Now that I finally have Randy’s pictures, I can finish up Part Deux. Randy and I went to 7 districts total. I know, not a lot, but these places were a MUST on our first trip and we spent all day going through shops, eating, shopping, and, did I mention eating? We LOVE to eat, so we spent a lot of time doing that.
Chuo is home to the Tsukiji Fish Market and the freshest seafood I have had in my life. We ate. We ate all day. Dried pineapple, fresh mango ice cream, udon, steak, nuts, you name it.
After we had stuffed ourselves for half a day, we decided to head back to the train station. We found an adorable candy shop that had flyers for beginner Pachinko, so we put the coordinates into Google maps (lifesaver by the way), and headed there. Randy and I still have no clue how to play or what we did, but we had a blast learning. And it was only a dollar, so no harm, right?
In Hongo, we went to a Japanese baseball game. Fun fact: The fans don’t cheer constantly like American fans. They only cheer when their team is up at bat. I posted videos on my site of the Giants and the BayStars fans. It was pretty awesome. Another fun fact: you could bring your own beer and snacks! Had we have known, I would have loaded a backpack lol.
We stayed in Akihabara, so most of our downtime was spent there. We walked through just about every shop and discovered something: there is a lot of porn here. Just about every arcade we went into had a basement that sold hentai comics. We even visited M’s, the largest porn store in Akihabara, hosting 7 floors of toys, lingerie, and the like.
The arcades were fantastic. The floors were broken down by game type and also smoking and non-smoking. Typically the first two to three floors were nothing but claw machines. From there, there would be dance games like DDR, followed by the next floor being card games. This was super interesting. They had Yu-Gi-Oh card games that you could place real cards on the screen and then voila! images would appear. My mind was blown. And of course the top two floors were shooters. They had Star Wars Battle Pods, with HUGE pods you sat in. There was a game that had a 13 step tutorial and took forever, but it was crazy awesome. The guns had magnets that could snap together to form different guns in the game, you could use a sword, you could use explosives. It was AMAZING.
I’m trying to contain my excitement about all of these things, but seriously, I love video games, and I was in heaven staying there for hours playing Left 4 Dead and Luigi’s Mansion.
In Akihabara, I talked Randy into going into a Maid Cafe with me. OH MY! We went to Maid Dreamin’ for a light snack (tea and french fries). It was… different to say the least. We were called Princess and Master every time the maids spoke to us. We had to meow to get our maid’s attention. And the best part: we had to sing for our food. Our maid put on a little show and dance on a stage for us. Even after we left, if they saw us in the street they would wave and say hi. Definitely the most memorable thing for me. And sorry! No pictures allowed.
There were only a few things I wanted to do in Shibuya: 1. Walk through Shibuya’s crossing 2. Eat Crepes. 3. Visit Meiji-Jingu Shrine to write a prayer. And while I didn’t get to the crepe place that I found on Pinterest, we did wander over to Shibuya’s crossing and visit a very swanky cafe. The videos I took kind of turned out crappy in Shibuya Crossing, so unfortunately, nothing more to post about that. I will say, that while being in Japan, my anxiety levels were a lot lower than expected. This is a very crowded country and not once did I have a panic attack. Walking through Shibuya Crossing with everyone was really awesome. And somewhat peaceful.
The Meiji-Jingu Shrine was my most memorable experience. It was so quiet and tranquil even with hundreds of people walking through. Randy and I both performed the Temizu, a customary hand washing before going into the shrine.
And of course, we both wrote prayers and gave offerings.
Other than Akihabara, we spent a lot of time here in Ueno. We visited the National museum of Nature and Science, Kappabashi Street, the Ueno Zoo, and we stumbled upon an art festival!
Randy and I love animals and wanted to see pandas (one of our favorite animals), so we made a plan to visit Ueno Zoo. Zoos are always depressing for me because most zoos I’ve been to aren’t anywhere close to what I imagine as fitting for animals. And as much as I enjoyed watching pandas on their backs, rubbing their bellies, Ueno Zoo was no different.
Elephants are always the saddest to me when I’m at the zoo. They are such smart creatures, and to be stuck in this small area with 2 other large elephants is devastating. At least they have each other and aren’t alone.
Ok. On to something that won’t make me cry: Kappabashi Street. Kappabahsi (aka Kitchen Town) is known for their knife shops and restaurant supply stores. This was Randy’s haven.
After hours of looking through every knife shop and stopping by countless restaurants sign stores, we stumbled across a 2 person pizzeria/bakery and met the nicest waitress and chef. The pizza was SO good, and the chef was nice enough to give us free coke, because “what American doesn’t like pizza and coke?” lol
Sunshine City in Ikebukuro was my MUST destination for one reason and one reason only: POKEMON MEGA CENTER! And to say I was a little disappointed would be an understatement. In my head, Pokemon Mega Center had loads of Pokemon plushies. And not just Pikachu and these new Pokemon my generation doesn’t know about, but it was just full of Pikachu pencils, pen,s notepads, Pika Pals, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I still found interesting toys and some of the oldies, but I was expecting the Disney store on steroids. Just based on the YouTube videos I’ve seen, I saved all of my money for this place, and only spent 15,000 yen, and most of that was gifts for other people.
In the same mall as Pokemon Center was J-World, an indoor theme park dedicated to anime such as “One Piece”, “Naruto”, and “Dragonball Z.” Randy loves DBZ, so we stopped by here to have a snack and wander around.
After shopping at Pokemon Center, wandering around J-World, and eating a few times at Sunshine City, we started looking for anime. We found an Animate and headed up to the top floor to work our way back down (as was our strategy in most of the stores). Well, us not speaking Japanese totally made for an interesting experience as the top floor of this Animate was a girl’s only spa cafe place. After the awkward silence and then noticing the group of schoolgirls laughing in the corner, the hostess, started wagging her finger at Randy. We started looking around and noticed the photo booths, the salon, and started to slowly back away all while the schoolgirls are still laughing and the hostess is still wagging. Needless to say, we just ran down all six flights of stairs and decided to find a place we could both enjoy.
We took the most pictures here, I swear. We watch a lot of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown, and saw an episode of where Anthony went to Japan and headed to the Red Light District for a show at Robot Restaurant. This place was number 1 on our list, and we were not disappointed. There were fire breathing dragons, dancing girls, and a group of guys who did the iconic Michael Jackson lean. I’m just going to spam you with pictures because no matter what I say, it’s not going to do it justice.
So there you have it, my most memorable experiences in a wondrous place. Obviously, there was so much more that I just couldn’t capture. This was an amazing experience and journey, and I can’t wait for our next adventure.
Stay tuned for my next and final post about this trip to Japan. What I learned, what I missed, and most importantly, what we spent!