Tokyo

Tokyo: Visa Trip IV

Tokyo holds onto traditional customs and lives in the future adapting to the modern world. I went with three things in mind: nature, food and video games. I got my fair share of all three. I landed at the Ibaraki airport and was a lot further from the Tokyo city center then I thought. There was a bus that would take you directly to the city center, but you had to reserve a seat in advance. This meant I had to take a local bus to a train station and then take a train to the Tokyo city center. This was all a little overwhelming because no one spoke any English. I somehow made it and got to the Shinagawa station, which became my home base for the trip.

My hostel was a 10-minute walk from the station. The directions to the hostel were very clear. Shouts out to Guest House Shinagawa-shuku. The staff were helpful made my experience in Tokyo that much better. I dropped my stuff off and I asked my new friend Santos at the front desk where I can get some sushi. He suggested a place close by to the hostel. It was a conveyor style restaurant. It was simply great. I ordered the sushi off an iPad and there was Japanese cartoons playing when your order came. The whole experience was futuristic and fun.

I had enough sushi to feed a family of four so I left and explored my surrounding area. I was checking out Google maps and saw there was a driving range close by. I headed there and messed around for little bit. The designers of the range had the T rise up once you placed a ball on top of it. Maybe this isn’t something new but it felt futuristic to me.

Speaking of the future there was an ad in the metro that was interactive. You would stand in front of a camera and after a second of analyzing your body size it would turn you into pixels. Super simple idea but the marketing part of my brain got excited. I saw this ad while I was on my way to Shinjuku.

While I was in Shinjuku, I walked past this super loud place that looked like an arcade. I walked in and was deafened by how loud it was. The place was filled with chain smoking adults clicking a lever that would allow balls to fall down. Side note: at this moment I realized that no one smokes in public. Everyone follows the rule to smoke in designated smoking areas. Okay… I can’t explain exactly how the game works because I still don’t understand. I played for a little while starting with 500 Yen and got bored of it and cashed out with about 200 Yen. The crazy part is that when you cash out you don’t get your cash back. You get credit to their store where they sell candy, drinks etc… Check out the snapchat story to get an idea of what I’m talking about.

The next day I had plans to meet up with someone I met at the hostel who also happens to skate. We went to the Shinagawa metro station to head to Shibuya. He needed to pick up some new shoes and there was an Adidas store there. Before I came to Tokyo I knew of the famous crossing but didn’t know what it was called. We ended up walking right across it on our way to the Adidas store. Something else we came across was this statue of a dog, which has an awesome story behind it. Learn more here.

After Takayuki (homie I met at the hostel) picked up some shoes we went to Starbucks. This Starbucks over looks the Shibuya crossing and it was pretty wild to see.

Miyashita Skatepark AKA Nike Park in Shibuya, Tokyo

We got our fair share of caffeine and sent it to this skate park Takayuki knew about which I now know to be the Nike park. An interesting thing about the park is that it is not branded at all by Nike. Anyways it was locked when we got there but that didn’t stop us. We hopped the fence and cruised around. While we were skating another guy hopped the fence. His name is Chris. We talked for a bit and we actually knew some of the same people… small world. Shortly after Chris hopped the fence some security guards came and kicked us out. We didn’t put up any fight and all decided to go street skating. Tokyo is not the easiest place to skate but there were definitely some fun spots. Check the Snapchat story at the bottom.

We had been skating for hours and ended up back in Shibuya. We chilled at the Starbucks for a minute to grab some Wi-Fi and then we said our good byes. I was going to call it a night but decided to go check out an area known for video games: Akihabara.

So… I am not crazy about video games but I did just buy a PS3 in preparation for another Shanghai winter where the weather is miserable. So going to check out the video game scene was on the list. It turned out most shops were closed this late at night but I did come across a SEGA video game arcade. Check out the Snapchat story at the bottom to see what I am talking about.

On my third day I started out at the Tsukiji Fish Market. This was the number one place recommended to go get some authentic sushi and seafood. This fish market reminded me of Shanghai weirdly enough. It was pretty hectic and a lot was going on all at once. Through the craziness of it all I didn’t waste any time and stopped at the first guy slinging sushi. It was a long line and the guy severed sushi one customer at a time but it added to the experience. Once it was my turn I pointed to a picture of some sushi on the wall and he got to work. He worked methodically and placed one piece of sushi at a time on a leaf that served as my plate. I enjoyed my sushi and went on my way to explore the market.

I had my fair share of seafood so I reached out to Google maps and saw there was a big park about a kilometer north. I threw my board to the ground and made my way up to the park. I now know the park to be Hibiya Park. This was on the list for my trip to Tokyo. Not Hibiya park specifically but going to a Japanese garden. Check the Snapchat story to see more of Hibiya Park. SIDE NOTE: The featured picture at the top was taken in Hibiya Park.

After Hibiya Park I went to go check out Akihabara again. I had a mission to find a store called Super Potato. This is a store known for retro video games. The place was more or less a museum of video game history. I got to play some old Super Mario bros and explored the place for hours. Some of my favorite things I saw was an old Nintendo commercial, Donkey Kong 64 (I completely forgot about that game) and a train simulator game for PS2. That night I kept it low key with some sushi in Shinjuku and then headed back to my hostel.

There were so many of these girls handing out flyers for this, that and the other.

Super Potato!

On my last day I spent some time at Harajuku Park. Chris from the skate park recommended that I go check it out. It was pretty cool but I was super burnt out at this point so I walked around, took some photos and called it a day. Something worth noting is that I saw what appeared to be a wedding.

These are Barrels of Sake. The Japanese really know how to turn up.

Thats a wrap for Visa Trip IV. Be on the look out for my fifth trip in two months. I’m thinking surfing… well see.

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