Japanese piece of toast uses the six-slice size. In this picture, I am demonstrating the thickness of the toast that came with my meal, which is probably four-slice size. I am not exaggerating; my teeth are actually touching the bread on both sides.
After we finished our meal, we went shopping for a while and then went back to Chiba where we spent the rest of the afternoon reading.
On Sunday morning we went to Asakusa for a fangirl event. Upon leaving the subway station, we were both thirsty, so I attempted to buy a bottle of milk tea from a nearby vending machine. I put in my money and pushed the button, and it made a beeping sound, to let you know it took the order...but the drink never came out. While I stewed about this, another lady came from behind me and bought a drink with no problem. I decided that perhaps I did something wrong, so I put in more money and pushed a different milk tea button...and still nothing came out. I was starting to throw a temper tantrum by this point.
wednesday_10_00 helpfully pointed out that there was a number listed on the machine to call in case of a malfunction, so I screwed up my courage and reported the problem. The man on the other end said they'd send someone over to fix it, and if I remained in the area, they'd call me to tell me when they were ready to refund my money. We were staying around for the event anyway, so that was no problem.
We had fun at our event, then as we were leaving I got the call from the vending machine repair man. We walked back, where he explained that the bottles had fallen in a vertical position rather than rolling, so they had blocked the exit. We chose two replacement drinks rather than asking for a refund (since it was hot and we could use the drinks anyway) and had quite a successful conclusion to that adventure.
We then walked up and down the streets in front of Sensouji, looking in various shops. We went into one store that sold all kinds of dresses, from Chinese dresses to ballroom dancing dresses to Hawaiian dresses. I found one that I totally would wear, except that it cost $400, and it was too big for me. The one thing that surprised us most was that the dresses were all HUGE, generally sizes 9-13. If you don't think that's big, let me put it this way: I'm a size 6, and in a normal Japanese department store, I often have to buy size L. We seriously wondered who they expected to buy the dresses.
There were a number of shops selling food in the area, and we came across this one offering fresh fruit. One type of fruit on display was completely unfamiliar. It looked vaguely mango-shaped, but the skin was all purple. I had to take a picture of it because it looked so unusual.
Anyway, we concluded our browsing and went back to Chiba, where we decided to watch the Chinese movie Lovers playing at the theater. It didn't start for an hour, so after purchasing our tickets (the theater is all reserved seating, with a ticket price of $18) we went to eat something. In the food court, we saw this advertisement for a "twin cheese" burger. The eight-pointed shape of the burger caught my attention. I speculated that they made it that shape so that the cheese wouldn't droop over the edge. In any case, it certainly looked unique.
The movie was quite gorgeous, particularly the costumes, though there were a number of things left unexplained. The two main characters, on the run from Imperial soldiers, kept having their horses vanish for fight scenes and reappear later, seemingly at random. They also kept throwing away their weapons and not retrieving them, which I thought was rather shortsighted. They also must have been expert trackers, because even when separated by vast forests and fields and hills, they could unerringly find one another again. (I get lost in a parking lot...) The final scene was very dramatic...and also quite silly, if you try to think about it logically. Still, it was worth watching for the sequence in the brothel at the beginning with the dancing and the drums and the costumes, and the scenery throughout was really beautiful.
Monday we spent essentially reading lazily. By late afternoon we headed back to Moriyama, arriving shortly after 9:30pm.