Monday, April 28, 2014

Last Day in Akihabara 「秋葉原で最後の日」


"Won't you take me to, Electric Town"

While all the otakus are either sleeping in from the long night reading a twenty-four book volume series of manga or airbrushing the final pieces of armor on their Gundam, I'm taking advantage of the daylight when "Akiba" is more subtle and less crowded. Trust me, you don't want to be sardined in a crowd of sweaty otakus in an arcade after they've eaten a hefty bowl of pork broth ramen. At that point, you're not even breathing your own air - you get the picture. 

Akihabara is iconic for being Japan's "nerd" culture town which sells anything from manga comics, model toys, anime figurines to cameras and remote control dogs. After a few rounds of Taiko no Tatsujin at the Taito game center, you're going to need to power back up. The lovely "servants" at a Maid Cafe can bring your spirits back - nothing like being greeted with a plate of omelette rice with your name written in ketchup.

This was our last day of our Kanto trip so we were finally ready to stock up on figures and capsule toys for our home collection. There goes all my yen! My wife and I stayed in a internet cafe instead of hotels and ate konbini food to save every last yen for our favorite figures and manga - that's the way of the otaku.

"Hokousha-tengoku" (歩行者天国) when directly translated, means "Walker's Heaven," is held on Sundays when they close the main street to cars and let pedestrians roam around the middle of street. 
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When our shopping bags couldn't fit anymore boxes or books, we met up with my brother-in-law, Yoshiki in Ginza for the most expensive oden I've ever had in my life. Here's a helpful hint for you guys: if there's no prices on the menu and you're worried about it, YOU CAN'T AFFORD IT.
After draining my pockets and leaving a quarter of the way full, I needed strong drink to drown my financial sorrows. Luckily, Yoshiki works at a sushi bar where we were treated like royalty.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Spring Afternoon in Asakusa 「浅草_雷門_東京スカイツリー」


The House That Zeus Built

Spring was right around the corner, Tokyo was finally starting to warm up, I could finally shed off a few layers of clothes. We started our day as early as possible so we would be able to take in all the sights of Asakusa and make more time for Akihabara. Besides the tall skyscrapers and densely, cluttered streets of Shinjuku and Harajuku, Tokyo has a famous Buddhist temple located in Asakusa, a stone throws away from the Tokyo Sky Tree. You can't miss the huge, bright red lantern with the huge kanji that reads "Thunder," where tourists pass through to get into the inner shrines. Welcome to Kaminarimon! That literally translates to "Thunder Gate" - sadly, that doesn't lead to the Thunder Dome, which would be rad.

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The highlight of this area would be the view of the Tokyo Sky Tree from any angle. If you ever get lost around this area, be sure to reference to the Sky Tree.
I've got a soft spot for kids, especially ones that aren't mine. This class of kindergartners were taking a field trip into the temple in a parade of flowers. These groups of kids were not camera shy at all.
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Because spring was about to start, there's always a really windy day right before. We were lucky enough to experience that day with a mouthful of gusty winds and dust in our faces.
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After finally making that 30-minute walk from Kaminarimon, we were handsomely rewarded with a first glance of sakura right next to the Tokyo Sky Tree.
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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Yokohama Nights 「みなとみらい」


The Other City by the Bay

For some of you who don't know already, I'm already back on American soil but I have yet to catch up on my Japan posts. Although my body is in America, my mind and heart are still in Japan. Being able to work on the rest of my Japan trip photos really helps me settle back into my American life. The Japan posts feels like a time machine for me to transport back and forth from America to Japan, I can almost smell Japan air again. 

Well now that we're nice and settled back in Japan, we last left off still in Yokohama at the Mooneyes Area-1 shop. On our way back to the station, we decided to check out the night scenery at Minato Mirai where the Landmark Tower and Cosmo Clock can be viewed lit up in the night sky. The Landmark Tower is the 3rd tallest structure in Japan, where you can also see Mt. Fuji from the top of the building. The surrounding businesses and shopping centers make Minato Mirai the center of attention for tourists. There's also a permanently displayed ship called the Nippon Maru which is part of the museum. Our time here was short but at least we got to get a good glimpse of the nightscapes before heading back to Akihabara.  

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