Today’s destination is Ikebukuro. The only place we were able to visit is Sunshine 60, but I think that was enough. There is definitely enough things to do at Sunshine 60 to fill a day, and that’s exactly what we did.
The main attraction of Ikebukuro, the giant shopping center, Sunshine 60. It is one of the tallest buildings in Tokyo, with an observatory to view the city from. The whole complex is 60-stories high (hence the name), but only the first three + the observatory are open to public. Like most shopping malls, it has numerous clothing stores, coupled with a few novelty stores that sells random items (like Brookstones). We didn’t spend too much time browsing and shopping, since we can do that at any other department stores. But it wouldn’t be very exciting if that’s all Sunshine 60 is about. Sunshine 60 also has a museum, aquarium, planetarium, and so forth. It also has Namco Namja Town, which is an indoor amusement park, but the main theme is food. I was told that Sunshine 60 was a must-visit, and I wasn’t disappointed.
The long walk home from Shinjuku have left us pretty tired. We did not sleep until 4 a.m., and we did not have much energy to do anything the next day. We hanged around Asakusabashi and went to Akihabara again to shop for otaku stuff. But that’s pretty much all we did during the day. The only thing worth noting is that we tried Japan’s Katsu for the first time, and it was extremely good.
Woohoo, still motivated to write more about my Japan trip. Here’s the fourth day, Shinjuku.
Today’s destination is Shinjuku, the red-light district of Japan. My experiences in Shinjuku can really be split into a dichotomy of day and night. During the day, there are many sights to see, including parks, museums, buildings (Shinjuku has Tokyo’s largest concentration of skyscrapers). It’s a busy place where you will see businessmen coming and going all the time. Compared with other places in Tokyo, it’s definitely not as tourist-friendly, but I would still recommend visiting. The day is nice, but the night is where things really starts happening. At around 7pm or so, pimps will start to roam the streets, drunk people will increase in number as the night goes on, and even fights would start to break out randomly. I never been to any other red-light districts before so I don’t know how crazy Shinjuku is in comparison, but there are definitely lots of things going on. There are also gangs and triads, so be careful when you go.
I’ve been going over the stats on my blog for fun, and found that there are many people interested in looking at my Japan trip posts. They might have just stumbled upon my blog when looking for information regarding those areas, but since there seems to be continuous interest, I will continue with writing about my trip. It’s been half a year though, so a lot of things have become vague to me, but I’ll finish it to the best of my abilities. I’ll start to separate the food from the rest of the blog, since that’ll make it more organized as well. I’m too lazy to go back and change the rest of my post, so please bare with me on this.
The most anticipated part of my Japan trip, Akihabara! It’s a nerd’s dream come true. There are anime and game stores as far as the eye can see. Not to mention computer electronics and model kits shops. And who can forget, Maid’s cafe. I can’t quite remember the path we took, so I’ll just list the stores I visited and what I think of them. I think that’s easier on the readers anyways. It was a shame that I didn’t get much pictures for inside the stores though.
So I’m back from vacation, but I haven’t exactly started on scanlating. Well, I did download volume 4 so I do have the material to start, but I think I’ll just wait til tomorrow. I want to write down somewhere my trip, since I personally thought it was a great experience. And hopefully it can be helpful to others who wishes to travel to Japan for the first time. So here goes.
I traveled with two of my friends, none of us have been to Japan before, and we also didn’t want to join a tour so we can have full control of where we want to visit. We did plenty of research prior to our trip. We looked up famous attractions, places to visit, purchased books for information, and yada yada. Some tips on preparation and things to bring if you are going alone:
- Maps, lots and lots of maps of every location you want to go. There are maps near every train station, but I wouldn’t rely on that
- Figure out train routes to take before you go. Probably should bring a map of this too.
- Enough cash. Credit cards are accepted at lots of places, but they are also not accepted at some unexpected locations, such as convenient stores.
- Learn at least some basic Japanese. Most people there only speak Japanese. English does not cut it
- Don’t bother bringing a 3g or 4g cellphone. They won’t work in Japan
- Buy JR pass prior to going. It’s only for foreigners and can’t be purchased in Japan
- Live in a hostel. It’s way cheaper than hotels and you get to meet other travelers
So after much preparation, we finally set off on a 1 pm flight to Tokyo from LAX. The flight was about 12 hours long, so probably want to bring something to do. We took Singapore Airlines, and I have to say, they DO have the best service out of any flight I have ever taken. They serve pretty good Japanese food for meals, and even have ice cream as desert. Alcohol is also FREE and UNLIMITED. My friend got a good buzz even before we got to Japan.
After a gruesome 12 hour flight, we landed in Narita Airport. We were all pretty excited, but that’s just half the battle, we went and looked at the train map, and bought ourselves tickets for JR Sobu Line to Bakurocho Station. Train tickets for within Tokyo are quite cheap (~200 yen per trip), so we didn’t bother getting a JR pass while we stayed in Tokyo. The JR pass for 1 week is about $300, which is not worth it unless you plan to use the JR train to travel far. We did get it for the 2nd half of our trip since we will need to take the bullet train to Kyoto, which costs about $150 one way.
After taking the train to Bakurocho station, it was only a 2-minute walk to our hostel, Khaosan Ninja Asakusabashi. We arrived at 9 pm, checked in at the front desk. It was a relatively small place, but I think that’s how all the places in Japan are. The people at the reception can understand English, so that was good. We payed them, went into our 10-person dorm and settled in. We met 3 Australians who were also visiting Tokyo. They visited pretty much all the places that we wanted to, but they were going to leave the next day, so that’s that.
At around 10 pm, we left our luggage in the hostel, and went out to explore Japan for the first time. We were all very hungry so we looked around for a place to grab a midnight snack. Nothing’s really open at this hour. It’s a Sunday night, and we were not near the busy part of town, so it was pretty dead already. But we managed to find a cheap Yakitori place to eat. The waitress there didn’t speak English, so it’s time me and one of my friends (we both took Japanese classes before, but we practically remember nothing) to bust out whatever Japanese we still remember. We then sat down and were surprised to see that all orders are made on a touch screen. Good thing I know kanji, since that’s what almost everything is written in. We looked through it and ordered a few chicken skewers and 2 okonomiyakis.
The food there really wasn’t all that great… Everything was way too salty. We were starving so we still managed to finish, but I really recommend going there. Unforunately it was my first night there, so I didn’t really prepare myself to record the locations and names of places I eat at. All I can tell you is this place is on the 3rd floor above a Yoshinoya in Asakusabashi. So don’t go there if you can. I give this place a 2/5
We went back to the hostel afterwards and went to sleep since we were going to get up early the next morning. Tomorrow’s destination: Tsujiki and Ginza!