15th August 2019: Downpour Shinjuku {Japan, summer 2019}

Once more in Shinjuku [新宿], I stepped out at Tochomae station to go to the Tōkyō Tochō [東京都庁] aka the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. To my surprise, there was a line for the observatory! Apparently they have closed the North Observatory for renovations (possibly 2020 preparation). When I got to the observatory there was a piano, and at that time, visitors were allowed to play it. I thought “Wouldn’t it be cool if someone did X Japan?”. And then two guys do 紅 with three hands. I was very impressed.

I hoped I would be able to walk around Shinjukucho Teien [新宿中央公園] before it started raining.

As I was in Shinjukujunisha Kumano Jinja [新宿十二社 熊野神社], where I got a shuuin, it started pouring.

Thus, I went back to the covered station underpasses as fast as I could and then tried to get my way round the inner passages… with dubious success. I did find the Shinjuku tourist office, because they had Coke packs there, but I could not find one that had sakura and Tokyo bottle in it (ó_ò).

Then I went to Tower Records to see INORAN’s guitar, which was on display prior to his tour.

And then I headed off to Roppongi [六本木]. And you know what I found in the first random vending machine I came across? The freaking Tokyo Coke bottle, which turned out not to be only in Shinjuku! I had been looking for it for days (;¬_¬)

Afterwards, I met D****e and M*****san for a nice shabu-shabu dinner.

Walked distance: 10978 steps / 7.85 km.

4th August 2019: Gastronomy Day {Japan, summer 2019}

I took an early shinkansen back from Nagoya to Tokyo [東京] because I was out early the day before and thus up at an insane hour. I was on the train before 9AM for sure (≧▽≦). I have witnesses!

And in Tokyo… basically I had lunch with D****e, curry soup, in Nakano [中野]:

We said hi to the Doraemon [ドラえもん] in Roppongi [六本木].

Then we went for lamb shabu-shabu for dinner…

And that was it. There went my diet.

Walked distance: 17978 steps / 12.8 km… somehow. From the hotel to Nagoya station, and then from Nakano Station to D****e’s house (oh, wait, I got lost on the way, that explains a lot). Then back to Nakano Station area for lunch, and once more to D****e’s house, and then to the station? Yes? Okay (≧▽≦).)

3rd September 2018: More friends, less tourism {Japan, summer 2018}

I walked towards Nakano [中野] again – realising that Nakano Broadway [中野ブロードウェイ] is in walking distance has been a problem – and the Aoyama Daiso where I got some stupid things, basically fake nails, stickers to put them on and blue mascara.

On my way I reaffirmed the existence of Tōkō-ji [東光寺]:

Then I came across Araiyakushi Baishōin [新井薬師梅照院]:

Once in the Nakano Broadway [中野ブロードウェイ] building I checked out the shops and jumped on the train to meet B**** for sushi (not killed in front of us, thankfully), and drinks and talking. This time we were not at Starbucks spending my voucher, but at Tully’s spending hers. Afterwards we were having a look at the make up shops in Shibuya 109 and Super-Donki. It ended up with me buying some red eyeliner.

Four our last dinner B****, D****e and I got shabu-shabu. In all honesty, I wanted curry but it has not sat well on my stomach the last few times, so now I’m afraid to try 。゚(゚´Д`゚)゚。 ← most of the tears are because I had to say goodbye to B**** anyway.

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.

11th August 2018: The Luna Sea Connection {Japan, summer 2018}

Luggage arrived around 9 am, and let me tell you I have never been this happy to see my own underwear. I put together all the presents I had brought for people (feeling sorry that I had not been able to take M***chan’s for her the previous night) and headed out, first with D****e to Shinjuku and later to Akasaka, as I was meeting a friend over there for a concert.

Back in April 2018, when I went to the INORAN concert at the Salón del Manga de Alicante, one of the people I met was E**chan, who is coincidentally a Luna Sea fan and studying Spanish.

When she heard that I was going to Japan this summer she offered to help me find tickets for the solo concert of her favourite Luna Sea member, the bass J in the Mainabi Blitz Akasaka [マイナビBLITZ赤坂]. I met E**chan at Asakasa station [赤坂駅] for lunch and coffee / tea before the concert. We ended up in a place called Uchi no Tamago Chokubaijo [うちのたまご直売] and ate tamago kake gohan [卵かけごはん], which I had never eaten before and was absolutely yummy (I’ve looked up recipes by now (≧∇≦). I mean, it’s basically raw egg and rice so…).

Lunch. A bowl of miso soup and a bowl of rice with cooked egg on top

After lunch we were talking for a while, and then headed for the concert. I bought some goods (Tshirt) and she was nice enough to wait with me even if she had a much better number since she’s a fanclub member. The concert was super lively and rocky, with almost a mosh pit and all! It was fun, and J was very energetic – one day I will see the whole of Luna Sea together. I got pushed and shoved a little, so even if fun, it turned out a bit exhausting.

After the concert I headed back of to Shinjuku [新宿] to have a shabu-shabu dinner with D****e before we headed back home.

Dinner watching the shabushabu broth until it boils. There are mushrooms, tofu and spinach leaves ready to be cooked

17th July 2017: The power of nature {Japan, summer 2017}

In the morning, D****e and I left the hotel to tour Kumamoto [熊本] a bit more. We headed off to Fujisaki Hachimangu [藤崎八旛宮], a shrine dedicated to a bunch of historical figures, among them Emperor Ojin.

After that, we walked in the sun towards the castle, and we missed our entrance to the nice shade, so we were in the scorching sun for a little longer than intended. In the castle park we headed off to Kato Jinja [加藤神社].

As we walked around the park, and from Kato Jinja itself we could see part of Kumamoto-jo [熊本城], but we could only see one of the towers, as the main building is still under reconstruction. The destruction of the turrets and walls gave us a chill, thinking of that quake and how strong it must have been. I have decided that I must come back to Kumamoto some day to see this castle once it is reconstructed.

As we were coming down we met a friend and arranged to meet with her later to emulate HYDE’s pictures at the station, but first we dropped by Kumamoto Inari Jinja [熊本城稲荷神社].

We had a shabushabu lunch and then headed off to the station meet with C. and to take our pictures with Kumamon (and a nice old couple who… wanted pictures with the gaijin for some reason).

After that I took the Shinkansen to Hataka station in the city of Fukuoka [福岡], where I arrived around 6pm. This kick-started my pattern for the following days: travel to a new city in the late afternoon / early evening, check in a hotel close to the station, see monuments by night, sleep, see the important stuff during the morning.

I checked into the hotel, changed clothes and headed off to see Fukuoka Tower [福岡タワー] and Momochi Seaside Park Seaside Momomichi Kaihin Koen [シーサイドももち海浜公園]. The latter is a small beach park which holds some restaurants, cafes and one of the famous Fukuoka wedding venues (the Marizon).

I entered the Tower and was waiting for a while to climb up, but it was worth it, as I got to watch sunset. I really like the whole tower-climbing thing. Finally I backtracked towards the hotel, stopping to take pictures of the lit tower on my way back.

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.

14th August 2014: When trains took forever {Japan, summer 2014}

It started with the train stopping for a few minutes that in the end turned out to be over an hour. Then there was an unexpected train change, and my Internet going crazy which got me lost. In the end my sightseeing morning was crushed to 10 minutes of walking around Shibuya [渋谷] and a Book Off visit.

Lunch was good as we met in the Book Off and headed for a great shabu-shabu. That was very yummy and I probably ate too much of it. But come on! There was wakame to spare and then some!! XD

Afterwards we headed off towards Shinjuku [新宿] to browse Kinokuniya Book Store to buy JLPT study material and, in my case, GACKT’s novelised version of MoonSaga, because I am weird like that. It was raining like crazy, too, so not much stuff to do outdoors, and shrines would already be closed by that time, so I was feeling rather unaccomplished.

We ended up heading off to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, Tōkyō Tochō [東京都庁], to watch sunset – which did not work as it was cloudy – and the pretty lights – which were fewer than usual because some of the buildings were not as full since it was Obon and many people had head home for the holidays.

Day was finished with CocoCurry. CocoCurry is always good, although I was so intent on reading kana correctly that I ended up messing up the order XD

15th July 2012: A very Japanese Sunday {Japan, summer 2012}

The 15th started with a visit to Inokashira Kōen [井の頭恩賜公園] and the temple in it, Inokashira Benzaiten [井の頭弁財天] overlooking Inokashira Ike [井の頭池]. I still find it amazing how the parks in Tokyo can completely drown everything that is going on around them, especially train and car noises. It’s like going to the country or something, within a few minutes of a train station. Inokashira Park was full of people walking, a drawing class and a small flea market.

A bright red shrine at the end of an equally bright bridge

However, the respite did not take long and we threw ourselves back into the busy streets of Tokyo, heading out to Shibuya for all you can eat shabu-shabu. No words, really. Just on nom nom nom nom.

Shabu-shabu restaurant. A broth pot stands in the middle of a table with two services, and two trays of meat are on the side

After lunch and a not-so-quick trip to Mandarake, we headed off for Nakano Broadway to burn the credit card, snoop around idol shops, and buy a lot of stuff.

A shopping gallery

We had a a sushi dinner a sushi dinner (here, fyi, sushi is fish with rice, not rice with fish on top), at a conveyor belt sushi restaurant, where you could also order. And when you did, your sushi came in a mini-Shinkansen (Sushinkansen!)

Sushi moving in a conveyor belt-like structure

sushi being delivered in a small train-like structure that moves on the conveyor belt

Close up of prawn sushi and green tea

Finally, the day ended in a karaoke place.

A karaoke screen reading Passing by like Lady Godiva. On the bottom-right corner, there's someone's hand holding a microphone