Saturday, June 22, 2013

Day Seven: Leaving the Happiest Place on Earth

No, not Disneyland.

Today was our last day in Japan. We woke up and got the last of our things ready to go. I stuffed tons of stuff in my suitcase, but it still managed to fit. Our flight isn't until five minutes after midnight, so we had lots of time to kill and I had about $160 worth of yen left to spend. We went downstairs and into the lobby where we checked out and attempted to explain that we wanted the hotel to hold our luggage while we were out and about. I had a feeling it wasn't going to go over so smoothly, so I channeled my super amazing great Japanese ability and asked again. 私達の飛行機は遅い出かけます。 それで、ホテルが ラッゲジを持ってもいいですか。Impressive right? I love talking to people in Japanese. I feel so accomplished.

Anyway, we dropped the bags off with the bell captain and asked if it was going to rain again (in Japanese). He said it might today, but it never did. Carrying around my umbrella was a pain, so I was happy when I finally ditched it. So we preceded to go to the station to get on the Toei-Asakusa line to get to Asakusa. This is a pretty touristy area, with lots of stereotypical Japanese souvenirs like fans, chopsticks, hachimaki (headbands), and swords. A little bit into the Asakusa trip, these two old guys started arguing. One guy was yelling super loud at the other guy and holding on to him, while the other was just trying to get away, not saying much. The first guy started yelling for police (I think) and pretty soon both of them were around the corner talking to about six officers. I think the quiet one might have stolen something, and the guy yelling was just keeping him there, but who knows? Before leaving Asakusa, I bought some shuriken (ninja stars); they're unsharpened, but still pretty cool. We got lunch at this place run by these two old ladies in Asakusa. I got chicken karaage, Kyle got katsudon and Kevin got tempura over rice (tempuradon?). I loved mine; it came with rice and miso soup. There was a black and white photo on the wall of the restaurant from thirty-three years ago. I asked the main old lady if she was in the photo (in Japanese) and she replied with something I didn't really understand. However, she pointed to a sign in the background with the price on it and told me about how things used to only cost ten yen back in the day. Kyle didn't like his food, so Kevin suddenly decided he didn't like his either. Then they complained about it for the next couple hours every now and then. Next time I come here, I'm coming alone. Traveling with others is just too hard, no matter who it is.

Top two: Asakusa. In the bottom left is Sky Tree to the left of the photo and the Asahi building on the right, and my delicious chicken karaage in the bottom right photo.

We got back on the subway and transferred at Shinbashi Station to the Yamanote Loop and went to Akiba again. I wanted to go back to the Book Off, because honestly I could spend hours in there looking at all the CDs and books and so on. I bought some more doujinshi, CDs, and DVDs. Then we stopped off at Starbucks for mango frap #5. This time I got a grande, so I could use up some of my coins. Afterward, I still had about $14 in coins. This Starbucks had a person whose job it was to reserve seats for people waiting in line.

It was around 3:00pm when we left Akiba for Shinagawa. Kyle met a Chinese guy from near Shanghai while getting on the train. They talked for a bit and then we split ways at Shinagawa. We hung out in the lobby of the adjoining sister hotel for an hour before going to McDonald's for a quick bite. After spending another fourty-five minutes there, we went back to our own hotel, sat around a bit more and then got our bags. We repacked our bags with the stuff we bought that day and I even managed to fit a big stack of comics into my already stuffed bag. Once we were all settled again, we walked to the station and were on our way to the airport.

Airport security had absolutely no lines, and between that and the departing counter thingy, we were through to our terminal in less than five minutes. And so here we are: two and a half hours away from leaving the happiest place on Earth; Tokyo, Japan. I plan on uploading all the pictures and videos relevant to this blog on either Sunday or Monday, USA time.


Friday, June 21, 2013

Day Six: Not Much Happened

Yo. So Kev and Kyle tried to go to Tsukiji fish market again around 4:00am, but failed once more. Apparently they were late and it was over by the time they got there. So after they got back and we all woke up again, we went to Ueno Zoo. We went into the Starbucks nearest the front entrance and I had mango passion tea frap #4. We saw the single panda (there were two last time I went), the tiger, some gibbons, some gorillas, a few birds, elephants and some bears before deciding to leave as the rain started up something fierce. We didn't even scratch the surface of what the zoo had to offer and it was dead compared to last time. We bought umbrellas inside the zoo for $5 each and then left for Shinagawa. I left my bag in the ramen place last night, so we went there for lunch and I got it back! I explained the situation in Japanese, but the middle-aged guy couldn't find it, but the older guy assured me he knew where it was, so he went and looked in the back as well and came out with it. I was happy I got it back, even though I didn't have anything particularly important in it. I had chashumen for lunch; it was my fourth bowl since getting here in Tokyo and my third at this particular restaurant. Kev and Kyle wanted gyoza, but they misordered and we ended up with four sets of six for a total of twenty-four gyoza. I gave twelve of them to the guys sitting next to us. He said in English as we were leaving, "That was a very good meal, thank you." We headed back to the hotel around 1:00pm and relaxed for a bit. I walked to the 7-11 nearest Shinagawa Prince Hotel and bought a couple magazines and some snacks. One of the magazines had Kyary on the cover. Then I got my suitcase ready for tomorrow.

A kindergarten class going to the zoo; I really wish I was that white kid growing up, at the Starbucks before going in, the zoo entrance, a lone panda; its friend wasn't being shown indefinitely.

Around 6:00pm, Kyle exchanged some money so that we could pay for dinner tonight at Sukiyabashi Jiro, one of the supposedly best and most expensive sushi places in the world. I left my directions that I wrote down in the room somewhere, but I knew how to get there by memory. We arrived with just five minutes to spare. The reservation was under my name, thanks to Haruka who made the reservation for us. We had mackerel, shellfish, steamed abalone, mantis crab, fresh ground wasabi, flounder, big scallop, squid, lean, medium and fatty tuna, and some type of sardine. There as a bunch of stuff after that, but I stopped paying attention. I didn't care for much of any of it, but I imagine if you like sushi, this is the mecca-equivalent. Something happened that I don't wish to talk about, ever, with anyone unless I bring it up; so don't ask.

Steamed abalone, mantis crab, squid, lean & medium fatty tuna

Tomorrow I'm gonna spend the rest of my money in Akiba and/or Harajuku and then it's off to the lame ol' USA.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Day Five: Something Else That's Funny.

Yo. I've been so sore each day waking up; we've been walking for as much as twelve hours a day. I better as hell be losing some weight. I could get used to it though; everything, really. The hot and muggy weather, the constant walking and the cramming onto trains; it's all worth it. Japan, and Tokyo more specifically, just makes sense to me. All the women, young and old are beautiful to me. All the buildings are tall and fearsome and the food delicious. I could definitely do this day-to-day for the rest of my life. It makes me happy being here. I definitely want to come study here in a year or two.

So this morning we woke up around 9:00am. I was surprised to see Kevin and Kyle in their beds, because they had planned to go to Tsukiji fish market (the world's largest; it begins very early) around 3:00am. Apparently they got up at that time, but couldn't figure out the train schedule to get there. I guess they need me after all. I didn't want to go because I wanted sleep like a normal person, and I wasn't terribly interested in it anyway.

So after we were all settled and I had my morning shower, we headed out to get some breakfast. We decided to go back to that tiny little place we went to on the first morning. It was cooler than the past days today as it had finally started to rain more than a sprinkle; although not really so much in the morning as much as in the afternoon. It was comfortable enough to still wear shorts and a tee however. An odd feeling really; cloudy skies and rain along with a fairly warm temperature. On the way, we saw two ladies pushing two crib like structures on wheels each filled with maybe a half dozen preschoolers all standing up and holding on to the bars, each with green hats. When we got to the little noodle shop, we walked in and the old guy that runs it immediately remembered us from a few days before. I ordered rice again, Kevin got tempura udon and Kyle got kake udon again. After we finished, the old guy asked me what country we were from (in Japanese) and I replied saying we were from America. He asked if we were vacationing, and I said yes. Then I asked what the name of the restaurant was and what his name was. I quickly forgot what he said, haha.

Kev and Kyle talk about things they don't understand and assume things and act like they know everything. If it was just Kevin and I, Kevin would latch on to me and listen to everything I say, but when his big brother is around, his opinion is one in the same with Kyle's. I just ignore it when they talk about this stuff. It's annoying and it pisses me off, but if I were to say something, they'd just gang up on me, as they have many times already.

Kev and Kyle wanted to go to Asukusa to see the shrines and temples, but I wasn't too interested so I told them I'd go off on my own and we could meet up later. An older lady, maybe in her 50's, asked us if she could help find our way in a pretty good accent (in English). She helped confirm which train to take to get to Asukusa and then we parted ways. On my own, I then headed to the Shinagawa Station, not deciding whether I wanted to go Shinjuku or Akiba until the last second. I went with Shinjuku.

I explored Shinjuku, looking for a certain shop for quite awhile before finally finding it. Funny stuff ensues and then I'm on my way back to Shinagawa. Before I left though, I got my third mango passion fruit tea frappuccino from Starbucks. I got some McDonald's because I didn't have a lot of time until I needed to meet Kev and Kyle. It was fun ordering; my Japanese is better than I thought. I took it to-go and walked to the hotel. I only had enough time to eat really quick and walk back to the station to meet Kev and Kyle. Once I met them, we walked to McDonald's because Kyle caved and decided he wanted some. Then we headed to the hotel to relax for a bit before Kev and I went out for ramen. We eat a lot of ramen, evidently.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Day Four: Shizuoka and a Slap in the Face

Yo. Today we woke up and walked to Shinagawa Station to get tickets for the shinkansen (bullet train). I had no plans of taking the shinkansen due to the price, but Kyle offered to pay for us all. When we were trying to talk to the ticket officer, he was saying that we needed to enter a secret code (pin number) for Kyle's card, and we were in turn trying to explain that credit cards don't need pin numbers. So we backtracked to the nearest hotel, my old hotel, and exchanged some more USD for yen, but we wouldn't end up needing it as we ended up with a different ticket officer and this time didn't require us to do anything special. So we went to Shizuoka by my suggestion. We rode the kodoma train inbound for Nagoya. It's about 325 miles away from where we're staying and it takes a little over an hour by bullet train. I went there two years ago on my last trip to Japan too. We walked from Shizuoka Station to Sunpu Park/Castle and promptly preceded to Momijiyama, the tranquil and beautiful little tea garden on the park grounds. The English electronic audio guide was of course, George Takei, just as I remember last time. I swear to you, it was him. He must have recorded it. Once we got to the tea house portion of the garden, we went inside and I asked for hojicha, excited to share it with Kev and Kyle; it's my favorite tea. One of the ladies working there was really nice and spoke English with a really good accent. I told her in Japanese that I had been there two years ago. We talked in Japanese a little bit after I told her it was my major and we talked about where we were from. She said she had visited LA and San Francisco before. She started talking in Japanese for a bit about a famous restaurant in SF that had rice and you could go with kids and family. That was all I caught out of it. We also went to the statue of Tokugawa Ieyasu, one of the shogunates that ruled Japan hundreds of years ago, and saw the mikan tree he planted himself.

The interior of the bullet train, a middle school near the castle, and two photos of the castle proper.

A panoramic of the garden.

The pathway to, and the interior of the tea house.

Chashumen again, a cool cartoon painting on the side of a museum, something funny and mildly racist, and a humorous sign written in Engrish.

After that, we found a ramen place for lunch called Nishikawa. It sat about seven people and we all got chashumen. The pork was sliced thin this time; a nice change of pace. Then we went to the Don Quijote that I also visited two years ago. It's a great discount store for just about anything you can think of. They had cheap DVDs at just 500 yen each. A bit later, we stopped in a Stabucks to use wifi and find a tea shop so that Kyle could buy some for a gift. The shop was pretty cool; apparently Shizuoka makes the most green tea in all of Japan. I told one of the workers that my friends were looking for hojicha and they said they didn't have it, but they gave us a sample of some sencha that was pretty good, and Kyle liked it, so I asked how much it was, and he showed me what packages were that kind of tea. So Kyle bought a bag of it and we were on our way. We took the shinkansen back around 3:00pm and arrived about an hour later where we relaxed until nearly 8:45pm.

A snack I had; french bread roll with a mango custard inside. Japan seems to love mango, and since it's also my favorite fruit, and I can't complain at all. I tried just about everything I saw that was mango flavored.

Around that time, we headed to Shibuya and found the Alcatraz ER Bar. This is a prison hospital themed bar and boy was it neato. Our table was in a jail cell, and the bars slid closed behind us. To call a waitress you needed to bang on the bars with a metal stick. Kevin and I ordered the experiment set which had test tubes of white curacao, lemon juice, blue curacao, rum, and something else I translated as, "vine." All these things could be mixed into a beaker of orange juice, and it changed to a green color afterward. It tasted pretty good too. Kyle got a drink that was inside of a mannequin head and it had coke, lime, ginger ale, and tequila in it. After a bit, some crazy music started playing and the girls in the cell next door told us to look out into the hallway. We did and we saw one of the waitresses with one of the customers. Everyone started counting up in Japanese from one to three and on three he took a shot of tequila and then the waitress slapped him! So once that was out in the open, I really wanted to do it. We called a waitress over and I asked her in Japanese what that was and she pointed to it on the menu. She asked if we wanted to do it, and I asked Kev and Kyle and they both wanted to after a moment of thought. Within a few minutes, the same music started back up again and they came for us in our cell. We counted up from one to three and took the shot and then the waitress grabbed Kyle and slapped him. Then she grabbed me and slapped me. And then following the pattern, immediately grabbed Kevin and slapped him. Right across the left cheek each time and in almost rapid motion. Afterward, the main waitress put the microphone up to me and said, "Speech," so I said "Tanoshikatta!" (it was fun!). They all seemed impressed with my Japanese. Then Kyle stumbled to try and repeat what I said and it came out more like tamagotchi. Kevin said, "Kakkoii! which means cool or awesome; a word I taught him and Kyle and they have been saying over and over since then. It was all so much fun! You can watch everything after the shot by clicking here. We paid our bill and left, realizing too late that we forgot our umbrellas inside. It was a little drizzly outside and we got a bit wet, but it was okay. I was a bit buzzed since leaving the bar; the first time since coming here. We left Shibuya around 10:00pm and came back to the hotel. All in all, a good night.

The entrance of Alcatraz ER, Kyle's drink, a peach chuhai and swiss roll, and Shibuya crossing at night.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Day Three: Friends

Yo. Today we woke up around 9am and headed to Akiba to meet my friend Yami at 10:30am at the central gate. To clarify once more, Yami is American and lives in Scotts Valley but both of his parents are from Japan. His family is the first to move out of Japan, so he is here visiting his grandparents from his dad's side in Hiroshima. He comes to Japan every other year or so and he flies for about $50 because his dad is a flight attendant for AA. He flew the same route as us actually. My Japanese is perhaps a bit better than his, but we're pretty matched. He listens better and I speak better, so together we're one capable Japanese person, haha.

So Yami took us to Book Off, a big used bookstore chain. Everything there was super cheap and even though it was all used, it was all in great condition. Most secondhand shops were like that actually. They had tons of books, tons of games, and tons of music. I bought a MINMI CD and a PSP game for less than 200 yen ($2). Also I bought some doujinshi. I found a great Cowboy Bebop title. Each one was about 105 yen and I think I bought four or so. After that, we went to the Yodobashi electronics store. This place had four or five basement floors, all but one for parking, and nine floors of different stuff. I swear to you, each floor was the size of a single Costco or Home Depot. This place was massive. The eighth floor was a food center with about twenty restaurants. We had Chinese food and a few times we forgot that we were in a giant electronics department store. I had chashumen, BBQ pork ramen, and a coke-hi, which is basically like a jack and coke.

Things in the bookstore: Fifty Shades of Grey, a Sublime CD, a PSP game for $1, and outside nearby was this hotdog place that was stereotypically American.
Some misc. images of Akiba

After that, Yami took us to an arcade he liked a lot. He led us up to the third floor and started playing a rhythm game that he was familiar with. I was already knew what was gonna happen, but Kevin and Kyle didn't, so once he started playing their jaws dropped. I have a great video of Yami hitting all the notes with super precision and then turning to see Kevin's face.

Then we did something funny involving a vending machine.

A note about my travel mates: Kyle pretty much does what he wants, and Kevin follows suit. Kev really looks up to his older brother. So much so that he agrees with everything he says to a point that almost seems like he's going to contradict what he actually thinks. He even walks right next to Kyle, somehow pushing me behind them (the walkways are usually too narrow for three wide) so I have to constantly walk up in front of them so I can hear what they're saying, or remain the third wheel. So that's a bit annoying, but I can't complain too much though. They're both pretty cool, and I'm doing things I might not normally do on my own. So in that respect, it was nice to hang out with Yami. He's a lot like me in terms of things we like.

I found a book that I'd seen online, but it was cheaper here so I bought it. All the Japanese stuff either in San Jose or San Francisco or available online for US residents is super expensive. After all that, we said goodbye to Yami and headed back to the hotel for a bit to rest before going out to see my penpal Haruka.

A picture with Yami, before we parted ways, a cosplay maid advertising something, cheap old school games, and KYARY...again.

We met Haruka and her boyfriend Yasutaka at the southeast exit of Shinjuku station at 5:00pm and they promptly took us to a okonomiyaki restaurant. It was my first time having okonomiyaki, even though mom and Aunt Mindy had it two years ago in Osaka. It was pretty good; they ordered for us and we had perhaps four different kinds. The best part of the whole thing was getting to talk to them. Yasu told me a few weeks ago that he would only talk to me in Japanese, because he says he's not that great at Japanese. I understood a lot of what they were saying, and we spoke maybe 60:40 in Japanese. It was good practice for me, for sure. We had lots of funny conversations. At one point I said, in Japanese, "All Japanese girls are really cute!" and Yasu said, "No" and I replied to that by pointing to Haruka and saying, "Just this one?" to which he gave a funny face before we all broke out in laughter. I asked Yasu if he lived in Tokyo, and he said he did, in Shinjuku with his parents, grandparents, and one older sister. I saw a sign ahead of us that said, "Condomania" so I asked them what it meant. I thought it might have been condo buildings, but it was actually condoms. When explaining, Haruka said, "Not get pregnant."

Entrance to Takeshita-dori, Condomania!, something funny inside aforementioned store, Omotesando, and Kyary. She's a big deal to me.

About this time, we ended up on Omotesando, a long shopping street with expensive big name brands like Louis Vuitton, Dolce & Gabbana, Chanel and more. Oh and I forgot to mention, after eating we took the train from Shinjuku to Harajuku and walked through takeshita dori, a pedestrian only fashion shopping street and one of my favorite places in Tokyo, nay the world. But anyway, while in Omotesando Yasu and Haruka started laughing a lot so I asked them what was up and Haruka started covering Yasu's mouth so he wouldn't tell me before finally saying that Yasu said to her that she loved me. It was pretty funny. Along Omotesando was this place called Forbidden Fruit Cafe that I had heard had an unlisted boutique in the basement floor. We checked it out, and it was super cool. There was a Harley Davidson just in the middle of the store, and all these cool clothes and everything was super expensive. All at least a couple hundred dollars, pretty much.We checked out some cool secondhand shops, hoping to find some kimono for Kyle as a gift to his friends. One of the shops had Santa Cruz apparel, so that was really cool. To think it made it thousands of miles across the sea to this store from our hometown. In that same store, Kyary was playing on the loudspeaker and I knew all the words so I was surprising Haruka and Yasu with my knowledge of girly Japanese pop singers. We went to a lot of other secondhand shops and all of them had vintage American stuff like US army flight jackets, boyscout uniforms, varsity letter jackets, and more. The whole Harajuku area in general is super trendy. We took some pictures together and then parted ways. It was a great day.

Yasu & Haru (They're so adorable!), some SC swag that was a trip to see, and a couple funny store names.

Haruka & Me, Yasutaka & Me, Harajuku Station, yellow watermelon!

Oh, and I forgot to mention what the weather was like here. It's been about 80 F every day so far, and it's really muggy, but we've been getting used to it. I'm sure people in my family would find it just unbearable to live in, but I could deal with it. Such is the price of living in the best city in the world. know, the actual price of living in the city. Tomorrow, and basically for the rest of the trip, we're gonna have a very high chance of T-storms, while still retaining the 80+ temp, but also adding 20+ mph wind.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Day Two: Exploring Part II

Alrighty, so I'll wrap up the day here.

So earlier in the day, we found the Park Hyatt Hotel that houses the New York Bar from Lost in Translation. We scouted it out, so to speak. We were in shorts and had our backpacks and messenger bags, and this was a REALLY nice hotel so we looked out of place. We were informed of their hours for the bar and told about a dress code, so we went to UNIQLO to get some nice outfits. Upon getting back to the bar later that evening, we were dressed up and ready to go. We got in promptly and sat at  the bar where Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson sat in the movie. I ordered a tequila sunrise, Kyle - a french 75 and Kevin - some kind of whiskey with root beer or something. It was alright, although I don't care for tequila much. The place was pretty swanky though. Dim lighting, skyline view from the 45th floor, expensive cocktails; it was all too grand indeed. Kyle was the most stoked of all of us, but we all thought it was pretty cool.

The top two pictures depict us somewhat recreating the scene from Lost in Translation. The bottom two are our expensive drinks and the view from the bar respectively.

After that we headed to Kabukicho, the red light district, to check it out. It's not as shady as it sounds, and I assure you and we weren't soliciting anything illicit. The place simply has a colorful nightlife to it. There were a lot of touts trying to get you in their clubs, but we know better than that.


Afterward, we headed home with sore feet and tired eyes. We stopped at the 7-11 near my old hotel and bought a couple magazines and some snacks.

Tomorrow we're meeting Yami, my friend from Scotts Valley, who is visiting his grandparents for a bit. Around five in the afternoon we're meeting Haruka, my penpal who I met last time I was in Tokyo as well, and her boyfriend Yasutaka. More on that tomorrow night. I'm going to sleep now.


Day Two: Exploring

Yo. As of the time of this post, it is about 4:30pm on Monday. Our first full day, and it's not quite over yet either. Today we woke up around 7:00. I didn't feel that great throughout the night and as a result didn't sleep great. We went exploring for breakfast, and ended up at this tiny little noodle place a little ways away from the hotel/station. It had enough room for maybe four people to stand in, and the kitchen on the other side of the counter was equally as small. The Houchens had kake udon and I just had a bowl of rice. For the three of us, it cost less than seven dollars. Afterward, we got some water from a konbini and set off for Shibuya. We exited via the Hachiko exit and saw the statue. We went to the Tsutaya music store and got drinks from the connected Starbucks. I had a mango passion tea frappuccino and it was delicious. Way better than the stuff at an American Starbucks, in my opinion. In the music store proper, I bought Kyary's new single so that was awesome.

Around Shinagawa, including the noodle place I mentioned above.

Shibuya Crossing

Clockwise from top left: Shibuya streets, awesome graffiti in alley, a stand-in in a nearby alley, Kyary billboard.

I noticed I'm getting better at reading kana. Or rather, when you're forced to read it all the time, you sort of have to. So we explored Shibuya for a bit longer, then hopped back onto the Yamanote loop and got to Shinjuku where we walked to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building and went to the 45th floor observation deck. Without proper shoes, my feet are starting to hurt by this point. After looking at the city from up above, we went to the New York Bar that Lost in Translation was filmed at. We're going back in a few minutes with our new outfits that we got at UNIQLO. We had chicken katsu curry for lunch in Shinjuku before heading back to Shinagawa.

Clockwise: A building in Shinjuku as we approach the Metro Gov. Building, the MGB itself, the same building from atop the MGB, and the Park Hyatt that houses the NY Bar, also from the MGB.

Day Zero + One: JAL and Shinagawa


So the Houchens were nice enough to drive us to the airport. We arrived with two or three hours to kill before take off, so we checked in with Japanese Airlines (JAL) and headed through security. We had a pizza lunch and charged our phones before boarding the 777-246ER. We sat towards the back of the plane in row 49 (of 58 I think) on the right side. I sat in the middle and Kyle in the window seat; pulling rank on us. This was a really cool flight. All the flight attendants were gorgeous Japanese ladies who spoke to me in Japanese. The food was great as well. Tonkatsu (pork cutlet) in curry with rice, salad, some kind of potato salad, fruit, and haagen-dazs. It also landed an hour earlier than we expected, at 9:30ish instead of 10:30ish. Oh and right before we were taking off, as we taxied to the runway, a big grey US Airforce plane came in and at the angle we were at, it looked like it was going to land right on top of us. So that was neato. The plane had tons of ways to entertain. You could play games, watch movies, listen to music and even watch what was below the plane. THEY EVEN HAD KYARY. I flipped.

The top two photos show the entertainment system's main menu. The bottom left shows the "bird's eye" view from the plane and the bottom right shows the Japanese songs they were playing; Kyary and 9mm!

Top: First meal. Bottom: A mountain we flew over and its relative location.

So we finally landed at Tokyo Haneda International after a grueling nine hours. Really, it wasn't that bad, but of course the seats were cramped. We went through immigration and then customs pretty quickly and went on to the Keikyu Airport Line. This took us to Shinagawa Station, a place I'm quite familiar with and from there we went to find our hotel. It's right next to the hotel I stayed in two years ago, oddly enough. We got a little lost, because Kev left the map I printed out on the plane, but I knew basically where to go. We were just a little confused is all, because there is the Grand Prince New Takanawa and the Grand Prince Takanawa, the latter being our hotel. They're all connected, but you check in with a specific one. After dropping off our stuff, and checking out our room (which has three beds, instead of the one I was expecting) we back down to the station area and looked for food, but around this time (close to midnight) not many places were open. We settled on a ramen place that was actually open until 3:00am. After that, we headed back up to the hotel and called it a night after some more settling.

First meal in Japan: Chashumen

I pasted two pictures taken at different angles together to make this. Laziness at its finest.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Day Minus One: Anticipation

Yo. Sup family dawgs and friend dawgs. As many of you know, I will be leaving for Tokyo on Saturday the 15th. For those of you who didn't know that, I am leaving for Tokyo on Saturday the 15th. I will be accompanied by my best friend Kevin and his older brother Kyle. Kyle is super-mega-ultra mean to me, but deep down we have a bond stronger than any other boy and his best friend's older brother can have.

As a creature of habit, I'll likely be doing this blog much like my last travel blog. You'll notice the layout similarity immediately. I don't plan on changing that, simply because I don't want to. Anyway, you can expect a post or two each day with a handful of pictures to go along with my fabulous insight. You can comment if you want. I'll probably even read them and reply.