This is gonna span several entrees and be long as FUCK, you have been warned, but I want to share with you all some new memories! Also, I have way too many photos. Ask any questions you desire! I'm sure things I think are normal are cultural differences to many of you, so ask away!
This is Tokyo part 1 because I was in Tokyo 3 separate times. (Which will probably turn into Part 1 of Part 1)
Remember YOU ASKED FOR THIS.
(Sign in Airport: Welcome in English, Welcome back in Japanese)
So. 東京はホームなんだ。Tokyo is my home.
Whenever I am in Tokyo I feel at home, I am at home, I'm with my husband. Not being there for 5 years was killing me and I slipped so quickly back into my comfortable state that I completely forgot that I hadn't been there in so long.
Let's just say, this is the happiness I've been in 5 years.
The first hotel I had was in 歌舞伎町 (Kabukicho) which is in 新宿 (Shinjuku) a lively part of the city of 東京 (Tokyo). (By the way, Tokyo is massive is you weren't aware) Kabukicho = yakuza. I mean entertainment district. I still mean yakuza. But also host clubs, bars, and nightlife.
There was a giant Gojira head on a building in the distance, which, spoiler alert, was the last hotel I stayed at. ちょっとショックだったね。(This was for the new Gojira movie, but still pretty funny)
Advertisement of host bars. さすが歌舞伎町。
Store advertisements go upward to represent what floor the place is. Usually bars, karaoke lounges, etc.
Big TV showing Top 10 music rankings, BUMP OF CHICKEN was playing and I was happy. Yes that's a band name and they are fabulous.
Never be fooled, Tokyo is super crowded all day every day. Especially Shinjuku.
So, first night I was there?
Went to Karaoke (of course). Walked into 7/11 and got maki (Americans, you have no idea how amazing 7/11 can be until you go to Japan). Drank beer from a vending machine. (It's rather heavenly to get anything you want from a vending machine)
I instantly fell back into my Japanese habits: walking to the left, standing to the left on escalators, speaking Japanese in general... it feels great.
One of the interest things about Tokyo is how it's very metropolitan structure glory, and then randomly there's a little shrine.
(The pieces of paper are おみくじ omikuji which give you a fortune. You keep the おみくじ if it's good luck, and bad luck you tie to certain areas of the shrines to ward off evil/bad luck.)
Here's a train:
JR山手線 (Yamanote line) makes a big circle in the center of Tokyo, which connects 新宿 Shinjuku, 原宿 Harajuku, and 渋谷 Shibuya from the west to 東京 Tokyo (station), 上野 Ueno, and 秋葉原 Akihabara from the east.
The next (first full day) day consisted of Meiji Jingu shrine, Harajuku shopping, and Gundam Cafe, along with a stroll in Akiba. Which is what I said I would do, right?
原宿 (Harajuku) is stuck between 新宿 (Shinjuku) and 渋谷 (Shibuya).
明治神宮 Meiji Jingu is my 2nd favorite shrine:
It's a nice long walk to this shrine, which is basically in a forest with some 鳥居 (torii) gates to walk through. (Fun fact: To tell the difference between a Shinto shrine and Buddhist temple, look for a gate and that tells you it's Shinto.)
Every temple/shrine has a place to wash your hands (and rinse out mouth). Bring a handkerchief wherever you go in Japan, because you will not find papertowels in public bathroom.
Rare picture of miko and priest around the shrine area, which in some places you aren't allowed to take pictures of them, but they were chilling in the background of pictures I was taking anyway.
Throw in a coin (preferably a 5 en or 50 en because they have a hole in them and it's lucky to do so) Bow once. Bow again. Clap twice. Pray. Bow one last time.
And that's how you pray at shrines and temples.
Also took a stroll in a garden area, that's by Meiji Jingu.
Very beautiful area, as expected from Japanese gardens, they're always well kept and have wonderful scenery.
Harajuku station (which will be reconstructed for the 2020 Olympics)
竹下通りTakeshita doori is one of the most famous streets in Harajuku, because of the unique shopping experience for fashion and other accessories. It was my go-to place for shopping as a student. Anything from lolita fashion, j-rock clothes, hip hop accessories, and just wacky outfits in general. Some of the stores were the same, some were new, it's always a nice experience walking through the crowds. They're also crepes. Everyone eats a crepe.
It's crowded as all hell trying to shop here, but it's so worth it, because sales are so cheap.
(I will have more pictures of these two places because I went back when it wasn't raining)
Akiba was legit for the Gundam Cafe (at first at least... then I lost a lot of money). The Gundam Cafe was really fun, had a lot of trinkets you could by, all the food was Gundam themed, I drank a beer out of a gundam mug and then got to keep it. They were playing all the openings to the shows. Expensive as fuck but I looooved it.
The Gundam Cafe was also the first place I got complimented on my Japanese... and definitely not the last haha~ Chatted it up with one of the servers because of my unique collection of gundam phone straps.
As a foreigner if you walk into a restaurant, they'll bring you an English menu, or try their best to speak English to you. But, alas, if you can speak Japanese, they're, to say the least, relieved!
And this is Akiba. Yes. Akihabara, the Otaku capital of the world. Every store has something for you. Every. Store. I am so broke because of this specific area of Japan alone. Seriously
fuck Akiba I'm poor I fucking love Akiba.
A lot of posters of shows you'll recognize.
That's a maid cafe to the right, a cute little maid is standing in the center back there.
I got tissues from one who wanted to practice her English, she was adorable "I can't wait to see you!" d'awwwww~
Anime is everywhere, even on the construction cones haha~
If you walk far enough, you'll see the none-Akiba part of Akihabara:
Which is still quite nice!
As you can imagine, it's crowded as all hell here. There are a lot of people trying to buy their fangirl/fanboy needs. You can easily spend a day here, along with arcade fun, or until you run outta money.
I shall take pictures of all the otaku things I bought. Because I bought, um, a few things. Gundam and Dragonball somehow won over haha~
The top news story for the day? Pokemon Go. Don't worry I'll get to that later.
More Shinjuku night pictures:
Shinjuku station is notorious for being the most crowded, most confusing, most infuriating to find your friends in. It has 8 different exits and a million train line connections. I helped numerous tourists here who looked confused as fuck trying to find their way. I thankfully learned a long time ago how to navigate this station.
Here's an example of it being "not crowded":
If you've ever seen videos of people being packed into trains at rush hour, it is DEFINITELY at this station.
Then I went to Shibuya, because I can:
This is the famous Shibuya crossing that everyone talks about. Because it's a bunch of people trying to cross a damn street at the same time. Your first time crossing, I'm sure, is a surreal experience. Since it is not my first time crossing, it's a weaving between people game to get to the other side!
This is Hachiko, the loyal dog who waited for their owner to return. Everyone uses this statue as a meeting place in Shibuya.
七夕 Tanabata decorations were everywhere, being the season. Remember Tanabata, I'll talk about that later.
Shibuya has a lot of stores, a lot of food places, and a lotta clubs/bars. I have many fond memories here as a young student hopping around and dancing until the first train the next day. Because when in Tokyo, you party until the first train.
In Shinjuku and Shibuya I play the 外人かなぁ～ゲーム (A foreigner?? game) Where I put on sunglasses, walk with a
nice posture, and see if people will give me tissues and other free things
(because that's typical, giving away tissues with advertisements on them, fans for the summer, manga previews, coupons, etc...
buuuuut many people won't give to gaijin because they assume they are a
Me without sunglasses on: 0 free things
Me with sunglasses on: 10 free things
That's in one day.
Okay that's Part 1 of Part 1. See? This is gonna take forever, I hope you all appreciate the sightseeing!
(Next entry, Ueno, Shrines, Awaodori Matsuri, and Skytree!)
TO BE CONTINUED.