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Japan7 October 17

Taiwan4 March 17

Japan6 October 16

Europe May 16

Japan5 November 15

Korea2 March 15

Even More Trips

HongJapWan March 2014
Sichuan March 2013
Tokyo3 October 2012
China2 August 2012
Japwan March 2012
China November 2011
Korea September 2011
Taiwan March 2011
London3 June 2010
Japan May 2010
London2 February 2010
London September 2009
SE Asia December 2005

Japan and Hong Kong May 2010 - Page 3

Day 7 - Saturday, 8 May 2010


Before I talk about Yokohama, time for another observation of Japan.
Japanese people do not J walk, ever. You can stand at a corner of a small back street, it will have a flashing green man to tell you when to cross, and even if its 2 steps across and there is 0 traffic in any direction, no one will dare cross.
Well, I do, and today a police officer blew his whistle with great fury at me for doing so. I stopped and waved my arms about but nothing else came of it.

The weather is perfect again, following the rain from last night its back to clear blue skies, with a cool breeze and the pollution is gone.

Getting to Yokohama only takes about 30 minutes, but the internet didnt seem to know if the Suica card was accepted once you got there (the charge is calculated when you get off). The gate for the train going there let me on fine, but it also stops at various local Tokyo stations. It was somewhat concerning that there were handwritten signs all over the machines for this line, I was guessing they were saying 'you must buy ticket for Yokohama! Suica not accept at there!'. There were big lines of people buying actual tickets before going through these gates which further added to my suspicions.
I figured if when I got there I couldnt get out the gate, I would just get back on a train and come back again without leaving the platform.
My concerns proved to be unfounded, Suica card is fine in Yokohama, someone tell the internet.

Theres 2 things to see there, well apparently 3. First of all the tallest building in Japan is there, but it looked very small to me so that was confusing.
Secondly, there is a theme park, which I went to, with a huge ferris wheel, which I went on - see extensive pictures.
Finally, There is 'world 2nd big chinatown!!!'. Not sure of the validity of that claim, but it was ok. Interestingly, Japanese people seemed genuinely curious about all things Chinese that they had there, which were mostly panda dolls, dumplings, steam buns, hot roasted chestnuts and palm readers. To me it seemed like more of Japan with slightly different food but I have a sneaking racist suspicion that for a Japanese person this is a strange new world.

Also around Yokahama was a huge baseball stadium, various nice gardens, and overall a very quiet pleasent place.

As soon as I got off the train, I spotted this off in the distance, it has a diameter of 106.5 metres, which is something like 340 feet. The London eye is 122 metres, so slightly bigger. However the Yokohama one cost $7 and had no line, hows the London eye compare in that respect?

Before I headed over to the fun park, I realised I was starving. So despite my better judgement, I opted for Subway. Now people struggle to order at subway in Australia speaking Australian to Australians. So I decided to order in English in Japan. The guy seemed well rehearsed at this and held up each of the bread choices, then I pointed at the menu, then he pointed at the toaster etc. I never had to say a word. They put much less salad on, and the bread is useless and falls apart, no crunchiness to it at all.

I think this shot is pretty cool, as far as generic tourist shots of ferris wheels go.

I did not go on that roller coaster, parts of me clenched just watching it go into that hole in the pool. A lot of doorways in Japan are made for people 4 feet tall, I have hit my head a few times and I am not that tall. Did they design the tunnel height of the rollercoaster entrance for westerners?

There was no line for the ferris wheel and I got a car all to myself, which meant I was free to moon all of Yokohama. Unfortunately the camera had trouble focusing on that so you get this instead.

You are a along way up.

Ok you get the idea by now. There was a narrator in mainly Japanese who spoke loudly for the full 20 minutes it takes to go around. The only English they say is 'and if you look now you can see mount fuji'. Well I couldnt. Today is very clear as well following the rain from last night.

Here is the entrance to china town. There is one of these huge gates on the end of about 20 streets.

The alley ways are pretty cool, lots of tiny little shops selling panda slippers.

A nearby peaceful garden, for experiencing peace.

China also has fake temples.

Here is my lunch, Goyza, $5 and delicious. As usual the lady serving me was very concerned that I might eat the chilli sauce.

Oh my god, hello kitty has been swallowed by a panda! CHINA HAS DEFEATED JAPAN! Someone call bike cat.

Akihabara and Ginza by night

Tonight I revisited a couple of places I had been to already, which are probably much more interesting at night.
First up, Akihabara, Electric Town. Yes there were a lot more lights and a lot more maids (see below), but actually a lot of the electrical goods shops shut by 8pm. This seems to be the case for most of Tokyo which is quite different from Hong Kong where everything is open until 10pm 7 days a week.

Next I went back to Ginza, where at this time some stores were still open but there really wasnt much to see apart from russian women dressed in entirely too much jewellery carry huge arm fulls of expensive goods. There were lots of rich Japanese people here as well, some with little dogs in handbags.

For those of you who demanded more maid pictures (you know who you are), here you go.
Akihabara has them on every street corner, there has to be at least 100 of them near the station. A lot of them however do not like having their photo taken at all, so this is the best I could do.
For those that dont know, a maid cafe is where one of these girls dressed like this sits with you whilst you pay for expensive ice cream and pancakes and soft drinks to share together. She tells you how handsome you are and apparently will spoon feed you as well.
I dont get the appeal of it but it sure seems popular.

Another maid, but note how she is standing. I have noticed that many Japanese girls walk like this, like they are almost crippled. Why is this? Guys do not walk like this at all. I think its just a fashion thing as the more ridiculously you are dressed the more likely you are to walk like this.
Is that racist? Or just offensive?

There are many cars painted in a tribute to various manga type things. Vans are the most popular to paint like this, just like the USA do with crappy R&B artists.

This trend also extends to motorbikes. I am going to paint my car in a tribute to the smurfs.

There are a few famous big Japanese burger chains, Lotteria, Freshness burger, and tonight I have decided to go to Mos Burger.
They have an english menu available which was helpful, although the girl that served me seemed to speak english anyway.
I decided to order the mos burger, which I am guessing is their signature burger since its the same name as the store.

I havent had a burger of any kind for what seems years, so dont have much to compare it to. But it wasnt that great. They put entirely too much of the relish type sauce on it. The burger itself tasted like the supermarket brand frozen food variety.
The salad was the highlight! Not a very fulfilling meal, and at $7, comparitively expensive.

I couldnt find anything to take a photo of in Ginza, unless you want to see Gucci or Louis Vuitton, so the best I can do is the same shot as last time but this time at night time.

OK, this was sort of interesting, its the Nissan Leaf. Which is apparently all set to become the worlds top selling car. It is an all electric car like the Tesla, I cant wait...
They managed to make it look even more stupid than the Prius.

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Day 8 - Sunday, 9 May 2010

Imperial Palace, Guitar Street, Harajuku

Today I planned a long day of many activities.
First up, decided to go to the Imperial palace, with all the other tourists. You cant get into the actual palace, but you can check out the moat, gates and the east gardens which are pleasent enough.
Nearby is a cool science museum, its meant for children as all the exhibits are interactive, but I had fun playing with them anyway. The highlight I didnt take a photo of, but its a giant 1 tonne metal ball that you use levers and pulleys to maneuver through a long complex course.

After the museum I stopped for coffee, and something strange happened. I watched as some guys sat at a table outside and noticed it wobbled a bit. It was positioned on cobblestone sort of things so of course it was wobbling, just like every table we have all sat at ever.
Well these guys were not happy, and one of them came storming inside, and started yelling. Next thing all the staff from the coffee shop are outside trying to make the table so that it wouldnt wobble, this went on for 10 minutes and a different combination of napkins, spoons, plastic lids etc. was all used. I really do not understand what this was all about, my table wobbled a bit as well when I tried it. All this fuss at a hole in the wall $3 coffee shop where you drink out of plastic cups.

My next interesting observation was on the train. Whenever I sit down, I cross one leg over the other. It has occured to me that I am the only person doing this on the train. Everyone else sits with both feet firmly on the floor, knees together, like they are posing for a school photo.

After all of this hilarity, I arrived at the guitar shop street in Ochanomizu. Theres probably 50 or so stores, I think a lot of them are the same store spread across multiple buildings. Best were the used gear stores, I think Japanese people hate used things. As an example a Mesa Boogie Dual Rec brand new here cost about $3500, Second hand it cost $1500. And there were a few to choose from. In Australia new they are $4500 and second hand, $3500. I think the difference with guitar is much greater still which makes no sense as secondhand guitars generally work better than new ones.
The most popular brand by far is Edwards, more so than Ibanez or Fender. I like them a lot.

I then had a banana and a chocolate bar for lunch. The banana from Family Mart was huge and only cost about $1.50, so stories about fruit costing a lot might be true for individually packaged stuff for presentation from fancy department stores, but buying from the convenience stores is cheap enough.

Finally I headed back to Harajuku, which I had been to previously, but Sunday is the day when it all happens. As the pictures will show I found some of the performers but none of the much discussed gothic lolitas. I did however find a giant Jamaican festival.

The imperial palace, with moat.

Inside the interactive science museum, all over the place there are scientists giving various presentations.

The history of the bike is interesting, because the first bikes you walked along with. Not sure of the point, seems to be for fat business men too lazy to support their own weight.

Japanese families really get into the interactivity, pedalling as hard as they can, or winding handles with injury threatening speed.

One last picture of the imperial palace east gardens.

This is near the guitar stores, and theres a lot of yelling and screaming and holding aloft various gold colored things. I have no idea what was going on. Most of the participants are doing it barefoot.

Oh my god, the famed CAE 3+, the worlds most desirable guitar preamp.

The Japanese revolutionary guard are holding a rally. Actually I dont know who they are but the guy in the truck is VERY angry about something. There seems to be different ranks of people in attendance, the guys all in black doing the talking and yelling, some guys in camo fatigues clapping, and some guys in blue military uniforms standing to attention.

Various weird people in Harajuku.

Rockabilly dancers. This I dont get. The dancing is nothing clever or special, the guys are old and sweaty. Yet they turn up every week and draw a crowd.

A competing group, waiting for their turn. I think they put tape on the bottom of their shoes so they can do the twist more effectively.

A blimp appeared.

This park is enormous, and theres people all through it, in amongst the trees, the various garden beds, everywhere. Lots of people who are really bad at their hobbies practice them here. Badmington, soccer, frisbee are popular, but also Irish dancing without music, Michael Jackson impersonations, Skateboarding (I saw a whole group of people who were absolutely terrible at skateboarding, why would you come here to learn?), jump rope, trumpet etc.

This guy was kicking the crap out of his girlfriend.


Much to my surprise, this is a huge Jamaican festival. The performers on the stage only spoke english, and announced they would do an encore. Then they went into the scooby doo theme song (scooby dooby doo, looking for you, scooby dooby doo where are you), and the crowd went crazy.

Jerk Pork, Jerk Chicken, Red stripe beer, but no ganja or marijuana related themes of any kind anywhere to be seen.

Dinner in Shinjuku

Having spent the full day out and about, and needing to watch the formula 1 qualifying which I had stolen from the internet earlier in the day, tonights update is a short one.

I wandered around the local area for about an hour before settling on a place for dinner, which is explained in the pictures below.

I then went to UNI QLO intending to buy some new jeans. This ended in failure as they dont fit right, too loose around the waist whilst too tight in the croutch.
More interesting than that though, when you go into the changerooms you are supposed to take your shoes off. This is the first time I have had to take my shoes off so far in Japan, but of course I didnt know. I figured I would just take them off in the change room and stepped in. The girl supervising the process went crazy and sprayed the floor of the change room with some sort of spray!

I know no one except me likes the car pics. But this is the latest model Lamborghini. In a color I have never seen before, might be a custom order.
Its parked on the footpath with a million people squeezing to get past, brushing against it.

This is the inside of the restaurant where I had dinner. Given that I didnt take photos of anything else tonight apart from a blue car, there will be a few restaurant pictures.

I ordered the Cobb salad. This seemed to be one of 2 signature dishes of this establishment, and pretty much everyone there had one (or was sharing one between 10 people, I get the impression Japanese people dont eat vegetables much?).
The other signature dish was 'beef giblet bowl with offal for 2'. Hence I opted for the Salad, which has some unusual ingredients in it such as brocoli and squid, at least I hope its squid, it might have been beef offal.

I also got a pork bowl, which came with the standard raw egg cracked on the top. Under the pork is rice.
I ate all the salad which was pretty delicious, all of the pork, and not much of the rice.

This restaurant, like most around here, is actually in the basement. This poses some challenges, you have no idea whats going on downstairs, is there a line of 100 people? Are there any chairs or do you stand at a counter? This place also seemed to have no english name, just the Japanese characters above the door. Luckily an african boy was able to explain some of the menu items to me in broken english, or else I would have had the offal bowl for 2, which probably would have been deliciously chewy.

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Day 9 - Monday, 10 May 2010

Odaiba, Shopping in Shibuya

Just a small update today, despite being out from 10am until 8pm, I spent a lot of this time sort of working and on the phone to work, which was frustrating.

My plans changed a few times, it being Monday a lot of things are shut, but I decided to go to Odaiba which is an island made from reclaimed land in Tokyo bay which has a lot of weird buildings (none of which I managed to take photos of).
Also on the island are a number of shopping malls, mainly with international brands, a large Toyota showroom which was also shut on mondays, Joypolis (Sega World) and a mini statue of liberty.

I didnt do much at Odaiba except wander around and have a nice lunch.

In the late afternoon I went to Shibuya and did some gift shopping. Tokyu Hands and Loft are similar stores that are both good, specialising in 'active life goods', which means homewares. The cooking products are especially good.

As I had a big lunch, I had dinner in my hotel room which I purchased from the food hall in a department store, it was very good! Read on for details.

Also since I didnt come home during the day, and this evening I am staying home to watch the grand prix, there will be only one update today. Sorry!

Here I am sitting on the monorail that goes to Odaiba.

The monorail goes over the rainbow bridge, which is only rainbow colored at night. Its nothing special at all during the day time.

Im rinding on a monorail, going over the rainbow bridge, and watching a blimp fly past. Yes I was quite excited.

A challenger appears. Theres more than 1 giant ferris wheel in the general area of Tokyo. Closed. Monday.

This island is actually an industrial shipping port, they have tried hard to disguise the fact.

This mall is multi storey, but each one has a blue sky. They painted it on the ceiling and lit it up. Its quite effective.

This is the food court where I had lunch. It looks pretty upmarket but all the prices were very reasonable.

My lunch is actually a fairly decent steak, with some rice and miso soup. It was delicious and unexpected in a foodcourt for $8.
I have noted that when they have pictures of food to choose from in Japan, you really get whats in the picture, unlike the burger joints in other plcaes where it looks delicious on the sign but you get a bag full of slop with melted cheese covering everything.

The sphinx was damn excited to see me, I do think he was cheering after I took the photo.

In the back streets of Shibuya is Japanese hip hop world. With mainly shoe shops, vinyl shops, track suit shops and gold chain bling shops. Also a bunch of posters everywhere advertising 'dj set, with robotic cat' and similar sort of things.

Heres my dinner. It mostly came from the food hall of a fancy departments store, but was pretty cheap really. The sushi was the best sushi I have ever eaten, despite coming in a plastic box. It was put in their just as I bought it and they wrap it in ice for you to take home, so it was fresh.
The pastry is without a doubt, the nicest I have ever eaten. I want to go back now for another (but they are shut, seriously I considered it). It has cranberries in it.
Note the banana comes wrapped in plastic, not just cheap plastic you can tear off, thick plastic you could insulate your house with. Try as I might I coudnt tear it, I had to carefully peel the tape off to get to my banana.

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In case you cant use the new contents feature, there is now a page 4!


Day 1 - Sunday, 2 May 2010
  Adelaide to Tokyo
  Sydney Airport
  Sydney to Tokyo on an A330
Day 2 - Monday, 3 May 2010
  Welcome to Tokyo
  Afternoon and Evening
Day 3 - Tuesday, 4 May 2010
  Akihabara and Ueno
Day 4 - Wednesday, 5 May 2010
  Ginza, Ikebukuro
  Tokyo Metropolitan Building, Roppongi
Day 5 - Thursday, 6 May 2010
  Ueno Park, Musems and Zoo.
  Food in Kabukicho
Day 6 - Friday, 7 May 2010
  Asakusa, boat ride.
  Its Raining
Day 7 - Saturday, 8 May 2010
  Akihabara and Ginza by night
Day 8 - Sunday, 9 May 2010
  Imperial Palace, Guitar Street, Harajuku
  Dinner in Shinjuku
Day 9 - Monday, 10 May 2010
  Odaiba, Shopping in Shibuya
Day 10 - Tuesday, 11 May 2010
  Edo Museum, Shopping in Ikebukuro, Cats
  Last night in Japan
Day 11 - Wednesday, 12 May 2010
  Flying to Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific
  Welcome to Hong Kong
Day 12 - Thursday, 11 May 2010
  Sha Tin and Mong Kok
  Big Buildings, Star Ferry
Day 13 - Friday, 12 May 2010
  Dinner in Causeway Bay
Day 14 - Saturday, 13 May 2010
  Walked up the Peak
  Shopping in Mong Kok
Day 15 - Sunday, 14 May 2010
  Last night in Hong Kong
Day 16 - Monday, 15 May 2010
  Last day in Hong Kong
  Hong Kong to Sydney
Day 17 - Tuesday, 16 May 2010
  Holiday over