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So I went to Japan…..

Amazing, is a word I could use to describe my time in the land of the rising sun. Actually there are many but I can’t be bothered to look through a thesaurus to find similar words to express my feelings.

It was 12 days of awesome that’s for sure. The sites we saw and the experiences we had were ones that’ll stay in my thoughts forever (with the help of the crap load of pictures/videos I took).

So the flight wasn’t what you’d call short. It consisted of a brief stop over at Amsterdam which took about 2 hours to get to, then it was a lovely 10 hour flight to Narita, Japan. Here’s a before and after picture of me.

before and after

As you can see, the excitement on my face before flying is evident. The after picture however is one that basically says “Fuck that was long, now stop being around me and get me a damn bed!”. Clearly I’m not good on planes, my large exterior and economy class seats don’t go together. I’m unable to sleep so I’m usually going to look like I died 20 times by the time I get off a long haul flight. However, I finally made it! Finally visiting the country I’ve always wanted to visit since I was an idiot school kid.

Vending machines! There are loads of them in Japan, needless to say I was expecting to see a lot, so what sort of crazy japanese vending machines were in store for me? Well here’s the first one I saw:

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That’s right, Italian Ice Cream! OBVIOUSLY!

After a two hour or so journey from the Airport to the area in which we were going to stay, we dumped our bags off at the Guest House we were staying at and ventured out to see what the surrounding area had to offer….

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You’ll have to click on the picture to see it clearly but yeah, that’s a specialist beef restaurant next door to an…..animal hospital.

One of our first meals in Japan, a country drenched in history and culture with numerous signature dishes and tastes, was of course:

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That’s right! A burger! From a Japanese chain called Mos Burger! These aren’t your normal McDonald’s type burgers. They’re a lot smaller, definitely more of a snack although my fat arse could easily handle about 3-4.

After that meal we headed back to our guesthouse to get some sleep. Considering we’d have been up for almost 24 hours straight sleep was definitely needed. Of course the excitement of being in Japan and time difference (8-9 hours ahead of London) meant we were up awake after a few hours sleep and of course we indulged in a “midnight” snack…one to remind us of back home:

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As we ate the last remaining bites of the western world, that would signify us finally being in Japan.

The next day would be for exploring our surrounding area a little more to see what this part of Tokyo had to offer. We woke up and headed to the local convenience store to get a few essentials. It was then that I noticed Japan’s love for coffee, they had fridges packed full of cold coffee drinks, one in particular stood out:

Boss, a brand of coffee out in Japan also picked an American actor to market their drink, I don’t know why but his face and their name just seem to go together.boss

Also some of the names of the coffees are ripe for childish giggling.

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As we wandered around we stumbled upon this:


(Please excuse the stupid portrait view of this video, I can assure you I do not own an iPhone)

We also happened to walk past this supermarket that had an awesome slogan:

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Apparently in Japan, trains don’t like grey balloons:

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Speaking of trains! Oh my! Japan is well known for their efficient train system and I can see why! They really do run on time and quick! On one specific line, The Ginza Line, every platform at each stop had free WiFi and the trains themselves had Air Con. (Please take note of all of this TFL, even though the chances of anyone from TFL reading this damn blog post is about as likely as one of their services not being SHIT).

Oh and when you get off the train on The Ginza line, it’s effectively like completing a level in a computer game, as made evident by this:

Uniqlo, made in Japan. So obviously we went to one of their stores…

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Yep that’s 12 floors of Unqlo goodness.  Oh it also had a wall of T-Shirts that were individually framed:

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There are many different convenience stores around Japan, Family Mart, 7 Eleven and one that got my attention called Sunkus. Why did it get my attention? Well mainly because it’s logo was the letter “K” with shoes, hat and a massive erection:

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Akihabara, for some ungodly reason I don’t have a massive selection of pictures to show off this mecca for nerds. It’s effectively a street of Forbidden Planets. The shops are generally 7 floors tall full of, dvd’s, comics, mangas, books, Anime, figures and wrongness. “Wrongness Sam? Whatever do you mean?”…
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Our trip was fuelled by one of our friends who had already been to Japan, recommending places plus we had a ‘Guide To Japan’ book that mentioned a bunch of places to check out. One such place was called, “The Warrior Celt”, little did we know that this one place would turn out to be one of the best things about Japan, but before I get to that, a little story of our adventure finding it.

See we had an address for it from the guide book, however this is when we learned that the Japanese address system is pretty fucking messy, to the point that even locals have issues understanding it. We had spent the entire day exploring and wandering around on our feet and we wanted to end the day with a few pints. We ventured around aimlessly looking for this place, asking people if they knew where it was.
At one point on the verge of giving up and just going to any bar my mates hung back whilst I ventured down a street to see if I could find it. Upon my arrival back to them, they had been befriended by a group of locals who were drinking outside a bar/restaurant. They spoke English and had bought us a round of Beers, they all got their phones out to help us locate the bar we were looking for, we honestly felt like giving up on that bar and staying there instead.  However two of them had to go and the other two said they’d take us to the Celt. Upon finally arriving we noticed that it was basically a pub (although how we didn’t gather that from the name I don’t know).

We had finally made it! The Warrior Celt. As soon as we arrived we were welcomed by the owner of the place, Andy. Formerly of London, he had been living in Japan for over 10 years now and was pretty happy to see fellow Londoners. Not much is remembered from that initial night there which is usually a good sign. Here’s a picture from that evening.

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I’m going to be the first to point out the fact that there is only ONE Japanese person in this picture. The dude on right of me is an English Teacher who told us how he came to the Celt on the day he decided to leave Japan and go back home, then he meant Andy (on his right) and they became best friends, that was 12 years ago.

The Celt also had a barmaid who I pretty much fell in love with, although I don’t know how my mate found out…..
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This of course then spurred my mate to do the obvious thing and tell every single person in the bar including the barmaid about this fact. This would have been more awkward if I wasn’t so merry of course. “But Sam, just talk to her and tell her you like her, it always works in the movies” I hear you all shout at your monitors like idiots. Well no, life isn’t like a movie, if it were, I’d be dead by now, why? Because I’m brown and therefore a terrorist AND I’m English and in the eye’s of America that’ll make me evil as well! A BROWN BRITISH GUY! That’s just asking for trouble! Plus I really am rubbish at chatting up girls….actually to say I’m rubbish would give the impression that I at least attempt to do so, in reality I lack the confidence to do so to begin with.
Needless to say we had an amazing time at this place, which was a mix of expats and locals. The owner Andy sorting us out with numerous amounts of alcohol, and general good times. Our 2nd visit to the bar wasn’t exactly what you’d call a quiet one:

For those wondering if I ever did talk to that barmaid, I eventually made a joke and she laughed. I took that as a victory and thus ends the story of the barmaid.

We didn’t just stay in Tokyo, we did in fact venture out to other cities. The first place we visited? Kyoto. Now Japan is a pretty big country and to travel to the more far off locations we’d have to use the awesome and famous, bullet trains. These beast trains could travel up to 275mph. Now we were lucky enough to be able to purchase something called a Japan Rail Pass (Highly recommended for anyone travelling to Japan with the desire to see more than one major city). We purchased one for a week which cost us about £184, the funny thing is that these passes are only available to tourist, so locals cannot purchase them. The fact that they give you the ability to have unlimited usage of the Japan Rail line, it’s a pretty awesome deal. Oh and you generally get an allocated seat, as for the leg room:
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Generous no? The Journey was about 2 hours or so, not bad. “So Kyoto, what’s there Sam?” Well…..

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Yep, Kyoto is home to the Headquarters for Nintendo, unfortunately it’s not really a place you can go visit. It’s literally a big white building with “Nintendo” on it. You can’t enter it and you’ll probably get thrashed with sticks by the guards there. Of course we didn’t just go to Kyoto to not visit Nintendo, we also went there to check out the numerous temples.

We decided to join a tour group of the local temples because that would be a whole lot easier than doing it ourselves and risking us desecrating some sort of shrine like a bunch of bumbling idiots. You could tell that we were in the city of Nintendo though, because of the “Flag” our tour guide used:

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Now I took some pretty awesome pictures of these temples but I don’t want to fill up this post of them, instead here’s a link to an album full of them:

https://picasaweb.google.com/105649126595079509447/Japan?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCO2p3bP4naec0QE&feat=directlink

One Buddhist temple we visited, Kiyomizu-dera had a rather interesting attraction, part of the Jishu Shrine (A Shrine for those praying for good fortune in love.) were two stones 20 feet apart. The idea is that if you touch one and then walk to the other with your eyes closed, and make it to the other one, you’ll have good fortune in love. I opted not to take part in doing this as clearly my love life does not require it…………but mainly because I didn’t want to trip up and fall on my face.

There was also some random mini waterfall thing that if you drink from, you get some sort of special powers….or luck, wasn’t really paying attention during that part of the tour.

After Kyoto we headed to Nara to check out yet another temple and this one was pretty special mainly because it was overrun with DEERS!

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I like how the board shows off the moveset of the Deer, like some sort of Pokemon info card! Knock Down, looks especially effective. Now the deer aren’t just there to attack old ladies and young girls and shit everywhere, no. You can also purchase crackers to feed them, however these are specially trained deer:

After Nara, we headed to Osaka. Now our journey to Osaka required a brief train journey and then blindly wandering around trying to find the hostel we had booked. We must have walked around for close to 2 hours trying to find it. Eventually we asked an old man who owned a restaurant for help, he kindly brought us into his building as he pulled out a map of the area and tried to locate the hostel.  He even called the hostel to ask them about their location. He then drew us a map and we set off, as we turned into the road that lead to the hostel we heard the old man shout to us, he rode past on a bike and stopped in front of the hostel, he actually checked the route to make sure we made it there which was so amazingly kind of him. So finally we had reached our hostel:

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This hostel was pretty damn awesome and I recommend it to anyone looking for a short stay in Osaka. By the time we arrived here it was about 11pm. We checked in and dumped our bags in our room and basically chilled in the common room. Oh the common room! Amazing:

PANO_20130417_232845It had such a chilled atmosphere, chilled jazz/hip hop would play in the background, comfy chairs that you sink into and of course WiFi. All fatigue and tiredness I had, turned into relaxed chilled mood. My two mates left for sleep and I was still chilling in there till about 2am.
In the morning we ventured off to different parts of the hostel looking for a shower, my mate couldn’t find one on our floor and checked out the floor below to find one and find one he did, except his shower came with instructions:

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I on the other hand noticed a small entrance to a shower literally next to our room it was rather big, so much so that I had to mention it in the hostel’s guest book:
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After we bid farewell to this magical place we ventured around to see what Osaka had to offer…..

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Yeeeeeah. We ventured around a place in Osaka called, America Mura which is as you can imagine is rather western. People here are all trendy and different, kinda like Camden but without loads of goths wearing shoes that are 15ft tall.

HERE IS AN IMPRESSIVE PANORAMIC PICTURE OF THE AREA (Sometimes it’s fun to shout)
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Neko, is a word that’s not linked to necrophilia, but in fact means “Cat” in Japanese. Cats are well loved in Japan, so much so that you can actually go to a place FULL of cats and you can feed them and play with them and roll around on the floor screaming with glee with them. These  places are called, Cat Cafés. Before you call PETA, you don’t actually eat cats here…..
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No seriously you don’t. You basically get a little pot with cut up chicken in it and an hour to basically feed the kitties whilst playing with them and shit. We must have went at the wrong time of the day, as the majority of them were all sleeping like lazy fucks.

IMG_20130418_163327I haven’t seen this much lazy pussy since….nevermind.

It was a cool experience I guess, but at the end of the day it was just a room full of cats, most of which were sleeping. Oh but at least I got to wear these swaggerific sleepers.

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After leaving the Cat Café we headed back to Tokyo. We wanted to head to a place called Odaiba in Tokyo, why did we want to go there? Well because it has THIS:

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That’s right it’s a full scale replica of a Gundum.

Boozing! Most people have a kebab or something before going out on the lash! However when in Japan….

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We went to a park that had this:

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This was apparently the Forest Of Lovers, here’s a video of me being confused by it:

We’re getting to the end of this particular post now and thank god for it. Writing this damn post has been an absolute chore! Trying to remember when we did stuff using the photo’s on my phone as a reminder of some sorts. If this post convinces anyone reading this to visit Japan, then yay! Anyway I’ll leave you with this single image that’ll sums up Japan for me!

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One response »

  1. Vince Kwiatkowski says:

    Excellent blog post on the country I also would love to visit one day.

    Very quirky and well presented, some of the places seem interesting and is a good general guide to certain confusions in Japan. Nevertheless, every culture seem to have their way of doing things, I wonder how your blog post would have looked like had you been a tourist in coming here to London.

    Keep up the good work my friend.

    Vince K.

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