Hey. It’s been awhile, eh? We’ve been having some issues with the internet lately so this post is coming a little later than we intended. So, for starters, why do I sound a little stranger than usual (what’s that unusual stank and sarcasm coming off this paragraph)? Well, you see, it’s me… Kyle. I’m the son of my mother who usually writes these posts in a loving and motherly way. Suffice it to say, things are going to be a little bit different this time around since I’m your captain.
Now, you might be thinking over there, “How in the world could this strange individual deliver on the lovely intricacies and juicy details that we come to expect from this blog post?”
Good question. I’ve been wondering that myself.
But don’t worry, you’re in safe hands. And by safe-hands, I am of course referring to the wonderful disembodied hands you see above. Notice I didn’t say safe-wrists. You’d be in a lot of trouble if that were the case. Anyway, enough dilly-dally… let’s instead dally the dilly and begin with our trip to Tokyo, Japan!
The day began with us all waking up incredibly excited for the day. Kayla and I have been looking forward to going to Tokyo for years now (as one of its most attractive features is that it’s home to tons and tons of pop-culture) so we were pretty ecstatic to finally be going. Our excitement was cut pretty short, however, when we learned that the immigration process was really backed up – something to do with Japanese immigration having tech issues. Coupled with that, Freddy was dealing with his cold (which was especially nasty this time around), so sitting down in one of the cafe’s to wait and get off the boat wasn’t really a viable option. We ended up staying in our room for the next 4-5 hours before we could get off the boat. It was just a weeeeeeeeeeeeee bit excruciating, since we could have literally just jumped off the boat and swam to shore (which is not, let me repeat not… something we actually considered. Absolutely not. Not even for a second. *wink wink*).
But eventually we got off the ship and moved through the immigration process.
Upon hitting the streets we realized that the streets were spick-and-span as far as the eyes could see. I didn’t see a single piece of litter for pretty much the entire time we were there. Signs and walls were expressive, neatly designed, and popped with colorful pictures. Pretty much everywhere you looked there were usually cute characters that were trying to get your attention for some reason or another (stores, restaurants, ads, street signs, etc). We walked down the streets for a little while and observed a few notable things on our way to the train station.
We got to the train station and were met with even more street performers just outside the pay-station playing with real instruments to a crowd of their own. It wasn’t a huge gathering or anything, but it was a nice touch nonetheless (it certainly makes figuring out where you’re going more fun if you can bounce around to a jazzy saxophone). We each picked up these train-cards that could apparently be used all over Japan. You could store money on the card and tap it against the little toll-gates leading up to the tracks to have it open up for you instead of using a physical ticket, which was super convenient. It also made this satisfying, “ping” noise when you scanned the card which honestly made me want to swipe it more. But I’m sure that’s how they get you! Your cute animals and satisfying noises won’t get me though. Nope.
Never gets old.
Now, here’s a little bit of a train PSA for all you potential Japan train-goers out there: If you’re ever standing up in a train station and holding one of those little handle things you see above, remember to face towards the seats closest to you instead of away because facing away is seen as incredibly disrespectful. How did I figure this out, you ask? Did I stick my beautiful posterior in some poor Japanese man’s face? Wow. What a suggestion. I’m glad to hear you think so highly of me.
The train itself was just filled to the brim with ads, to the point where It was a bit overwhelming. I mean, I’d be interested in buying what they were selling if I had any clue of what it was. Occasionally I’d see an ad for candy or something… but other times they would be like this:
I imagine you eventually grow a bit desensitized to the strange imagery, as I’m sure most of the people on the train were since I also spotted a few very straight-suited businessmen reading funky magazines and manga (which we’ll touch on later, don’t you worry), but I’m still a little bit unnerved by what I’ve seen. All-in-all, if you wanted to see the “strange” side of Japan all you needed is take the train. It’s that easy.
After getting off the train we arrived in Electric Town, which was a section of the city dedicated to showing of games, pop-culture and the like. It was truly a sight to see once we arrived as even the sides of buildings were being taken up by characters that Kayla and I recognized.
It was a bit overwhelming at first deciding where to go. We set Freddy down in a cafe near the train station (since he wasn’t really in the mood to be walking around considering how he was feeling) and set out to see just what we could find. And oh boy did we find some things.
Our first stop was one of the many video game stores. The one we picked was about 6 stories high and was filled to the brim with arcade games. Initially I was expecting to see some proper video games on store shelves and I was instead met with an entire floor dedicated to crane games? Huh.
The second floor was home to more traditional arcade games and was filled with a sizable crowd of people repeatedly pressing buttons and seemingly competing against one another. Apparently these types of social gatherings are a popular attraction in these parts.
We moved on from this building once we figured out the remaining 4 floors were all dedicated to crane and arcade games, eventually landing on a little shopping mall area nearby with its own unique look and feel. Inside we found that there wasn’t a whole lot there that stood out from your normal shopping market, but I did find this little gem just hanging out:
We walked around the outside of Electric Town for a little while and just observed the outsides of the stores and the people walking by. One of the things I noticed at this point was the white masks that some of the Japanese people were wearing. Kayla informed me that the people were either wearing those because they were sick and trying to reduce the chance of spreading their illness… or because it was a fashion statement. I don’t know if you’ll see any of them in the photos I’ve taken or not, but my estimation is that 1 in every 50th person I saw had a mask on.
Considering the fact that the word Gundam was pretty much on every storefront somewhere we took a detour and looked inside one really quickly to see what all the hooplah was about.
Next door to the Gundam paradise was a nifty little comic book store that Kayla gleefully hopped inside (she’ll say she didn’t, but she totally did):
After this the lights, advertisements, and constant JAPAN was giving us a bit of a headache. It became a bit of a sensory-overload to say the least. So, instead of going into more of the stores we just hung out on the street as it started to get darker.
Towards the end of the day two magical events took place. I saw a lady hanging out on one of the sidewalks handing out flyers for something she was promoting. Nothing out of the ordinary, right? Well, she had an owl on her shoulder. It was crawling up and down her like crazy and just flapping its wings and it was so cool. I took some pictures from afar but wasn’t really happy with the quality since you couldn’t really see her or the bird really clearly.
I’m not really one for stepping out of my quiet and comfortable bubble to actively engage with other people unless I have to (I’m an introvert, so it’s not exactly something I like to (or can always) do)… but I felt a strange sense of determination to get the shot since I was responsible for the blog. I walked up to her (despite knowing next to no Japanese) and politely asked for one of her flyers by gesturing to it. After that I pulled up my camera and silently asked if I could take a picture. She was super cool about it and let me do my work. After that, a quick “arigato” (which means “Thank you.”), and I was out of there!
So, yeah. After that we started winding down for the day and headed back to the train station where we’d go back to the boat. However, I’m sure you noticed I said two magical events took place. Good on you for remembering that, reader. Well, I did encounter two amazing things in the last 30 minutes while we were walking around, and that was a JAPANESE BABY!
Follow me on this one…
And that was our first visit to Japan! Considering how tired we were by the end of our little journey we took the train home and headed back to the boat pretty quickly after I took this photo. Overall, I thought Japan was a lot of fun. The people are super cool and respectful and there’s a ton of stuff to do. I hope you enjoyed our first day in Japan (hehe)…
There’s um… there’s more…
Is what I’m saying.
Here’s a lady with a bunch of rubber chickens. Thanks for reading.