ben griffiths
an insight into the mind of a genius

Archive for March, 2004


Wednesday, March 31st, 2004

Posted by Justin

Day started off cloudy and pretty miserable. To top it off, the exchange rate is hitting bottom… ARGH I pray it’ll shoot back up again!!!

Decided to go to Shibuya, 3 stops from our station.

!!!Organised Chaos!!!

thousands of people at that famous junction crossing waiting for that green light. Such a sight, we stood there watching for ages.

Had lunch at a noodle bar just round the corner from the junction. I’m now a lot more confident to order ‘collet cotdosai’ can’t spell it.

rain soon started to piss down like cats and dogs and i needed to find a jacket, but strangely, it was still fairly warm so i settled with an umbrella from HMV. All shops put out an umbrella cover dispenser outside - nice dry floors inside.

It was the launch of Utada’s new Album, not very interesting as it features all her number ones which I already have (I’m trying so hard to find her LP’s if they are out) but all through the streets you hear her tunes from ghetto blasters.
I was in HMV for ages, the atmosphere is so different. I can’t explain.
On the third or forth floor of the building is the Shibuya radio station where you can watch the DJ’s live from the sound proof window.

We soon lost each other - luckily I had my phone, ben took ages to ring it though :P

The rain got ridiciously powerful! haha so we kept running into arcade joints. Drains your cash… but so much fun!!!
I need to stop!

Got back to Sendagaya around 10ish but too wet to do anything at night.


Wednesday, March 31st, 2004

Posted by Justin

Woke up at 8am to get breakfast, had japanese bread with eggs and ham. Had to carry our heavy suitcases to Ibariki station and figure out how to get the train to Shinjoku station, tokyo to pick up out apartment keys.

We really needed to find a weekly subway pass so travelled from our Yoyogi station back to Shinjuko (1 stop). Only day passes were avaliable from 700yen to 1500. I think weekly ones are strangely available abroad (cheers for that Joseph, shame i was too lazy to get one from the uk)

Did some shopping and decided to go to akihabara - electronic city (the mass equivalent to Tottenham court road) It was around 7pm when we touched down - lights everywhere with a night sky. Hyped me up so much, i went crazy.

Ben was looking for his ixy 500. In the end, got it for 50,000 yen with a 256mb memory card which is pretty good,
This country has definately started the ‘WHITE’ revolution. So many appliances are in ‘concreate white’ The PSX looks very tempting - but for 500quid… i don’t think so. I saw my old toshiba m30 laptop. It’s called a different name over here… different branding- much higher spec and also in ‘concreate white’!

Found some of those so called book shops. I dunno who’s going to read this so i’ll just say… lots of variety, millions haha,
funny how there are so many bussinessmen reading comics, the storyline’s can’t be that good surely. Some of there material was quite shocking to us… haha i’ll move on.

Got a call from Miko and Seiko, will try and meet up with them soon. Everyone seems to be so busy on the weekdays.

Wasted loads of money on the arcades again, but it’s all good fun!

Buying a ticket

Tuesday, March 30th, 2004

Today was a very stressful one requiring much patience to get through! we got up very late and didn’t get out till about 3 as were having to get this site up to date!!

We had decided to go to Shibuya to get Justin a jacket, and possibly meet up with one of his friends from msn so headed out to the station. Our local station is called Yoyogi, and whilst easy to get to, not so easy to buy a ticket as all the writing is in kanji! lol luckily the guard spoke english, so we were able to get our ticket ok.

…. leave rest for tomorrow

First impressions

Tuesday, March 30th, 2004

Posted by Justin


Just woke up after such a nice sleep - hardly got any sleep since friday. The plane journey was neverending. Ben would fall asleep for a few minutes and out of bordem i’d give him a little nudge, he’d wake up and say, ‘i’m glad i knocked off for a few hours’- this went on for the entire trip… funny (he got off the plane thinking he had 10 hours sleep)

I just couldn’t sleep on the plane! As we were sitting near the bulk heads, it didn’t apear we had LCD screens :( I wanted to play super mario -> wanted to move - it was ok cause a few hours into the flight i discovered there were ‘foldable’ screens to the right of our seats. There was also some italian guy to my right… he slept right though the flight with his mouth wide open… frickin bad breath. haha!

Narita airport is lovely, a mix of tradition and techno, the weather was sunny and warm - a great welcome.
Loads of vending machines, zebra crossings and horizonal traffic lights!

Chiakiy was kindly there with her friend and mum to pick us up. The car drive was a great experience. It’s Sakura season and cheery blossom is everywhere, japanese cut trees on the roadside and the CARS.. I’d say at least 70% of them are white, oh and quite a lot of them are boxy.

We were taken to a buddist temple featuring a 120 metre bronze budda statue.(Check out the gallery), temple and praying proceedures just like back in malaysia. Watched a monkey show and fed some rabbits.

I think ben’s covered most of the day so in brief
1/Chiakiy’s mum kindly treated us to lunch
I had katsu, ben had prawn tempura. He tried sushi for the first time!
2/went shopping for phones haha
3/Played with Chiakiy’s chinese dog
4/Went to eat again
5/Arcades - sega bingo, some really entertaining drum game,
6/Hotel to sleep (thanks to Chiakiy’s mum again)!!!

DAY ONE was very full and exciting thanks to very lovely hosts. I’ll let ben finish rest of the 28th (DAY ONE), cause there’s not point writing the same thing twice.

We’ve arrived in Japan … woooo!

Tuesday, March 30th, 2004

well we made it!! its been an eventful two days to say the least, but we are very happy and have certainly been made to feel very welcome :)

we stayed up the night before we left, figuring we would try and beat the jetlag syndrome, so by the time the first flight came we were sooo tired!! it was uneventful enough, and we landed in malapansa airport in milan on time.

it was only after we had got off plane, we realised our first mistake. as we were now in milan,we needed euros to spend! eek!! we of course didn’;t haveany, only yen and pounds so we had tofind a cash machine….. except milan airport doesn’t have any!!!! how crazy is that??? so we were stuck in the airport for two hours and sooooo thirsty and not happy to say the least..we were saved about an hour later however when we found out one place in the whole airport that would accept visa… phew!

Onto the next plane, the 12 hour big one. well firstly we were incredibly lucky.. we got the door seats! ie, we had the door in front of us, so infinite leg room! hurrah! also, we had funky tv’s in the arms of our seats that were rotatable so you could lie down and still watch them!! this kept us occupied for the rest of the flight! :)

After touching down and getting baggage,we then had to find Chiakiy. Although I had seen a few photos before, they weren’t very clear,so i was a bit worried i would not recognise her!! so when we got out and saw her, wetried to casually see if she had recognised us… she did though so it was all ok :)

She took us to her car (with her friend) where we met her mother (a very nice, friendly person :)) and we were whisked away into japan… woo hoo!

Chiakiy is really good fun and really nice. i am glad i met her, she is going to help us out and about and seems to have loads of friends which will be veryuseful!! :) She lives in Ibaraki which is just north of tokyo, and seems to be quite a quiet place. little roads and things, until you drive out a bit to the shops.

First we were taken to a japanese buddha shrine garden thing. We’re not quite sure what you would call this place, but it was very beautiful all the same! It has a massive (read MASSIVE!) Buddha statue, which is in the Guiness Book of records as the largest statue in the world (about 1400 metres i think, though it may have been feet! lol) (Edit: It was actually Ushiku Amida)

There were many bells hanging, which it seems to be good luck to hit. As well as what looked like a huge bbq, which produced smoke you had to wave on your body where pain was, it would then make you feel better. I put it on all of me just to make sure :)

Behind the statue was a petting zoo, with a monkey show (see pix) which was quite entertaining. Also a cage with Prairie Dogs, which i had never seen before so a nice change :) Just in front of it was a pond filled with Coi Carp which all swam to the surface and were trying to grab food, we were touching them and then they would swim away when Chiakiy would scream :) lol

After this, her mother wanted to take us out to a traditional japanese lunch, so we were driven to a noodle bar. we had to sit on the floor on tatami(sp) mats and cusions, which was ok at first but did hurt a bit after a while! :) i’m not quite sure what i had, but in envolved prawns and noodles :)

We were originally going to spend the first night at chiakiys friend house, but unforutaly this was not possible, so instead we went to check into the Hotel Plaza Arakawa-Oki. But Chiakiys mother insisted on paying and would not hear otherwise. We will get her a big present to say thank you at some point!!!! it was about £70!!!

After putting our bags in the room, we went back to Chiakiys to get her friends car and then to go the shops fora bit! I wanted to see how much my digital camera would cost, but unfortunately they did not have it :( The supermarket type place was crazy though, it sold everything and allso bright colours!!! amazing and so cool…. i want to live here :) lol.. after this we went to a Vodafone store and Justin bought mobile… lol

OK, so we done a lot now… so we went back to Chiakiys house where her mnother made us some food. We were still eating this when her friend rang for us togoout. So we went to a cheap type restaurant down the road (but still very nice!!) there we met another 2 of her friends so we sat and (tried!) to talk for a bit before going to a games arcade…

WWWWOOOOOWWW!! japanese arcades are so much better than uk. for a start, they havea lot more bemani games, so i was able to playddr :) and a bongo simulator!!!! thatwas great fun, i wish they had it over in uk :( :( we also played bingo and on the slots for a bit, before going to a photome sticker booth thing to get a picture taken of all of us (will photo it and put in gallery :))- we stayed until about 12 or so, when we got tired (plus chiakiy has work early) so left to go back.

We got a lift back to Chiakiys, then she walked us to the hotel (She went back on her moped….) it was business style one and very nice. it even had a traditional japanese bath (ie loads of people in it), but i didn’t like the idea of a bath with a load of naked blokes so wasn’t going to try it!!!

This morning we were up by 8:40 to go for breakfast, which unfortunately i did not like, but justin did so that was ok before finished packing and going to station to get train to tokyo…

Heck I’m so tired!! Will finish this tomorrow, lol yes i know, always one day out :)