Trip Report: Tokyo, Japan
Note: I know, it’s late but deal with it.
Plane tickets+hotel via Travelocity.com = $1609
Japan has always been the one country I’ve always wanted to visit at least once in a lifetime. That wish finally came true. The trip lasted a week from September 3rd to 10th. The flight there lasted a grueling 13 hours with very average meals but a good amount of movies to choose from for your leisure. The plane landed late afternoon and we took the express train to the city which took 40 min. Ueno is where we got off and it was time to find the hotel. Of course, since we had separate hotels, this is where I had to go solo in a country where I have no idea where to go. I knew this was a bad idea but I took my chances. Upon walking, first thing I noticed is the lack of street names, however there are intersection names that was absolutely no help to me. I was fucked. Walking down the a random main street, I search for any nonjapanese person for guidance. Most of them tried their best but I was still lost. Then this random middle aged Japanese business man was nice enough to guide me to the subway, God bless that man. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a Suica card. There were no traces of english in the ticket machine so I was really fucked. So I inserted some coins and pressed the whatever button and I got a little ticket. I spotted another foreigner and asked him where to go. Apparently, he was lost too! He wanted to go to Akihabara and I was like “ya…. I’m actually planning to go there tomorrow lol.” Cool thing was, that guy had a portable wifi device that traced the GPS accurately. Thanks to that, I got off at the stop the man told me to, except I was still lost. Almost 2 hours have passed and I needed to go take a leak, like real bad. After asking two patrol officers for guidance, I was like FUCK IT! Time to call the cab. From where I was at to the hotel, the cost was around 700 yen which wasn’t bad at all. So finally, after getting into my room, I was pooped. It past 7pm and I went to family mart to snack up, afterwards, I crashed which was around 8pm.
Aside from that little incident, even though I knew what to expect from this country, I still had this culture shock barrier. I knew the orientation of the streets are opposite to ours, but to think their walk ways as well was unexpected. Stay on the left side of the escalators to leave room for the people who wants to walk up. The lack of public trash bins is what really boggled me the most. So am I supposed to carry my shit around until I get back to my hotel room? According to my Japanese friend, the government banned public trash bins due to a small terrorist incident that involved a bomb going off in the trash bin. Even so, that shouldn’t be a good enough reason to take that away. So let’s say if a bomb went off a restaurant. Will restaurant be banned as well? Or if someone poisons the food in a grocery store, will be that be taken away? Talk about extreme. You know what I did with the trash I was carrying? Placed on top of the crane games when no one was looking. Since not even store clerks would let me throw my shit in their trash bins, I’m forced to resort to this mess. It’s really impressive how there’s no trash bins and yet, the city is tidier than America. Public restrooms is a tough fit for foreigners due its small size. When I was eating at KFC, their restroom can only have a single person per use. Tokyo is definitely not a tall or fat friendly place. Japan (and possibly Korea) is known for having confined places. Weather wise, it’s really hot and humid at the time I was there. Lesson is, wear shorts and carry less. The train system is really confusing at times because there’s so many of them. One thing I should’ve done was rent a portable wifi. It’s not easy finding a free public wifi area unless if you have a map and know where you are. Now since all that’s outta the way…
Akihabara: Otaku paradise in every sense of the word. 70% of this region is figurines figurines figurines. By the 3rd day there, I was getting sick of looking at figurines, not because it’s stuff I can’t afford but I really don’t care for them honestly. There were like 3 Sega arcade buildings for all the coin-inserting gaming you need except the volume is tripled compared to Gameworks and smoking heavy. It nearly gave me a headache after 30 min stay. Cool thing was I played Persona 4 Arena Ultimate and Gundam ExtremeVs Maxi Boost. Word of advice – do not play against the Japanese players. You will most certainly lose. My favorite place in Akiba is Yodabashi Camera. This place is my playground. It’s Best Buy x11. Each floor dedicated to certain types of electronics. The 2nd last floor is entirely a food court. The camera, gunpla & video game, and PC parts floor nearly made my knees drop to the floor. It felt like heaven to me. I was really tempted to buy a new camera there. Tax free btw!
You’ll see plenty of electronic stores walking around the region. Temptation level was over 9000. During the afternoon, beware of maids passing out flyers! Some of them may be cute but once you take those flyers, you’re gonna have a hard finding a trash can to throw ’em out. Speaking of maids, dem maid cafes. *Shivers*. 10 seconds into the maid cafe, I realized I’m too manly for this shit. Listening to chipmunk singing music was vomit to the ears. And holy crap, the prices are outrageous. But those maid cafes, the embarrassment was real. You’re forced to do cutesy hand gestures when receiving a meal or drink, and they either put rabbit or cat ears on your head.
Odaiba: This is probably the best moment of the trip. It’s been nearly 10 years since the last time I’ve seen my Japanese friend, Ryo (check out his professional cosplays!). Meeting with him was like half the reason why I went to the country. Since he bought Gundam Front Tokyo tickets in advance to save a few dollars, we immediately took a train to Odaiba. Seeing the Gundam RX-78 was like a dream come true. I’ve taken so many video footages of that thing that I almost used half my SD card. It’s something you have to see for yourself rather than looking at the pictures on the internet. The details and the scale is truly impressive. So once we entered Diver City Tokyo, it’s 3 or 4 floors of food court & clothing shops. The top floor is where the Gundam museum’s located. Gunpla everywhere! There were 2 CG movie shorts we saw in the theater dome. First one dealt with a new Unicorn unit fighting against AMX-107 Bawoo, 2nd short film was a showcase of Shambala fighting against Neo Zeong, then Unicorn & Banshee joining in the fight. Afterwards, we had lunch at the food court while catching up in our conversations. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to catch up since Sunday was his only free day so we had to go back to Akihabara for his bullet train station. Couple day later, I went back to Odaiba to explore a bit more. Seeing the Gundam statue at night was quite a sight to see. Fuji TV building and the Venus Fort area were all great places to check out. Leisureland is the biggest arcade center I’ve ever seen.
Shibuya, Ueno, & Shinjuku: Spent a full day at Ueno walking in the park and seeing the temples. It was interesting seeing how domesticated the animals were. You can never get close to a bird as close as a foot away in America. Unfortunately, I didn’t get enough of Shibuya or Shinjuku. The infamous crossing in Shibuya was quite a sight to see. I really wanted to get elevated video footage but all the spots were taken by other photographers (seriously, go away local citizens! Make way for the tourists). Shinjuku felt like the main shopping district for the norms. It was also the shadiest area I’ve been to. Apparently, there were women outside passing flyers dressed up in school uniforms or maid outfits which I thought they were trying to advertise for another cafe. I was wrong, they were prostitutes. Passed by a few love hotels. But I think Shinjuku had the best night view with all the city lights.
Tokyo Tower: Cheap for a observation tower. Great views overall. Going all the way down the stairs from the top nearly killed my legs. I really wanted to visit the basement aquarium, too bad it was closed by the time we got there.