Japan. I think most people have Japan in their list of top destinations to visit. But why do that many people want to visit this country considered to be one of the most expensive tourist destinations in the world? Well, just because there is just about anything for anybody’s taste and interest here. You can find the most diverse, the most weird, the most beautiful, the most fascinating things in Japan. It’s pretty much a place of extremes, depending how you look at it. Not sure if that makes sense hahah….. Anyway, for my Japanese trip, my buddy Greg joined me on my travels for about 2 weeks. It was nice to see a familiar face again after 3 months of only meeting new faces. But that doesn’t mean you stop meeting people along the way. We stayed in several hostels and eventhough we stayed in private rooms, you can’t help but have the occassional chat with the other travelers.
Overview of Tokyo
Oh also, I might try a different type of format of my blogposts. I noticed I’m getting more behind on my blogposts, so I might try something different. Instead of posting a whole essay, I’ll post more pictures and give additional information and background story of that/those pictures. On to the “report”!
Just wow, anything you ever saw or heard about Tokyo is true, in fact it’s 10 times better, worse, more amazing, etc. The first couple of days we were just trying to grasp it all. All the little things in every day life, like the smaller roads, the smaller trucks, all the arcades and pachinko places, the serenity in traffic, the discipline of people. One thing is for sure though, eventhough you’re a foreigner visiting, it’s easy as cake to find your way through this crazy metropole. Even ordering food is a piece of cake with the pictures and plastic samples in the restaurant windows. Just point and order, it’s as simple as that!
Food ticketting machine. So efficient and easy to use!
This place is the place to be for cheap electronics and otakus all around. Otaku is a Japanese term used to refer to people with obsessive interests, particularly anime, manga or video games. I’ve always kinda wanted to come here to the mecca of anime and manga. It was pretty crazy to see the tons of little shops selling figurines, dvds and other anime related merchandise.
Otaku paradise – Akihabara
Maid cafes in Akihabara
Besides the many shops and gaming arcades, there were also tons of maids advertising for maid cafes. Before I came here, I did hear about maid cafes but I had no idea there were so many of them around. The suprising thing is actually many guys actually go to these maid cafes to spend some 1-on-1 time with one of these girls dressed in all different themes, going from maid to these neko cat girls to butlers and what not. We didn’t go to one though, since we don’t speak any Japanese and it is quite expensive for our standards.
Anime figurine in one of the many arcades. Notice the mirror under the figurine…
Shibuya at night
Famous for it’s multi-crossway crossing, we decided to go take look too! Oh yeah and there’s tons of shopping possibilities here, but bear in mind, the shops in this area are quite pricey but it’s a nice places to do some people watching, especially if you want to spot some of the higher class Japanese people.
Shibuya is also the home of Hachiko statue. Quite a touching story if you haven’t heard of it. I’ve heard of the story before but had no idea it was actually in Japan! The statue itself wasn’t that special at all, these days, it’s just being used as a meeting spot in the over-crowded Shibuya. This is how the story goes: [quote]In 1924, Hidesaburō Ueno, a professor at the University of Tokyo, took in Hachikō, a golden brown Akita, as a pet. During his owner’s life, Hachikō greeted him at the end of each day at the nearby Shibuya Station. The pair continued their daily routine until May 1925, when Professor Ueno did not return. The professor had suffered from a cerebral hemorrhage and died, never returning to the train station where Hachikō was waiting. Every day for the next nine years the dog waited at Shibuya station. Hachikō attracted the attention of other commuters. Many of the people who frequented the Shibuya train station had seen Hachikō and Professor Ueno together each day. They brought Hachikō treats and food to nourish him during his wait. This continued for nine years with Hachikō appearing precisely when the train was due at the station.[/quote]
Hachiko statue in Shibuya
Meiji Jingu park & shrine
Sake barrels at Meiji-Jingu
Eventhough Tokyo is concrete jungle, they still make places for some parks and have some historical and cultural places that are worth visiting. We went to Yoyogi park near Harajuku with the Meiji-Jingu shrine. Actually we wanted to go check out the youth culture at Harajuku on sunday but kind of got lost….
Nekobukuro cat cafe
Cutesy entrance to the cat cafe
Entrance of the cat cafe in Ikebukuro
Cat cafe in Ikebukuro, didn’t go in though but be sure to check it out. Would be a weird idea in the west, but since the houses and spaces in Tokyo are so small, many people can’t afford to keep cats. Therefore cat cafes are a nice place for people to hang out and play around with cats. Cats need love too!
Stick on facial hair for men…..
Funniest thing ever, me and Greg were walking around a cosmetic department (don’t ask why) and we passed these boxes with stick on hair. We’ve heard of fake eyelashes before of course but strangely the first thing that Greg came up with when he saw these boxes was “Dude! I think I just saw some stick-on-hair for pubes!”. Then we actually looked at it and realised it was “just” facial hair stick-ons. They had a wide range of styles too! Was tempted to buy some just for the heck of it and see if it actually looked good, but my backpackers budget wouldn’t allow it. So please donate me some, so I can try out random stuff like this! 😉
Some subway seating etiquette…
Tea time in a way-too-cute-cafe. Check the size of the creamer…
Imperial grounds with a skyline of the modern day buildings
Alex Yip is a web enthusiast who put his online marketing career on hold to travel around the world for a year. This blog is his virtual journal and logbook to keep people updated on his backpacking adventures on the road.