Friday, November 18, 2011

Tokyo Craze - Part 02 (Travelogue / Tips)

Tokyo Craze Webcomic Guide 03 - Shinjuku, Tokyo Metropolitan City Hall Building

Tokyo Craze Webcomic Guide 04 - Harajuku, Omotesando

 Tokyo Craze Webcomic Guide 05 - Yodobashi Camera Akiba

Day 2: Wednesday - First Full Day In Tokyo

October 28, 2009
Bad start to the day.  I lost the SUICA card I just bought yesterday, but I had already used 800 of the 1500 bonus yen left on it, so it wasn’t that bad.  I received a bonus 1500 yen to spend when I bought it at the airport  along with the train ticket in on the NEX Express and I had used up a bunch of it on the train last night.  I ended up miming that I had lost the SUICA in a few places, but no luck finding it.  The clerks in one convenience store were very helpful, and not so helpful in another – but polite.  I ended up buying a new one and charging it up at the train station.  

Found Goota noodles and Gundam Cup of Noodles at the convenience stores.  Goota is a deluxe noodle brand and the Gundam Cup was a special limited time offer that included a small scale model kit with the noodles.  

Shinjuku is a huge train station and you can get lost in all the passages and different exits.  There are tons of buildings connected to it along with attached department stores.
Saw the Gakuen Cocoon Tower, a cool looking building that is a bit like the Pickle building in London, but has white stripes crisscrossing it.  A school is in the building which is even cooler. Went walking over to the Tokyo Metropolitan City Hall building.  It is hard to tell where ground level is supposed to be here as there are 2 or 3 levels of build-up.  Roads go over / under each other. The Metropolitan Building is huge.  South tower’s observation deck was open for viewing so I went up in the morning and took in the vista even though it was a little smoggy today.
Walked through the east side of Shinjuku.

View Shibuya Shinjuku in a larger map

Takeshima Times Square – went to the restaurant level and had a tonkotsu cutlet lunch. I have never had a good tonkotsu cutlet before and it was a very tasty breaded and deep-fried piece of pork that was juicy but not overly greasy.  I like how you grind up the sesames seeds yourself and can dip the cutlet in sauce and sesame yourself.  Saw the Tokyu Hands and HMV.

 Don Quixote again – and walked down Center Gai to see the red light district during the day.  The district looks different during day and night. Two sets of photo opportunities.

Took train over to Harajuku in the afternoon.  Very hip.  Lots of photographers signing girls up.  Saw Daiso, bought a bunch of stuff, and Kiddyland and Omotesando.

Went back to the hotel rest.  Went out for more ramen for dinner at the strip of ramen shops at Shinagawa.  Tried a different char sui and Tokyo shoyu with lots of diced green onion.  Different broth but still very tasty.  

Went back at night to Akihabara.  Was pretty late and many of the shops such as Kotobukiya were only open for about 15 minutes.  Arrived at 8:45.  Some shops were still open, but many do close at 9.  Went walking around and enjoyed the sights and went into the Yodobashi Camera store.  This place is big.  It is like having 7 or 8 Best Buys stacked on top of each other.   There is a lot of merchandise in this building.  For example, you are looking for a microphone or a computer mouse.  Over in North America you can choose from a dozen if you’re lucky.  Over there, there is at least  20 or 30 to choose from.  Crazy.  Buying electronics can be pretty cool, but you have to watch what you want to buy.  There are some cutting edge electronics, but you might need to read Japanese.  For cameras and such, the big models tend to be international.  The only advantage would be that the model might not be released at home yet, but you might not be getting a better price as you could pay more.  Neat things would be smaller gadgets such as pico projectors, headphones, USB keys, peripherals, tiny photoprinters (but you better have a place to source refills and such).  One floor of the Yodobashi has restaurants and cafes and one floor is pretty much toys and books.  The toys are pretty extensive ranging from kids toys to collectables for adults.  There is a large Gundam model section and many many figures.  Also here is a famously photographed set of gashapon machines.  There are hundreds of gashapon machines in banks of machines that are 3 high.  There are many duplicates, but it is still a lot of machines and very cool.

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