13th August 2019: Steamy steamy Tokyo {Japan, summer 2019}

Following recommendations from some Japanese acquaintances, I headed off to the Shinagawa [品川区] area to visit Hebikubo Jinja / Kamishinmeitenso Jinja [蛇窪神社 / 上神明天祖神社], a pretty shrine where I got a pretty shuuin (aaaand discovered another stamp rally).

Among rain, sun and drizzle it was exhaustingly hot. I continued on to find Kimyozan Yogyokuin Nyorai [帰命山養玉院如来寺], a temple with amazing guardians.

And then I found an obviously very dangerous and aggressive tiny pond, I mean, look at those meshes (yes, I know that it’s probably for children safety, but I shall still make jokes about it). It was the Hara no Suijin-ike [原の水神池].

Checking how to come back I came across Ōmori Shell Mound Ruins Garden, Ōmori Kaidzuka Iseki Teien [大森貝塚遺跡庭園] and the Statue of Ōmori Shell Mound, Ōmori Kaikyo no Ishibumi [大森貝墟の碑]. The Ōmori Shell Mound was apparently the first archaeological excavation in Japan. They dig out a seaside village from the Jomon period (14,000 to 300 BC).

Opposite I found Naritasan Ennoji [成田山圓能寺].

And before I left I noticed the ground decoration on the pavement – life evolution and… telephone greetings. Because Japan, I guess…

Then I looked at Tokyo Tower [東京タワー] from Roppongi [六本木], as I checked the Don Quijote for Tokyo Coke bottles, without success.

I also came across tiny Asahi Jinja [朝日神社].

Then dinner was supermarket sushi, which was very, very yummy.

Walked distance: 14009 steps / 10.0 km

21st July 2019: More Kawagoe. 戦国時代-The age of civil wars-: アコースティックライブ&CDサイン会 {Japan, summer 2019}

Sengoku Jidai -The age of civil wars- [ 戦国時代-The age of civil wars-] is a visual kei band I’ve quite actively been trying to avoid – because I know that I would like them, quite a lot. However, I was following one of the members, bassist Ju-ken, on social media – he used to play with VAMPS, and with GACKT before that, and I have one of his picks from the Barcelona VAMPS concert . Not long before my trip, Sengoku Jidai released a new song, which I learnt through Ju-ken’s Instagram. So I went down the YouTube rabbit hole, and somehow ended up on the webpage. Over there, I found out that there was a free event in Kawagoe today as part of the new single promotion. And that is why I decided to come over and try to attend.

Around 10 am I showed up at Kawagoe Pepe shopping centre. The event was a “sain-kai”, which is basically a “meet and get an autograph”. From 11 am, you had access to a booth to buy a number of CDs of the last two singles: Yotogi no Hana [夜伽の華], the last one, and Sengoku Enka [戦国演歌], my favourite. The band would hold a small concert, after which you could shake their hands and get your CDs signed, one at a time – furthermore, by participating you would be guaranteed a seat inside a small restricted area to watch said concert. I ended up being the 18th person on the line, as my entry ticket said so. It took about an hour to complete the buying part.

Admittance to the concert (one, printed in yellow with number 18 on it) and the Meet and Greet (two, printed in black)

In between the two parts of the events, I made a little escapade to Kawagoe [川越大師]’s Seiya-san Muryōshuji Kita-in [星野山無量寿寺喜多院], which is a Buddhist temple dating back from the 830 AD. It is noted for its hall and its pagoda. It also has a small graveyard with “the five hundred disciples of Buddha”. I was not sure whether last time I had actually been there or not, because I arrived by the Delijah TM method of getting lost, so I wanted to make sure, and I had a bit over an hour to kill.

After walking the temple for a while I went back to Pepe for the second part of the Sengoku Jidai event. “Doors” to the seated area opened at 13:30, and the live started off early, around 13:45. There were many people watching from the sidelines, too, that was good to attract new fans. The acoustic was very interesting – I had never been to one, except for a couple of songs at the VAMPS’s Beast Party, but this one was also an unplugged. The live lasted about an hour, with four songs and a lot of talk, except on Ju-ken’s part, who plays a persona called “Date” and never speaks – he is very strict and serious – so he just explained, via gestures, that he liked fishing in summer. The whole persona thing will be important later.

The fun part came during the actual signing – the first one to see me was the drummer whose eyes went wide – he has no poker face at all and completely went (O_O)!, wondering what a white person was doing in their event. I informed him that I was the foreign factor representation. Then I got Ju-ken / Date – I told him about having his pick from Barcelona. His eyes went even wider and the only thing that he said was “sank you, sank you, sank you” shaking my hand. I actually… chatted a bit with all four of them. I had bought two CDs so I could go through the process twice, and they remembered me for the second time. Honestly, if there had been more CDs, I would have bought all to get them signed.

The band shaking hands and signing autographs

Signed CDs

After the event was finished, I went back to Tokyo [東京]. I kinda got lost so I wasted about an extra hour and a half, and thus I was not at the next hotel, in Shinagawa, until late. It had a huge TV (that’s a 135cm-wide bed)!

The TV at the foot of the bed is almost as wide as the bed itself, and the bed would fit two people

I got dinner on the way. One of the items I tried were the conbini boiled eggs.

Soft-boiled egg box

Walked distance: 19468 steps / 13.9 km. However this includes the little furutsuke that Nao-A made us do, and that was recorded as pacing, and getting lost and walking for an hour coming out of the wrong exit of a station.

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…

20th August 2014: Shinagawaaaaaaark! {Japan, summer 2014}

I followed D****e to Nippori [日暮里] to visit the famous “Nippori Textile Town” Nipporisen Igai [日暮里繊維街], and that was interesting. I saw a number of shiiiiny stuff, but I was strong and did not buy anything because I still have an awesome dragon fabric around that needs a use. Later we had lunch, gyuutan, and snooped around the largest Buddhist Graveyard in Tokyo, Yanaka Reien [谷中霊園].

This was also the day when Google Maps hated me, but I don’t want to write about that, because this is a journal for good memories. And good memories were created by going to Shinagawa [品川] and the aquarium, Shinagawa Suizokukan [しながわ水族館], which was lots of fun!

13th August 2014: Samurai vs. Kaiju {Japan, summer 2014}

We started the day in Asakusa [浅草], which would be one of my favourite places in Tokyo if it was not so crowded all the time. This time not only I wanted to visit the main Sensōji [浅草寺].

The Sensoji temple in Asakusa, whose most prominent feature is the huge red paper lanterns

I also wanted to check out the smaller protective Shinto Shrines on the side, like Asakusa Jinja [浅草神社].

Small shrine with two stone torii, two stone lanterns and two fox statues flanking them

The second temple of the day was Sengakuji [泉岳寺], close to Shinagawa [品川]. The name does not really ring a bell by itself, but Senkakuji is also known as the Temple of the Forty-Seven Rōnin, as here is where all of them are buried. The Buddhist temple itself is nothing special. It has the graveyard where the samurai are buried, and a small museum attached where you can see a replica of the drum used in the attack, along with pieces of armour and one copy of the declarative letter that they wrote. Another part of the museum holds wooden statues for all of them.

A Buddhist temple, and a row of gravestones with the names of some of the 47 Ronin

After having lunch in Shinagawa (in a… Mexican… kind of place called “El Caliente”) we headed off to Roppongi [六本木] to see Godzilla. Not the movie, but the sculpture that has been planted in Tokyo Midtown [東京ミッドタウン]. As a matter of fact, it was a very Godzilla [ゴジラ] summer in Tokyo. The Godzilla visit was done in two parts, one before sunset and one after it had gotten dark.

Godzilla coming from the ground, roaring

The two visits to Godzilla were separated by horrible horrible American food (I shall never willingly set a foot on a “Wendy’s” again) and going to the cinema to watch “Rurouni Kenshin – Kyoto Inferno”, the second instalment of a movie trilogy based on the manga of the same name.

Poster of the movie. It shows a man dressed in red traditional clothes, with an X-shaped scar on his cheek. Behind him, minor characters and the antagonist, covered in bandages.

Oh, and before we got back to Godzilla, we saw a gazillion and a half of Doraemon [ドラえもん] underneath Roppongi Hills [六本木ヒルズ], and pictures were taken with them.

A lot of people-sized Doaemon in different poses. Doraemon is a cartoonish ear-less blue and white cat

And here Godzilla tries to eat stuff (there are many good restaurants underneath Tokyo Midtown anyway):

A close-up of the Godzilla statue at night, lit purple and blue, and looming on a skyscraper