Travel Update 5 – Japan

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This is going to be a fairly short summary of the final week in Japan, mostly because I am insanely tired after travelling back. Trains, waiting in airports, overnight flights, more waiting and I still have a long drive to get home, but the trip was worth it. Next week I’ll be trying to resume daily posting as usual and I’m looking forward to catching up on the spring anime so look forward to first impression posts.

Okay, the final days were mostly about doing some final shopping and grabbing a few souvenirs for people back home but we did do an overnight trip to Yokohama (even though it is pretty much right next door to Tokyo). Totally worth it. We had a fairly good deal on a hotel room and then when we checked in they moved us into a nicer room with a much better view so all and all nothing to complain about.

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What I loved about walking around Yokohama, other than the constant sea-breeze, were the number of street performers around. Singers, dancers, musicians, fire eaters, baton twirlers, guys who twist balloons into weird shapes, and, my personal favourite, the hula-hoop guy were literally everywhere as we walked around and it was always fun to stop and watch them for awhile.

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The food was also really, really good but if you’ve followed my trip so far I doubt you are surprised I enjoyed the food. Actually, my biggest issue is that the majority of the shopping centres have a heavy number of western food chains and actually finding Japanese food takes a bit more of a walk which was a bit weird.

We visited the Cup Noodle Museum, which is actually kind of interesting, though nothing in it explains why it has three exclamation marks at the start of the word ‘cup’ in its signage. If you happen to have kids they do a great workshop where they make their own cup-ramen and watching the many kids participating it was clear it was great fun. For adults there’s a room displaying all the different cups and flavours the cup noodles have come in, a brief film that explains the history, and then some exhibits and timelines that show the history of cup noodles. The film is even in basic enough Japanese that I understood most of it (yay, I understand stuff aimed at six year olds), though if you have no Japanese skills they do offer you an audio translation to listen to while the film is on.

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Anyway, the dock is beautiful to walk along, there’s plenty of great gardens, lots of shops, and generally it was great fun.

I also took a day trip to Kawagoe to see more traditional style buildings and it was really fun walking through the district though getting photos is really hard between traffic and tourists. Still, if you want to see more traditional Japanese buildings or if you just want to spend a day shopping and shrine visiting, it is a great place to visit. It took me about an hour and a half to get there by train but I spent the majority of the day there and had plenty to do.

Seriously, I was really happy to get to go to Japan this year. I made some great memories, I have plenty of photos that I need to sort through now that I’m home, and while I’m going to be super busy getting back into my usual routine, I’m really glad I took the opportunity to go. Next time I go to Japan I definitely have to go to one of the other islands and at some point I will need to actually win something in one of the UFO catchers because I am still pretty terrible at them.

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The sun-set in Yokohama as seen from the top of the Ferris Wheel.

Thanks everyone who has enjoyed following along with my travels and as I said, I’ll hopefully be back to anime reviewing next week.


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


Travel Update 4 – Japan

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The last couple of days I’ve mostly been wandering about on my own while waiting for my friend to finish at work. As a result I’ve taken a small break from the bigger tourist sites and have mostly been meandering about in various districts just seeing what is there. The standard approach is get off at a train station and just walk until I run out of things to look at and then use my phone to navigate to the nearest station to wherever I’ve ended up. It is an interesting way to get a feel for the day to day rather than just seeing the same chain stores that dominate most tourist areas.

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I kind of love crossing bridges in Japan.

But I haven’t totally gotten off the beaten track. I did wander around Ginza for a day and walked through Harujuku after visiting the shrine and going to Government Building 1 and using the observation deck where we met this really nice volunteer guide who gave us a history lesson on the architects of the buildings in the area, some of the features of some of the sites, and a bit of history about how Tokyo developed as a region. Nice guy, lots of videos on his phone to show details like a fold out helicopter pad that was attached to the building opposite and the inflation of the Egg roof. Considering he isn’t a paid guide he was incredibly informative as he showed us the sites.

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Tragically it was a misty day so views of Mt Fuji were obscured, but there was still plenty to look at

However, a trip to Nakano was really great as well as I found a plush Little Fox from Natsume and a small Natori figure that I just had to have (also a giant Nyanko pillow that I walked away from if only because it would not have fit in my bag).

Then again, it is all about the food. And yes, I’ve eaten a lot of it. Notable meals include the ramen. Yeah, I didn’t even manage to eat half of it because it was massive, but it was absolutely delicious. Ordering was easier than normal because it was one of those places where you use the ticket machine to place your order and then just hand the ticket over when you enter the shop (and there were lots of pictures to help where my lack of kanji knowledge became apparent). However, inside they then ask you a whole series of option questions about the noodles and what not and I will admit I couldn’t follow. I ended up having to get them to write the question down so I could sit and translate it but ultimately I managed to get some great food so probably worth the effort.

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I found on previous trips and this one that ordering ramen is incredibly intimidating. The vast majority of ramen places have no English on their menu (which is fine) but a lot don’t even have pictures or any kind of visual. Some just have the different dishes listed vertically along a wall and there’s a lot of kanji. There’s also a sense that you need to order quickly and so it is a bit of a struggle (admittedly, there are more chain type restaurants you could go to and order ramen with less pressure if you really wanted to). I also always feel bad because I cannot eat a whole serve of ramen in one sitting even if I skip lunch. It is just too much food piled into the bowl.

Anyway, outside of ramen, we hit a yakitori place that is part of a chain, but the restaurant we went to is under the train line near Ginza. There’s some great food places there and I strongly recommend a walk along the train line from Shimbashi heading toward Ginza because you will find some really fantastic places to eat. Not to mention, the atmosphere of low ceiling and periodic table shaking as a train passes overhead is just kind of fun.

The place we ate charged 300 yen just for sitting at the table per person but that came with unlimited bowls of cabbage. Fortunately, it was a very tourist friendly place because there are some nights when you are tired and don’t want to struggle with a language barrier. They had an entirely English menu that they brought over for us without us asking with the Japanese written underneath so ordering was as simple as point at what you want and let the waiter read it. I will admit, we may have severely over eaten by the time we were done but it was so incredibly worth it.

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Anyway, my friend is about to get three days off work so we are going to be out and about and I’m pretty sure we’re doing an overnight trip somewhere and then I’m pretty much done because I’ll be having to start preparing to fly home which is kind of sad but at the same time I feel I’ve done most of what I wanted to in Tokyo this time. There’s still the kitchen street to hit up and I want to spend a bit longer in some of the gardens but mostly I’m happy that I’ve been where I want to go.


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James