Sunday, 14 September 2014

Dying of Cold (First 3 Days in Tokyo)

It is day 3 of the holiday and everyone has arrived and lots of things have already been done! I arrived Friday morning to find the airline hadn’t put my suitcase on the plane when I connecting in Amsterdam. Well damn. So I make my way to meet up with Ben, Stacey and Josh, but because customs was easy we met up earlier than planned. Ben was wearing a weird bamboo hat he’d bought in the countryside…

It was baking (mostly due to humidity) but we decide on eating hot ramen anyway. It was sooo good and I probably needed to eat something. After that we got the train to Shinjuku because I couldn’t check into my apartment and because I had a brain fail and thought Shinjuku was Shibuya. But because we had ran into a uniqulo I got something to change into for the next day (the airline has given me $50 per day for missing luggage). We then gave up on exploring Shinjuku and decided to walk to my apartment, which getting distracted by a taiko drum arcade game... We also think we wandered into the red light district as there were a lot of host and hostess clubs (it was the middle of the day so they were all closed…I think…)

After I checked in we decided to check out Ikebukuro and “Otome Road” the street for fangirls, which consists of butler cafes, cosplay stores, and manga and doujinshi stores. Ben’s friend has requested a gift from Japan and said “surprise me” so we tried to help him find something in Otome Road, but did not succeed. I have also been challenged by a friend to find Hanbei and Yukimura (Sengoku BASARA) BL pairing but we did not succeed in Otome Road…

Wes arrived late that evening so although I was full and tired from jetlag and sushi dinner I zombie over to Haneda airport and take Wes back to the apartment.

Day 2 starts at 5:30am because of the early Japanese sunrise and white curtains. I also have a earache but think that’s because I was forced to wear my glasses which I don’t normally do. But because we woke up early we decide to walk the 20mins to the next station over where the others are staying and change what I got at Uniqulo for something else (because the size was wrong).

The shop doesn’t open until 10am though (Japanese shops tend to open late and stay open late), we went to a cheap import store and got drinks and some small items. After the Uniqulo opens though I’m able to get a top and return the item I got before. We then gate crash Ben, Josh and Stacey’s hostel and steal their internet (because ours is really, really bad which is why I’m uploading photos later!).

The sightseeing began with a trip to Sangakuji where the 47 ronin are buried/enshrines (which is pretty cool). This one mon (family crest) jumps out at me from some of the graves and statues (which I saw twice more today) which is of two hawk feathers crossed over. (I just looked this up to briefly, it’s called the Takanoha but I need to look into it’s connection with the 47 Ronin later).

I had arranged to meet up with a Japanese friend from Gaidai called Shizuka, but the others wanted to go see Zojoji which was a 40min walk from Sangakuji because some shoguns were buried there. I left the party at that point to go meet Shizuka at Odaiba, a big island in Tokyo Bay that has some malls with cool shops and the 1/1 scale Gundam model. When I arrive there’s a Mexican festival going on so Shizuka and I grab some food and chat while we wait for the others, who then also need to grab food and stuff when they arrive! So it isn’t until about 2pm the we wander off to check out the Gundam. Josh surprised Stacey as well by proposing to her under the statue using a gummy ring (even though they’ve already been married for 9 years. The gummy ring is a reference to the last time they were in Japan together in high-school).

We then check out the Gundam model exhibit on the 7th floor of the department store but Shizuka and I were so tired we accidentally fall asleep outside it while sitting down. We decided to get caffeine and sugar in the form of cola before heading off to check out the 3rd department store which has Lego Land and some very stereotypical Japanese tourist shops. It gets pretty late at that point and after munching on some okonomiyaki (and me falling asleep at the table), we head back. But on the way the NHK building in Odaiba starts to light up and play music so we watched that before going back. Gabe arrived at our place late that evening though

Day 3 (today) I woke up tired and achy and snotty and just blaaarrrrggg. The combination of lack of sleep and jet-lag and possibly don’t drinking much water in the humid hot weather, mean I had a cold. Wes and Gabe, bless them, went out and got be some medicine and food, and combined with a 30min nap while they were out, meant I recovered some HP and was able to shower and get ready. The rest of the day was fine though as I drank whenever my throat was dry and ate snacks and took the medicine with every meal. I WISH THE UK HAD JAPANESE COLD MEDICINE! It’s seriously amazing stuff that works sooo much better than the UK’s ones.

So once I’d recovered a bit we met up with people at Jimbocho, an area that has the second-hand book district, but not many people were interested in that so we went to Yasakuni shrine instead. There was even a flea market at the shrine (which we didn’t expect) and I found a kimono with the Takanoha crest on that I’d seen the other day (I also saw it in the shrine). One weird thing though was the number of old military uniforms being sold at the flea market, but I suppose most people who go to Yasakuni do so to pray to family or people in general who have died in wars in the past, so they would have an interest in uniforms maybe?

We then walked all the way to Akihabara and spent the rest of the afternoon and evening there. It was surprisingly tiring going shopping and up and down stairs looking at all the shiny things. I ended up getting a stupid amount of small phone charm figurines from gashapon machines (they were so cheap though). Aaaaand then everything went downhill when I found two relatively cheap figurines that I may have spent a lot of money on… It was a good haul, although I don’t plan to spend any more money in Tokyo expect on food and transport.

We finished off with tonkotsu for dinner and split the group into arcade people (me, Gabe, Ben) and karaoke people (Wes, Max, Josh and Stacey). I still have my cold but fingers crossed the medicine works tomorrow and all will be well.

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