(This post I’m experimenting with larger photos)
We arrived in Japan a day late – I had a little brain-fart about the time our flight was supposed to leave Seoul. We got here and I was dying to see Shinjuku at night, so we dropped our stuff at K’s House Hostel and got on the subway. So, the subway…woah. The map of the underground looks like multicolored spaghetti and there are at least 3 different companies. Each time you change companies, it’s not a transfer anymore, it’s a new ticket or fare.
We finally got to Shinjuku – it was so overwhelming we just walked around and looked. So much neon! And guys with big hair.
The next day we weren’t sure what to do and before we had a chance to figure it out, a guy we had been chatting to mentioned he was going to Odaiba to find an 18 meter (59 foot) high robot. How could we resist? We got there and wandered around looking for it. It was ridiculous that we couldn’t find it – I mean we found the Tokota Mega Web building (with indoor test-driving track), the aquarium, the ferris wheel, and the giant Statue of Liberty. We eventually found it and it was amazing!
Our hostel didn’t have any availability for the next night, so we decided it was as good a time as any to take a day trip out of town. We decided on Nikko, so the next morning we did a quick tour of the Sensoji Temple in our neighborhood (Asakusa) and then got on the train for Nikko.
Our guesthouse was a family house with a Kendo academy connected to it. They also had a second floor with rooms to let; we chose a Japanese style one. The owners didn’t speak much English, so we messed up a few times on the removing/replacing shoes (new ones for the bathroom, take them off before going into your room, etc.). In general, it was a nice place – if a little far from town.
We checked the weather and it was supposed to be rainy, but we didn’t mind that much since it was just temple sightseeing. When we got there, however, the shrines were cast in a beautiful fog and there was no rain!
We walked around the shrines all day and even took an impromptu hike behind one of them (stairs! How could we resist). We were rewarded with teeny headless statues (about 10 inches tall):
After that hike, we proceeded to walk another kilometer or so to see the Jizo statues, said to be uncountable (seriously though, there are like 50 of them, not exactly uncountable).
After Nikko, we went back to Tokyo for a few days to see more of the city before our big trip south on the Japan Rail. In Tokyo, we managed to stay at the same hostel, K’s House, which we’ve found comfortable and the staff is extremely helpful.
Our first day back, we met up with an American guy Jacob met at the Juggler’s Rest hostel in New Zealand. David was really nice and speaks Japanese fluently. He took us out to his neighborhood and then to Shinjuku for drinks.
The next day we went to Akihabara, the place known for its electronics. We were expecting something like the elctronics neighborhood in Seoul: expansive and maze-like. But this being Japan, everything was up! You had to go inside and to the 8th floor for cameras, to another building and to the 3rd floor for computers. The only thing on the street really was people selling lights…
We found ourselves bored of it quickly, so we wandered the alleys where we found MAIDS! Girls dressed like maids advertising for “maid cafes”. We couldn’t resist, so we went in one. It was the most adorable and awkward place ever. The girls are sweet and do a little song to make your drink “sweeter” and they chat with you. Unfortunately we couldn’t take photos inside, so here’s a maid on the street handing out flyers:
The next day, Jacob and I split up – I went shopping in Harajuku and to the Meiji Shrine and he was going to go to a Go club, but couldn’t find it. Fodor’s says Harajuku is totally skippable and I see why – it’s not for the Fodor’s crowd. It’s jam-packed with teenagers shopping for Engrish shirts and frilly outfits. I loved it and even bought a shirt that says “Chips fall where they may. GIVEN! Allurement everlasting. Candy joy, destination since 1982. Flavor of cinnamon. You should be so lucky.”
The Meiji Shrine is right in town, but it’s a forest, so you can’t hear or see any of the city from inside. The shrine was beautiful but my favorite part was the wedding taking place. Here’s the bride:
Next up: Hiroshima for the 4th of July?