31st August 2018: Tokyo Tower Reprise and off to Roppongi {Japan, summer 2018}

I went to Minato [港] because Tokyo Tower [東京タワー ] is there, and I love Tokyo Tower. My first stop, however, was Shiba Koen [芝公園], to visit a certain tree. However, the park was under construction! Who the hell closes a park for construction?! (O_O)!

They have reopened the upper observatory in Tokyo Tower so of course I had to come back. It was imperative for my mental health. When I arrived I found out that they were running a “haunted house” on the basement and I decided to give it a go.

The story was of a cursed samurai who has killed 332 people and you’re supposed to be number 333. I had been wanting to try one of those for a while but in the end I did not enjoy it that much – the not seeing down the corridors was too stressful. Maybe with someone else it would have been more fun.

Afterwards I got my ticket for Tokyo Tower [東京タワー ] and the “VIP = Very impressive panorama” from the second observatory. I don’t understand why Tokyo Tower makes me so happy, but it does so more power to it. Oh oh oh and I had awesome(ly expensive) ice cream on the tower!

Afterwards I walked towards Roppongi [六本木], making a stop at the Don Quijote, a macro store that has nothing useful but lots of fun little stuff, with half a mind to buy a traditional red eyeliner or coloured contact lenses. But in the end I was strong and did not waste money (yet (≧∇≦) ).

I continued to the gardens Mori Teien [毛利庭園], and I was a tiny bit disappointed that the pond had been emptied!

And I saw that the TV Asahi [テレビ朝日] building was open for visitors, so I went to snoop into that, because of course I did.

Later I met with D****e and M*****san for a shabu-shabu dinner which was out of this world.

30th July 2016: 。・゜・(ノД`)・゜・。 Last day {Japan, summer 2016}

I had set up my alarm at an insane time in the morning because I needed to take the trash out before 8am (between 7 and 8?! Seriously, Japan?). But in the end it was good – you see my contract said that I had to clean the apartment, wash and dry the sheets and vacuum the floors. Which was okay, until the fluffy cover sheet took an hour and a half to about 95% dry. Oh, and I packed. 23.1kg of suitcase (^◇^;).

Anyway, the previous day I had been unable to get the Gakucchi clearfile from the UFO catchers, but I still wanted to try again. As I had to be back at the apartment by 4pm to give the keys back and pass the inspection, I headed off to the nearest Taito station, the one in Ueno. Unfortunately, they did not even have the GACKT machines. So I decided to brace myself and go to Akihabara [秋葉原] to try to find an arcade. The first three – the Sega ones – were not successful at all. I was about to give up and go home very sad when I was finally victorious! I found the clearfiles in the Taito Station. The staff-San I approaches was not very helpful at first – probably my Japanese was not the most articulate at that point either – but when she realised what I was trying to tell her she got me the clearfiles (I had an order, aside from the one I wanted for myself) and placed the plush I wanted on the machine for me to try. Of course I was not successful but I have the clearfile and that makes me happy.

As I had a bit of time, I headed off to Yoyogi Kōen [代々木公園] and Meiji Jingu [明治神宮], as I wanted some omiyage. In the end, I offered an ema, and got some silly stuff. I also located the Like an Edison shop, but I stopped myself from going in because SUITCASE WEIGHT issues. I blame the Hyde is Dead photobook (; ̄ェ ̄). I got back and bought some suahi from the street stand down my block, ate, sneaked out the rest of the trash, and sat down to wait for the inspection. At this point I was feeling kind of sad. Okay, without the ‘kind of’.

But the inspection / cleaner guy was adorable and he was pretty early so I could do stuff in the evening that would keep me going. I went to Tokyo station so they kept my luggage and then I headed to Tokyo Tower [東京タワー]. I got up to the main observatory, and had been considering walking up, but I did not trust myself without seeing the stairs first. So I climbed up on the lift and took pictures and enjoyed myself. I also wrote a postcard to myself to get the special post stamp… yes I’m lame like that, but I had a message for my future self (・◇・)/~~~

I walked down, because I figured out that I could so that more easily and I enjoyed it immensely. Then I stayed for a bit in the Zojo-ji [増上寺] matsuri in Shiba Koen [芝公園] , retrieved my luggage and headed towards the airport.

On my way I got to say goodbye to the Rainbow Bridge [レインボーブリッジ] on the way. It might be worth mentioning at this point that I could not complete the check in, and that I has only registered until Frankfurt… whoops.

Fortunately, after a bit of haggling with the lady organising the check-in queue I managed to get through to talk to an actual assistant who could get me my final boarding pass. I found myself some karaage dinner before moving on.

4th July 2016: Scary, scary… aaaaaah {Japan, summer 2016}

After hitting for Gackt’s concert, I figured out that I would ballot for the insanely impossible birthday party – GACKT’s 43rd Birthday Party in ANA InterContinental Tokyo, located in Akasaka [赤坂]. And somehow – somehow – I hit. I might have been a little in histerics about the whole thing for a while, especially with how strict the dress code seemed to be.

Before that I organised a swift visit to Harajuku [原宿] and Meiji Jingu [明治神宮]. For starters, I wanted to catch Godzilla in Shinjuku [新宿], which I did not do last year – I had stolen a glimpse of him when I had picked my keys up.

Then I headed over to Harajuku [原宿] and I had a stroll down Takeshita-dōri [竹下通り] (天気がいいから、さんぽしましょう、and so XD) and into Yoyogi Kōen [代々木公園] to show Meiji Jingu [明治神宮] to T**y. Then I headed back home to get ready because PANIC!(◎_◎;) I was ridiculously nervous about the event. Fortunately, it worked out almost perfectly.

The event itself consisted on a formal dinner, and a later appearance of the birthday boy himself and the band to… basically have a drinking game, a card game, and a talk show on stage. It was a lot of money to be honest, and I don’t think I’ll ever feel the need to do something like it again, but I am glad that I was crazy to do it at least once. I unfortunately had to leave before it finished in order to make it to the last train, so I missed the songs *sigh*. Nothing is perfect I guess.

Note: You can read longer commetary of the event at SemiRandom.

1st September 2015: Downpour Shibuya {Japan, summer 2015}

D****e and I headed off to Harajuku [原宿] to check out the idol shops, but I wanted a quick visit to Meiji Jingu [明治神宮] to get the calligraphy from there. I had never been able to find out where they did it, and it was good to have some Japanese-speaking person around. We were surprised to walk into some kind of religious parade I still have got to research.

Afterwards, through a downpour, we had a look at Takeshita Doori shops. When it was almost noon we headed off towards Hachiko in Shibuya [渋谷] as we had agreed to meet a friend for lunch – shabu shabu in Shibuya’s Nabezo and then headed off to Cosmo Planetarium Shibuya [コスモプラネタリウム渋谷], which is a really neat place with very comfy chairs that lean back… yep, you guessed it, I zonked out. In my defence, I shall say that… all Japanese and a talk about gravity and I was getting dizzy with the 3D screen…

After a quick visit to Tower Records for a magazine I was looking for (and in the end got a wrong one, but oh well…) we had yet more karaoke (in a huge room) and eventually headed off home to have some CocoCurry.

17th August 2014: Meiji, more Odaiba, Rainbow Bridge {Japan, summer 2014}

I started the day heading off towards Yoyogi Kōen [代々木公園], the park where Meiji Jingu [明治神宮] stands. I got my fortune in the shrine, and apparently, it shall be excellent from now on (and wouldn’t that be awesome). I got an English fortune and it came with a tiny Manekineko (lucky cat) and told me that my life was going to get better. I am going to cling to the thought. (Plus: I did not get dengue fever from my visit to Yoyogi Park).

After that I took a stroll down to Shiba Kōen [芝公園] and Zojo-ji [増上寺] in Minato [港], just because I could, but I had to move on before long. I did have the time to say hi to the mizuko, though, before I had to leave.

I met my friends for ComiKet [コミケット] in the convention centre Tokyo Big Sight, in Odaiba [お台場]. Comiket is reportedly the largest amateur comic convention in the world.

ComiKet was disappointing, mostly because it was insanely crowded, and we decided to make up for it walking back to the main Tokyo area crossing the Rainbow Bridge [レインボーブリッジ], which was an amazing experience. Not only the views, but the whole walking on it… well, within it might be more appropriate… was great, and I am very glad I got to do it.

The day ended in Ikebukuro [池袋] eating okonomiyaki and monjayaki (with some sides because huuuuungry), which was quite yummy, although I have decided that I prefer okonomiyaki.

1st July 2013: Wandering on a Monday {Japan, summer 2013}

Many national places like museums are closed in Japan on Mondays, so I thought I would visit the Imperial Palace East Gardens, Kōkyo Higashi Gyoen [皇居東御苑], which are considered a public park and should therefore be open, right? Wrong. Closed too. Thus I got a few pictures of… the moat and wall XD

I decided to head down to Yoyogi Kōen [代々木公園] and Meiji Jingu [明治神宮], as it was a place I enjoyed a lot last year and was closer than most my other options – and bound to be open. I took a few pictures I could not because it was raining in 2012, among them one of the daitorii up.

I met with a friend in the Minato-ku area, as Tokyo Tower [東京タワー] is a good meeting point and I still had to see Zojoji open. It was finally a success and I got an awesome omamori that turns bad luck into good luck (summer special, too!). What, you thought I had gotten over my omamori liking? You thought wrong XD

Finally I headed back to Roppongi [六本木] to meet with D****e and try the Roppongi Hills [六本木ヒルズ] observatory again, which was a success this time:

6th July 2012: 東京の雨(傘) {Japan, summer 2012}

On Friday I walked a lot but saw fewer things. I started with Yasukuni Jinja [靖国神社], which was preparing for a matsuri (festival), as you can see with all the lanterns. The lanterns had names in them and I have the chilling feeling that there’s one for each Japanese soldier who died in WWII – Yasukuni Shrine is dedicated to the fallen in that war.

A wall of yellow paper lamps being hung outdoors

A torii gate and a shrine behind it. The shrine is hanging the imperial banner. The building is made out of dark wood with golden decoration, and the roof is green-grey

The shrine visit was followed by a 30-minute stroll toward the Diet Building [国会, Kokkai] , which is something like the Parliament. Surprisingly enough, I got there without much trouble. I checked points with this because a) is cultural building b) is a barrier in X Clamp and c) is where the Shinigami in Yami no Matsuei are based. Risky picture in the middle of a crossing too! (pedestrian light was green, so not that impressive, to be honest.)

A severe looking building, closed off by fences and guarded by the police

As I was walking towards the Diet I found the National Theatre by chance. It was not in the plan, but i decided to check it out:

A shoebox-like building, in brown, with some reddish paper lanterns at the entrance

It started to rain and I was heading to Yoyogi Kōen [代々木公園], where I took a series of fun pictures through my (D****e’s) umbrella. It did not work as well as I hoped for though XD. Originally Yoyogi Park was conceived as a sacred forest around the Meiji Temple.

Trees through a transparent plastic umbrella

Thus, Meiji Jingu [明治神宮] was erected in the middle of the sacred forest of Yoyogi to honour the Meiji emperor and his wife. It is a very impressive complex, to be honest, and not even the bunch if tourists manage to break the spell of the place.

The entrance to Meiji Jingu, with a torii, and a small fountain to the left, and a lantern to the right

The main building of Meiji Jingu, in dark wood with a grey roof. A few people are approaching the building, all of them are carrying umbrellas

Finally I took a walk down Harajuku [原宿], where I, fortunately, did not buy anything. I swear, this country eats money way too fast…

A shopping street. The entrance is decorated with balloons strung together to look like a heart

Stay tuned for the tale if our trip to Nikko on Saturday and how we did not go to see the waterfall… the waterfall came to us. It was not the deluge… but almost. 大雨.

Title translation: Tokyo no Ame(gasa), it’s a pun on Tokyo’s rain and Tokyo’s umbrella. The Japnese word for rain is “ame”, and the word for umbrella is “amegasa”