Busy day today, with ups, downs, and a Krispy Kreme sighting.
I started off at 9:30 by running to Ikebukuro to buy a suitcase. Ugh. But I did find one. It’s not the best one I could find, but it was the right mix of cheap and not too shabby.
Then breakfast, which was more department store food. I love the depachika. (Depachika is Japanese for the basement, or bottom, so chika, of the department store, or depaato. So depachika.)
After that, I ran to Akasaka to meet up with Peter Galante, the host of japanesepod101.com’s many podcasts. I really like the podcasts, and it helped me a lot in getting ready for my trip here. I highly recommend the survival lessons. Especially the ones about trains and buses. Seriously. Don’t underestimate the importance of understanding the mass transit system here, because otherwise you’ll wind up like that poor lost Norwegian guy, adrift in Shinjuku.
You’ll probably feel overwhelmed and confused the first time you get here, anyway. No need to add to it.
It was fun meeting Peter, and I appreciate his listening to me ramble for 40 minutes. Sorry about that, Peter. I’m not always that talkative.
No, really, I’m not.
After that, it was back to Akihabara to raid some more shops. If you’re a nerd, you need to go to Akihabara, and be prepared to spend money. Of course, spending money implies buying things, and buying things implies carrying them around with you. If you live somewhere like New York City, you know this already. If you’re like me, and you live in the suburbs, then you need to consider it. I’m used to buying things, and putting them into my car. So I can buy a lot of heavy stuff without much thought. (Not that I do it often, but I do it.)
I went with my trusty backpack, which my girlfriend gave me before I went off to grad school. It has a lot of nice memories attached to it, but it has one little problem. Not to gross people out, but it makes my back sweat. And back sweat is probably one of the least appealing things you can show when wearing a charcoal gray shirt.
If you’re buying crap, consider your carrying strategies.
I raided Yodobashi Camera’s big store in Akihabara again. I found some nice game-related books there… so much data, it makes me want to cry when I look at the U.S. books.
After that, I went to Gamers’, and bought more manga there. There are sooo many good series over here that either haven’t or won’t come to the U.S. anytime soon. Then I spent the rest of the afternoon wandering in and out of various stores, browsing. If I did live here, I’d have a serious space problem, because I’d have a house full of gadgets and books.
But no Hello Kitty robots.
Hot Doughnuts, Hot Doughnuts!
By around 4 or so, I was exhausted. So I headed back to Shinjuku before the crowds on the trains got out of hand. I took a break, rested up, started going through all of my receipts for Customs (ugh), and then decided to go to Tokyo Cityview in Roppongi for evening fun.
On the way there, I decided to stop at Kinokuniya to try to hunt down a few novels again. (Last time was a miserable failure.) So I got there at 7:50…. just as they were about to close at 8.
Seriously, can’t I get a break?
I did see something interesting on the way– a Krispy Kreme. In Shinjuku. Not 100 meters from my hotel. And the Hot Doughnuts Now sign was lit. But the line was not only out the door, it wrapped all over itself about 5 times. No hot doughnuts for me. But I did have a nice warm fuzzy feeling seeing it, and the thought of Krispy Kreme in Japan just made me laugh out loud. People looked at me funny, but I’m used to it.
Is that… a Krispy Kreme?
OMG It IS! Look at that line! And the Hot Doughnuts Now sign is lit!
Mmm… Hot Doughnuts… sadly, no time to stand in line!
Some shots of JR Shinjuku from the bridge to Takashimaya and Kinokunia:
Christmas Lights at Tahashimaya:
Then it was off to Roppongi. And I finally figured out what made my headache on Sunday worse– the Oedo line. Seriously, it’s the loudest subway line in the world. It screams and groans like an angry rusted giant robot who hasn’t been oiled in 1,000 years trying to run across Tokyo.
By the time I got to Roppongi, I was feeling icky again, so I looked around a little, and wisely cut my trip short. It’s not going anywhere. I’ll catch it next time.
I took a few photos.
Tokyo Tower from Roppongi Hills:
Back to Shinjuku
Then it was back to the conbini, then the hotel. Now I need to finish packing and get ready to head home tomorrow.
I’ve had a great time in Japan. It hasn’t always been easy. In fact, there were some frustrating times, some hard times, and some times I just wanted to go home. But those times tended to pass, and the more I stayed here, the more I loved it here.
When I travel, I like to have “Wow!” experiences. I usually consider myself lucky if I have one or two. I had so many on this trip, I lost count.
I highly recommend coming to Japan, but not just planting your butt in Tokyo. Yes, Tokyo is great, but Tokyo isn’t Japan. Japan is a big country with a wide range of regional variation, and a lot of interesting cities, both big and small. Just going to Tokyo to judge Japan is like just going to NYC to judge the U.S. What about the Grand Canyon? Or … well, there’s a lot of other stuff out there. I’m tired.
When I get back home, I’ll sort out my thoughts properly, and post them on the blog.