Day 2 – Recon Ginza and Tokyo Station
I’m getting more and more lazy so these posts are going to get pretty terse.
Woke up at around 7ish and decided to get ready. I was starving so I decided to go to the convenience store next door and grab some melon-pan filled with cream and custard. Delicious.
Before heading off, I decided to read my entire Japanese Phrasebook and bookmark important phrases. Took about an hour and a half to finish it off and mark off the most important phrases, including,
I don’t speak Japanese
Where’s the toilet?
Anyways, after that, I spent another 30 minutes reading up my travel guide about the Ginza and Tokyo Station area and then I set off.
Luckily, the weather was perfect in the morning. I decided to walk it to the Ginza district and explore the neighborhood. As it turns out, the Ginza District isn’t all that interesting. It’s basically the 5th Ave of Tokyo. Tons of high-rise, high-priced stores, with the likes of Gucci and friends easily filling out the entire district. There are also lots of large chain restaurants and expensive cafes seeding the area.
The one thing that Ginza does have plenty of are art museums. If you’re into that kinda thing, I would recommend stepping into Gallery Koyanagi and Tokyo Gallery.
I made it to the end of the main Ginza strip and decided to make my way to Tokyo Station so that I can hitch a ride on the Yamanote Line and survey the entire city.
It’s about 1100 and, by now, the temperature has kicked it up a notch. Despite the fact that there’s A/C on the trains, they’re surprisingly weak. I suppose the lack of electrical power due to the nuclear accident in 2011 has forced everyone to run everything on low.
I decided to board the Yamanote Line from Track 5, which sent the train in the clockwise direction. The train got super packed since Tokyo Station is where all the bullet trains launch from, so I stood for about two stops. It finally cleared out by Shinagawa and I grabbed a seat. At every single major stop, I tried to observe the surroundings.
I don’t remember anything really specific about the trip except that Ikebukuro and Shinjuku are a hella busy. The train filled out almost immediately at those two stations.
So apparently, if you enter and exit to and from the same station, your PASMO card goes bat-shit crazy. In fact, don’t exit and then enter the same station either. I had to talk to the train officers to get my PASMO card fixed.
Marunouchi (Tokyo Station)
Anyways, I was starving because it was around 1300. I decided to jump into some random Japanese food place and it turned out to be the most amazing Japanese lunch ever. I bought some sort of lunch package where they serve rice, grilled bbq chicken, fried something, some vegetables, miso soup, and some sort of sour fruit or something. Costed about 1000 yen. Even though it was probably normal by Japanese standards, in America that lunch would’ve costed me double what I paid.
After that, I began wandering south until I ran into the huge Bic Camera store.
So, this electronics store is approximately 6 floors of loud, whizzing electronics with two basement floors for whatever home appliances. Any device that consumes electricity is probably sold here. Oddly enough, the place didn’t have as many video games as I would’ve imagined. I suppose that Akihabara fills that market well enough.
Some random store-girl came up to me and started rapid-firing some Japanese in my face and I’m like,
I don’t speak Japanese
And she’s like,
Ohhhh, no Japanese? English?
And then she literally turned around and ran. Fast.
At that point, I’m like,
OK, going to see if I can make my way out of here before she calls reinforcements and forces me to buy a PSVita
After perusing the store for an hour, I made my way to the exit.
On the way out of Bic Camera, wouldn’t ya know, I ran into that Japanese-English teacher that I met on the plane and her husband out of sheer coincidence. We literally passed right by one another and then, about 2 seconds later, we both stopped, turned around, and spotted one another.
Turns out, they needed to get some chores done at Bic Camera so they ended up going there right after lunch. We chatted it up for about 20 minutes and then exchanged email addresses so that we could link up in NYC later in life.
After parting with the married couple, I roamed into Hibiya park which was having some sort of festival. Since it was like 86 degrees outside, I decided to spend all of 10 minutes looking around. Nothing was going on.
Hmm, it was only 1500 and I didn’t wanna return to the station or explore more of Tokyo Station, so I’m like,
Fuck it. Let’s go to Akihabara and do some preliminary recon
Preliminary Akihabara Recon
I arrived in Akihabara via the Yamanote line without borking my PASMO card this time. I followed all the exits towards the “Akihabara Electric Town”. Seriously, that’s what it’s called.
Once I stepped out, I walked towards the main strip, which was a half a kilometer long. The main road was completely blocked off to traffic, so crowds filled the street area.
Right after I took that photo, I was like,
OMG, there’s the Animate store! I gotta see what this store is all about. It’s only mentioned in about 50% of every slice-of-life anime
There were about 6 or 7 floors of assorted anime paraphernalia, and none of it sparked my interest. Well, I did take a billion photos of the merchandise, but I’m not actually a collector. Besides, I can’t read Japanese and I don’t wanna have to worry about hauling stuff back to the States in my suitcase. I might end up getting some posters or something, but that’s about it.
Furthermore, that shit is expensive. Like, buying the Fate/Zero BD’s is 180000 yen or something insane. Yeah.
At this point, it’s like 1630 and I decide to head back to the hotel and crash because jet lag is a bitch.
Day 3 is far more exciting, which I’ll write about later. It includes a cat cafe, a maid cafe, shrines, and more Akihabara exploration.
It’s actually Day 4 now, so Shinjuku is on the agenda for today.