Thursday, August 16, 2007

Journey To The Top Of Japan and Back Pt.1 - Tokyo

Wow and Ouch are the two things that have been going through my head a lot this week. Mt. Fuji was amazing and yes, I made it all the way to the top. However, thanks to my determination, I am sore in ways and places that I never knew existed until a couple of days ago. Even my fingers and toes are sore! (@_@)

The reason this entry is going to be two sections is because A)I have done a lot in the past five days and B)Before going to the mountain, Andre and I did a bunch of stuff and after coming down from the mountain, I had an annoying ordeal with a bag of mine that turned into a quest of its own. So sit back, relax, and get ready to hear the tale of my journey to the top of Japan. (Insert dramatic intro music hear.)

The trip started out pretty well. I do not mean to say that it ended badly, it just ended on an inconvenient note. Either way, I met Andre (a guy I know through work) at the bus station in Osaka and bought my ticket for the overnight bus to Tokyo. As it turns out, he and I were on the same bus, which was funny because we had tried to arrange that earlier in the week but were told that there were no seats left on the bus that Andre had reservations for. The bus trip went very well because I was in the aisle seat on the last row of seats in the back of the bus. This meant I had a ton of foot room and space to put my stuff. There was a kid that was sitting across from me that was traveling to Tokyo by himself and for one reason or another decided that I was a big white squirrel in need of feeding and gave me candy during the trip. Why kids do this to me, I have no clue. I am not complaining, I just think it is amusing that more than a couple of my encounters with random children have ended up with me eating some of their snacks. Anywho, the trip to Tokyo went smoothly and much more comfortably than the last bus ride.

Upon getting to Tokyo, Andre and I were left trying to figure out what to do in Tokyo at 6am on Sunday morning. Most places don't open until ten or eleven so we didn't have many options. We ended up going to the imperial palace and seeing all that one can see there, which is not a great deal. For those who have been there, you can't even get to the area to take pictures of the bridge that has the guardhouses on it anymore. I think Andre was a little let down about the lack of outward coolness of the palace, despite my warnings that there wasn't a ton to see there. This was the first let down of the day for him.

After the palace, Andre remembered that the Hard Rock Cafe serves breakfast and so we decided to try our luck and see if it was a Western-style menu. It was! I had bacon, eggs, and toast for the first time in a while. We sat around there and watch music videos as we ate breakfast and hung out for a while. After breakfast, we headed over to Ueno park and looked around for a bit. There isn't much of note to see there but it was close and I like all of the lily pads in the pond.

By this point, it was getting toward late morning and we decided to see if we could find any of the Cosplay kids that hang out at the bridge and park near Harajuku. This was the second disappointment of the day because very few weirdos and freaks were to be found. On the upside, there was a huge group of Rock-A-Billies at the entrance of the park. Rock-A-Billies are Japanese guys who dress up like The Fonz from "Happy Days" and drive 1950s American cars and motorcycles. They enjoy phoofing their hair up and then greasing it back so that, from afar, you would think you have stumbled into a Japanese Elvis wannabe audition.

The rest of the day, we roamed around various other places including Akihabara where I picked up a sweet new Hello Kitty cell phone dangly and a really cheap 18-50mm lens for my camera. We also watched security guys at one store come close to beating a kid down after he slapped away one guard's hand. We think he was caught shoplifting but aren't sure exactly what started the whole ordeal but it did make for an interesting spectacle for a few minutes.

By the end of the day, Andre had seen most of the major spots around Tokyo and I got a call from Jessica, a girl I work with, wanting to know if we wanted to come and have a beer or two with her and her dad at a bar across town. Andre doesn't drink...or spend money for the most part so he went back to the hotel and I went to Roppongi for what I thought was going to be a quick drink. The quick drink I had imagined didn't really pan out. The event became more of an epic conquest of bars in Roppongi that kept me out until 8am the next morning. Fortunately, we had seen all of the big stuff so I was able to sleep and recover until noon.

Feeling slightly hungover but hungry, I took Andre to Shinjuku where we scarfed down my favorite Indian buffet. The place is called, Raj Mahal and I love the all-you-can-eat goodness coupled with a mango lasse. Yummy. After lunch, we went to the TMG building and shot some pictures from there. Speaking of pictures, I will put a couple on this blog but if you really want to see a ton of them, go to my Flickr page, it is going to get a massive update as soon as I post this.

After lunch, we went to a place that I had wanted to go but have never had the chance to visit. It is a kind of out of the way, man made island called, Odaiba. Odaiba is a nutty place and I am glad I found it. Ben, when you come we are going there. I would appreciate it if you didn't look it up because I kind of want it to be a surprise for you because it is a very whacky very Japanese experience that I think you will get a kick out of. For everyone else, feel free to look up Odaiba to see what is all there. From Odaiba, we made a brief trip to Asakusa shrine and then called it a day so that we could get a good night's sleep before the early bus ride to Mt. Fuji the next morning.


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