Journeys in Japan
-All Journeys Must Have an End-
It’s been a month since I got back from my trip, and I’ve had plenty of time to digest the entire experience, and what can I say about it? Frankly the entire thing feels like a dream, like the part in the end of some romantic drama where the main character is thinking about the times he shared with his ex-girlfriend, and there’s a series of flashbacks to previous scenes in the movie with dramatic music set over it. Japan has always had a special place in my heart, like most people who have been affected by Japanese culture in one way or another it is sort of a mecca, a holy ground where the things you’ve been learning so much about take place. The last time I was in the country was with one of my closest friends; we had just graduated high school and it was our first time leaving the country without our parents - really a trip that I am incredibly thankful for. I can easily say this last trip was equally life-changing. It’s amazing what a lot of walking and thinking will do for you!
Anyway, so after getting back to Tokyo I spent some more time with my friend who lives in the city, as well as met up with Simmo for some drinks as we separated on our journey. It’s really amazing how 10 years ago, we never would have had any contact again past those few days we, two travelers from opposite ends of the globe, managed to just so happen to meet in a foreign land. Now there’s Facebook, and to reconnect is just a few clicks away.
Julia and I visited Ikebukuro, which as she described it is the Akihabara for girls. We saw Namco Namja town, a small and very Japanese theme park on the top of the Sunshine City mall; an incredibly enduring place just because of how campy it was. If you’re in Ikebukuro, stop by this place, it’s only a few dollars to get in. We went to Nakano Broadway, which was a really old mall filled with otaku related goods, similar to Akihabara. Being in such an old building and surrounded by vintage toys and collectibles gave the illusion that you were back in the late 70s.
I had to catch the train to the airport to make my flight that night, so we headed back to Julia’s apartment to get my stuff and I departed, a little later than I thought, but with the efficiency of Japanese trains I figured that the 40 minute train ride would give me at least an hour of room. I WAS WRONG! Oh how much more wrong could I be? I missed check in by 10 minutes and was stuck in Japan another few days!! Oh the horror! While the thought of being able to stick around for a bit longer was kind of nice, I was mentally ready to go home and possibly hit up a day at Anime Expo, and I was at the limit of my budget for the trip. Julia and Amanda, thank God for them, offered to host me for remainder of my stay. I grabbed the last train back and after 40 minutes was in Tokyo again. Laughs were had, and we were soon eating dinner in a Dennys at Midnight, and let me tell you if you’re Japan you’ll need to go to a Japanese Dennys. That shit is AMAZING.
Julia and I went and visited Odaiba the next day, and we got to see the life sized Gundam, just as it did it’s daily routine. It was pretty inspiring to see and I really expected it to start walking and explode off into the atmosphere at any moment. I spent the next few days generally being lazy for the first time since leaving Perth. Taking naps in cafes in cafes and whatnot. And with that I was on my way home, fully satisfied that I was able to get a few extra days to make sure I had taken my fill of the place - さらば日本, farewell Japan until the next time. The flight passed by quick, I happened to sit next to a girl travelling back to San Diego from South East Asia on a route that just so happened to take her through Narita. So many amazing coincidences.
Journeys in Japan
- Tokyo train rides -
Riding to Harajuku via the Yamanote line.
Journeys in Japan
-Food in Tokyo-
I head back to Tokyo for the final days of my trip. Here are some shots of the food that I had!
Why is EVERYTHING in Japan so good? There are terrible repercussions for having drugs in Japan, but I swear they must put crack in everything edible. Also, I think Japan might be the only place where the burgers are served to you looking like how they do in the menu photos.
Click for captions!
Journeys in Japan Pt 4
- Food in Kyoto -
I’m back in Tokyo and am writing this as I prep for my last day (well, half day) in Japan. As you can tell from my lack of posts, it’s been a busy week. Kyoto was incredible - I had forgotten how much I loved that city the first time I visited there seven years ago. I find it to be the perfect size - if you’re determined you can walk across the central part of the city in a little over an hour (which I ended up doing a several times) - and it’s also very enjoyable to walk around in at night. I remember visiting a sento (public bath) my first night in Kyoto, then stopping by a BOOKOFF (great Japanese book/movie/music store). The city was clean and calm, and I was super relaxed.
I had met a few awesome people during my couple days in Tokyo, but in Kyoto I met an enormous amount of people, and the best part is a lot of it was by extreme chance. The circumstances that lead to our meetings was just absolutely incredible, and as cheesy as it sounds it felt as if the Gods reached out from their shrines and guided us to meeting.
Next post I will talk about the amazing people I met and how our paths managed to cross. Photos in this post include some pictures of the food I ate in Kyoto! Good stuff, but honestly the eating cannot compare to what Tokyo has to offer.
Journeys in Japan Pt2 [cont.]
Continued photos from DisneySEA. Click for captions. Some video to come later!
Overall DisneySEA was a really fun place. Nothing can beat the magic of Disneyland for me, probably because of associated childhood memories, but DisneySEA has a lot of really great stuff that Disneyland doesn’t. Also the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride was really well designed. I can easily say it was one of the coolest rides I’ve been on. Basically you sit inside a submarine, which is just a car on a suspended track (think Peter Pan at dland), and there is the allusion of being submerged when a panel full of water/bubbles is put infront of the windows. You’re moved around a sunken area full of things to look at (I love when rides or exhibits have things you can look at and discover, part of the reason why I loved the Ghibli Museum so much), and at certain times you have control of over the submarine’s spotlight. The illusion of being under water is really convincing.
Next - The Studio Ghibli Museum in Mitaka!
Journeys in Japan Pt2
Photos from Tokyo DisneySEA. Click for captions.
Journeys in Japan Pt1 [cont.]
Photos from the first day in Tokyo! Including:
Awesome airplane food, my tiny room, meeting up with Julia, eating at Ramen Jiro.
Later - photos from DisneySEA and the Ghibli Museum!
Journeys in Japan Pt 1
I’ve been so busy since arriving that I’ve barely had time to edit any photos or do anything! After taking a nap on Tuesday, I went out and met up with my friend Julia to help her teacher with an English language research study she was doing. Basically I had to listen to 20 scenarios and answer them how I would naturally. It was interesting seeing a Japanese college! The last time I was in Japan was in 2005, and I was able to visit the high school my Uncle’s friend taught at so it’s interesting to have been able to “experience” both a high school and college in the times I’ve been here.
After that we met up with her sister and Julia’s boyfriend, and went to eat at a ramen place called Ramen Jiroh. They really pile on a mountain of beansprouts and garlic so it was difficult to finish, but the broth was probably the best I’ve had anywhere. The chashu was just so-so though, I’ve had better in America, surprisingly.
Today Julia and I went to Tokyo DisneySEA for the day, which was a lot of fun. I love the design of all the different locations, especially the Journey to the Center of the Earth/20,000 Leagues area. While waiting in line for the Indiana Jones ride, some guys behind us were trying to remember Indy’s name, and decided “Oh yes, I think it was Christopher Jones”. That became our unofficial slogan for the day. ”Save us, Christopher Jones!”
Photos and video soon!
It’s Sunday, my last night in Australia. I’m going to spend it eating a giant burger from Alfred’s, and hopefully watching the newest episode of Legend of Korra with my cousins and playing a board game. Tomorrow I leave for Japan, and I really hope that the winds are calm enough for my plane to take off safely.
Next update from Tokyo!!