Harry Gateaux Japan

Trip Start Oct 03, 2011
Trip End Dec 25, 2011

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Where I stayed
Capsule Inn Kinshicho
What I did
Went cerazy shoppin

Flag of Japan  , Kanto,
Wednesday, October 19, 2011

We zoomed to Tokyo on our last Shinkansen of Japan, and headed straight to Akihabara - Electric City, famed for the huge number of electrical goods shops. It also has 'Cosplay' which is where Japanese girls (and the odd boy) dress up in a load of costumes (sometimes Manga/comic inspired) and act out things in order to escape the reality of everyday life, e.g. playing at being a maid. We didn't see any cosplay itself (its on the weekends apparently), but there were girls dressed up all over the place advertising cafes and things like that. Very strange is all we can conclude. 

We spent a fair few hours playing with the electrical gadgets and the other random assortment of goods (we could have bought our own toilet seat with all the trimmings... but we didn't) then head on to our next stop - a famous temple.

After walking for over an hour in almost every direction from the train station and still not finding the temple, we finally realise that we have got off at a tube stop with a similar name to the one we were supposed to get off at, but a very different location... whoops! Oh well, at least we got to see a random governmental office and a huge Hello Kitty tour bus.

At temple take 2, we get the right station.... but of course, it's closed! We head to the next best thing, 'Kiddyland' which is all things kitsch, Amy loves it, Michael has little say in the matter. We decide we have earned a pizza tea after bravely sampling many Japanese foods over the last few weeks, but even pizza has a twist - the all you can eat buffet has varieties such as mayonnaise and shrimp, red bean & pumpkin, cuttlefish and orive (ok, it was actually olive) on offer.

Refreshed, we're all set for the best shop either of us has ever been in. EVER. Tokyu Hands is indescribable. From lumber to leather work, science section to kitchen kitsch, fake flowers to fancy dress, this shop has got absolutely everything... it's just so Japanese - we absolutely love it! How we came out empty handed I don't know - too much choice I reckon! If I tell you they sell Harry Potter wand chopsticks (and Star Wars stormtrooper ones), you'll get the general idea.

We are kicked out at closing time, and head down to Shibuya crossing, one of the busiest in the world with about 7 pedestrian crossings running in all directions. Even at 9pm it's busy, so we can only imagine what it's like in the middle of rush hour! This is the Tokyo of the pictures, bustling, busy - but yet, still, so polite, no rushing or pushing or shouting. It's very strange!

We head back to collect our bags and head to our accommodation for the night... Alas, the directions are a bit confusing, so we eventually ask a couple who then spend about 10 minutes looking it up on the internet and apologising profusely for their lack of knowledge and for their (amazing) English. They escort us to the door where our lovely receptionist has put out a big noticeboard and welcome message for us... to our capsule hotel!

We are both very excited about this, and feel like we have emerged in the 80's in our plastic pods. Don't bother trying it if you're over 5' 11" though, you won't get your feet in. Sadly we don't sleep too well as the proximity of the neighbours means you constantly think someone is going to climb in with you - however, there is no doubt it was an extremely fun experience!

The next day we brave the communal onsen (Michael is more brave, Amy's has no-one else in it), then have the trauma of sorting breakfast as there was no kitchen in the capsules (surprisingly - you'd think they could have squeezed that in as well as the tv). Eventually Amy has eaten enough to take her up to a 4 weetabix level of food which she can just about tolerate functioning on, so we have a wander in the grounds of the Emperor's palace, which are very relaxing if a little dull. 

Michael then sneaks a Burger King before we head back to the station to get to the airport... We then realise the next train isn't for 50 minutes and the train takes twice as long as we thought... Oops! We panic for a bit, then head to Tokyo where we find we can't get on an express train with no reservations. We panic a bit more, then get a reservation - relaaax! We arrive at the airport with 10 mins to check in - ages! After a meander through customs, we try to spend the last of our Japanese money, then realise we have to catch a tram thing to our gate, oops! We arrive just as the final call is made and they are beginning to close the gate.

If we can only just make it to our plane in the most anglicized and organised country we'll be in, we could be in for an interesting few months.

Next stop Hong Kong - although I fear we may have left our hearts in Japan.

Lots of love,

Amy & Michael
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