I’ve returned form my weekend in Tokyo. It was nice, a little bit stressful in the beginning, but very relaxing in the end.

When I arrived in Tokyo station after 2 hours 20 (using the fastest shinkansen NOZOMI), I managed once again to take a wrong turn (I hate Tokyo station) and almost missed my friend who was waiting exactly where she promised… Anyway, we then had lunch together (after it was her turn to get lost we went for fish in miso sauce)  and then we went to Tokyu Hands together, which is a large chain store catering to … Well, in the beginning they were selling craft supplies, but by now you can buy virtually anything related to bathroom/office/kitchen/travel/ … on top of that. I will not go into details here, Tokyu Hands is worth its own Saturday post. 😉"Skyscrapers of Shinjuku 2009 January" by Morio

Afterwards I betook myself to my hotel near Asakusa shrine, changed and put on makeup, and then went back to the city to the Austrian embassy or rather: to the ambassador’s residence, for the reception in honour of the Austrian National Day. It was my second such reception, and I was surprised that there were so many people. Apparently there are about 500 Austrians living in Japan – at least those the embassy knows of. The Austrian embassy is a large two story building in Minato-ku, that was built in the 1980s when that area of Tokyo was less developed, which means there was enough space to have a large garden also, including koi pond!

There was entertainment (Austrian zither and Japanese koto), speeches (the ambassador and other dignitaries), more music (a wind quartet played the Austrian hymn at a time when everybody was drunk enough to dare singing, but not yet drunk enough to have forgotten the text), and, of course, Austrian food. They did not have my favourite wine, but there was plenty of Schnitzel, potato salad, “Schweinsbraten mit Knödeln”, barbecued sausages, rye bread with various bread spreads, … all finished off with “Apfelstrudel”, chocolate cake and whipped cream (of course). It was an enjoyable evening, I met lots of people, both newcomers and those who have been here for years, both Austrian and Japanese. A Japanese woman asked me to teach her the first verse of the Austrian anthem, well, I could at least write down the text, but I can’t sing… I didn’t see her during the actual singing of the anthem, I hope she did well. I even worked up the courage (on insistence from a friend of mine) to introduce myself to his excellency, the Austrian ambassador, a very nice and pleasant person indeed.

Sunday was much more relaxing, just a bit of shopping (books! winter clothes!) before I went back to Kyoto. I guess I should go out more often.