Showing posts tagged 2008.
Sunday 29 November 2009 @ 2:17 pm | By Random J
Shinjuku is all about the spending of money. You may be able to have a good time here without doing so. But if you can; then I didn’t get to experience such a thing. Shops are everywhere. Enticing you with their brand spanking shiny new ‘wares, staff who do more than bow and yell “Irrashaimasse!”, and will go out of their way to show you their stores’ latest and greatest. Shinjuku bled me dry. But I had a great time whilst the area killed my finances softly.
Wednesday 4 November 2009 @ 4:00 pm | By Random J
Our first night in Asakusa was pretty disheartening. Filled with the pains of leaving ‘our home’ and then wandering around for hours lost in the rain looking for our place of stay – it’s safe to say Asakusa wasn’t winning us over much. Thoughts that tended to fill our minds consisted of “This is shit”, “It’s raining”, “I wanna go back to Osaka” and “This is it?!”. But our first day in Asakusa was a turn around a corner for us all. The sky was clear, it was a damn nice day and the niceness of the locals shone through every person we came across. Asakusa is a pretty old town. Much like the kind of place where you might want to retire to, or a place you’d like to vacate to when you’re in your 60′s. Lots of convenience stores, cheap 99 yen stores, markets, Onsen’s, cheap restaurants, temples and no chronic hustle and bustle.
It’s easy to see the attraction to Asakusa when you truly open your eyes and look beneath the lack of neon signs, girls in knee high socks, arcades and electronics stores. There’s something really nice and warm about Asakusa that feels inviting, non-threatening and homely. The only problem with Asakusa, is that at times it can feel so warm and sedate that you tend to get complacent and forget you’re on a holiday, and that you’re in Tokyo at all!
Wednesday 14 October 2009 @ 8:52 am | By Random J
The day had come. Where we’d say goodbye to the place my friends and I had affectionately referred to as ‘our home’. It’s insane how much of a connection we all felt to Osaka. Especially seeing as many of us felt very little towards the place before we got there. Not that we’d heard anything bad about the place. But we all had this idealistic image in our minds that Tokyo would be the best thing in the world ever, and immediately paled every other place in comparison to it. So we were more than a little surprised that Osaka turned out to be such an amazing place which we did not want to leave.
We were sure to see ‘our home’ out with a bang though. Albeit it an unplanned one. Said bang consisting of: heading to an Irish pub, then to a tiny little bar which was packed to the walls, and then onto to a nightclub to drink and dance our sorrow’s of leaving away. It seemed to do both the trick and make us feel worse. Because the night was so good and we’d met and made so many random friends on this one night, that we were ever more reluctant to leave.
Sunday 11 October 2009 @ 9:48 am | By Random J
You go to Japan. You gotta do some karaoke. It’s an unwritten law. After all, Japan is the home of it (depending on who you speak to) and nowhere else in the world quite revels in it like Japan. Whilst the full on karaoke experience in the Western word is rather expensive and only of real value if you go with lots of people – in Japan it’s affordable and won’t burn holes in your pockets. Well…if you ease up on the food and drinks it won’t anyway. Everybody from school kids, to salary men, to part timers can just wander into a Big echo to drop some karaoke un-planned and scrape together some Yen to belt their Nihongo classics, the Oricon’s chart toppers and the Eigo hits.
Wednesday 30 September 2009 @ 4:37 pm | By Random J
Whilst wandering around Nipponbashi, my friend and I couldn’t help but notice certain sights every 6 shops or so. At first we thought it couldn’t be. It had to be a ruse. We were goin’ crazy. Surely not on main streets, in broad daylight and clear view of everybody?! But turns out it was so. Porn shops. Lining the streets like any other shop. Unobtrusively. Just there in clear view of everybody who happens to wander past. Some of stores lucky enough to have forward thinking merchandisers even had HDTV’s set up at the front of the store with videos playing of big breasted Japanese ladies skipping, running through sprinklers in slow motion and bending over to music – all in 1080p. My friend and I figured: we’re guys, we are in Japan and people pounding the pavements didn’t seem to care or be objective and judgmental of the sex shops one way or the other – so we wandered into one or two…or three…maybe five. Okay, six!
It truly was surreal. There were other men wandering around in the shops with shopping baskets like they were walking down the aisle of their local Family Mart, which begged the question: How much porn do some buy in one go? I guess buying in bulk saves trips. It was funny watching other men mooch around like they were in HMV. Shop attendants aren’t as helpful as they are in HMV though. These stores are all about anonymity. The store attendants only acknowledge you if you approach them, which is fair enough. I guess no dude wants a store attendant creeping up behind him yelling “Irasshaimase! What kind of DVD are you looking for? We have a buy one get one free on guzzling and bum sex today!” A couple of the stores have till points where a piece of non-transparent plexiglass or a curtain is placed between the cashier and the buyer, so the transactions were faceless. Again, adding to the anonymity, and also killing alibi’s in cases where a husband is buying porn when he should be buying his family that new rice cooker or heated toilet seat instead.
Sex is a weird thing in Japan. It’s still a bit of a taboo subject, yet it isn’t at the same time. But it sure is funny.
Thursday 10 September 2009 @ 2:36 pm | By Random J
So, a wander through Den Den town, across several pedestrian crossings, some wrong turns and a couple of shopping districts later, my friend (the chugokujin) and I ended up at Dōtonbori. Dōtonbori is only a small area. It’s pretty much just a bridge, but it’s a busy ass bridge. Dōtonbori interconnecting several of the area’s busiest points (many of which have shops and malls) means it attracts quite a crowd and there’s always something to see.
Friday 7 August 2009 @ 9:53 am | By Random J
My friends and I were due to go back to Kyoto to check out the thousand red gates and more of the area that we didn’t get to see on our first visit. But one of my friends and I made no effort to rush and get ready that morning, having clubbed it up the night before. So I said I’d hit the other fella’s up on the keitai when we reach Kyoto, and then rendezvous with them here. As we were getting ready to leave, my friend couldn’t find his Japan rail pass. So Kyoto was a no go. I could’ve left him, but I’m not that much of an bastard (despite what some of my friends say), so I said I’d stick around with him. We decided to make a day out of checking out the local area, mingling with the random people we come across and head back to Den Den town, seeing as we didn’t get to see the best of it the first time we went a couple of days ago.
Two purchases in an Adidas store and one wrong subway stop later we finally ended up at our destination of Den Den town. We doubted ourselves at first and started to curse and cuss we’d gotten off at the wrong train stop (again) because the area looked NOTHING like the Den Den town we’d visited before. But after asking a local in the nearest shop where Den Den town was and being told we were in it, the exclamation mark appeared above both of our heads like a Genome soldier: we hadn’t been to Den Den town before, and we were in it for the first time! Suddenly our second trip to Kyoto didn’t seem like something we’d badly missed out on.
Friday 10 July 2009 @ 4:06 pm | By Random J
Pachinko is the devil. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. Pachinko parlors are found in every shopping district, on every corner, on every street. There’s no missing them. You can hear the ‘pleng, pleng, pleng’ of pachinko balls miles away, and I’m betting that the lights from the parlors are visible from outter space. The lights and the noise is loud when you’re out on the street. But it’s not until you drift near to the automatic doors and they open that everything just hits you like a sucker punch to the chest, a bitch slap to the face, and a kick to the back of the head. It will make you laugh, want to cry a little and give up a little of your soul in exchange for never being subjected to it again.
Saturday 4 July 2009 @ 3:57 pm | By Random J
Japan is clean. I’d heard and read about how clean the countries streets are, but I don’t think I expected the streets to be as clean as they are. Seriously. Japan’s streets are dead clean. I’m from London. So I’m used to seeing rubbish on the sidewalks, people littering, bins overflowing and dog shit smeared into the road. In Japan, I saw none of these things. People actually carry bottles of water with them when they walk their dogs, so that if they piss on something they can pour water over it to rinse it off. Only in Japan.
Sure, there were some area’s that looked a little run down. But even these area’s were pretty garbage free. And any garbage that was spotted was placed in neatly tied garbage bags of the appropriate colour corresponding to what type of garbage the bag contains.
Part of the reason why Japan’s streets are so clean is because people tend not to eat on the streets. In the West we’ll pound the pavement whilst snacking on a sandwich, a chocolate bar, some french fries, fast food. Pretty much anything we can eat without the need for a plate, a knife and a fork: we’ll eat on the go. In Japan? No deal. Because of this general social rule, there is a distinct lack of dustbins. So if you were unlucky enough to decide not to eat your Burger King in the joint, then a daily excursion can quickly turn into a scavenger hunt for a dustbin. And chances are if you find one, it’s only for a particular kind of rubbish which means you’ll still be left with whatever you couldn’t chuck. (Garbage separating = an integral part of Japanese life). As time goes on you slowly acclimatize to the country and turn a little Japanese, you begin to learn the Nihongo way: you either eat your food where the hell you bought it, or you want till your ass gets home.
Japan has many wonders and marvels to catch your attention. But the one you’re constantly hit with is how generally clean the streets are. It really is hard to hate the lack of dustbins and general rule of not eating on the streets, when the streets are so clean as a result. It definitely hit me hard when I landed in the fly tipping site that is London.
Friday 3 July 2009 @ 3:21 pm | By Random J
The part of Kyōto I visited first was a small town, neighbor to some stunning gardens, shrines and pieces of architecture. What really caught me about Kyōto is that by just walking around the gardens and temples, you got a real sense of history. There was just this feeling that every building you saw had a story behind it which spanned hundreds of years. Walking around the grounds was incredibly tranquil and calming. Despite the number of people around and the bustle, there was barely any noise other than the birds tweeting in the trees and the sound of leaves in the wind. Sounds poetic doesn’t it? That’s Kyōto for you.