Tokyo as Told by Kyle

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.

“Whoa!”

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.

“Nice.”

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.

Just your average vending machine. We found this maybe 5 minutes after leaving the boat. The Pikachu is incidental, I’m sure.
Trees! People! Buildings! It’s Japan, baby!

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 found this small market while walking through a local park. They were selling all kind of neat things here but we just picked up some bottled water in preparation of the day ahead of us.
There was also this little festival taking place near the marketplace too. A musical performance was going on with dancers and everything. It was a strange sight, indeed. In case you’re curious what they were singing… just look up ‘JPOP’ and you’ll get a good idea of just what was ringing in our ears.

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.

*ping*

Never gets old.

Right to left: Freddy, Kayla, and Mr. I’mTooCoolToTakeAGoodPhotoApparently.

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:

Yoga? Meditative donkey training? Being in touch with your inner animal? Enter the Dragon starring Bruce Lee? All of the above?

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.

Apparently, Mister Donut isn’t too amused by my photo-taking skills.

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.

Just your average geeky trading card game building. And when I say ‘geeky trading card game’ I am of course referring to Magic the Gathering. But you can read (obviously), so me bringing this up is ultimately pointless… just like Magic the Gathering.
Probably the best picture I took the whole day. So, it’s all downhill from here. I’ve peaked. I might as well go home.

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.

One of the first things we saw was this woman standing near these little machines. They’re a lot like gumball machines except instead of a tasty gumball you get a capsule with a random character from a certain show or game that machine is representing. We saw plenty of these while walking through Electric Town.

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.

Imagine a hundred of these all filled with cute creatures with empty stares. That Jigglypuff has seen things.

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.

Ah, yes. I understand exactly what that says completely without question.

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:

This creepy little thing’s eyes followed me with surprising accuracy when I walked by. Nobody was nearly as freaked out by this thing as I was so I assume it must be a normal thing in Tokyo? Either way… it appears robots have begun to blend into society. Yummy.
Overall, this little shopping area was a nice change of pace from everything else but we were here for the WEIRD stuff, so it didn’t hold our interest for too long.

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.

Just another picture of Electric Town. It’s amazing that every shot of this place has something interesting to see. That guy on the yellow building there is a Yugioh character for example… *ahem*… if you’re into that.

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.

This entire store was filled to the brim with little gundam figurines and in shiny little cases and boxed sets. I guess they’re really popular here.
Well, hello there, Mr. Gundam.
Kayla is scouring for her next desk figurine. She’s a picky one though. It has to be the right one.

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):

Remember how I mentioned those suited businessmen on the train? Yeah? They were reading these. It all comes full circle.
This was a tiny store too. Somehow they crammed all of THAT into THIS. How? Why? You think I know the answer? Ha! (It’s in high demand, I guess).
Kayla is a happy camper. If only she were in focus.

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.

This is roughly what all of the streets looked like on Electric Town. The lady in pink on the right there is a maid representative who was giving out flyers for the nearby maid cafe to tourists and people passing by. What is a maid cafe, you ask? It’s a cafe where maids serve you and call you “master,” and stuff. I joked about going in one but then we got near it and the smell of perfume alone gave me a bad case of the shivers.
I saw this beautiful boy outside one of the many cat cafes. Now this is much more my speed, even though my asthma sometimes reacts badly to certain animals. Then again, I’m also allergic to maids.

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!

HA! Take that social anxiety!
Turns out she was promoting an owl cafe. Awesome 🙂

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…

This little guy! The way he was staring at me made me feel like he knew the answers to the universe. I mean, just look at him… or her (it could be a her, I don’t know). Thankfully the mom didn’t see me taking repeated shots of her kid, but Kayla told me that I was walking considerably slower and holding up a group behind me soooooooooo… mission accomplished?
Heh, “What are you looking at?”

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.

*cough*

Here’s a lady with a bunch of rubber chickens. Thanks for reading.

I love you, Japan. You never cease to amaze me.

-Kyle 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Reply to “Tokyo as Told by Kyle”

  1. Loved reading your blog, so descriptive and interesting! Kyle – and you cracked me up! I laughed out loud when I read that you were allergic to maids. Great job with overcoming your social anxiety obtaining the owl photo!! Hoping Fred is better soon – seems this has gone on too long!

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