Today we went on a trip to Mt Fuji and Hakone. The weather even cooperated mostly because once we got to Mt Fuji the clouds cleared and we could see the top of the mountain. We left the tour group in Odawara having decided to come back to Tokyo via the ramen shop. I'd read quite a few reports from other fans on their experiences and how to get there. And of course, some good food never goes astray.
It was even easier to find than I'd imagined. All we had to do was walk down the stairs from the north gate of the station and there was the yellow sign surrounded by flashing lights a very short block away. So we ventured in.
As others have reported it's a pretty small space, four tables and some counter seating. You can certainly tell you're in the right place by the interior decorations.
And there were some interesting things in at the front door.
There were lots of yummy things on the menu and we found it difficult to make a choice.
We had gyoza, a few different types of ramen and I had the yakisoba.
The food was absolutely delicious. We ordered a second round of gyoza and I think we did a pretty good job of getting most of it eaten.
The atmosphere was very relaxed and Mrs Koyama was very kind, smiling and friendly as we tried to sort out our drinks order. She even gave us a free tasting glass of one mixed drink when they didn't have supplies to make the one we'd ordered. The family resemblance is very strong, not just because they look alike, but they say things in very similar ways too.
Many other fans had reported the map on the wall with phone straps and other danglies obviously left by fans.
When we were talking about making the trip there for dinner, we'd agreed that we shouldn't turn up empty handed. So when Mrs Koyama came to give us the bill, we explained that we were from Australia and presented her with a couple of phone straps featuring a koala and a kangaroo. She was quite surprised that we were all the way from Australia, but very interested in the koala and kangaroo.
We joked that Australia was a bit further off the bottom of their map and she said that it was okay because she had a map of the world and she'd get that out.
While we'd been eating two girls came in, obviously very close with everyone there and chatting animatedly with everyone about all sorts of things. They sat at the table behind us and when we were talking about being from Australia they noticed that we had souviners from Mt Fuji and commented on it. We explained that we'd spent the day at Mt Fuji and Hakone and had then come there on the train.
Mrs Koyama asked us how we'd heard about their restaurant. We replied honestly, on the internet and she seem quite pleasantly surprised by that. The other girls summed the situation up quickly and said, 'so, you're News fans?' We replied that we definitely were and that Koyama was a favourite.
His mother was very impressed that people in Australia knew who he was and she asked if we were planning to go to a concert. When we said we were going to Fukui, one of the girls spoke up saying she lived in Fukui and she was also going to the concerts on the weekend. She confirmed that we were talking about the Sun Dome and asked what day we were going.
Mrs Koyama then asked us how we got our tickets. We explained that we had a friend in the fan club, and they were curious to know whether or not it was a Japanese person.
She asked how long we'be been in Japan, and the Japanese are always surprised when you're anywhere for more than a few days. She then asked where we'd been and where we were staying. We told her we were staying in Shinagawa and she guessed our hotel immediately and said it was a good choice.
When we mentioned that one of the places we'd been was Sendai, she asked if we'd been to a News concert already. We said that we'd been there only yesterday, and one of the other girls immedately asked what we thought of Ginza Rhapsody. We spent a few moments discussing how much we liked it, how good they looked etc etc. And how we were looking forward to seeing it again on the weekend.
I eventually managed to hand over the money to Mrs Koyama for the bill, and when she went to get the change, and feeling a lot braver, I showed the girls my Koyama keychain hanging on my handbag. They thought it was great and told me I had to show it to Mrs Koyama.
This is where it gets a bit hazy for me.
When she came back with the change I showed her my keychain. She was absolutely delighted and grabbed my hands, thanking me again and saying it made her very happy. She seemed so happy that she needed to pause and take a deep breath to find her English again. She said that she was very interested in Australia and hoped to be able to visit someday.
I was thanking her, she was thanking me, we smiled at each other a lot and she kept squeezing my hands. Then it was time to go. We'd been there almost two hours. We said our goodbyes, the girls said they'd look out for us on Saturday in Fukui, and Mrs Koyama walked us to the door and waved us goodbye.
What can I say - it made me very happy too.