Japan Day 16: Tokyo Day 1

We did a hell of a lot of stuff today so I have a feeling today’s entry is going to be quite long. We woke up at a reasonable hour and left shortly to go check out Tokyo. When we left we were going to take a cab to the train station but I wanted to just walk so I could see more, the station wasn’t ridiculously far away or anything. I had been seeing lots of weird cool cars in Misawa and in Tokyo this trend continued but I started seeing much cooler cars. Tokyo is rich and it shows in the cars, I saw some absolutely ridiculous cars during my trip, more on that later though.

Scott and I headed off to the subway, our first stop was going to be a really tall building with a great view and then some lunch. We got on the crowded subway train (they are always crowded) and headed off. I am not sure if we got off at the wrong stop or what but we ended up having a hell of a walk to the tall building with the view. Thankfully the walk had many moving sidewalk things but it was quite a hike to the building.

According to Scott the tall building that we went to is one of a few free ones that you can go up. I believe the building was 37 stories and there was a glass elevator ride to the top. Heights can freak me out a bit, nothing to serious but I get a bit nervous when up high so the glass elevator was a bit thrilling. The view was amazing, we were hoping that it would be clear enough to see Mt. Fuji but unfortunately it wasn’t. We did get a hell of a view though and you get to realize just how massive Tokyo is. No matter what direction you looked from this building, north, east, south or west all you saw was buildings for as far as the eye could see. I took quite a few pictures from up there, take a look.

It was a pretty impressive view and I am sure you can only see a very small portion of Tokyo from up there. Sightseeing is hunger inducing work so we headed off in search of a place to eat next.

We found a nice italian place to eat that had some delicious looking pizzas. We both got pizza, I got a 4 cheese white pizza and Scott got some pizza that had egg on it, I don’t do eggs so it looked disgusting to me, he said it was excellent. The crappy thing about this place. I ordered a coke, it was six bucks and they didn’t give refills. Take a look at my six dollar Coke.

While we were eating lunch I saw a Bently, several Porsches, an Aston Martin and a Ferrari. Lots of money in Tokyo, we probably saw 2 million dollars worth of exotic cars during lunch alone.

After lunch we hopped in a cab towards Shibuya. This was by far the most exciting cab ride we had while I was there. The driver was a maniac, it was the only time during the trip that I feared for my life. He did get us to our destination safe and sound but it was a bit like riding a roller coaster the entire trip. Shibuya is one of the big shopping areas in Tokyo, especially for the younger generations, it is also home to the worlds busiest crosswalk and one of the busiest train stations in Japan.

The crosswalk is crazy, every three to five minutes thousands of people cross the street. This happens all day long, without fail, every 3 to 5 minutes. We were there in the early afternoon which is not the busiest time and it was crazy. I can’t imagine what it is like at rush hour. There is a Starbucks (also one of the busiest in the world) that overlooks the crosswalk, I went up there and took some pictures and video.

This video shows one crossing at the intersection. Keep in mind that this entire process is repeated every 3 to 5 minutes. Insane.

Here are a few pictures of the area from the ground.

Here is one more picture from up top. Notice Cameron Diaz on the billboard on the left, I saw her in a commercial too. I guess Lost in Translation was accurate.

After watching the crazy intersection we headed out just to look around and do some window shopping. We saw some neat things, did a lot of people watching and just generally had a good time. It is really mind blowing how many people there are. No matter where you go it is just filled with people, it doesn’t seem to make any difference what time of day it is or anything, just people everywhere you go. It’s also strange in a way that 99% of the people that you see are Japanese. Here in the states we are very much a melting pot, not at all the case in Japan. Anyway, we walked around for awhile checking things out, doing some window shopping and taking pictures.

We saw this cool phone at an electronics store, the phone is broadcasting live TV, it’s wide screen and the screen rotates. I wonder when we are getting these bad boys in the US.

We saw these guys promoting something or another on the streets right outside of Starbucks, I just had to take a picture and I love the way it turned out, especially of the turtle.

The Japanese schoolgirl is definitely not a myth, you see them all over the place.

We stopped into an arcade which happened to have Scott’s favorite game. I took a few pictures of the place as well. They also had these weird rooms, that I didn’t take any pictures of, where you sat against a green screen and then they took your picture and put you in all sorts of different situations or with famous people. The place had a ton of these things, like nearly half the arcade was these photo things. Weird.

I had known about Pachinko places before I went to Japan but I had no idea what they were actually like. Opening the door to a Pachinko parlor is a major assault on the senses. The noise is incredible, 100’s of machines beeping and clinking as the little metal balls bounce around the machine. The smell smacks you right across the face, the low hanging cloud of cigarette smoke is almost unbearable. Then you eyes are assault much like they are in a vegas Casino. Gambling isn’t legal in Japan so this is the closest thing they have and boy do they take it seriously. The amount of balls that some of these players had was crazy. I snapped a picture of one, I wish I had got some video but I didn’t. Look how many balls the guy in the front left of the picture has.

Here are just some pictures from the streets of Shibuya. It was a neat place and I really liked walking around checking things out.

We were both pretty beat by this time so we decided to head back to the hotel. We just hung out in the room for a bit, I took a shower and Scott headed down to the bar. I met up with him shortly and we had a few drinks. I was starving so we got ourselves some finger food, chicken wings and garlic fries. We hung out at the bar for a couple hours, had a few drinks and re-energized ourselves for the night. Tonight we were going to go out to Shinjuku for some real Tokyo night life. So after a couple hours at the bar we headed out.

Shinjuku is home to the worlds busiest train station (Shinjuku Station) and let me tell you, it’s a busy place. When we got there it was probably around 8 or 9 pm Friday night and the place was packed. Here are two pictures, one looking one direction the other I just turned around and took a picture the other direction. From what I hear, the station is like this all day long, regardless of the hour (as long as the trains are running anyway).

Shinjuku is what I pictured when I thought of Japan before I came here. Lots of people, lots of buildings and tons of neon. It was rather surreal though, nothing can prepare you for Tokyo, there are just so many people it boggles the mind. It is a very fun place though and tonight was going to be a fun night… and a long one.

We walked around for awhile, just checking things out and I was taking pictures. I didn’t take my good camera since I knew we were going out for a night on the town and bringing it just wouldn’t have been a good idea, so unfortunately my pictures aren’t that great.

We walked around for a good long while. We stopped into a 7/11 like place and bought ourselves a chuhai at some point, it’s legal to drink on the streets of Japan. As we walked we kept on having these guys (all of these guys were black) come up to us and try to get us into their place for drinks. We ignored them and just kept walking. One time though, one guy was trying to get us to come into his place and we kept walking, he somehow got me stopped and Scott kept walking, I called out Scott’s name and the guy latched onto his name. He talked to us for awhile, we asked him questions and he answered and he talked a really good game. We finally worked out a deal with him, 3,000 yen all we can drink for 90 minutes. Now, I guess I should say that drinking isn’t usually the main attraction at these places, it’s the girls. It’s kind of like a gentleman’s club where the girls will flirt with you and stuff as long as you buy them drinks. We were there for the drinks and we made it clear to the guy that was our intention. The guy assured us that that was fine so we went on in.

It was a little weird at first, I wasn’t sure if he was going to open the door only to find it filled with Yakuza who were going to take all our money or something silly like that. But he opened it and an attractive woman greeted us and sat us at a table. We were the only two people in the place, granted it was a small place, only three or four tables. Not long after we sat down to women came over and joined us. They were flirty and kept asking us to buy them drinks and stuff. Scott and I were determined to get our moneys worth with the 3,000 all you can drink though so we ordered up a round, gin and tonics for me Oolong-hais for Scott.

There were two girls, one for each of us. I got lucky in a sense because the one that came to me actually spoke English, Scott’s didn’t speak a lick of English. As the drinks flowed I eventually started buying the girls drinks and it turned out to be a pretty fun evening. For some odd reason the night was abruptly cut short though. The bartender woman out of the blue turned on the lights and announced that it was time for us to go. Scott and I think it was probably because we weren’t buying the girls enough drinks or something. Anyway, we left and headed out looking for some more excitement.

We tried to get a cab and had very little luck, then we tried finding a bathroom with even less luck. We finally were able to flag down a cab and we headed off to some gaijin bar that Scott new in Roppongi. The bar was the epitome of everything I hate about bars. It was like I stepped off the streets of Japan into a bar in Tijuana, it was hell. Scott and I got in a bit of an argument because I really didn’t want to be there and he wanted to stay. I stayed for one beer and then we left.

We were both pretty hungry by now, we hadn’t really had dinner other than the bar food we had much earlier so we decided to find some place to eat. We quickly located a ramen shop and were kind of lucky as we got what appeared to be the last seats in the joint. Scott ordered us some ramen which was super tasty. As we were sitting there eating Scott turned to me and said “hey Moe, it’s getting light outside.” Turned out that it was 5:00AM.

We finished up our ramen, got in a cab and headed back to the hotel where we both promptly passed out. I told you it was a hell of a day.

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