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.