14th August 2019: The other side of Harajuku {Japan, summer 2019}

After a sweep around the V-kei shops in Shinjuku [新宿], I dropped by Shibuya [渋谷区] (finally) to go to the big Tsutaya there, along with the Mandarake and Tokyu Hands. And there, in the most random vending machine in a backstreet, I managed to find the Shibuya coke bottle (which I drank with glee as I had approached the vending machine as I was thirsty). Then I walked towards Harajuku [原宿], but instead of Takeshita Doori, this time I turned towards the other side. I wanted to see the LemonEd flagship shop, as the Nagoya one did not convince me. LemonEd is a brand created by the deceased X Japan’s guitarist Hide, known for his bright colour combinations and hearts. I wanted to see the shop at least once, I guess, even if “bright” is probably not my thing (≧▽≦). There were many items, T-shirts and so on and I sneaked a couple of pictures.

I went on a little and arrived at Tōgō Jinja [東郷神社], which I really liked. I got a shuuin there too, and almost lost my shuuincho there because the miko would not call my number to give it back (;¬_¬).

I walked from Harajuku back to Shinjuku via Yoyogi [代々木], and I pretty much went around the NTT Docomo Yoyogi Building [NTTドコモ代々木ビル] from all angles (and weather backgrounds).

When I arrived at Shinjuku station [新宿駅] though, I came across… the Salamander God in a Takashiyama Window… I’m not kidding you.

Once I was in Shinjuku I tried to find the Tokyo Coke bottle in another random vending machine… It did not work, but I found the Kabukichō Benzaiten [歌舞伎町弁財天], which I had seen in passing, and wanted to snoop around.

After kushikatsu dinner, we called it a day.

Walked distance: 19234 steps / 13.7 km.

27th July 2017: Osaka → Kyoto → Tokyo {Japan, summer 2017}

It’s not the first time I’ve done this, but this time it was sane-ish. I left Osaka [大阪] maybe at 8.30 in the morning and took the Shinkansen to Kyoto [京都]. Once there, I found myself a coin locker at the station and went on to the bus area. I was heading to Jonan-gu [城南宮] which was my last shrine of the Kyoto Gosha Meguri ~Shi shin Sou Ou No Miyako~ [京都五社めぐり~四神四神相応の京~] and… under repairs too. But I had finished the Meguri. I had to wait about an hour for the bus. Then 40 minutes ride, about 10 minutes in the shrine, 30 minutes waiting for the bus back and 40 minutes ride again.

After I had some lunch at the station, I headed back to Tokyo [東京], where I met up with D****e in order to hit Nakano Broadway [中野ブロードウェイ] to rummage through TRIO (Yay TRIO for getting me what I needed ♥… and some more stuff I did not need but hey, who cares about those details?). Afterwards we had some kushikatsu dinner.

31st August 2015: Up and down, Trains and fandom (reloaded) {Japan, summer 2015}

We took the Yurikamome line to Odaiba [お台場] once more.

Kushikatsu tries were more successful this time around, and D****e managed to get a few more Chupacabra out of the machine later. Afterwards we headed off to the Trio2 shop, located in Nakano Broadway [中野ブロードウェイ] for some more fandom shopping. We saw the X JAPAN Tour billboards.

Later, we had dinner at Swallowtail, the Butler café – the first time I’ve not been too pleased with the food. The tea set was just too sweet all around, but all in all quite an enjoyable experience, as always.

To end the evening, we had a look at the UFO catchers, where we got Chupacabra uchiwa, and I raided the local Book Off.

10th August 2014: Typhoon & Odaiba {Japan, summer 2014}

One of the things I noticed when landing was the solid thousand-metre column of clouds. The reason for it was Japan’s almost-trademark hot humidity, but aside from that, there was a typhoon in the making. Now, a typhoon is basically he same thing as a hurricane, only that it happens in the Pacific Ocean. Temperature difference between seawater and the air above it create upwards convection currents that rotate around an axis due to the Coriolis force. This causes rain, strong winds and the famous “spiral structure” that we see on weather reports.

Well, on Sunday we were scheduled to have a typhoon passing by Tokyo/Saitama. Our plans for the day were picking up a friend in Odaiba after performing the tea ceremony. However, when we were close to the place where tea ceremony was to be held, it was raining quite strongly, so we decided to go directly to Odaiba [お台場]. The reason for choosing that meeting point was seeing the hanabi (fireworks) in Tokyo Bay, but those were cancelled in the end due to the weather.

Far from being deterred, we decided it make the most of it, rain or no rain. The first stop was at Tower Records, where I got myself a magazine, just because I could. Then we headed off for a kushikatsu restaurant.

Kushikatsu is a typical Kansai food, anything you can imagine covered in mayonnaise, breaded, skewered and deep-fried. This restaurant allowed you to choose your uncooked skewers and fry them at the table. It was an all-you-can-eat for 80 minutes. In Japan it is very typical to have a time-constricted meal deal, during which you can order or eat as much as you want. However, when it ends you get kicked out a bit unceremoniously.

As rain seemed to have stopped somehow and the girls humoured my wanting to go to the Fuji TV shop to search for a Galileo phone strap that I had regretted not buying the previous year. On our way we walked into a “Hero” (drama by Kimura Takuya which is getting a new season) mini event. It had a mini museum with items from the series and shootings, and a small background for you to take pictures in.

After that we headed out to Shibuya [渋谷] and cavorted Tsutaya and once againお台場 (another branch, though).

(Zoom on the Tackey & Tsubasa billboard up there because… unexpected for JE)

10th July 2012: Osaka, day 2 {Japan, summer 2012}

Tuesday 10th was supposed to be Kyoto day, but train trouble made me change my mind. Since I was in Tennōji anyway, I headed off to visit Shitennō-ji [四天王寺], a massive and colourful Buddhist temple dedicated to the Four Heavenly Kings.

A grand stone torii stands in the foreground. In the background, a temple and a pagoda, in dark red and white colours

A five-story pagoda and a temple building. They are both dark red and white, with some green and golden decoration

A purification fountain. The tap is sculpted to look like a dragon

There are a couple of graveyards, too. I always find fascinating how different cultures react to graveyards. In Japan, apparently, you can picnic there.

A number of polished rock blocks with kanji on them - they are tombstones, and they're arranged in haphazzardly almost one on top of the other

After Shitennō-ji I crossed above the Tennōji Zoo towards the Tsūtenkaku [通天閣] Tower, in Shin Sekai (New World) [新世界], the old-time entertaining district of Osaka. Sort of like two-centuries-ago Namba, you can say. I could follow the Tower in order not to get too lost XD

The Osaka TV tower. It is silver-ish, with a construction like a scaffolder. The upper area resembles a diamond. The body reads HITACHI

This picture is the pure essence of Shin Sekai: the giant blowfish, the Billy Ken (the god of things as they ought to be) statue, and the Tsūtenkaku Tower.

A shopping street, with the TV tower in the background. In the foreground on the right, a golden sitting idol that looks like a fairy, with big feet and pointy ears. On the left there is a restaurant with a giant blowfish paper lantern.

I had some kushikatsu lunch, but it was too hot to really appreciate the goodness of breaded, deep-fried goods:

Some breaded and deep fried vegetables, with sticks to pick them up and eat them

Once done with this, I crossed aaaall the city towards Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan [海遊館], in hopes of seeing their whale shark… but the whale shark tank was closed due to it being refurnished… they were adding 20,000 sardines.

The aquarium building. It is decorated with mosaics of different ocean animals: coral, dolphins, a sunfish...

I went in nonetheless, and took a few pictures for your viewing pleasure, starting by the hammerhead shark.

A hammerhead shark swimming in the tank.

There was also a Sun fish:

A sunfish sniffing the aquarium ground.

My first time seeing Japanese spider crabs:

Three Japanese spidercrabs

Jellyfish I knew, but they’re fun anyway:

White jellyfish with small tentacles folating around in a dark tank

I would have loved to go and see the Castle illuminated by night, but I was too exhausted and feared crashing down, especially considering that I had one challenge left… Kyoto in ten hours. So instead, I went to the hotel and had a full-blown conbini dinner consisting on “Korean hamburger”, onigiri and dorayaki.

A sandwich, a bar of chocolate, a pastry and two onigiri, which look like dark triangles

A close up of the onigiri. The triangle is made out of dry algae (nori), you can see the rice filling on one corner

A close up of the pastry. The wrapping reads どら焼き