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).

27th August 2018: Nippori {Japan, summer 2018}

I went to the Yanaka [谷中] area in Nippori [日暮里] because I was not feeling too well and I thought it would be urban enough but empty enough. Unfortunately it did not quite cut it.

Just after coming from the station, I went to Hongyo-ji [本行寺]:

And then to Daikokuten Kyōo-ji [経王寺], whose gate is important cultural property and keeps bullet holes from the Battle of Ueno (1868).

I arrived to Yanaka Ginza [谷中銀座], a traditional shopping street. I saw Fukuyama Masaharu posters there and I found a shop that sold humoristic hanko for foreigners. I really, really fancied the idea of one with 榊 [Sakaki] on it (with a platypus drawing) but alas, extravagancy budget had already been topped by the Oiran photoshoot.

Then I walked throughout Yanaka Reien [谷中霊園], one of Tokyo’s urban graveyards, where you can see some special see-through bamboo barriers:

I also saw the Tokugawa family graveyard within, alhtough it is technically “only” the Grave of Tokugawa Yoshinobu, Tokugawa Yoshinobu Kōbosho [徳川慶喜公墓所].

And Tenno-ji [天王寺] next to the cemetery.

The truth was that I wanted to explore a few more temples in the area. However, I decided to do a Book Off, Tsutaya, etc tour because it was my last day on the JR Pass and I wanted to check out some CDs – and because my stomach was being stupid and I needed to be close to toilets. Truth be told I don’t have that much of a good memory from this day (≧∇≦), because I was totally unable to get anything to eat till dinner – boy was I hungry by then.

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 (♯`∧´).

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!)

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 ♥

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.

10th August 2014: Typhoon & Odaiba {Japan, summer 2014}

One of the things I noticed when landing was the solid thousand-metre column of clouds. The reason for it was Japan’s almost-trademark hot humidity, but aside from that, there was a typhoon in the making. Now, a typhoon is basically he same thing as a hurricane, only that it happens in the Pacific Ocean. Temperature difference between seawater and the air above it create upwards convection currents that rotate around an axis due to the Coriolis force. This causes rain, strong winds and the famous “spiral structure” that we see on weather reports.

Well, on Sunday we were scheduled to have a typhoon passing by Tokyo/Saitama. Our plans for the day were picking up a friend in Odaiba after performing the tea ceremony. However, when we were close to the place where tea ceremony was to be held, it was raining quite strongly, so we decided to go directly to Odaiba [お台場]. The reason for choosing that meeting point was seeing the hanabi (fireworks) in Tokyo Bay, but those were cancelled in the end due to the weather.

Far from being deterred, we decided it make the most of it, rain or no rain. The first stop was at Tower Records, where I got myself a magazine, just because I could. Then we headed off for a kushikatsu restaurant.

Kushikatsu is a typical Kansai food, anything you can imagine covered in mayonnaise, breaded, skewered and deep-fried. This restaurant allowed you to choose your uncooked skewers and fry them at the table. It was an all-you-can-eat for 80 minutes. In Japan it is very typical to have a time-constricted meal deal, during which you can order or eat as much as you want. However, when it ends you get kicked out a bit unceremoniously.

As rain seemed to have stopped somehow and the girls humoured my wanting to go to the Fuji TV shop to search for a Galileo phone strap that I had regretted not buying the previous year. On our way we walked into a “Hero” (drama by Kimura Takuya which is getting a new season) mini event. It had a mini museum with items from the series and shootings, and a small background for you to take pictures in.

After that we headed out to Shibuya [渋谷] and cavorted Tsutaya and once againお台場 (another branch, though).

(Zoom on the Tackey & Tsubasa billboard up there because… unexpected for JE)

3rd July 2013: Tsutaya, Manatsu and Odaiba (yes, again) {Japan, summer 2013}

Being the fanby I am, I wanted GACKT’s Best of the Best CD set, the special pack, and I headed for Shibuya [渋谷] first thing in the morning for it. After a successful buying, I headed off for TOHO Cinemas to watch the Galileo movie, Manatsu no Houteishiki. Fortunately enough, it was not Suspect X, so not depressing at all (don’t get me wrong, Suspect X was awesome, but it still left me heart-wrenched XDDD)


After that there was an Odaiba trip, changing into the yukata and attending the VAMPS Tanabata festival. The idea of the Tanabata Event was to make a sort of “summer festival” and you had to attend in yukata – I bought one I did not feel comfortable in, and I got quite a few stares and felt the most unwelcome I’ve ever felt in anything related to J-rock. It was most a talk show than anything else and after the event was over I did get to meet very nice fans… so it was a bit on the strange side, all things considered.

After that there was purikura and exhaustion XD. Very, very fanbying day, right? XD At first I felt a bit bad that there was nothing “cultural” to be done that day, but after all everything I did could only be done in Japan so I figured out that it was all right ^^