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.

30th August 2018: Loud Head {Japan, summer 2018}

I took the train to Shinjuku [新宿] and I walked from there to Shibuya [渋谷] to have a thought or two at life. In my walk I crossed Yoyogi Kōen [代々木公園] and visited Meiji Jingu [明治神宮].

Then I strolled down Harajuku [原宿] – I had recently found out that the station is going to be torn down, so I had to say goodbye before heading over to the shops.

I finally made it to Shibuya [渋谷]. I had some Starbucks chocolate drink with around ten million kilocalories (≧∇≦). I went into Tower Records, Mandarake, and then Tsutaya.

Ironically, I finally took a train back to Shinjuku [新宿] to meet D****e for dinner (guess what?! In the Shinjuku MyLord!), and we saw the lights on the Tōkyō Tochō [東京都庁] (Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building).

28th August 2018: Easy-peasy {Japan, summer 2018}

Having felt so lousy the previous day I decided to take an easy day with friends. I took another Nakano Broadway [中野ブロードウェイ] trip, although I did not find anything interesting – actually I did but I decided to leave buying for later and the next time I came it would be gone. Not the item, the whole shop (≧∇≦).

I met B**** for Chinese food in Shibuya [渋谷], drinks (because we had free Starbucks!) and then I got a haircut! Not that my hair was long but it had started losing shape and it did not look neat. My hair saloon was called Number 76 and it was in Omotesando [表参道].

This was a bit of a weird experience – I got my hair dry-cut, then washed, then styled, and then I got a massage – and B**** treated me to it because she’s awesome and generous ♥

Afterwards we met with D****e and had dinner at a very weird meat place in Shinjuku [新宿] (once again in MyLord because we decided it is very convenient and it has nice places). I mean, this is a salad…

24th August 2018: Friends! {Japan, summer 2018}

In the morning, I went to the Shōbō hakubutsukan [消防博物館] or Fire Museum, in Yotsuya [四谷]. I blame my last binge on Chicago Fire for the curiosity bug to bite on that one. It was strangely interesting, but the helicopter was closed due to wind and rain – also the problem with kid friendly museums is… kids overrunning you and parents cheering for them…

Then I met B**** in Shibuya [渋谷] for sushi, and that was awesome, until we were done. Then we saw the shrimp and fish being beheaded alive in front of us. That was a shock (O_O)! After that we went for ice cream, window shopping, karaoke and dinner in Shinjuku [新宿], in MyLord building next to the station, which was really convenient and surprisingly good (and well-timed on our part). Okonomiyaki! This was my masterpiece!

(Added a lot of katsuomi to it afterwards (≧∇≦) )

12th August 2018: SSGW (Shinjuku Samurai Godzilla Walk) {Japan, summer 2018}

This Saturday afternoon I headed off to Shinjuku [新宿] again. This time I went to the Samurai Museum in Kabuki-cho [歌舞伎町]. It is located roughly ten minutes away from the station’s Kabuki-cho exit, though I had to do some extra walking because I got a bit disoriented from my metro exit to the actual area. I get lost in Shinjuku station a lot, but I think I’m getting the hang of it.

The Samurai Museum has two floors. As you come in, you have the shop to one side and the counter to the other. I was strongly encouraged to take the English-speaking tour that started in 10 minutes, although I did see people on their own without taking the tour – my impression was that they prefer foreigners in tours, but I went with it.

The museum claims that all its pieces are original. It has two floors, the first one has a few armours, one of them with a bullet dent. The second floor, where you have to take yours shoes off, you have several rooms with memorabilia such as helmets, stirrups, saddles and so. There is also one room for sword exhibitions – which take place once an hour in the afternoons – and the chance for you to try on.

After the museum I grabbed something to eat from a conbini (because I am not known for keeping regular meal times in Japan anyway) and then took a stroll down Shinjuku and Kabuki-cho, ending up at the Peace Memorial.

Afterwards I went to the Toho cinema / Hotel Gracery Shinjuku [ホテルグレイスリー新宿] to see the Godzilla [ゴジラ] head. I have been there a few times, and I always try to go to the balcony to get close to the head. In theory, access is restricted to customers from the hotel or the bar, but I had heard that sometimes they open it in general. I am not sure if this was the case, but this time the terrace was open, there were people outside so I applied the old trick of ‘walking into it as if you belonged’. So I finally got up close with Godzilla! It was about time, too.

(Sidenote: The above Godzilla pic is a composite of two I took with different lightings. I’m quite proud of how it turned up.)

Then I met up with D****e at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, Tōkyō Tochō [東京都庁], to watch sunset (ish. Again. Japan weather in summer).

Afterwards went off for a drink and towards Shibuya to snoop around the Tower Records and the Book Off, only to discover that the latter was gone 。゚(゚´Д`゚)゚。. From Shibuya [渋谷], as the evening was nice, we walked down first to Harajuku and later to Yoyogi [代々木] to catch the underground. We saw the illuminated NTT Docomo Yoyogi Building [NTTドコモ代々木ビル] and I took about a gazillion pictures.

And at some point I guess we had dinner. Probably.

29th July 2017: Shinjuku, Shibuya & Blended Fam {Japan, summer 2017}

D****e and I were going to have a relaxing weekend, not leaving Tokyo [東京] and stuff, but she wanted to do some shopping. We started off in Shinjuku [新宿], at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building Tōkyō Tochō [東京都庁], which was as always great and on her subway line anyway.

Afterwards, I wanted to check something in one of the Shinjuku fandom shops (it said to ask the shop assistant, and I can ask, but I was not sure I would have understood the answer, thus she offered to tag along with me). Unfortunately the item I wanted was already gone, life is tough.

Then we went to Shibuya [渋谷] for lunch, Tokyu Hands and Mandarake. Afterwards we walked in the rain towards Royal Flash to check Arly’s Jewellery Line – Blended Fam. Arimatsu, or Arly, is the drummer for Oblivion Dust, and used to play for VAMPS too. He also designs jewellery, and he makes very pretty stuff – unfortunately quite expensive. We chose to drop by this day because he was going to be in the shop greeting fans, and engraving his most affordable piece of jewellery, a pendant made from his used cymbals. Furthermore, if you got one while he was there, he would engrave your initials on it! Fun. I decided to get one, and he was mortified when “SD” was engraved upside-down, yielding to “DS”. He was mortified. Then I joked about it and I gave it a naughty meaning… making him choke with laughter. So… it was a win, I guess?

After the event, we headed off to the Tokyo SkyTree [東京スカイツリー]. We were going to see the nearby fireworks with a friend from there, and have dinner later, or have dinner with her if the rain did not stop. In the end only we had dinner – as it was raining very hard and we thought the fireworks would be cancelled, so we headed off to a nice Chinese restaurant at the SkyTree which had extra long gyoza.

When we were coming out we saw one last firework, as the show was not cancelled in the end. Live and learn.

Note: there is a longer comment about Arly’s Blended Fam event over at SemiRandom.

8th (and 9th) January 2017: The jump back to Tokyo… and then completely back… {Japan, winter 16/17}

At an insane hour in the morning, umbrella-less and in the middle of the rain, I got myself back to the point where buses were finally running to the airport. I dozed away the trip, because else I would have kept tying to read quizzes in Hiroshima-ben, the local dialect, that they were displaying on the bus screen.

I made it to Hiroshima airport and pulled a bunch of things off my backpack to conceal them before I got my boarding pass in case my carry on got checked, but once again the ‘I am a scary gaijin’ thing worked and I was free to go.

I was allowed to get my water bottle in, even with it being half-full, and I had a Calbee crisps breakfast because I could not find a sandwich inside, although in retrospective, maybe I should have gone out and back again as I had time. Then again, I would have had to explain that to security… never mind. So I had coffee and crisps. Not the best option, but what I had available.

When I landed and got back to downtown Tokyo [東京], I met B**** at Shibuya [渋谷] for gyoza, and boy did we eat gyoza. And afterwards she walked me to Shinjuku [新宿]to buy some stuff, and then we went to a cafeteria for cake… well, she had cake, I had a coffee jelly with vanilla which was my new favourite thing in the world. I seriously need to learn to make that.

After that there was a visit to Swallowtail in Ikebukuro [池袋], the butler café, which is as always very fun. We had a bit of a lost butler – he felt kind of new – and not the prettiest one. I noticed that they have uniformed the butlers, too, so now they are all wearing the same thing. After that we dropped by the shop and I got myself a bracelet I can’t wear because my wrist is too thin… and here I thought that I would get away with stuff prepared for Japanese girls… nope.

After that there were goodbyes and thank yous and tears because the only thing that I did the next day was going to the airport, more goodbyes, more tears. Very sad. As always.

Until next time, I guess.

Maybe.

Hopefully.

2nd January 2017: Visiting the Imperial Palace {Japan, winter 16/17}

At roughly 9 am, we headed off to the Imperial Palace, the Kōkyo [皇居] for an audience with the Emperor. Sounds impressive, but so did several other some 80 thousand of people. We were going to the so-called “Visit of the General Public to the Palace for the New Year Greeting” (Kōkyo Shin-nen Ippan Sanga [皇居 新年一般参賀]) to wish the Emperor Nappy New Year.

We arrived in the Imperial Palace area maybe around late 9.30s. First we got our flags to wave. Then our bags were checked, then there was a pat-down to make sure that we did not take anything dangerous into the palace. The weather was nice and sunny so it was not too cold, and it was nice. We ended up at the beginning of one of the lines so we had a nice view of the Nijubashi [環境省] Gate, which is usually closed. Then we walked up the gardens until we got to the main building. We were not allowed to stop to take pictures, so excuse random angles and compositions.

We made it to the grounds just in time for the 11:00h audience. We got to see the adult members of the imperial family and hear the emperor speak for a couple of minutes. There was cheering and flags.

After the audience we got to walk down the gardens, and take pictures and think that everything looked awfully mundane for an Imperial Palace. There were traffic signs and the max speed is 30… I don’t know, it was a weird feeling.

Afterward we visited Itoya in Ginza [銀座], which is a huge stationary shop, and I wanted all the things. Afterwards we had some Australian beef and then we headed off to Shibuya [渋谷], where there was Taco Bell (because reasons) and karaoke with B**** and a donut afterwards. The order might not have been exactly that one though (⌒▽⌒)☆

31st December 2016 (and on): Seeing the year off with a dragon (gate) {Japan, winter 16/17}

The first thing that I did in the morning was heading off to Shinagawa [品川] with D****e in order to see the third Dragon Gate (to complete the visit started on the 28th. This third dragon gate is the entrance to Shinagawa Jinja [品川神社], which was the biggest complex of all the three if you don’t count the Koen-ji gardens.

From one of the hills belonging to the shrine we could see a few of the nearby little shrines, so we went to check them out. And there was warm coffee on the way. Because I have not mentioned yet, but the same vending machines that expend my cold coffee in summer expend the same coffee in winter, but warm. Which makes you feel the sugar rush even harder warms your cold fingers.

After Shinagawa we went to Shinjuku [新宿] for a little bit of food and shopping, then Shibuya [渋谷] and Ikebukuro [池袋] just for shopping. Afterwards, we picked K***n up and headed off to Odaiba [お台場] to watch New Year’s Eve fireworks.

After the fireworks we had a snack in the DiverCity’s Calbee shop – crisps with chocolate, yes. It is a thing.

Then we set down to have a drink and kill a few hours in the food court until it was time to head back into Town as we were going to wait for the New Year at Hie Jinja [日枝神社]. And thus we waited…

26th December 2016: Japan can be cold! {Japan, winter 16/17}

This was a discovery. Yes, I knew for a fact that Japan could be a cold country. I’ve seen he pictures and the snow, but it was the first time ever I was in winter Japan.

First of all, regarding the flight, Iberia is now flying Madrid Tokyo in a direct route, which is amazing. However, they charge you about 30 bucks for choosing a seat and the personnel is not the most helpful ever (^_^)”

After arriving in Narita, the first goal was setting the Internet on the phone. I was using Free Wifi at Narita and several stations among my route to meet D. for lunch and to get the keys to her apartment, because I keep forgetting that you have to go onto your browser and “register”.

Anyway, I met with D****e first for yakiniku in Roppongi [六本木], and I got the keys to her apartment as I was crashing with her. I was hungry and forgot to take pictures, so have a look at the ベリベリ (“very berry”) smoothy I got in Harajuku [原宿] with B****. later on (*^◇^)_旦. And after that we went to a place called “Cookie Time” which was amazing.

We also got to look at the winter illuminations between Harajuku and Shibuya [渋谷].

Finally, we went to eat sushi (*・∀・)_Ω. It is a common misconception that there can not be too much sushi, but it is actually a mistake. There is such a thing as too much sushi, but you won’t realise that until it is too late (*゚ー゚)ゞ.

29th July 2016: Trying not to think {Japan, summer 2016}

So I got home late the previous day and I did not really feel like studying, so this morning I had to do my homework and study for the exam ( ̄◇ ̄;). However, at around midmorning, I decided that I really did not care for a perfect grade anymore, that I was not going to get anyway because the teacher was not happy with my なければなりません and wanted なけれべいけません because that was what the book had. The other day when I was in Harajuku I’d seen something I really wanted, so I decided that screw everything, I would go buy it.

First, I stopped by Shibuya [渋谷], just because. I did a quick tour over Tsutaya, Book Off and Mandarake. In Tsutaya, I bugged a lady as I was looking for a specific manga and she did not look too happy to help (~_~;). Then I went to Harajuku [原宿] to buy the item I had fallen in love with, a 40cm high photobook (limited edition).

After class (and last exam, and saying bye bye and getting our pic taken with the certificate…) I met M. in Ikebukuro [池袋] as we were going to do fanstuff together. Well, let me rephrase that. First I went home because the photobook(s) was (were) heavy as hell and it would have been more expensive to find a coin locker for them than getting home and dropping them off. After that, I waited for her in the Book Off (and was self-restrained and did not buy anything else). We checked out the Ikebukuro Closet Child and then we had dinner together.

The plan was try and hunt the Gakkuchi. That is, some of the adorable plushes that GACKT makes. He had decided to put some as prices for the UFO catchers. I do know that getting them is next to impossible, but for 500Y try, you got a clearfile, and that was awesome…

So awesome that the clearfiles were “sold out” in all Ikebukuro. We tried one station over, a smaller one. No luck. We tried my station. Still no luck. Damn, what a way to finish the day (♯`∧´).

26th July 2016: Day and night {Japan, summer 2016}

In the morning I went off to Shimokitazawa [下北沢], which is a “commercial and entertaining district in Setagaya [世田谷], Tokyo [東京]” (according to Wikipedia, at least).

My first stop was Kitazawa Hachiman Jinja [北澤八幡神社], about 10 minutes away from the station. It is one of those not so hidden shrines that give you the impression that time has frozen.

Afterwards, I undid my way for lunch in Gyoza no Oshou, which I heard that was GACKT’s favourite gyoza place (ironically, this seems to be a franchise, I also found one in Ueno, later on). After that I slithered over to Harajuku [原宿] to find the Closet Child there (and buy things and get a discount card!) Because the fact that there were no more planned shopping sprees does not really mean… anything(≧∇≦).

In the evening (after class and homework), even if it was raining, I waltzed off to take pictures of the city at night. While Shibuya is bustling with neon, Shinjuku was a bit heart-wrenching as the homeless tend to gather around the station for cover, some of them read your palm for cash.

Shibuya [渋谷]:

Shinjuku [新宿]:

Cityscape from the Observatory of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, Tōkyō Tochō [東京都庁] (not alone in the lift this time…):

At night there was an earthquake. Not a big one, probably (3, maybe?), but it made my whole apartment creak with the strain. It was creepy enough to straighten me out of bed (◎_◎;)

17th July 2016: Chiba & friends {Japan, summer 2016}

In the morning I was considering Nikko but in retrospect I think that it was good that I did not do such a thing, considering.

I headed out to Chiba to check out the castle and a local shrine, unoriginally named Chiba-jo [千葉城], and Chiba Jinja(≧∇≦).

I had no trouble finding the castle once I made to an elevated road crossing, and I was soon there. To my surprise the castle visit was free, as it is also the Chiba City Folk Museum – Chiba-shi Tachi kyōdo hakubutsukan [千葉市立郷土博物館]. Inside there is a samurai and history museum, guarded by local guards and tour guides, very interested in not talking to the weird gaijin, yours truly. The first floor exhibits some pottery and archaeological artefacts, the second and third samurai and history items such as armours and weapons, and the fourth floor focuses on recent history around the world wars. The fifth is the observatory.

After the castle I walked to Myokenhongu Chiba Jinja [妙見本宮 千葉神社] which does not have a set of komainu (guardian lion-dogs). It has a whole family set and it is adorable! I was absolutely in love with the whole thing. Unfortunately I don’t think they would have let me take them.

After this I headed off to have a late lunch with a friend, because sometimes being a friend is being on trains for 2 hours for a weird late lunch, and then another hour and a half back because you’re meeting other people. In the meantime too I had time to shower and to slip onto the floor and not break anything. Go me!

Then I met some friends in Shibuya [渋谷] for dinner. Well, they had dinner, I had ice cream, cause I could d(^_^o)

6th July 2016: The first incursion {Japan, summer 2016}

As I had to study in the evenings, I tried to get used to early starts. I invited T**y over to Komagome so he could see the local shrine as opposed to the main shrines I was sending him to. Komagome Jinja is a small shrine that we’ll pay more attention in the future – because I was not carrying my camera that day.

I took T**y to Shibuya [渋谷] today as he wanted to take pictures of the crossing. Then we had a look at Tsutaya and had something to drink on the new seventh floor.

After that, we headed off to Tower Records, Tokyu Hands, Mandarake and generally some Shibuya backstreets. Throughout the morning I got myself Kanjani8’s newly released single, and a couple more CDs from Book Off.

After that I headed off to school only to find that the teachers did not like my handwriting in Japanese. Tough luck, this is how it ended up being.

Upon coming back I decided that I needed to do some exploration around the neighbourhood, but for now I would content myself with some takoyaki, which was awfully yummy (future reference: Sunkus takoyaki > Family Mart takoyaki). Then there was studying and organising the room (finally!)

July 2nd, 2016: Starting off with the right (bruised) foot {Japan, summer 2016}

I have to admit that even if we took off late this was the smoothest flight from Europe that I’ve had to Japan. We left Frankfurt with about an hour’s delay and arrived about 40 minutes late. However, best landing ever. The plane was cold, but I am not going to complain considering the time that the heat made me sick. I prefer huddling up in the blanket. I kind of slept for a few hours, which was good, but I really don’t like when they just tell you to put your window down because it’s bedtime. Oh well.

This trip, I have been showing some of Tokyo to T**y, so a lot of the ‘we’ that skip refer to him and me.

The first day was a bit of a bit of everything one, and even a week later I’ve got bruises from hurling the suitcase up and down the stairs. After lunch with B**** in Shibuya [渋谷] (to get my Internet from her, too), I headed off to Shinjuku to get my keys. This time I was staying for a month and I could not impose for that long on any of my friends so I decided to rent a small apartment via an agency named “Sakura house” which rents places to foreigners for a long or short stay in Japan, starting at one month. As my stay was 28 days, it made sense to use their services.

Sakura House is located in Shinjuku [新宿] and that is why I headed there. The procedure was completely in English, and not difficult, but long, as it included all the specific info for an apartment rental. It is not as quick as checking into a hotel.

The whole process involves reserving a room online and paying a deposit, then signing a contract and paying at least the first month at the place. Afterwards they give you your keys, give you specific instructions and then you’re off on your merry way.

I was staying in an area called Komagome [駒込], 15 minutes away from Ueno and 20 away from school. Right downtown, and what I spent in location I would save on transport, or so I hoped.

After signing and getting my keys, I took T**y to his hotel and we got horribly lost on the process. In the end it all had a happy ending thanks a nice car park guard and after checking him in, we headed off for sushi and karaoke with B**** (^_^v)♪.

After that, I braved the Yamanote on my own to get to Komagome, and was lucky to get my station exit right, so I could arrive home in good time to have a shower and get some sleep because the next day I had to wake up early.

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.

21st August 2015: Shibuya and Shinjuku {Japan, summer 2015}

I was to meet with D****e in Shibuya [渋谷] as she was coming directly from Haneda that day and we had arranged to meet in Tsutaya – there would be Hachiko meeting point later on, but we wanted something covered, just in case the skies opened.

As it takes a bit to get from Satte to any place downtown Tokyo, I organised myself to be out of the door with enough time to find myself a shrine to visit. Because yes, I can find shrines anywhere in Tokyo and beyond and after a while walking through skyscraper-type buildings, I turned a corner to the Konnō Hachiman-gū [金王八幡宮], which I had not been able to find the previous year due to an Internet failure. I’m still torn about going to Yasukuni Shrine, by the way, which would have been another of my options. On one hand, I would like to come back and get a calligraphy seal; on the other, it would feel like condoning the whole thing Yasukuni means and… I don’t know, I think I have to think harder about that, especially with Abe’s whole revisionist attitude. Meanwhile, this is Konnō Hachiman-gū (which was being repaired so loop-sided picture not to bother the workers), and the little Inari altar located next to it.

Once the shrine fix was achieved – come on, it was my third day already!! – I headed back to Shibuya [渋谷] to meet with D****e and as I walked back I saw something I had not noticed before, as it had been on the opposite side of the direction I was heading. However, now I could see it straight ahead.

The L’Arc~en~Ciel’s L’ArCasino billboard. Pictures happened. Maybe some inner fanbying too. Did I mention I love my new camera? Cause I do, a lot.

After a while doing experiments with the zoom, I headed off for the Tsutaya floor we were going to meet in, and barely had the time to check out the stuff before she arrived. Afterwards we headed off for the Book Off (which… is changing names?) because we could, and afterwards to the BIC Camera so she could pick up her own SIM card.

She wanted to check out a Shinjuku [新宿] kimono store to see if she found VAMPS’ bat yulata, but we were out of luck and it was already gone. And then there was karaoke, because for some reason there’s always karaoke with her in Shinjuku?

And then there was home and CocoCurry. Finally CocoCurry ♥

23rd August 2014: Tea Ceremony, Imperial Gardens and Sushi! {Japan, summer 2014}

For my last day I had thought about trying to go to see Gackt as Uesugi Kenshin in Joetsu, but (un)fortunately I realised late Friday evening that he would not be there. Good that at least I noticed before I was there and had spent four hours on the train XD

Thus I talked my friend into coming to a tea ceremony with me near Tokyo Station in Chiyoda [千代田]. This was very fun because the tea-lady (Tea master? Tea mistress??) allowed us to participate and actually bat the matcha to make it bubble up. There are no photographs of that, but I have one of the delicious takoyaki we snacked on as we were waiting for our timeslot, along the guy making them.

Then we headed off for the Imperial Palace East Gardens, Kōkyo Higashi Gyoen [皇居東御苑], which I had not been able to visit last year. The gardens run alongisde the Imperial Palace and hold the ruins of what used to be the Edo Castle, Edo-jo [江戸城].

Then she indulged me in a very stupid desire I had, and that was having something sitting down in the Shibuya Starbucks, and taking a few pics from there. It was silly but it made me intensely happy.

As we headed back we rode by surprise fireworks.

The day ended with sushi, and the trip too. It was over for this year, and I don’t know when I’ll come back, but I know I will. Somehow.

It has to happen.

21st August 2014: The Not So Lucky Cat did turn lucky! {Japan, summer 2014}

Last year I headed off to Gotoku-ji [豪徳寺] a couple of times, the Temple of the Lucky Cat, in Setagaya [世田谷], but unfortunately did not work out. This time I finally was able to find the Temple open and it was good because while 10 minutes away from where I was staying away last year, it was a good couple of hours this time.

The lady in the gift/prayer shop was very nice and praised my Japanese (LOL), but we managed to understand each other and I got my charm (and an English brochure too!), she got her money and now I finally got my waving cat at home! (Which technically you’re not supposed to do, but keep my secret).

After that I headed to Shibuya [渋谷] to visit Tokyu Hands, which has lots of shiny, but is tremendously expensive, and then dropped by the Tsutaya as two singles I was interested in were being released that day. I ended up buying a bunch of magazines there because I knew it was going to be my last shopping visit. It always amuses me that they double-check with you whether you’re sure if you’re buying two equal things. But yes, I knew someone who needed a Rurouni Kenshin special magazine in her life XD.

Here you have the VAMPS and Tackey and Tsubasa’s single stands.

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