The Christmas Lights Of Hiroshima

One of the unexpected memories from my recent trip to Japan was the Christmas Lights of Hiroshima

One of the unexpected memories from my recent trip to Japan was the Christmas Lights of Hiroshima, they were absolutely stunning. Just click the play button in the image below to see them.

Once I sync my laptops I will share some photos from this trip.

The Christmas Lights Of Tokyo

One unexpected surprise during my trip to Japan 日本 has been the wonderful displays of Christmas lights in each city. So far I have taken videos of the Christmas lights of Tokyo 東京, Osaka and Hiroshima. You can see all of the videos from the various cities RIGHT HERE.

To be honest I hadn’t expected to film Christmas lights (クリスマスのあかり) in Japan, but I was like a kid in a candy store. I’m an Englishman who lives in New York and over the years all of my family has passed away, so Christmas isn’t really an event that I celebrate. However, being in Japan made me feel like a kid again. Just click the play button in the video below.

In the video above I went to Roppongi Hills ( 六本木ヒルズ ) in Tokyo and also visited the Mohri Garden. As you will see in the images below, the display is stunning.

Young Love…

Senso-Ji In Tokyo – Video

Here is the first of many posts from my 2020/21 trip to Japan. In this first video I go to Senso-Ji on the first morning

Here is the first of many posts from my 2019/20 trip to Japan. In this first video I go to Senso-Ji on the first morning attempting to catch the Temple at sunrise. Unfortunately the light just went from dark to light without much of a sunrise, but the video does show Senso-Ji without all of the crowds.

Click the center of the image below to start the video.

Here are some images from the day.

Edo Castle In Tokyo

First of all I wrote about my journey to Tokyo (LINK), which I then followed up with two posts about the Naruko Tenjin Shrine (POST 1) and (POST 2). For the fourth post I skipped ahead

First of all I wrote about my journey to Tokyo (LINK), which I then followed up with two posts about the Naruko Tenjin Shrine (POST 1) and (POST 2). For the fourth post I skipped ahead and talked about watching the punk idol band, BiSH twice while I was in Tokyo (LINK).

So now I will go back to chronological order and cover my first trip into Tokyo on my fourth day. Now that may seem strange but on days two and three I attended Rockabilly shows so the first weekend was tied up taking it easy after the journey and then partying for two nights.

On the first Monday I headed into the center of Tokyo to pay a visit to Edo Castle and the Imperial palace. Now on the journey there I did get a good laugh. From my knowledge of Japanese culture tattoos are frowned upon, especially by the older generation. On the subway to Otemachi I kept checking the on board map, obviously the system is new to me as is the city. Two stops before my destination an older man asked me if I needed help, I was okay so I thanked him for his offer and then he pointed at my arm and said “Elvis Presley”.

My experience to this point had been virtually everyone avoiding eye contact with me with people staring out of the corner of their eyes. Other than the children, they are quite happy to stare full on to the bald headed tattooed man 🙂 So I was delighted that someone made contact with me, but at the same part annoyed because I was getting off in one more stop.

The day was gorgeous, it was the middle of November and it was 72 degrees. I did film a few clips that I might splice together, but at the time I hadn’t really planned to do any filming. My first port of call after viewing the opening garden was to try and find a drink. With it being a nice day combined with the fact that I have throat problems, I needed to make sure that I had some liquid. Fortunately there was a little hut with a vending machine and I noticed some coffee. Now I don’t really like cold coffee but I did want some caffeine, so coffee it was. Imagine my surprise when the can of coffee came out nice and hot.

Yes, hot coffee from a vending machine. Now I was set for my journey.

In the second picture in this post I am taking a selfie in front of some old soldiers barracks. Before I did that I stood patiently awaiting my turn at the gate as a fellow American took 600 or so photos. Then he did something that made my mouth open, as if he hadn’t taken enough photos with his $1,000 camera, the guy then steps over the gate with the clear sign in English on it saying “Please do not enter beyond here”. It took a few seconds as he walked in the restricted area when he caught sight of me, took more pics then stepped in the flower bed and bent the bush back at the side of the gate.

The first thought that entered my mind was the thoughts of the Japanese people nearby, this dude just single-handedly put all of us tourists in the ugly American boat. I was able to capture some great photos with my $200 digital camera, so I know damn well that his could capture dust if it really wanted to. So disrespectful.

So I didn’t make it all the way to the Imperial palace, the activities the night before caught up to me. But I walked and walked and walked, even paying 500 Yen to enter a garden that I had no intention of seeing, lol. It was nice to look at though.

As I left I decided to take one more selfie, and I’m so glad that I did. This selfie with the Ote-Mon gate behind me beyond the moat became my go to profile pic on all of my social media platforms.

Up next, Shibuya.

Watching BiSH In Tokyo

Even to this day it confuses me, I love the punk band without instruments, BiSH. Why does it confuse me you ask? It is quite simple really, my musical proclivities revolve around 1950’s Rock and Roll and Rockabilly

Even to this day it confuses me, I love the punk band without instruments, BiSH.

Why does it confuse me you ask? It is quite simple really, my musical proclivities revolve around 1950’s Rock and Roll and Rockabilly, and of course the genres that spawn off of that. Bluegrass, Honky Tonk, old time Rhythm and Blues, Western Swing, Jump Blues, Skiffle, Jug Band etc; Ever since I was a kid I have stuck to those styles of music with a healthy dose of classical music when I want to relax.

Why all of a sudden at 55 years old am I flying on a 13,000 mile round trip to go and see a relatively small Japanese band with a passionate fan base? Let me point out that when I planned my trip last year they were just on the verge of making it big, and since I left Japan they have blown up.

It all started with a Japanese cover band of Sony musicians who performed live on Youtube once a month. They are a band of really talented musicians and singers with amazing voices and they are a joy to watch. One of the group members, Manami, did a solo version of the following song. Unfortunately you are not allowed to embed the video on external sites.

As I do with a lot of covers that the band perform, I like to check out the original artist as well. In the comment section there were a lot of BiSH fans professing their love for the band so I figured I would check them out. Of course the first video that I wanted to see was the song ‘Orchestra’ as was performed by Manami. This was the first song by BiSH that I watched, and again, because it is uploaded in Japan, I can only post a link and not embed the video. BiSH – Orchestra.

Now to be honest with you there was a perfect mix that happened in the video above that initially drew me to the band. First of all it was the violin orchestra backing them, the rock opera feel is always something to get my attention. Secondly, the voice of the second girl to sing in the video really captured me, this isn’t just a manufactured pop band, this girl can actually sing. You will hear more about AiNA THE END soon. Lastly, I think that it was the combination of what I was seeing in the video, the girls sweating profusely, the crowd interaction and the expression’s on the faces of the singers. Normally I take a one and done approach to new musical acts, but these guys I wanted to see more of.

So perhaps I was fortunate with the concert footage that I followed up watching of BiSH. Copious use of the middle finger, girls stage diving, screaming, sweating, crying, and the audience going mental totally hooked me. I will be honest though, without the vocals of AiNA THE END I’m not sure if they would have been anything more than a passing phase, but this girl can sing with the best of them. In Japan they call her Husky Voice, in America we would say that she has soul. Here is my favorite solo song from her and again, because it is Japan you can’t embed the video, but just follow the link to hear this girl sing. AINA THE END ACOUSTIC. AiNA is also the choreographer for the band and creates all of their dance routines.

If I wasn’t able to see the band perform as a group, I would have gone out of my way to watch AiNA perform solo. In fact I will state it right now, at some point in the future when the band is no longer, I will make the trek to Japan just to watch AiNA perform solo. However I was able to get a ticket for two shows in Tokyo last year through a third party, and while I paid double the face value for each ticket I have no complaints. I’ve had to edit the ticket as I don’t wish to get anyone in trouble, this is a fan club ticket after all.

The more that I watched them the more that I began to enjoy the interpersonal interactions between the band members. Let me just add that I speak next to no Japanese, I survive using rough translations but for the most part it is the visual concept that I enjoy. Most of the band are in their mid to late 20’s, with the two youngest members, AYUNi D and LiNG LiNG being 19 and 21 respectively. So starting with them I totally adore the way that they interact with each other. To start with they were always fighting and needling one another, but as time goes on you can see that they are really affectionate towards each other. The other pairings that stand out and appear more of a big sister thing feature founding member AiNA THE END and LiNG LiNG, and also founding member Cent Chihiro Chittiii and AYUNi D.

All of the photos shown in this post were taken by me at both of the concerts that I went to. It was a one off event as I felt that I would not have a chance to see the band perform again. Now, the third party ticket prices for the upcoming tour are four times the face value due to their success, but I am hoping that when I arrive in Japan that I can hopefully find a ticket re-seller in either Tokyo or Hiroshima as I will be in each city for two concerts in each city. I feel pretty sure that I might be able to pick one up in Tokyo.

I’m not going to lie, half of the 200 or so photos that I took are of AiNA THE END ( アイナ・ジ・エンド)
AiNA THE END ( アイナ・ジ・エンド )
This one is right up there as one of my favorite photos that I took, this one featuring the band captain, CENT ChiHiRO CHiTTiii ( セントチヒロ・チッチ ) . Pronounced Chitchi.
CENT ChiHiRO CHiTTiii ( セントチヒロ・チッチ )

When BiSH perform, and it is another reason that I like them, they play for over two hours at every concert that they do on their own tours. I’m a working man so to see a band give you your money’s worth is always something that I appreciate. During the concerts there are normally at least two breaks, and this isn’t just based on the concerts that I went to, I also have many of their concerts on DVD that I purchased in Japan.

One of the breaks is normally a comedy routine conducted by Hashiyasume Atsuko ( ハシヤスメ・アツコ ) , and the other is when one of the girls addresses the audience as the others stand by patiently. One assumes that they are thanking the audience during this time and telling a personal tale. Other than the fact that you have nobody to talk to during the pre show, the concert and the post show, this is the only time where it sucks not to understand Japanese. I stand there and watch and hope to pick up one word here or there to give me some idea as to what the topic might be.

With that said, the following interaction needed no translation as during the first concert that I saw it was LiNG LiNG’s ( リンリン ) turn to speak to the audience.

As I have learned during my time following the band, one thing is as clear as day, LiNG LiNG is painfully quiet. Even when she does speak it is little more than a whisper. LiNG LiNG has written some of the most bizarre songs for the band, full of dark thoughts, and many times when the band is doing an interview she seems totally distant. To give you an idea of LiNG LiNG, just seeing a pigeon will make her cry as she has a phobia of flying creatures. Funnily enough though she loves insects.

Anyway, she started to address the audience with a really shaky voice until AiNA THE END asked her something that LiNG LiNG agreed with. One only assumes that AiNA asked her if she needed support. What makes this photo special to me is that all of the other girls find it highly amusing that she needed to hold onto AiNA, but that is AiNA to a tee. For a society where personal body contact is frowned upon, any time that one of the girls cries you will notice something straight away, AiNA THE END is the very first one to embrace them in a hug.

The final concerts images that I will share for now, and remember I have 100’s of them, are of the band member, AYUNi D ( アユニ・D ) . Now she isn’t my personal favorite, however there is no denying what she has brought to the table when she joined the band as a 16 year old in 2016. Her cuteness factor brought in a new wave of fans, which is kind of funny because I read in an interview with her that when she auditioned she couldn’t believe how cute the other girls were.

This is a girl who worked part time in a gas station before she became a singer, and to the trained eye there is something endearing about her that you can’t exactly put your finger on. There are certain tics that she has and during interviews she is as bashful as can be, even to a point that she will genuinely blush even in a worked interview. While I gravitate to AiNA THE END and LiNG LiNG, I can understand why people love AYUNi D so much. There was one thing very apparent during the concerts that I saw, and that is when AYUNi D does her solo pieces the crowd goes absolutely bananas. The BiSH fans love her.

This image is AiNA THE END again.

Now before I close this post for now, if anyone in Japan has a spare ticket for either of the Hiroshima shows in November, or the two Tokyo shows at the end of November or beginning of December, please feel free to let me know, I will happily pay twice the face value for a ticket.

At the time that I went to Japan I thought that it was a one off event, so while I was there I made sure to pick up some merchandise. Not only did I buy every concert DVD but I also stocked up on various trinkets including a Hello Kitty BiSH set that I bought at a second hand store. In fact it was easy for me to shop at a second hand store to buy merchandise rather than try to locate the actual places where I could find the items. I was even lucky enough to win three plush toys on a crane game. This is just a partial showing of the merchandise that I picked up in Tokyo. Since last year there are already two new DVD concerts with more than likely a third being released before I arrive this year, and there are two visual books that are new as well. One is of back stage photos from all of the four bands that the parent company owns, and the latest one which is at the top of my list of items to buy in Japan, and that is an illustration book entitled ALTERNATiVE SiDE of SUSHiO. That book is a must have for my collection.

These are just some of the items in my collection of BiSH merchandise that I picked up last year in Tokyo.

Two LiNG LiNG’s and one CENT CHiHiRO CHiTTiii

The Statues Of Naruko Tenjin Shrine

Founded in the year 903, like most of Tokyo the shrine is a post war reconstruction. The bombing of Tokyo during World War 2 leveled 16 square miles of the city and therefore most of what you see in Tokyo today is a reconstruction

Founded in the year 903, like most of Tokyo the shrine is a post war reconstruction. The bombing of Tokyo during World War 2 leveled 16 square miles of the city and therefore most of what you see in Tokyo today is a reconstruction. On the outskirts of Tokyo you are likely to find some original architecture dating as far back as the 13th century. Aside from the war, Tokyo also suffered from the 8.3 Great Kanto earthquake in 1923 which likewise destroyed much of the city.

Naruko Tenjin Shrine – Tokyo

In November of 2018 I made my first trip to Japan, and as I will be returning to Japan in November of 2019 I thought that I would start to share my photos from the 2018 trip

In November of 2018 I made my first trip to Japan, and as I will be returning to Japan in November of 2019 I thought that I would start to share my photos from the 2018 trip.

In 2018 I had yet to start vlogging so I took very little video footage while I was there, but this year I am going for 30 days and I will be filming every day that I am there. Also, my 2018 trip was focused on Tokyo, whereas my 2019 trip is going to be to Tokyo, Hiroshima, Osaka, Kyoto and Kanazawa, with day trips to Nara, Chiba and Yokohama amongst others.

After a 14 hour plane journey and then a horrible navigation of the Tokyo subway system during rush hour with all of my luggage, I made it to my hotel with enough time to have my first 7-11 Conbini food trip. It was much needed because I had been stood in Shinjuku train station for about half an hour, completely lost looking for my subway line. You know how they say that if you look lost in Tokyo that someone will help you within minutes? Not so much if you are a heavily tattooed Englishman with a white goatee 🙂

Before we get onto the shrine let me just mention something about Conbini food. These are convenience stores that are all over Tokyo (in fact I am sure they are all over Japan) where you can get some food and drink on the cheap. While I would highly recommend eating at a local Japanese owned restaurant when you can as the food is incredible, if you are there on a budget then Conbini’s are an absolute must. For breakfast you can pick up your morning coffee, perhaps a pastry and an onigiri or two for less than five bucks. The coffee was a bit of a letdown to an Englishman living in New York, after all I am used to a nice big 16 ounces to start the day, but thankfully there was a Tully’s nearby.

The same goes for dinner, virtually everything in the Conbini’s (7-11, Family Mart, Lawson’s) is not only fresh, but it is delicious as well. It’s as cheap as chips to pick up a gorgeous salad, an onigiri, a desert and a drink and still have change left over from 1,000 yen ($10). The sixteen nights that I was in Tokyo, at least ten of them involved dinner from a Conbini, every breakfast was taken there, and any other snacks that I needed I got from the 7-11 next door. My next trip to Japan is going to be for 30 days, the amount that I will save by eating from a Conbini will be scandalous. Trust me when I say this, the food at these establishments is fresh daily and tastes delicious.

The Family Mart haul, the salad is beyond amazing.

Saturday morning at 5am has arrived.

When I found my hotel on Booking the first thing that I did was look for which temples were close by. The Naruko Tenjin Shrine was literally within a 100 meters of the hotel.

This is probably one of the things that is the least known about me, I simply love culture. This is only one of hundreds of shrines, but I spent around 3 hours there studying every artifact, statue and building. Part of the reason that I am going back to Japan in 2019 is that I can never be bored there, it was the best trip that I have ever taken and I have only scratched the surface of what I can see and do in Japan, indeed perhaps for the whole of Asia.

It does suck that as I have lost both of my brothers and both of my parents so I am not able to share any of this with them, but I can share my experience with the world for those who want to enjoy it. It is important to me that people know that while I am suffering right now, there is still a lot to look forward to. Hopefully it will send a positive message to people who are suffering with loss, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.

Fuji-Zuka is a hill that is covered with lava rock from the base of Mount Fuji. It was created to worship Mount Fuji and is itself a scaled down replica of Mount Fuji.

It was trickier to climb that it may appear with nothing to hold onto until the very top.

My Trip To Tokyo Last Year

I’m a lover of the world, different cultures, different history, different people, but I will have to be honest with you, Japan stood out no more than any other country did, it was just another country out of 50 I would have liked to have gone to

My dream in life had always been to go to America. I’m going way back here to when I was a teenager, something that I didn’t think that I would ever be able to do, but in 1985 I managed to live my dream at the age of 22. Two years later I packed a backpack for another 6 month working trip in the States and this time I never left. At 24 years old I had made my dream come true, not only that but I had emigrated to the United States from England.

I’m a lover of the world, different cultures, different history, different people, but I will have to be honest with you, Japan stood out no more than any other country did, it was just another country out of 50 I would have liked to have gone to. In fact if the truth be known, it was perhaps a little lower on the list because it was something that didn’t seem obtainable being that it was so far away.

When the world cup soccer tournament is on you will be hard pressed to find someone as fanatical as me, I pretty much watch every single game whether live or on tape delay. During the world cup in South Africa the Japanese lost to Paraguay on penalties in the round of 16, what happened immediately afterwards drew me instantly to Japan.

As a football fan, especially an Englishman, I know what it is like to lose on penalties. During the post-game wrap up the cameras went into what was left of the crowd, specifically the Japanese fans who remained. The Japanese fans who had remained had pulled out the bags they had brought with them and they started to clean the trash in the stadium. As a lifelong football fan I had never seen anything like this and I was stunned at the kind gesture. It was 2010 and that one gesture turned my attention to Japanese culture and I started to learn about it. Pretty soon thereafter I had another dream in my life, to one day go to Japan.

Early last year I tried to convince my brother to join me on the trip from England, we had already started to plan various trips around the world and Japan was at the top of my list. My brother had no desire to go there though which really pissed me off, lol. Eventually I was able to persuade him to come with me to Japan in 2019 to see the rugby world cup, that really got his interest right up. As you are all aware by now though, my brother died a few months later after we had made those plans.

It’s now been over a year since he died and it is still as painful today as it was back then, I’m not ashamed to admit it that I get depressed frequently over his loss, it is the hardest thing that I have ever had to deal with and it hasn’t got any easier as of yet. There is mostly frustration because we would send each other funny quips and anecdotes every day, and now when one comes up I am stuck with it, I have nobody to share it with. In fact there is a Youtube clip that came out after he had died that would have been something that the two of us would have used for the rest of our days. It would make no sense to anyone, the sentence and the gesture that accompanied it was “How can that, THAT, be that”? But we would have applied that sentence in a hundred different scenarios and laughed our socks off every time. It is so frustrating.

Having experienced the deaths of all of my family now I understand the importance of carrying on. Nothing you can do can change what has happened, you have to keep going forward. A wise man once said to me when my other brother passed away and I didn’t think that I could attend an event. He said to me “You can be sad at home, or you can be sad at the wedding”. He was right, nothing was going to take away from the sadness, you have to keep pushing forward.

Now while my plan was to go to Japan with my brother in 2019, even if he hadn’t have passed away I knew that I was still going to go in 2018 regardless, the urge was too strong and there was so much that I wanted to see and do myself other than watching rugby matches. So once I got back to New York from England after my brothers funeral I started my plans to go to Japan by the end of 2018. It was actually good therapy to have something to look forward to. There were other events that had made me feel a bit bitter on a more personal level, but then you also have to understand that not everyone realizes what you might be dealing with at any given moment. You can only control how you handle things, you can’t control the expectations of others.

My first port of call before I made any travel arrangements was to wait for my favorite Japanese band to release their winter schedule. Now I’m not saying that I went to Japan JUST to see them, but my entire trip was planned around when they were playing. It would take me two pages to explain the Japanese ticketing system, in a condensed form it goes as such. Tickets first go to premium fan club members, then from there it goes down in tiers until any tickets that are left, if there are any, go on general sale. The band that I wanted to see have a passionate fan base and they sell out every show. This was going to be tricky.

Ticket reselling in Japan is hard enough to start with, and as a foreigner it is virtually impossible to obtain tickets as you have to have a Japanese address. There was a contact that I had heard about and after I wrote to the guy he assured me that it will be no problem getting the tickets. Here was the deal though, I had to pay him like $265 in total for a ticket to each of two shows. That was about double the face value per ticket but it was a once in a lifetime chance to see a band that I was never likely to see again. So think about it, I have to send a guy I don’t know in Japan $265, and the tickets are not sent to the owner until a week before the show. That means I won’t even get the tickets until a day or two before the show when I am already in Japan.

It didn’t take me long to work out that my trip itself was going to cost about $3,200 for the flight and hotel, so what was another $265? I sent the guy the money, he replied to me the next day and said that he had secured the tickets for me. The people who had bought the individual tickets were not going to get them until a week before each show so I was clueless as to where I would be sat.

More about the band later but to finish this portion off, not only was the guy who I sent the money to honest and honorable, he even translated the tickets for me and provided me with a note in Japanese on the off chance that security had questions regarding my purchase of the ticket. The note basically said that I was a business colleague and he had purchased a ticket for me, and would they kindly allow me in to enjoy the show. Yes, I paid double the face value, but to say that I got value for money would be an understatement. And the two tickets that I got, for the first show I was in the 13th row and the second show the 21st row, that’s just amazing luck.

So now I have my concert tickets ordered, I booked the time off work and then made my booking plans. I was fortunate enough with Japan Airlines that I caught them at a good time, I was expecting to pay around $1,700 for the round trip ticket but I was able to book one for $1,200, so my total cost for the trip was now $2,700 for the flight and hotel for two weeks. All I have to worry about now prior to my two week vacation was a 14 hour 30 minute flight, about twice the distance that I have ever flown before.

The flight itself was nowhere near as bad as I was expecting, the JAL planes are awesome and I had loaded my iPad up with David Attenborough nature shows. I also watched an awesome Japanese film called ‘One cut of the dead’. If you get a chance to watch it, it is hysterical and it made one thousand times its budget at the Japanese box office. I’m not going to lie though, 12 hours into the flight and I was totally pissed off and bored senseless. The last two and a half hours dragged like crazy.

So now the fun begins, I’ve arrived in Tokyo, I don’t speak the language and I have to make my way to the other side of the city to my hotel having travelled 6,700 miles. It was such a thrilling moment, a combination of excitement and anxiety at the situation I had put myself in.

Now you have to picture me, my head is completely shaven, I have a white goatee the size of an average Japanese person’s face, tattoos all up my arms and I’m about twice the size of your average Japanese person. Airport security didn’t miss me, lol. After I retrieved my bag I was politely pulled aside to be questioned and have my luggage searched. I was slightly irked because I felt I was targeted based on my appearance, but at the same time I am going to be super polite because I have only just arrived on my dream trip.

So now I have gone through immigration, and this is it ladies and gentleman, I am on my own in a foreign country and I don’t speak the language other than a complimentary amount of polite greetings.

The train station is right in the airport so it couldn’t be easier to be honest with you, and there is even a handy smoking room in the airport for those of us who partake in that activity. Still, I have to get on three trains to get to my hotel and it is rush hour. Train one is going to take me into Tokyo, train 2 is going to take me to the main hub where I will get train three for a short ride to the hotel. Did I mention yet that it is rush hour? Perhaps now would also be a good time to let you know that train 2 is taking me to Shinjuku Station, the busiest train station in the world, and I’m going there during rush hour. I think you can see where this is going.

The first subway ride wasn’t so bad, though it was packed by the time I got to where I needed to be. As it is an airport line they make it super easy for you, they pretty much know everyone is transferring to the Yamanote line so the directions are a breeze. So now all I need to do is get to Shinjuku for my last train and I am heading in the right direction, bonus.

Now, have you ever seen those videos where hordes of people are pushed onto Japanese subway cars? I’m heading to the busiest train station in the world and it is rush hour. I can’t really call it a mistake because my alternatives were very limited, I couldn’t control what time the plane got in and I couldn’t control where my hotel was situated, but fuck me dead, you can bet your bottom dollar when I return to Japan later this year I will not be taking this route the second go around!! I’m stifling hot, tired, and anxious and I have a large luggage bag with me, and now it seems like half of Tokyo is trying to pile into the subway car that I am in. It was the absolute worst.

When I got to Shinjuku all I needed to do was find the last subway line. Now I had heard that if you are a foreigner in Japan and you look lost, people there are so kind that they will go out of their way to help you. I’m in Shinjuku station for 20 minutes clueless, as lost as a man could possibly be, and not a single person stopped to assist me, not one, lol. I found one sign pointing in the direction of the train I needed, but it went to a dead end.

Now from here I could walk to the hotel, but it is dark outside and I only really had a general direction as to where to head to. It just seemed logical that my wisest choice was to find the subway. So I did the walk again trying to find out where this sign went, and as usual it would take me to a wall where the same sign is pointing me to go back to where I came from, it was like I was living Midnight Express in person. There was an escalator there going to a different platform but there was no sign for the train I wanted.

Now the train I wanted wasn’t listed on this escalator, but there was nowhere else to go, so after three trips back and forth I decided to go down it. Once I got down a level all had become clear, the sign on the wall that was an arced arrow telling you to go the other direction, was actually an arrow telling you to take the escalator, other than the fact that in reality it told you jack shit, I just lucked out and used my instinct after 20 minutes. Once I went down a level I was able to find an elevator that told me that I needed to go down 4 more levels to get to the train that I wanted. Finally, I am getting somewhere. By the time that I got to the hotel I was dog tired and now I have to wait in line. I tried my best to communicate with the little Japanese that I had, but for the most part we both used signs and gestures but before you know it I had arrived in my room, I considered it a big achievement to get there using local transport.

I’m guessing that it was somewhere around 7pm that I arrived at the hotel, which in my terms was 5am. I had left New York at Noon on Thursday on a 14h 30m flight, then on top of that there was a 14 hour time difference, so we are now talking 7pm on Friday evening. It’s important to note though because I’m at the stage of getting ready to sleep and it is already evening time, that if I can just hold out for two or three hours then the chances of Jetlag hitting me I felt would be pretty slim.

There was a 7-11 just a few stores away as well as a Family Mart, two convenience stores that I came to learn were perhaps the most important part of my trip. The food in these places is high quality, you can make yourself a nice cheap meal easily for under ten bucks. It is kind of essential if you are going to be there for a couple of weeks to at least have breakfast and lunch from these stores. At this stage of the night though I desperately wanted a coffee and perhaps some yoghurt. This was the first problem that I encountered.

The coffee machine!! Simple enough to operate, and even with limited Japanese I was able to get a cup from behind the counter. What I wasn’t able to convey was that I wanted a cup, not one of these little Dixie cup things you are giving me. The 7-11 has two cup sizes, which were either 6oz or 8oz, or maybe they were 8oz and 10oz. Either way, I start my day with 16oz right off the bat without even blinking an eye. This is going to be a problem. Within a couple of days I was able to locate a coffee shop, and even though it was five bucks for a 16oz cup, it was still better than the 7-11 coffee.

I’m not going to talk much about the food in Japan in this post, but let me tell you that it will bring tears to your eyes. Even a simple coffee shop has pastries that will make saliva come from your mouth. It almost feels like I could say that you could go to Japan simply for the food alone, it is so delicious in every aspect. Now I knew when I went to Japan that the first couple of days were going to be quiet. There were club shows that I had planned for Saturday and Sunday nights, so as I am an old man now I decided to do local things on those two days as I felt sure that I was going to need naps during those days. On the Saturday morning I was up super early, around 5am or so, and my first tourist experience was going to be a shrine that was literally about a 100m from the hotel. That post will be up soon.