Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Tokyo Experience: Day Three Part 2 and Beyond

This is going to hopefully be my last post on Tokyo just because I don't like the idea of spending a week talking about the previous week. There is other stuff I could be posting but the Tokyo trip takes priority so to speak. Anywho, we last left off with our trip to Akihabara. That was fun.

After Akihabara, we all gleefully went back to our hotel and played with our toys for a bit before decided to go to a karaoke place. Fortunately for us, there was one less than a block away. When we got to Big Echo, it is a nationwide karaoke franchise, we were pleased to find that it was only $10.00 for a room per hour. The guy behind the counter reassured us this was indeed the price and so we proceeded to belt out songs for the next four hours, aided by quite a few beers and cocktails. Karaoke in Japan is a blast because instead of doing it in a crowded bar with a bunch of people gawking, you and your friends get a private, soundproof room in which to suck in. There were actually a few songs in which we did not suck. It turns out Ben is quite the rapper when you get a couple of beers in him and he was easily the best out of our group. After finishing our four hour marathon, we went to the counter to pay and got a surprise. We figured with the amount of alchohol we had, plus the room fee, our bill would be around $150.00. Our bill was actually a few bucks shy of $300.00. It turns out that the room was indeed $10.00 an hour but the guy forgot to mention it was $10.00 per person per hour. Jerk. Though, it was partially our fault too for not being able to read the kanji for "per person", either way, we got the shaft, though it was fun until the bill came.

The following morning, we decided that our last full day in Tokyo would be spent in basically two places, the Imperial Palace and the shopping district of Harajuku Street. The Imperial Palace was somewhat lackluster because you really don't get to see much. The Imperial family of Japan lives in near total seclusion and the palace is almost completely hidden from view. There is one garden that is open to the public but even that is open only two times a year, once at New Years and one other time I can't remember. Either way, here are some of the pics from that trip.

This is the Hello Kitty tour bus we saw:

Here is a shot I like of an old guy doing watercolor paintings:

These are about the only parts of the Imperial Palace that you can see:

This is the bridge and gate that cross the inner moat and here is one of the Imperial Guards:

Here is a cool bridge leading to the palace after you cross the above bridge. Basically, what I am trying to show is that the Imperial family is a pain to get to:

This was the park/garden area that surrounds the inner moat:

There you have it, thats the Imperial Palace of Japan. The last pic I showed you of the garden area is pretty much what the entire garden area you can walk by looks like. There is a sense of power in the minimalistic surroundings and greenery. It could also be said that the Imperial family likes Charly Brown trees. :)

After seeing what we could of the palace it was time to go shopping...again. This time we went to Harajuku. You know that seen in the first Harry Potter movie where Harry walks down Diagon Alley for the first time? Harajuku is kind of like that. Imagine about 10,000 people, mostly women, all crammed into very narrow streets shopping for whatever clothing or accessories their hearts desire. Thats Harajuku Street. If you ever go here, be warned, this area is pretty much for women or those wishing they were women. Ben, Reid, and I were pretty much bored in this area. Quite simply, there is almost nothing for guys in this shopping district. Having said that, women watching in Harajuku is the major guy activity here. Anywho, on to the pics!

This is Takeshita street, the main street out of Harajuku station, this is a pretty good example of how the entire area is:

Here is a shot of another street in the area, notice the Ferrari (lots of money here), the golf school on the third floor of the building across the street, and the people:

After Harajuku, we went back to our hotel, ate Wendys(again) and pretty much called it a day.

The following day, we said goodbye to Ben and Monique, went back to Akihabara so Reid could buy a laptop, and started our drive to Reid and Karie's house in Takaoka. It was sad to see Ben and Monique go but I was glad that I got to see them again. We all had a good time. The last surprise of the Tokyo trip was our parking fee for the three days we had been at the hotel. The parking should have cost us $90.00 for those three days but it instead ran us $260.00. Turns out that the lady at the front desk of the hotel gave the wrong parking lot to stay in. What have we learned from this? Don't take a car into Tokyo.

The drive to Takaoka was funny because Reid doesn't like two things, heights, and driving through mountains at night on very narrow roads. The combination of the two plus Karie and I making jokes about falling off the edge of the road and monkeys carrying away our burning corpses and eating the remains probably didn't help either. Anywho, we got back to Takaoka alive.

During my brief visit of their town, Karie and Reid took me to a really big Buddha statue. Its is one of the biggest bronze Buddhas in the world. They also took me to a Buddhist monastery that still has monks and whatnot. We also went to a very yummy buffett at their mall. It was a good time and here are a couple of pics.

This poor guy has the task of pulling weeds, garbage, and non-white rocks from the rock garden:

Here is a shot of the temple:

Here are a couple of the big Buddha:

Well, that was pretty much the Tokyo Experience from start to finish. Its good to be home now and I am looking forward to going back to Tokyo with my family in a couple of months. It will be funny to see how they like it. For those of you that complain that I do not put enough pictures on here, you should be satisfied for a little while. I think these last to posts have more pics in them than I have ever had in a post before. I hope everyone enjoyed the tale of my friends and I's journey, more posts about other stuff to come soon.


At 9:25 PM, Anonymous Tony said...

Maui had the largest Buddha outside of Japan.

So, that watercoloring guy looks pissed at you. I think he's going to come over and mess with you.

At 8:09 AM, Blogger Mogwai said...

Heh, at the time I took it, I kind of thought so too. Oh well, it was a cool shot. I think that is one of my favorite ones that I have taken so far.

At 7:14 PM, Anonymous Phyrry said...

The watercolor guy is cool, but I agree, he looks rather annoyed.

San Francisco is similar in that it's a place you *do not* want to take a car. And it sure looked like NYC was the same way, from the few hours I spent there...

Thanks for all the cool pictures!

At 10:35 PM, Anonymous dustin said...

I really enjoyed the stories and pictures, but this just makes me want to visit even more. Tokyo looks to be freaking expensive, especially if I ever made it to Akihabara. I guess it's one of those places you visit after saving up a little bit.

My family and I visited San Fran and rented a car. They and I can echo phyrry's comment about how useless they are. We pretty much parked it at the hotel and hoofed it the entire time. Those times that we did brave the traffic were the worst parts of the trip.


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