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.

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).

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.

28th December 2016: Find all the things ( ・`ω・´)! {Japan, winter 16/17}

One of the items in my calendar this time was visiting the three Dragon Gates of Tokyo. These are three torii gates that have been carved in stone and have an ascending and a descending dragon on each one of the pillars. The legend says that touching the dragons will bring you good luck.

Two torii are located in Suginami [杉並]. The first torii I went off to visit was in the grounds of Shukuhōzan Kōenji [宿鳳山高円寺]. The gate is a bit to the side, in a small adjoined shrine to the left of the main building.

The second gate I visited is in Mabashi Inari Jinja [馬橋稲荷神社], about 15 minutes walking from the previous one (which I chose to hit first because it is closer to the station). As this is indeed a shrine, the torii is pointedly displayed, as it is the second one on the main entrance.

Although I would have wanted to hit the three gates on one day, going back and forth between the first two and the third was not a good idea. Thus, I headed off to Shinjuku [新宿] to check out the Tōkyō Tochō [東京都庁], the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, as the day was very clear. And bingo, it worked, and I managed to see Mount Fuji Fuji-san [富士山] in the background. Being a little bit of a geek, and since both observatories were open, I decided to climb both this time (just in case the stamp was different, of course!). Then (also of course) I was doing some shopping around…

And since I was in the area, I decided to go back to Isetan, having devised a plan to get some images of the kimono. Which succeeded. Then I saw other people taking pictures, so I shielded myself with them and took some, too.

After that I met with D****e and we went off to find some of Gackt’s Gakucchi and Hyde’s Chupacabra crane games and UFO Catchers. For this we headed off to Odaiba [お台場], where we had a chance to look at the Winter Illumination, especially the Rainbow Bridge [レインボーブリッジ] looking… well, rainbow-coloured.

Then we went to say bye-bye to the Gundam in front the DiverCity and had some food inside. Somehow I feel like I’m talking about food all the time (*´∀`*)ノ… This was very yummy and the writing on the algae cracked me up.

As we did not find the Gakucchi nor Chupacabra in Odaiba’s Venus Front, where we had read they would be, we backtracked to Shinjuku [新宿] to search for them. We did not manage to get the stuff out of the crane games but we got the bags that you got with putting 500 ¥ into the UFO Catchers…

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 (◎_◎;)

8th July 2016: 勉強しました, I seriously did… {Japan, summer 2016}

On this day I was at home all morning studying, not sure why because it really did not work all that well ( ̄◇ ̄;). The first week was a review of the previous level in the intensive course, so I found myself in a bit of a disadvantage. I passed it, but by the skin of my teeth. I was not too happy about it but oh well, at that point I’d make up my mind to take the best out of the course, learn as much as I could, and not be huffy or upset or think about how much money I had invested on it.

After the class and test, I headed off to Nakano Broadway [中野ブロードウェイ], which should just be renamed ‘Mandarakeland’ or something as seriously, they are taking over. Leave my TRIO alone, people! There I pondered if I needed a TOKIO bag, and decided that I did need a TOKIO bag for 108¥, and then got some Gackt stuff after the longest convo I’ve ever had with a fan-shop staff member regarding what the hell a free size was (≧∇≦). I also decided I did not need a Yoshikitty key ring for 1500¥.

Then we headed off to show T**y the sights of Tokyo at night from the observatory of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, Tōkyō Tochō [東京都庁] in Shinjuku [新宿]. Impressive as always, even if it was cloudy, because you go to the TMGB during the day to look beyond Tokyo, but you want to look at Tokyo at night. One of the most amazing things was that we were alone in the lift! Bloody alone, he and myself, in a TMGB lift (O_o)!!! While he was gawking at the numbers of the floors, I was taking pictures of the empty lift (⌒▽⌒)

I know my priorities.

For the record, getting my bearings around Shinjuku was hard for a bit, mostly because there you can’t really stop and look where you are going or you’ve got to go. And since I was coming out from a line I’d never used before, it was confusing. Then we ended up following the right passageway, but it’s either new or severely renovated, because the ‘street’ we ended up taking was not the one I remembered at all! I might have to explore again from the Yamanote platform.

After that we headed off home because it had been a long hard day.

2nd September 2015: New views of known sights {Japan, summer 2015}

I went to Haneda Airport to see D****e off as she was leaving already, and on my way back I shook melancholy off by climbing up the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, Tōkyō Tochō [東京都庁] in Shinjuku [新宿]. I had noticed that my camera was better than I was expecting it to be, but I was a bit blown away when I realised the neat stuff it could do. I am very happy with it. Here is a sequence of me aiming at Tokyo Tower [東京タワー].

Views of the Skyscraper District from the TMGB observatory:

After that, I took a stroll down the Skyscraper District, as I wanted to go back to one of the shops I had visited on Sunday. Unfortunately, at this time I was not feeling too well, so when I made it to the shop I had to be quick.

After I had made a much-needed stop, I hit a Book Off (once again) or two (again, once again) and finally headed back for an early evening. B**** and I had a relaxing dinner, tonkatsu in my case, and we both ranted out about our problems. Good for the soul.

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

18th July 2012: Weeping Wallet {Japan, summer 2012}

The 18th was my last day and I was lucky I was able to spending it completely with D****e. I tagged along for her doing some immigration bureaucracy or another, which showed me that red tape sucks the same no matter the country. After she was done, we went to eat an okonomiyaki lunch with pretty waiter to make things nicer.

After that, we went to burn down our wallets, also know as shopping the idol shops in Harajuku [原宿]. This included Johnny’s Entertainment shop, which turned out to be a bit on the disappointing side. I kinda expected something more… grand. Thankfully other shops had enough to make up for it, especially considering my Nakano Broadway spree and the previous day Book Off day.

Leaving Harajuku with lots of Idol stuff and *some* money left. Wohoo:

The day ended with yet another visit to Shinjuku [新宿].

As a final activity we visited the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, Tōkyō Tochō [東京都庁] for viewing Tokyo Tower lit up.

Shinjuku Skyscraper District. I discovered how to activate my camera’s slow shutter mode XD

And then it was over, and the following day I would be heading back home. But fear not because Jbinnacle is not done! There’ll be more. Monotheme posts! Reviews! Fangirling galore! To-do-the-next-time lists! Stay tuned!!

12th July 2012: Ikebukuro {Japan, summer 2012}

I have decided to give my blistered feet a bit of a rest and take it easy for a couple of days. Thus, I’m indulging in my newly-found love of canned coffee and karepan.

A breaded bun, open. The inside is white, with a golden filling in the middle

Yesterday, Thursday 12th I spent most of the morning updating the blog and refusing to move from the chair. Then I headed off towards Ikebukuro [池袋], where my first stop was the Ikebukuro West Gate Park [池袋ウエストゲートパーク]. Ikebukuro West Gate Park or IWGP, is a series of urban mystery novels by Ira Ishida. It was adapted into a very successful TV series directed by Tsutsumi Yukihiko and starring Nagase Tomoya. And Chibi Yamapi. [spoiler] And then Yamapi dies. Really sad. [/spoiler] Loved it.

An urban park with a decorative fountain in the middle. There are a couple of trees, but it's mostly surrounded by buildings

I found the Ikebukuro Station Owl. Somehow. After missing it a couple of times.

Sculpture of a big barn owl with a red vest. There are three smaller owls on the left, one of them is carrying a heart

And while there is not an Aquarium at the top of the Shibuya 109, there is one at the top of the Sunshine 60 – the Sushine Aquarium. Literally at the top. They have also some non-aquatic animals like an armadillo, a tapir and a lovely couple of desert foxes or feneqs.

A glass wall that opens up to a tropical aquarium

Small jellyfish swimming in a round aquarium

A cuttlefish, an anemmone and some coral

An octopus huddled in a knot so most that is shown are the suckers against the glass

A shot from the open roof of the aquarium building. Some pathways for the animal residents have been built, they are made of glass. A sea lion is swimming through one

A feneq fox curled up sleeping

A Humboldt penguin colony

After a quick browsing through Mandarake and K-books, we had a reservation for dinner at Swallowtails, which is a butler cafe. I was a bit on the apprehensive side, because my level of Japanese is enough to guesstimate some normal conversation but… yeah, not Keigo or polite Japanese in a formal environment. It turned out really, really nice, too. A cool experience sponsored by my insiders in Japan.

Themed cafés are common in Japan. They are normal restaurants which sell passable food and great experiences, or at least an experience. There are cafés for all tastes and personalities – some are related to animals, others to fantasies. Swallowtails has a number of young men “butlers” who treat you as a royalty and take care of you to almost ridiculous extents. I absolutely loved it, because being the doormat I normally am, it feels nice to be… spoilt a little.

A screenshot of a Japanese webpage. It shows a fancy entrance to a tea house, and reads Swallowtail

Afterwards we headed off for a quick sneak peak of Tokyo by night from the observatory in the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, Tōkyō Tochō [東京都庁] before coming back home and crashing for the night. Today will hopefully be another slow day…

A view of Tokyo at night, from above the roof tops. The buildings are dark, bit there are thousands of lights and lit windows.

8th July 2012: How high can you fly? {Japan, summer 2012}

After a very sophisticated brunch in a pizzeria in Roppongi [六本木], on Sunday the 8th we headed off to the calligraphy museum, which did not allow pictures, so there is none. Sorry, I’m civilised XD

After that we headed towards Ikebukuro [池袋] to see the Sunshine 60 and spend money in a Book Off.

A very high skyscraper

Later on we headed off to Shinjuku, particularly to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (TMGB), Tōkyō Tochō [東京都庁] in Shinjuku [新宿]:

Two twin skyscraper towers joined by a middle building from about two thirds down. There are thousands of windows

The TMGB has a free observatory on floor 45 (202 meters high), actually two, but only one was open . We aimed to see sunset but… it was cloudy. Still some impressive sights though, particularly of the skyscrapers around it.

Tokyo cityscape. There are thousands of buildings.

Tokyo cityscape. On the foreground there is a triple tower

Sunset and thousands of tiny buildings to the horizon

Close up of the Shinjuku highrises, a group of ten pr skyscrapers

Tokyo cityscape