Well. The final step is ahead. Just a little bit.
After Fujiyoshida I came to Tokyo for the rest 5 days. My goal in Tokyo was to see several movie, anime places, buy Japanese whisky (amazing), sleep in capsule hostel, visit Ginza and meet a friend. Well, I did all of that.
First, I arrived by bus (Willer Express forever!) and then started moving to the hostel. I stayed in bnbplus Wa Shinbashi International. As I understood it’s quite popular chain of hostels all around Japan. But the station I chose was super convenient. Shinbashi station provides an easy access to Yokohama, on foot you may go to Ginza. Subway will bring you literally everywhere. And to find it you spend like 10 minutes. If you have some more time you can go to Tokyo tower to make good shots of the neighborhood… Wait. Too fast. Let’s start from the beginning. Hostel.
Capsule hostel is a typical «entertainment» in Japan. You live not in a room, not in a dorm, but in a long corridor and have a bad. The bad is in the wall looking like «capsule». All you have — small mirror, plugs, curtain to close your private space, blankets, mattress, pillow. That’s it. Claustrophobic people would have probably die there. But it worked for me. Cheap, easy access to all the locations needed, comfortable. I was drinking there in my den everyday and never had hangover, had super good sleep and had enough time to explore Tokyo.
Shower room is shared of course and, as everything in Japan, very tidy and clean. There are always some foreigners living there for a long time, trying to do… English teaching (HELLO, CHINA!) or model jobs (HELLO AGAIN, CHINA!). And all of that without any experience, lol.
First or second evening went to the bars in Ginza and visited a random bar on a random street. You sit in the small room in the leather chair. There is no bar counter. You can order the drinks, but the menu is very small. All people around are men, mostly businessman. The key element of this bar are the waitresses. One of them sit with you (one per table) and tries to speak about anything. Some kind of «talking partner service». Of course you may exchange contacts, meet again, meet later, come again to the bar to see that girl again and, I expect, something more. But it’s all done in a very respective manner that nothing dirty comes to mind. The bill in this place is high, you HAVE to pay for the girl sitting with you anyways.
Next bar I went was Rage. It’s the popular venue. However when I was there it wasn’t crowded. I started a small talk with the bartender. It appeared he has a brother working in London. We discussed much about Chinese and Japanese bartending similarities and differences, about types of whisky, whiskey. Talked about pricing. Atsushi Nakamura (cool guy by the way) was very kind to share some whisky tastings they had. I think it was my last major crusade around bars in Japan and the last one in Tokyo.
Next day I moved to see some sightings used in movies (Wolverine (palace below), Fast and Furious 2 (top floor football yard), the Grudge, the Grudge-2, Kill Bill, Sailor Moon anime and so on). So, the first stop was to see the Tokyo tower and Wolverine (the second one) beginning ceremony scene. Well, it was worth seeing. The weather was fine, it wasn’t cold, I got up early (even though I drank sake everyday and every night).
The whole way there was a pleasure — I met so many young people and pupils. Don’t know why. They were supposed to be at school. Wandering around I then moved to see the anime shops and some other geek stuff. There are plenty of places around but I went to Akihabara if I’m right. Already forgot. There I found many shops. I was trying to find Mokona modoki from Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles. I saw one on from Japan website where you can buy stuff from Japan and the prices are reasonable.
It wasn’t a long way. Subway was crowded as usual. I liked the idea of using anime and manga styled walls, wallpapers and ads everywhere around. It seems like people don’t pay attention to it. Comparing to Russia it’s kinda insane. But cool.
I checked many shops, was curious to see anime figures, card games, card game sleeves collection, anime character pillows, clothes, dolls (sometimes VERY realistic), robots, books, audio CD or DVD (yes, in Japan people still use CD and DVD), merchandise from different TV shows, movies and so on. You can literally find anything there. The same as in New York you can find anything related to geek culture.
I couldn’t resist and moved to manga, doujinshi (porn manga based on non-porn story) and so on. Well, I didn’t expect to see THAT much of products. Also there were mostly men there and mostly younger ones (20-25). Maybe I should check some other places for hentai guys. By the way, men are also the majority of clients of geek shops are men. Sometime very very very nerdy and non-social.
I was keeping walking around. I’ve seen small lines of shops of LED lights, some hand made robots, VHS tech, VHS tapes, audio tape shops, NES shops. It’s a paradise for a person who is into board games, card games, geek culture, old consoles, games, up to date technology and so on. Everything that was usually thrown away in Russia in 00’s, you may find here. Or older. It’s a golden mine I think.
And that’s the statue of Hachiko. I made a joke to my friend Rui-san that in pursue to find a Japanese wife I should stand near Hachiko statue with a card line — «Need Japanese wife. It’s my dream» — and will die at the same place. Later on Japanese authorities will make a statue for me near Hachiko with the saying: «Here lies Roman, who wanted to find Japanese wife, the most patient and loyal foreigner«.
Also while walking around I found this temple. It’s the copy of the temple used in Sailor Moon TV series in 90’s. When I came there I didn’t see any Ray-chan, Hino ojii-san, Usagi Tsukino and so on. But the alleyways are dark around the temple and in the small park, so, I met many young couples.
This restaurant is the copy of the one used in Kill Bill. Basically Gonpachi (restaurant name) uses the fame of Kill Bill. No surprise. The restaurant was opened long before the movie and it is said Tarantino had been in that restaurant that inspired him to create the scene in Kill Bill vol. 1. Anyways the place is obviously is not among the cheap ones. They have two menus (Japanese and European). The food is good and the manager — Dario Kenji-san is very polite and hospitable. He’s kinda actor in Japan (originally somewhere from Europe, I suppose), did martial arts and settled down in Japan still working as a producer. Would be fun to work with him in the future.
I never stopped walking around. If I had a chance to have a walk, I had it. In the evening I was surprised to see no people on some streets of Tokyo. Usually you think this city is the biggest and most expensive in the world. And never sleeps. No. There are streets with people hanging out. But not too many. Even Osaka seemed more moving and groovy.
This guy is Korokke-san. Or something like that. He is a comic character still having shows. His facial mimics are fun and the whole show is being run for a long time. He is kind of a robot that can make different faces and make parodies to celebrities and else. Japanese TV… Yes. Unique 100%.
And this is a sex shop. There are about 5 floors of it. Much of clothing and merchandise. I never expected to see what I’ve seen there. There is no use to tell you. You should see by yourselves. By the way most of the customers there were females and couples. Many European couples giggled walking between the lines but Japanese were serious.
It’s still popular. Next time I visit Japan I will definitely buy one. Just in case. It’s also interesting that after I shared this pic in Instagram many people asked me to buy it. But I already left Japan by that time…
Yes. This is the electronic market. Reminded me of one of Moscow districts called Mitino. There you may basically buy anything you want but here even more. I’m afraid if my father saw that place he would have brought tons of some useless stuff to Moscow =)
Also in Japan slot machines and gambling is popular. In China it’s prohibited. Although people (older people particularly) play Majang. Other games are illegal (poker clubs, for example). If you wanna play — go to 澳门 (Macau). Here in Japan everything is legal. You may see huge houses with slot machines everywhere. Most of them are made in anime style. People keep playing. Some people told me they play non stop for hours. Wives, husbands (more often). It’s horrible. Everybody smokes there. I never played but saw how everyone uses buckets of coins and insert them non stop. Madness.
Some more run around neighborhood trying to make photos of nice shrines and temples.
One of the passions in Japan is trains. Hundreds of them. Lines going everywhere in the country. Subway train is becoming usual train and semi-express… The whole country lives through trains. They’re like blood lines, pushing people (blood cells) all around the country. The only issue — price. If you’re tourist you will suffer. If you live in Japan probably better buy pass or some card to ease your sufferings.
It’s the way to Imperial/Royal park or palace. Or something like this just near Ginza district. In winter there are not many people wandering around there. Most of them are foreigners (including Asian countries). No ice as you see.
No much snow also. Almost empty.
One more thing I noticed — advertising posters on the walls. They reminded me of Chinese ones. Chinese use historical issues and stories to create TV shows, movies, drama performance, etc. Usually it’s the period of 500-1500 a.c. Seems like in Japan historical narratives about samurais, shoguns are also popular.
And at the end. The legend. Haruhisa Handa-san. I HIGHLY recommend you to read about him: actor, comedian, philanthropist, philosopher, writer, doctor, religious leader… It’s not the whole list of his jobs… Watch some short trailers about his doings. You will understand why I made this picture and love this guy.