If you missed Part 1, read it here!
Day 3-1: Around Tokyo and Seeing the Sakura
On the 3rd day, I managed to get more sleep than usual. But I still woke up at 5 AM thanks to a barrage of alarms. Fuck you, people. Anyway, the schedule today was a city tour of Tokyo on a bus, the Tokyo Tower, and seeing sakura. And I also had a personal agenda.
So, we got ready and departed for Tokyo Station. Yep, Tokyo Station, one of the largest and oldest stations in Tokyo. Our group was supposed to converge at JP Tower, a big-ass building right in front of Tokyo Station. So, we waited there and had breakfast at a convenience store.
At 9 AM, our tour started. We had to walk a while to get to the bus. Parking lots in Tokyo are rather hard to come by and are expensive as fuck. Seriously, they charge like 400 yen per half hour.
So long story short, we got on the bus and began our journey to Shinjuku National Garden. On the way, we passed the Imperial Palace. I really wanted to get off the bus and take photos, because the surrounding landscape was beautiful. But no can do, so I only took photos from the bus. Also, the Imperial Palace is never open for the public except for two special days a year.
Finally, we arrived at Shinjuku National Garden. At the entrance, there were a lot of security guards at posts. I had to open my bag and bottles for inspection. Apparently, you’re not allowed to bring bring alcohol into the Garden. Oh well, that means I won’t be seeing drunk salarymen party like in anime. But on the bright side, that also meant that everything would be safe.
Okay, so this was the first time I ever saw sakura in the flesh. And I was gawking in awe like a mofo. The sakura trees were BEAUTIFUL AS FUCK! I always thought sakura only came in one shade of pink. It turns out that there’s a lot of sakura colors, from pale pink to deep pink. I only had an hour at the Garden, so I hastened my steps to find a seasonal delicacy: sakura mochi. I found a stall that sold lots of sakura-based food, like manju, jellies, and cookies! But, I was there on a budget, so I bought only the sakura mochi and the jellies. And here’s what sakura mochi looks like:
The leaves are fake, of course, because this is the cheap kind of sakura mochi (750 yen). As for the taste, it tasted very sweet. The mochi itself was sweet, and added with the natural sweetness of red bean paste, this is bite-sized diabetes. I then proceeded to eat the entire box by myself, around 12 pieces of mochi. I regretted my decision later in the bathroom, but it totally worth it!
So, after Shinjuku Garden, we headed to Tokyo Tower, the must-go place for any traveler to Japan. Along the way, my tour guide explained a bit about Japanese culture, including religious beliefs, economy statistics, and a bit of Japanese politics. She really was fun to talk to, despite her funny English.
And then… Tokyo Tower!
To climb to the first observatory, I had to pay 800 yen. It’s located 150 meters above ground. I wanted to go to the special observatory at 250 meters, but I had to pay an additional 900 yen or so. Not this time. You really could see A WHOLE LOT from above the Tower.
Now, at the base of the Tower, I saw this sign. Was this a promotional thing? I climbed to the 3rd floor to find out. Apparently, there was a One Piece theme park inside the Tower! But the admission fee was expensive as fuck (3,000 yen), so I didn’t enter.
We spent an hour at Tokyo Tower. I also got a few souvenirs for my family back home and also my girlfriend. Our next stop was… lunch! So we were taken to Odaiba, the artificial island. We were taken to a posh hotel, where we had a traditional lunch. Rice, sashimi, all kinds of seafood, miso soup, soba, and green tea. The portion was rather small though, but I was allowed to ask for seconds only on rice and tea.
And after my energy had been recharged, we were off to Ueno Park to see more sakura. But sadly, it started to rain. When we got to Ueno Park, there was a light drizzle and everyone just kinda wanted to leave. So I took a chance and dragged a friend back to… the Holy Land!
Day 3-2: The Holy Land Revisited
This time, I had a LOT of time to explore the Holy Land. But since I had no idea where to go, I consulted Danny Choo’s website to get some recommendations. I went to Akiba Culture Zone (five floors of awesomeness), Mandarake (eight floors of holy shit) and a SEGA arcade. I also spent some time walking around the main street and the alleyways to get a feel of the place.
My first stop was Akiba Culture Zone. On the first floor was a tax-free Animate shop. I felt kinda stupid for purchasing stuff at a non tax-free Animate shop the day before. I could have easily saved around 200 yen or so. But this shop had a lot more stuff in it, including Love Live! stuff which I bought to sell again in Indonesia. Easy money, considering LL! weebs will do anything for their waifus. Oh yeah, there’s also a life-size Miku statue on the first floor!
On the second to fourth floors were all sorts of gachapon machines and hobby stores. From figures, airsoft guns, to yo-yos, you could find almost anything related to hobbies. I had to pinch myself to control my impulses when I saw a brand-new Noel Nendoroid on sale.
On the fifth floor was a GSC Cafe and an A-Cos store. Holy hell, you could buy a detailed costume for only 12,000 yen! They also had a lot of character wigs, so you didn’t have to style them again. They also sold lots of cosplay accessories, from laces and ties to breast pads. Truly the Holy Land blesses us all. I didn’t try the GSC cafe though; their prices were deterrence enough.
After dishing out a good 8,000 yen or so on shit and gachapons, I decided it was enough and exited the store to explore more.
My second destination was Mandarake, a used goods shop according to Danny Choo and other bloggers on the net. I was told I could find almost anything there. And it did not betray my expectations.
The shop was rather cramped due to the sheer amount of stuff they had. There were 8 floors, and I started my exploration from the 8th floor, which housed toys and figures. And sweet Jesus on a velociraptor, there were a TON of figures, from SHF Figuarts to cheap JAMMA figures, all relatively cheaper than their new counterparts. I had to control myself when I saw a Hatsune Miku Apppend figma on sale for only 3,000 yen.
I don’t quite remember the exact details of all the floors, but on the 4th and 5th floors, there were all sorts of pornographic materials from yaoi to goddamn furries. They are separated by floor, so female-oriented porn was on the 4th (I can’t remember) and the male-oriented wickedness on the 5th. I thought about purchasing a Cosplay JAV DVD (it was only 2,000 yen), but I thought about how I would smuggle it past customs back home.
On the 3rd floor or something, there were tons of dollfies. Creepy as fuck shit. Oh, and also secondhand cosplay costumes. 5,000 yen for a full-set Gintoki costume? Get outta here!
I didn’t buy anything though, because I was rather conscious of my budget. But when I exited the store, I felt a bit parched. So, I went into a Lawson and look what I found…
Instant buy! It was only 200 yen, too. It’s basically a thirst quencher that tastes like lemon-lime Gatorade. But the bottle, the fucking bottle!
So, after a good drink, my friend and I decided to head back. We had to save our energy because the next day, we were going to Mount Fuji. So, we hopped on the train and grabbed dinner at 7-11.
Day 4: Holy Mount Fuji and Hot Springs
I was reaching the end of my stay in Japan, and I saved the best for last. On Day 4, I went to Mount Fuji and bathed in a hot spring. Yeah!
I’m just gonna skip the waking up and getting ready part and dive straight into the action. At 9 AM, we departed from the meeting place at Keio Plaza Hotel to Mount Fuji. I had a different guide this time: it was a lady from Osaka who liked talking a lot. She was rather funny though.
And so, I was stuck on a bus for 1.5 hours. Luckily the view was great. I passed through the suburbs. The suburbs really do resemble anime though. Houses, riversides, and even the bridges. And after a long bus ride…
We still had a long way to go to the Fourth Station. Oh let me explain. There are 11 stations on the road to the top of the mountain. Stations 6 – 10 are usually open in summer, when people climb Mount Fuji. Since it was spring, only Stations 0 – 5 are allowed to be opened. Since it rained yesterday, meaning that it was snowing on Mount Fuji, only Station 4 was open. I wasn’t so lucky.
On the way up, our bus was trapped in a traffic jam. There were a buttload of tourists at the Fourth Station. But they did not stop me from taking in the beauty of the sacred mountaintop.
So I spent an hour at Fourth Station, taking in the fresh air and throwing snowballs at people. Ah, how I miss winters in Canada…
Next stop, lunch! We headed down the mountain to a traditional restaurant. I could finally experience having a meal in a tatami room! The menu was the usual lunch: rice, miso soup, seafood, sashimi, and soba. A thing about wasabi in Japan. In Indonesia, we only have packaged wasabi. It lacks that “oomph” flavor. But in Japan, they give you fresh wasabi. Just a TINY pinch is all you need to get your eyes watering and nose running and your body begging for more.
After the stomach has been satiated… on to the hot springs! I was rather uncomfortable at first about the idea of getting nude with a bunch of strangers. But hey, fuck that. I’m in Japan. I have to try everything! So, once I arrived, I headed straight to the hot springs, stripped, and it was straight into the hot water! Since taking pictures was prohibited, I’ll describe it.
First, you had get nude in the changing room. ALL must go. You could only bring in a small towel to hide your dick if you’re insecure about your penis size. If you’re like me, go straight balls a-dangling inside; there’s no need to cover anything! Then, before diving into the hot water, you had to wash yourself thoroughly at the shower. Once that’s done, into the drink you go! Oh yeah, put your towel on your head before immersing yourself. Or if you want it easier, just put it on the side. The water was a hot 43 degrees Celsius. There were indoor and outdoor baths. I chose the outdoor bath, because it had a stunning view of Mount Fuji. Seriously, a half-hour dip in a hot spring will melt all your problems and fatigue away…
So after a half-hour, I got out and got dressed again. But since I was at a hot spring, I looked for a milk vending machine. In anime, you had to have milk after a hot spring bath. And, here’s the milk! It’s only 130 yen. Sadly they were out of strawberry milk…
After guzzling down the white stuff, I headed to the cafeteria. It was those automatic cashier types, where you put money into a machine and press the button and out comes the slip with your food ticket. Then, you go to the counter and give it to the guy. I ordered a staple anime food, curry bread! It took about 10 minutes to cook and it’s piping hot! I scalded my tongue, but it was totally worth it!
And so, after the hot springs, we headed back to Tokyo. But sadly, I was caught in a serious traffic jam, causing our trip to be extended by 2 hours or so.
As soon as I reached the hotel, I had to pack up, since tomorrow will be my last day in Japan…
So that concludes Days 3 and 4 of my trip to Japan! On the final day, I visit Sensoji Temple, the oldest temple in Tokyo, and sample some more food around Asakusa.