Friday, November 19th

Travelblogue - Tokyo Day 11 (Edogawa - Kasai Rinkai Koen, Ryogoku)

Listening to: nothing
Current mood: sleepy/wistful

Ah, I can't believe today was our last day in Tokyo. It's a weird feeling, we've been here quite a while but it's been so nice the time has just flown by. I think I pretty seriously love this town, we haven't even left yet and we're already talking about the next time we come. This is going to have to be a short post though, as it's 1am here and we have to get up and fly home tomorrow.

Anyway, so today was our trip to the Tokyo Sea Life Park. Which isn't quite the massive and grandiose spectacle that the Monterey Bay Aquarium is, but was still a pretty impressive aquarium and only cost 700 yen to get in. They had a pretty good selection of fish from around world (the squid tank was a favorite of ours) and I got to pet a shark, which felt quite different that I expected (they look really soft, but they're actually quite rough and scratchy). They also have a pretty big penguin exhibit, and they are always fun to watch. Lynnea and I both love aquariums, so it was a good time all around.

Now, the Tokyo Sea Life Park is part of Kasai Rinkai park, which is this big park on Tokyo Bay. So after the aquarium, we decided to ride the big ferris wheel that's also in the park. It was kind of pricey, but we got a discount for having gone to the Sea Life Park, and really the views from it were stunning. I may have mentioned that my Japanese is poor, but I believe the lady on the speaker in the ferris wheel car said it was 117m tall. Which is pretty darn high up.

Once we got back from the park, we did a little bit of last minute shopping around Shinjuku, then hopped on the Chuo/Sobu line (specifically the Sobu line, if I'm not mistaken) over to Ryogoku to have dinner at Popeye Beer Club. Ok, so, yeah, it's pretty expensive, but Popeye Beer Club was awesome. They had an incredible selection of Japanese microbrews (I had a Yo-ho Tokyo Black Porter on cask, followed by Popeye original imperial brown ale called Divine Vamp III) and the food was ridiculously good. The highlight was the mini mutton steaks wrapped in bacon and smothered in roasted garlic paste. Dude.

After that it was a ride back to Shinjuku (with a crazy guy in our car - bonus!) and some packing. And now I really need to go to bed.

Matt on 11.19.10 @ 08:19 AM PST [link]  [No Comments]

Thursday, November 18th

Travelblogue - Tokyo Day 10 (Kamakura)

Listening to: nothing
Current mood: tired

So, as last night's 2am post might have indicated, we got a slightly later start than intended today, although only by about an hour. We hopped the train to Kamakura and got there at probably about 11:30am. We sort of went the wrong way from the station to start because we wanted to see the beach. And man, Kamakura be ach is amazingly pretty (and we got attacked by hawks, which was interesting), although walking over and then back to main area added an extra mile or two of walking to the day.

After the beach we had a bite at this hot dog place along with a local Kamakura beer (Kamakura Flower) that was pretty decent. Then we walked over to one of the main big temples, whose name escapes me at the moment, but it was pretty impressive.

But the main attraction of Kamakura (other than the beach) for us was the Daibutsu. Which is this great big Buddha (13.4m) that was made sometime in the 14th century. Which proved to be another decent hike (we walked over 6 miles today, which actually has probably been a fairly normal amount for this trip) as well as 200 yen to get in, but it was pretty cool. And for another 20 yen you could go inside (he's hollow), which wasn't that exciting, but it was kind of fun.

By that time it was getting dark and freezing cold so we got back on the train and came back to Tokyo. After another long restaurant search we finally settled on a pizza place down the road to see if everything we had heard about Japanese pizza was true. And yeah, it is... Japanese pizza is kind of bland. Like it needs salt and garlic badly. But it was tasty enough and kept us from dying of hunger.

Since then we've just been sitting here watching japanese tv again, and since I only slept around six and a half hours last night I think it's time for bed. Tomorrow we're going to try the aquarium again, then finish up some last minute shopping.

Matt on 11.18.10 @ 06:15 AM PST [link]  [No Comments]

Wednesday, November 17th

Tokyo Day 9 - (Musashi-koyama, Jinbou-chou, Akihabara)

Listening to: nothing
Current mood: up too late

Ack, it's it way too late at night. So, the thing about aquariums, other than them being awesome, is that sometimes they are closed on Wednesdays. Which we luckily discovered before we trekked all the way to Edogawa, but not before it was difficult to change our plans for the day.

So we decided to head over to the Palm shopping street in Musashi-koyama that we tried to go to a couple days ago. Which was kind of cool, if only in a "Hey, old people and moms! So this is where they hang out!" kind of way. We also had some pretty good sushi there and I actually managed to find an affordable Boom Boom Satellites cd (albeit from 1998), so that was kind of nifty.

After that we thought we might check out Jinbou-cho, which is the book shop district. And, yep, there are a ton of bookshops there. Although, if you are freezing cold and it's raining and you don't know much Japanese, it's less of a useful place and more like a "Ah, so there are a ton of bookshops here. Cool." kind of situation.

So yeah, that was cool. Maybe next time we come I'll be able to read a bit more and it'll be more interesting. After that we walked through what is apparently the guitar district (I had heard there were a lot of guitar shops in Kanda, and it was not untrue), back over to Akiba, where I finally found the Bakemonogatari Set 1 (see previous posts on how this should not be mentioned) for a sum of money I would not like to discuss, and some other nerdy things. (Danboard figure - huzzah, and some games). Then we came back here and ate a pork rice ball (!!! - delicious!) and some crazily rich and heavy ramen at a shop down the street from our hotel (it had spinach - it sounds like it would be wrong, but it's oh so right).

After that we met up with my cousin Tim and his wife Rumi who are also bumming around Japan just now (her being from here and all) and went to an izakaya where I had a drink called the Men's Purple. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH ORDERING THE MEN'S PURPLE IT IS FOR MEN. Ahem. Even if it comes in a tiny cute little glass. Then we came back to the room and they thankfully helped us finish off the bottle shochu I bought last night and had no idea how to finish. It was really fun. It was our first time meeting Rumi. She's great. Cousin Tim did good.

And now it's nearly 2am and we're supposed to go Kamakura tomorrow so I need to be in bed an hour ago. So there.

Matt on 11.17.10 @ 08:46 AM PST [link]  [No Comments]

Tuesday, November 16th

Travelblogue - Tokyo Day 8 (Takaosan)

Listening to: nothing
Current mood: sleepy

Today we finally managed to get out of the city a ways and did a bit of hiking on Mt. Takao (Takaosan in Japanese). We hopped on the Keio line here in Shinjuku and rode about 45 minutes east to Takaosanguchi station. I'll tell you, I wasn't expecting that much of a hike. From the cheerful and adorable website I thought it would be an easy bit of walking, but if you opt not to take the cable car up (and really, even if you do), and depending on which trails you take, it's a pretty burly hike. And I'm from one of the hikinger areas of the world (or the US at least) so I ought to know.

But regardless, Takaosan is beautiful. In part we went up in hopes of seeing the fall foliage and we were not disappointed. It was all sorts of autumn up there. There's also several shrines and a temple (because it's Japan so there's also always a shrine and a temple) and food stands (we had some fantastically good yaki dango... they're like if toasted marshmallows were savory instead of sweet) and little Jizo statues all along the trails and monkey park that we didn't go to because it cost 400 yen each, and all kinds of fun stuff. It was pretty great. It was also totally mobbed with people on the main trail, despite being a tuesday. I bet it looks like Shinjuku Station up there on the weekends. We took a much less traveled (and much, much rougher) trail back, and saw maybe a dozen people total on the way down (as opposed to the literally hundreds, possibly thousands on the way up), which felt more like hiking back home.

Oh and did I mention that views from the top are fantastic? Because they are.

Anyway, after we made our way down and I scored a pin with a tengu on it from a vending machine (which I wore the rest of the day, thank you very much) we headed back to Shinjuku. Since my shoes still had a hole in them (which had acquired an impressive quantity of mud during the hike) we went out to get me some new shoes. Which was easy enough. We popped into the ABC Mart on the northeast side of the station and they had really cool pair of green hightop canvas Pumas for a mere 3900 yen, so I snapped them up. After that we made a quick stop at Donki where I picked up a copy of Puyo Puyo 7 that I had had my eye on for a few days.

Then we finally headed out for dinner and ate a katsu place under the bank next to our hotel. After the hike (which was at least 5 miles, possible more) I needed some serious food so I had the jumbo katsu curry, which could have also been called the trough 'o katsu curry. It was really outstanding stuff but I think the waitress didn't really know what to do with a couple of gaijin who could hardly understand a word she was saying. (I do know a bit of Japanese, but wait staff always speak in humble form and at extremely low volumes, so I can never understand anything they're saying). Ah well, hopefully we weren't too boorish, and the food was great.

And now I am writing a post, and I am very sleepy from a day of strenuous hiking. And that about does it. Tomorrow we're going to the Tokyo Sea Life Park because aquariums are awesome.

Matt on 11.16.10 @ 06:16 AM PST [link]  [No Comments]

Monday, November 15th

Travelblogue - Toyko Day 7 (Tokyo, Meguro, Nakano)

Listening to: japanese tv
Current mood: pretty good

Well, the best laid plans of blah blah blah and all that. We had planned on going down to Kamakura today, but the weather forecast of heavy rain kind of put us off that for today. (Unfortunately, it's calling for rain there for the rest of the week, so I guess we're going to get rained on whenever we go down there, so we might as well buck up and do it.)

Instead we decided we'd over and check out the Imperial Palace. Because, you know, that's what you do. And, basically you can only walk around the outer part, but man, that was actually pretty cool. The Imperial grounds are really pretty. There was also a really cool, but sort of difficult to describe fountain that we watched for awhile. I hadn't actually been that interested in seeing it but I ended up finding it way cooler than I thought I would.

After that we thought we'd head over and check out Palm shopping street (the longest shopping street in Tokyo) which we thought was in Meguro, but alas, it was not in Meguro (it's actually on the Meguro line a few stops away, as we later discovered) so we ended up wasting the fare. We did have a decent coffee at Tully's (I've never really liked Tully's in the states, but it's not bad here...) since we were cold, and then a decent lunch of ten-don (not tendon, though that's also tasty) at the Meguro branch of Tenya.

After that we (ok, well, I) thought it would be fun to check out Nakano Broadway and the original Mandarake. Which was a crazy place. Nakano Broadway is another fairly long shopping street with Mandarake worming it's way though the upper floors as a series of unconnected shops. It was kind of fun to see another of the big otaku hangouts, but I didn't end up finding much, other than a Nyanko-sensei cell phone charm at pretty cool little shop in one of the back corners called Robot Robot. How can you not buy something from a place called Robot Robot?

Anyway, then we headed back to the hotel only to get rather heavily rained on on the way back from the station. This was not a problem so much as the fact that my shoes have developed holes in the soles from all the walking in the last week or so and my left foot got completely soaked. So after a bit of a rest and the judicious application of the hotel room hairdryer to my shoes, I wrapped a plastic shopping bag around each foot, put my shoe on and trimmed the bag back with scissors, and we set out in search of dinner. Yes, I am classy as a hobo. Did I ever mention the two week period in which I kept trying to patch my previous set of shoes using cardboard and tape? Well, it didn't work.

But the plastic bags did, and we made it over to Takashimaya Times Square and we up to the 13th floor to look for somewhere to eat. We had just about decided that everything there was too expensive when we were finally taken in by the lure of a garlic themed restaurant called Ninniku (garlic in Japanese). That place was awesome. We had some sort of Korean pancake thingy with a garlic dipping sauce, then Lynnea had a "spicy" (the Japanese seem to have a pretty low spice tolerance) pork and veggie and garlic thing, and I had a, um, meat (I thought it was pork, but it was also rather beefy, so I'm not sure) steak covered in garlic sauce and fried garlic and with cabbage and eggplant and rice on the side. Man, that was some good stuff.

After that we made our pretty much nightly stop at Family Mart and came back to the room. All in all, perhaps not the most exciting day, but pretty enjoyable. By the by, while I've been here, in addition to the cheap and delicious sake, I've also occasionally been drinking happoshu. What's happoshu, you may ask. I don't know. Well, I do sort of know. See, in Japan, beer is taxed based on the amount of malt it contains, so over the years the beer makers have made a cheaper beer-alternative to beat the taxes, and over the years the Japanese government has decreased the amount of malt that gets taxed until nowadays it's generally made out of less than 20% malt. Which means that I have no idea what it's made of, but it's (and this could possible get me kicked out of Quaff) actually pretty good. It's beer flavored something or other, and the flavor is pretty good. Anyway, just thought I'd mention that. If you're even in Japan, the happoshu is a pretty reasonable beverage (especially the Kirin Tanrei and the Sapporo Barley and Hops).

Ok, that's it for today. Tomorrow we're once again going to try to get slightly out of town with a bit of hiking (because my feet, they love the hiking) on Mt. Takao. Should be fun.

Matt on 11.15.10 @ 06:16 AM PST [link]  [No Comments]

Sunday, November 14th

Tokyo Day 6 (Harajuku, Akihbara)

Listening to: nothing
Current mood: pretty good

Wow, have 6 days already gone by? Ridiculous. So we didn't really do much today either, but it felt way more successful. We got up a little bit late (we've mostly been getting up around 7:30 or 8, but today we slept till 9) ate some breakfast and hoofed it on down to Harajuku to check out the scene, as they say. It turns out the scene is perhaps a little overstated. We saw a few subculture types, but really other than being way more busy it wasn't all that different from Harajuku on any other day. Wrong time of year, perhaps?

So we walked around a bit and finally decided that we'd seen what there was to see and thought we'd head back to the station to see if Akiba was a little more jumpin. On a whim though, we thought we'd go grab a crepe to tide us over till lunch and on the way to the crepe place we had in mind, ended up wandering down a random side street/alley and coming across the Baird Beer Harajuku Taproom. And since we were kind of hungry we thought, hey why not.

And lo, it was good. Well, actually it was pretty expensive (900 yen for a pint... yikes!), but the food was fantastic (we had some beer chashu pork, and a beer chicken curry... they were both ridiculously tasty) and the beer was really good, and the staff was awesome. (The manager didn't speak a ton of English, but had taken a trip to Portland a couple weeks earlier so we chatted with him a bit about Portland in general and west coast beers. He was really nice guy.)

After that we went and got our crepes and then headed back to the station and over to Akihabara. It turns out the cosplay scene in Akiba was also a little bit overstated today, but we did see a few cosplayers wandering around (other than all the maid cafe girls, that is). So after walking around again and me losing 700 yen on ufo catchers (oh spherical plush kitty cats, why will you not be mine?) we decided to do a bit of shopping. We hadn't hit Animate on the previous visit to Akiba so we decided to check that out first. We found a few things there, mostly some Sargent Frog stuff (not that there was a ton, apparently my love for the Sargent is about 10 years out of date).

Then we went to the Akiba Book Off and picked up a couple things then walked around the giant Yodobashi Camera there for awhile before deciding to drop back by Mandarake. This time I couldn't resist and dropped about 5000 yen on manga. Mostly classic stuff that's hard to find in San Diego... Astro Boy, GeGeGe no Kitaro, some stuff by Katsuo Umezu, that sort of thing.

After that we decided to get some dinner at a ramen place we had passed earlier and Lynnea thought looked good. Sweet jumping monkeys, was it ever. I had the tonkotsu ramen, garlic flavor. Which meant that it had a thick black layer of roasted garlic oil on the top of it. So. Insanely. Good.

After that we headed back here and that's about it. Not sure why today felt more successful than yesterday, maybe the fact that we got a bit of shopping in and ate two incredibly tasty meals. Dunno. Anyway, tomorrow we're actually getting out of the city for a day and heading down to Kamakura. Should be fun...

Matt on 11.14.10 @ 07:12 AM PST [link]  [No Comments]

Saturday, November 13th

Travelblogue - Tokyo Day 5 (Asakusa, Kappabashi, Ueno, Kabuki-cho)

Listening to: nothing
Current mood: sleepy yet again

Hmm... well, today was possibly a bit of bust. Not a bad day by any means, but really it felt like a little bit of a waste. We got up this morning without having planned out what exactly we were going to get up to today. We eventually decided that we should head up to Asakusa and see the Senso-ji temple and then walk over to Kappabashi (aka Kitchen Town) from there.

So really, you know, temples and shrines and stuff are cool and all, but I'm not really sure they're our bag. Senso-ji was large and pretty and impressive and all, but, um, I'm not Buddhist and there wasn't all that much to see. That and all the surrounding neighborhood is pretty much pure tourist... we really weren't all that into it. So after scarfing a taiyaki each (Lynnea's was chestnut, mine was purple sweet potato - delicious) and wandering around the temple and the shrine we set off for Kappabashi.

And then, well, Kappabashi was cool and all, but it's not like we could drag a bunch kitchen stuff back on the plane with us and those shops are tiny with incredibly narrow aisles and lots of breakable stuff, so, we pretty much only gave that a bit of skim. I think we got to Asakusa around 11 or 11:30 and including the rather lengthy walk and some lunch at one of the many Doutor locations, we were back at Ueno by a little after probably by 1:30 or 2.

Lynnea (oddly for her) still had the shopping bug so we went over to the ABAB department store and shopped around a bit there for clothes for her, but didn't find a ton of stuff. After that we came back to Shinjuku and hit a couple more of the big department stores in the area. That was kind of fun but not too inspiring. We grabbed dinner at some place that was really cheap and um, well, adequate. Not fantastic though.

The only other thing we did of interest was take a quick walk around Kabuki-cho. Kabuki-cho is one of Tokyo's more famous red light districts... this is not the reason I wanted to go there. The reason is that it's also the neighborhood that the neighborhood in the Yakuza series of games (aka Ryu ga Gotoku) is based on. And boy are they based on it. There are at least a couple streets there that the game had absolutely dead on. I actually felt like I had been there before. It was kind cool. There were, however, actual yakuza and such walking around, and it was getting kind of dark so we didn't walk around for more than about 10 minutes. Once we got back to the main street I noticed a huge ad for the next Ryu ga Gotoku game, which I found kind of amusing.

Anyway, that was about the day. Not bad in any way, but a little less exciting than the previous few days. Tomorrow it's back to Harajuku and Akiba to catch the famous fashionistas by Yoyogi park and the cosplayers respectively. Ought to f a fun, relatively low impact day, I think.

Matt on 11.13.10 @ 06:44 AM PST [link]  [No Comments]

Friday, November 12th

Tokyo Day 4 (Meiji Jingu, Harajuku, Ikebukuro)

Listening to: New Moon dubbed in Japanese
Current mood: severe foot pain

So today turned out to be shopping day. The plan was check out Meiji Jingu shrine in the morning, then go back to Harajuku and scope out some more of Cat Street, then maybe up to the giant department stores in Ikebukuro. What actually happened was we walked down to Meiji Jingu, said to ourselves, "Oh, it's a really big shine. Hey some priests. Cool. Hey lets head to Harajuku." We might have to consult some guidebooks and see what's actually supposed to be super cool about the shrine, cause while it was kinda cool and all, there didn't seem to be all much to see (the gardens maybe?).

So we spent from probably 10:30 or 11 until about 3 shopping in Harajuku. Now, Lynnea directly requested that I not get her a birthday present, but rather that I buy her clothes in Tokyo, and today was a pretty good start. We mostly shopped on Takashita Street, though we did get Lynnea some earrings on Harajuku Street and a really cool jacket over on Cat Street. She nabbed some really good stuff too. After that we had lunch at a place called Zip Zap that really pretty good, though I suspect a bolognese croissant sandwich is not something you're likely to find outside Japan.

After that we wandered into the Ometesando Hills shopping mall (actually just to use the restrooms), where they had, and I am not kidding, a Christmas display so blindingly beautiful it almost brought tears to my eyes. We took some pictures, that I will perhaps post later, but I doubt they will do it justice.

Anyway, then we headed on up to Ikebukuro to check the Seibu department store. Which was amazing. Think of the largest shopping mall you have ever been in, compress it all into one floor, then make there be 14 of those floors. I'm probably exaggerating, but only slightly. (And apparently there's a competing store on the other side of the station, which is similar in scale). Most of the place is high-end though, so we really only shopped on the top few floors which are a store called Loft, that's actually quite a bit more reasonable than the places downstairs. (I finally found the pens I was looking for, some Tachikawa School Gs).

After we came back from there we wandered over to the Yamashimaya Times Square, which is pretty much more or less across the street and up a couple staircases from our hotel. We wandered around the big Tokyu Hands there, and over into Kinokunya bookstore. Then we went to a donburi place in Shinjuku Station for dinner which was pretty darn good. The great part though was the table full of old businessmen next to us who were drinking beer and generally trying to wind down from the work day. We didn't talk to them or anything, but they were kind of fun.

Then for some reason we wandered around Shinjuku for a little bit before finally coming back here. Which is where we are now, believe it or not. Ok, that tears it, I must be getting sleepy. I wonder if there's anywhere in this town a guy can buy a new set of feet...

Matt on 11.12.10 @ 06:56 AM PST [link

Thursday, November 11th

Travelblogue - Tokyo Day 3 (Ueno)

Listening to: nothing
Current mood: sleepy again

So today we decided to head up to Ueno and check out Ameyoko and the Tokyo National Museum. Ameyoko (short for Ameya Yoko-cho) was a big black market place in the post-war days that these days has turned into a sort of large bargain shop area palooza thingy. Ok, I've had a can of happoshu and a glass of sake, I admit it.

So yeah, some extremely small cramped streets filled with tiny stalls selling discount stuff, tons of restaurants, fish sellers, fruit stands, all kinds of great stuff. By the way, you know how fish stands are generally considered to smell rather unpleasant? Yeah, not these. The piles of fish actually somehow smelled deliciously fishy instead of horribly fishy. I have no idea why... maybe how fresh they were? Probably. Anyway, I just thought that was interesting,

Anyway, we wandered around Ameyoko until about noon, at which point we nommed a crepe and a chocolate coronet from a stand then headed for the museum. Unfortunately, it's hard to say too much about the museum. I mean, it was awesome, one of the best museums I've ever been in, but you know, what kind of blog post do you write about a museum? I will mention that they had a bunch of mind-blowingly old stuff, from the Jomon period in Japan (you know that dogu with the missing foot you see in pictures? yep, that's there) as well as some ancient Mesopotamian and Egyptian stuff in one of the side buildings. It was all pretty nifty. Plus the admission was only 600 yen. They could easily charge twice that and it would be well worth it.

After that we went back to Ameyoko and had dinner a really great ramen place. Then we shopped around a little bit and finally came back to the hotel with the intention of heading out again. A combination of severe foot pain and the fact that the place we were going to go was closed sort of put the kibosh on that though. So that was about it for today. We had a really great time, but not one that translates easily to blogging.

Now I will go pass out and hope I grow new feet and legs by morning.

Matt on 11.11.10 @ 05:49 AM PST [link

Wednesday, November 10th

Travelblogue - Tokyo Day 2 (Akihabara)

Listening to: nothing
Current mood: cheerful

So today was the day to go check out Akihabara. Now, I may be wrong but if you don't know what Akihabara is, you're no kind of nerd. Even if you're not an anime, manga, or electronics nerd, it still seems like you'd have at least heard the name and gotten the gist. As I assume all my readers are nerds, I need not expound. Oh fine, wikipedia link.

So we hopped on the Yamanote and headed over to Akiba first thing this morning. It was still a little early so we wandered around a bit and checked out one of the several large arcades before happening upon the rather cool (but um, slightly smelly... alright, I'm actually gonna go with rather smelly, but you know nerds, especially the feral variety...) vintage game shop Super Potato, which had been on my list of places to check out. Despite the aforementioned odor, Super Potato was pretty cool. It's on the floors 3-5 of a grungy little building, floors 3 and 4 of which are solid vintage games and game machines, and floor five being a small vintage arcade. They had games for pretty much every system up to the Playstation, maybe a little newer but not much. MSX, Famicom Disk System, all sorts of stuff.

After that we went to one of the giant electronics stores... Ishimaru, I think it was. Walked around there for awhile, got really hungry and went to go find food. Now, we keep getting hungry exactly at noon, which perhaps not the best time in Tokyo, because absolutely every single place is slammed. We ended up grabbing a bite at MOS Burger and following it up with a couple Mister Donuts. Not too shabby really.

After that we wandered a bit and went to a couple shops, one of which was across from the arcade we were at earlier. So Lynnea talked me into going back into the arcade to try my hand at a couple of the UFO Catchers. I ended winning a small plush Nyanko-sensei (shown below) from Natsume's Book of Friends, a show/manga that I happen to love, which was pretty cool. I had just sort of figured I was giving the arcade a free 400 yen.

So now that we were warmed up we wandered into another store, Jeans Mate, which was pretty awesome. It's 5 stories, floors 1 & 2 being mainly characters goods, floor 3 being Akihabara souvenirs, 4 & 5 being mainly pretty cool clothes. I think we might have to go back. While we were there though, I grabbed the Bakemonogatari puchi nendoroid set 2 for a measly 1480 yen. If you don't know what that means, um, it's better if you just forget I said it.

So the next place we went was this massive 8 story building of pure burning otaku might. And believe it or not, I was on floor 8 (though we skipped the two doujinshi floors) before I realized, oh, hey, I'm in Mandarake. (To be fair, I didn't know there was one in Akiba... I only knew about the original one in Nanako).That place was awesome and crusty. It's for the hardcore otaku though... the prices there were relatively insane, but if you wanted it, they probably had it.

So we did a little more assorted meandering, then finished up the day with the main Akiba Sofmap. I was mainly uninterested until we hit the 8th floor, which was the game and figure floor, where they actually had some pretty darn good prices. To Lynnea's mounting horror, I nabbed the Bakemonogatari puchi nendoroid set 3, as well as a Lucky Star puchi nendoroid set where they're all dressed as Street Fighter characters (cause, heh, weird). Now I just have to find set 1 and I will have all the Bakemonogatari puchi nendoroids. Bad Decision Dinosaur whispers into my ear: Yessssssss. (Unfortunately I haven't seen that one anywhere). Also again, if you don't know what I'm talking about, please pretend I never said it.

Anyway, that was most of the day. We also went to the 45th floor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building to check out the view, which was pretty stunning (we didn't get any pictures tonight though, but we figured we'd go back, it's less than half a mile from our hotel). Then we ate some remarkably good katsu curry, and that's about it.

Now just to kick back with a bit of sake* and wind down.

(*Side note: I learned recently that these days Japanese don't drink sake. Really almost ever. They mainly just make it and sell it to us. Bizarre, isn't it?)
Matt on 11.10.10 @ 05:03 AM PST [link

Tuesday, November 9th

Travelblogue - Toyko Day 1 (Shinjuku, Harajuku, Shibuya)

Listening to: none
Current mood: sleepy


So yeah, I guess these days I never blog unless I'm on vacation or making beer. Well, this time it's vacation. So yeah, we're in Tokyo. We got in last night and eventually found our way to our hotel in Shinjuku, which is just about two blocks from the station. By the time we made it to the room it was all we could do to grab a ham sammich from the convenience store across the street, eat it, and fall asleep.

So today was the first real day here. First impression of Tokyo: dude. Maybe after a few more days I'll be able to describe this place. Probably not. It's utterly unlike anything I've ever seen. I mean, I thought I had seen a lot of stuff, but I think I saw more today than I had up until yesterday inclusive. This place is amazing. It's practically a fractal, everywhere you look there's just more and more stuff the more you look at it. This may not make sense, but I'm still a bit jet lagged and honestly only about half awake right now.

Anyway, I sort of figure that after a very long flight the next day is pretty much a write-off so we didn't have too much planned for today. After a short walk around Shinjuku to get our bearings, we decided we'd take a stroll down through Yoyogi Park and check out a little of Harajuku. Once we got down there though, we were still feeling a bit too shy to go in anyplace, so we kept on walking and ended up in Shibuya.

So, yeah, Shibuya. Again... dude. I don't even know what else to say. It's just... I can't even come up with a description, I'm too tired. Anyway we wandered around Shibuya for a little while, ate some really good curry and cheese filled taiyaki, and finally took a tour through the 109 Building. If you don't know the 109 Building... basically if Shibuya is the center of fashion for Japan (not to mention its influence on the rest of the world) the 109 Building is more or less the center of Shibuya. It's 9 floors crammed full of tiny, expensive, ultra hip boutiques with improbable names (I was rather amused by "Titty") and tiny, expensive, ultra hip girls walking around in painful looking heels covered in fur (seemingly the current trend). It was pretty crazy, but pretty damn cool.

Anyway after that we hiked back up to Harajuku, and shopped around a bit at Kiddy Land and a few of the shops on Cat Street (didn't buy anything this time, but we'll be going back), ate some takoyaki, and walked back to the hotel. Then we decided to stock up on a few supplies, and I had heard the place to go was Don Quixote (over at the edge of Kabuki-cho). Holy Lord. Like... take the contents of an entire shopping mall and cram it all into 5 stories of one small building, then mark down the prices on everything. If you ever need some booze, a tennis racket, a frying pan, a two thousand dollar handbag, a inflatable anime love doll, and some snacks, I know the place to go. (That wasn't our shopping list by the way.)

So by the time we got back with our chips and sake and shochu and cetera we exhausted and dying of hunger. Luckily there's a ramen-ya pretty much next to hotel, and it turns out their ramen is pretty damn good. So that's been about the day. Tomorrow we're planning on hitting Akihabara, at which I will most likely say dude again.

(As an aside, there was supposed to be a picture to go with this post but something is being weird with my ftp server and it won't let me log on. I'll up it when a chance.)

Matt on 11.09.10 @ 04:27 AM PST [link