ben griffiths
an insight into the mind of a genius

Posts Tagged ‘narita’

They think it’s all over …. it is now :(

Tuesday, May 25th, 2004

Hmmm… Justin never filled in Monday, and we are back home now :) But hey, I will try and write the rest so we don’t forget what happened. Excuse me if i miss a bit, but it was 3 (now 4!) weeks ago!

Right, Monday the 12th was our big trip to Ueno, the supposedly largest shoe shopping district in Tokyo. As you can imagine, J was pretty excited about this as all he had been going on about all holiday was how great the shoes are and how he was going to buy so many.

We got there quite early (I believe I was awoken at 7:45 or something) and the day was really nice and sunny. Stepping out the station and all looked really nice. Flip, memory very bad… I think there was a big hill just behind the shops opposite the station, and some large (but clean) skyscraper buildings leading down the highstreet.

After finding a bank that would change sterling (most seem to only take US Dollar) we were ready to hit the market, or at least J was, i was happy to go back to sleep… hahah… This basically began J’s most dissapointing day…

You won’t believe how many shoe places there were, with every possible shoe you can imagine. Aparently there were all these great styles you dont get in the uk… I dont know about that as shoes don’t really bother me, but J was very happy…. until it came to trying to buy any.

Yes dear friends, the old ’shoe size’ problem soon cropped up. No matter where we went, no one seemed to sell shoes larger than a size 9 (perhaps a 9.5) - and with Justin being an 11, this was not good news. So desperate was J to get some, he was talking about just wearing them and dealing with the pain!?!?! Crazy!

Special mention should be made to the guy with the suitcase selling the (fake?) LV wallets, we’re not sure of the price, but I reckon it wasn’t as high as the £200 the real LV shop wanted around the corner, I know which one i would have bought :)

Not sure what time we got back to Yoyogi, but we were going to meet Seiko in Shibuya for her to take us to a traditional restaurant, the Lockup.

I suppose we should have guessed from the name it wasn’t going to be normal, and the haunted house entrance kinda made a few things seem odd, even when the waitress handcuffed J to lead us to our table, I still didn’t twig… LOL… we were led to a jail cell (complete with iron bars and everything) where we had to take our shoes off and sit on the floor :) nice one! You were then served by jailers or fellow inmates, lol. It was actually really nice, and the food was really good (though J didn’t approve, not sure why, it was japanese and was fish). We stayed too late to have pudding (it shut at 12) but was still great all the same.

Afterwards, trying to find something to do let us to the Starbucks (the one that overlooks the ‘famous’ crossing) we were sat for a bit drinking my frozen vanilla shake and mucking about with the blinds. We were then pretty undecided on what we should do, so we caught a cab back to Yoyogi, to sleep early ready for the next day….

Tuesday the 13th -

Pretty sure that never happened, I’m looking at the photos for reference. Seems we just went later on to Shijuku, where we did go and explore a bit, found all the dodgy pr0n shops and found a real shanty town style supermarket :) Were gonna go to a strip show (£25 for 3 hours) but didn’t bother… went on the arcades instead.. .lol.. i do know we had to be home early though as Seiko was going to take us out.

Wednesday the 14th -

We were up at a reasonable hour however on the run to meet Seiko at Harajuku station, we managed to become seperated, so were late as usual (Actually, i was still on time, i found a shortcut, but poor mr J went back looking for me… lol) where Seiko took us to 4Lab one of the best Tattoo parlours in Tokyo. Why I hear you ask? Well, ever since I had been thinking of Japan, I had decided I wanted a Kanji (japanese characters) tat of the year of the monkey. (which was actually why i started back at the gym, to try and build my uppers arms up!! it also HAD to be done in Japan btw, otherwise i didn’t want it) I know a lot of people dont think Kanji on your arm is so cool anymore, but i dont care, i wanted it cause i like it … simple :) However, after spending some time in Japan and developing such a love for the place, i decided ‘Monkey’ didn’t really symbolise anything ’special’ to me and that i wanted something that would always make me remember Japan, for this reason, I changed my mind to ‘Never Forget’ (which translated directly into Kanji as ‘Forever’). The artist loaded it up on his computer and printed out some samples which i held on my arm to see if it looked ok… they did so after getting the price (£60) we asked when we could book for… the artist said ‘now’ would be ok (i was expecting a wait) and did i want to do it………. bit nervous now, but said ‘yeah’ … eek!

The artist took the print out, then traced it onto some (best example i can give) carbon paper. He then cleaned my arm, put on some gunky stuff and applied the transfer. I now had a purple outline of the design i was about to get put on me, this was the last chance to change my mind… lets do it!

I was asked to lay back on a little bed/table like thing, get comfy, then he began… Now i had been expecting pain (as thats all you ever hear about) - but to my suprise, there was none! More a scratching sensation, cool! So i’m laying there .. and after 5 minutes “hmm… wow! this is gonna be there forever (ironic really)… hmm…” then after about 10 minutes “god, i really hope i like kanji symbols forever…” haha… after 20 minutes i was just bored, so started to drift off to sleep… then finally after about 45 minutes it was over..

Getting up and looking in the mirror, there was now an addition to my body…. and it looked great :) However i couldn’t keep it out in the open (as the guy explained, its basically an open wound! yuk) so it had to be covered in antisceptic, then wrapped in clingfilm, before being covered in tape…!

No matter what anyone says, about how i might get fed up of it, or regret it, i know this wont be true. I’ve got it because it means a lot to me, and always will… how can i ever regret that??? :)

After that was finished, we were ready to catch the train to the Tokyo Dome where we were going to watch the Giants vs the Dragons in a first for me… Baseball!! We had been pretty excited about this, and made sure we bought some baseball tops to wear to the game. Seiko also bought some mini bats to hit, which i adopted part way through…

However, realistically, baseball has to be the most boring sport in the world!!! No one seems to be able to hit it, whether that means the pitchers are really good or the batters are crap, i just dont know. But to watch a game for almost 4 hours which the score only being 4-3 was quite a, whats the word, not sure… but you get my drift!!! Was worth it to say we’ve been though and it did only cost £8.
Afterwards, we went across the road to what can only be described as an outdoor mall/theme park. There were all shops and restaurants around the enge of a pond thing, with a log flume that falls directly into it, and overhead a massive rollercoaster with a huge ferris wheel! Even better, there was a ‘Moomin Cafe’ which I got quite a few photos of, make mum happy :)

We didn’t eat here though, and went to a ‘Jonathans’ Family Restaurant (pretty much the same as Denny’s) and Seikos favourite. The desert menu was too good and really hard to pick something, i think it did a good job though :)

Thursday the 15th - Asakusa

Seiko had again planned to take us out today, this time to visit Asakusa, where there was a massive market. Supposed to meet Seiko at Yoyogi station at 3, but J swore blind it was 2. This meant i had woken up late (i was planning for 3) so had to go pick her up instead of doing my washing. Went to station, waited half an hour then finally rang her. She was indeed meeting at 3, so i had to run back home to start doing my clothes. They didn’t finish in time, so J went and picked her up at 3 (hmm, or 3:30), we finally got out the house at 4:30!!!

Asakusa is a mix of old and new, it had a large temple and massive market which sold loads of great and wonderful things. Unfortunately I had *NO* money so couldn’t buy anything. Looking back, this was a fatal error on my behalf, as try as i might, i couldn’t find that stuff anywhere else :(

From the walk from the station to the market, we kept getting mobbed by guys with carts offering to run us ‘downtown’ for ‘great discount’ and ‘amazing experience’, this was actually really funny as that was all they would shout… much better would have been ‘downtown, monster, dragons, very cheap’ which kept us amused for ages.

Pushing through all this and walking to the end of the market brought us to a massive temple with many shrines. One of these things had a ‘luck stick’, where you shake a vase type thing to reveal a stick with a symbol on it. You match this up with the draws in this building and it tells you your fortune.

The first one I got was ‘Worst Luck’ stick, which basically meant everything in my life would go wrong. I was pretty upset about this and took another one… suprise suprise this one (UPDATE LINK) came up… which made me feel a lot better :)

After spending a good few hours in the market it was time for food, and time for justin to get his wish of a sushi bar. One was nearby and aparently very well priced… its crazy, just a massive conveyor belt that snakes around the restaurant with a load of different coloured dishes on it. Each colour is a different price, from 50p or so up to £5. YOu just sit at your table and pick off the plates that you want to eat!

Justin was in heaven (as you can see from the amount of plates he stacks up), I however wasn’t quite so happy as it was all fish :( My problem was soon solved when a plate of strawberries and a pineapple came around… hahaha… Don’t worry, i did try some fish too :) Prawns, Friend Squid and some batter prawns (though still with their shells on so they were quite crunchy!!)

After this, we headed to the 100yen store (yes I kid you not, 50p!!) where you wouldn’t believe what you could get for your money! I should have taken more photos inside, but some of the stuff back here would have cost a couple of quid!

We had to be back at Yoyogi station by about 10pm to meet chiakiy, so back we went. We had made (well Justin had, well done son!) a decision to not go out tonite (Cause everyone was so tired) so we bought a load of drink and went for an on the roof drinking session. We even made ourselves a lot more comfortable by dragging a few matresses out ;) which was good for about 2 hours or so, when everyone was really tired and it was freezing cold… lol… Seiko as usual got completely plastered, and rather unfortunately managed to kick my camera across the roof giving a good dose of scratches and causing the memory card to fail :( (but dont worry, i wasn’t gonna let that stay like that!) - even funnier was trying to get to sleep with her rolling around drunkenly moaning… hahahahaha

Friday the 16th -

Justin and Seiko got up early to go (you guessed it) shopping leaving me and Chiakiy to lie in for a bit. We got up a bit later on, rang Sakura House to change the checkout time from 12 till 4, and went around the shops in Harajuku, before meeting up with Justin and Seiko (and her sister) at the station a bit later on. I still didn#t have any money, so we had to go to Shinjuku first to visit the only place that could change money after 4pm. We then went to the local Sofmap store to change my camera but were told it had to be done in the original store!! grrrr.

Me and Chiakiy then headed off to Akihabara planning to meet Justin and Seiko there later on.

Taking the camera back seemed to be a bit of a chore, as you can’t do it in store, you need to go to a ’service centre’ first where they check something actually is wrong with the items. Was a bit worried about this as the camerea error was intermitant and it was really the scratches i wanted sorted. However everything went without a hitch, even having the woman run down the road to the local Sofmap (And back) to get me my new camera,… HURRAH! :)

Can’t remember if I mentioned the no smoking policy, well if not, here it is again - Akihabara is a no smoking in the street district. To allow for the addicts (lol), they have built a ’smoking room’ which is basically like a shop with just bar style chairs where you go to smoke!!! hahahahah… pathetic :)

We had planned this night to go to Club Atom (in Shibuya) for a trance night, 3 floors of hard house and trance, so i was pretty excited. Firstly though, we had to eat and figured we should go to a traditional Japanese restuarant. We picked a IZAKAYA which is basically a bar/restaurant open until about 5am where business people go after work purely for the purpose of getting drunk! It was really nice inside and very traditional looking (no shoes allowed, slippers provided!) and after putting our shoes inside a locker, we were let to out little table/compartment type thing.

The menu had all manners of interesting sounding things on it (and some that looked really good, but when you got them translated suddenly you didn’t want them anymore!!!) so everyone picked a load of different things (to my embaressment i must admit i ordered a pizza!!) - with the starter being raw squid (See photo), its unclear quite how much J didn’t like it, but he tried his best to look manly. Me and Chiakiy thought better of this and let Seiko (Who again didn’t look so happy about it) finish it off :)

I’ll tell you what is great though, COW TONGUE. Yes my dear friends, roasted cow tongue on a stick is just soooo nice. Its like a really nice kebab, but without being all greasy and yuck! I highly recommend it to anyone who has the opportunity of trying it. Also another weird dish… chicken bone. Yes, yup, uh-huh, thats right, the bit we throw away, the japanese boil until soft(ish) and then eat. The most pointless dish ever (though I guess it saves them quite a bit of money).

Ater leaving, it was a quick hop across the road and onto the JR for the 60p ride to Shibuya :) Seiko had a rough idea of where it was, so we followed her (Forever!!) up the hill to find Atom. Decided to stop on the way at the local Lawsons to get some drink (might as well get a bit merry first) where you can buy Smirnoff Ices for just 90p (NOT FAIR!!) so we found a little standing area where we were able to get the drinks down. (well tried, as they were very fizzy and Justin remember can’t burp… oddball! ;))

The road to Atom was off the main road and down the hill a bit, which led us through the ‘love hotel’ district of Shibuya. What is a love hotel? Let me explain. In Japan the houses are usually very small, with thin walls (or even sharing bedrooms) so its quite difficult for couples to get any ‘quality time’ if they live with their families. For this reason, the love hotels were built. Charging anything from about £15 up to £70/80 (i kid you not!) you can hire a room for 3 hours or so (in Tokyo you are limited to 3, or book whole night, other cities you can pay per hour as you wish)… You generally go in and there are pictures of all the rooms with buttons next to them, pick a room you want, press the button and pay the person behind reception (the button turns off the light to show room is no longer available), you then have your time to ‘get it on’ … due to the nature of the places, the rooms are usually very, very nice, and contain *everything* you need ;) (this includes a sound system with multi channel music, lighting for every possible light controlled with dj mixer style faders and multiple heat control switches… cool! :)

What was quite amusing is they are all in the large club district… no prizes for guessing why.. when the clubs shut, suddenly the hotels fill……. ;)

Anyway, we walked up and down this street until we finally found Atom (it was about 1am) we went to go in, but OH NO! We told it *closed* at 1… what is it with the japanese??? all the decent music clubs shut early…. not fair not fair… Justin was up for going to Club Asia next door, but i was determined to have some trance in Japan (my dream for godsake) and refused to budge on the issue.

Seiko claimed to know somewhere in (suprise, suprise) Roppongi that played trance, so we jumped in the £12 cab to get there… i sense the mood in the cab wasnt the greatest, as everyone was worried this was going to muck up again…

Got to the club, all ready to go in, read the sign on the wall…. Hip Hop Night?!?! NOOOOOOO… wtf was this… Seiko felt pretty bad, Justin seemed just pissed off, and i could see my dream just slipping away. To try and rectify though Seiko said she would go to an internet cafe around the corner somewhere to find out where we could go. Leaving me, J and Chiakiy to sit around (for quite a long time, J was getting quite annoyed :)) - however she finally returned claiming she had found somewhere, it did play all types of music but was the biggest club in Roppongi (though everyone seemed to claim that), its name, Club Vanilla… so we set off on the short walk to find it…

5 minutes down the road, down a little backstreet and finally, there it was. From the outside, it looked quite upmarket, had its own car park next door, and a really nice entrance hall. We had a problem though, males had to be 23 to get in… goddamit! However, we played it cool, and made it inside (”yatta!”) - £15 but you did get two free drink vouchers (shame we had forgotten to take our own) …. so we went in….

Ok, now we understood why this place had a good reputation… it was, not amazing (wrong word), but definately something special. It was like a really trendy place, but without the unconfortableness that usually comes with that style of joint. Lit with dim red lighting, all the furniture and walls where white and it just looked… WOW! :)

Downstairs as we entered we were greeted with the sound of R&B (woo bloody hoo :() and the lockers to put our coats in (not sure if i’ve talked about them before, but lockers are all the rage here… so much better than a cloakroom…) - the r&b room had white sofas all around the edge, with some tables and chairs dotted around, with the dancefloor in the middle and the bar and dj booths in the far end. Everyone seemed to be having a really good time, and the vibe was just wonderful…

A set of stairs led up to the next floor, so we decided to explore the next level. This brought us up to a smaller room, with a little bar and people doing massage and the like (i think, memory hazy) and also the toilets… it seemed like the ‘chill out’ room as people where standing around talking…

There were some more steps (5 or so) which led up to the next level and a corridoor which also had bar height tables and chairs on it, and the sound of house music coming from the far end. Down here we walked until we came into the main dancefloor. It was alot bigger than downstairs, the main floor being in front of us, with poddiums and higher levels dotterd around with various females dancing about, then behind that was a fake wall which had the bar behind that (i guess to block some of the sound so the bar guys could hear what you were ordering!). To the left of the dancefloor you had the seating area, huge it spaned almost the same size again and just had loads of high seats with loads of people sitting around chatting. At the back of this was the bar area. I’d like to point out again that this was all really nice looking, with the plants adding a really nice ambience to it all.

We all sat down on one of the chairs nearest the floor and went to get some drinks. The music was plodding along house, which no one seemed to like that much, but as we were all together, we decided to stay for a bit longer. Then something started to happen… as i listened, each song ’seemed’ to get a bit harder… then next one would drop back, but next would go one step forwards.. i commented to justin ‘it seems to be getting harder’, which he grinned but said wasn’t going to happen…

then finally, after a good 20 minutes of teasing… it happened… the dj started to play some decent music!!! my dream was being lived!! i ran out onto the dance floor and started to go for it! :) Justin and Seiko couldn’t stand it, so left for downstairs, but i persuaded Chiakiy to stay up with me and tried to get her into the music… even the introduction of some more crazy clubbers didn’t help, with her looking totally lost :( - yup, she left also to go downstairs :(

I used this time to get another drink, so headed up to the bar, gave my drink token and waiting for my drink. The barman was a bit distracted and giving me my drink, put the bar tokens he had in his hand down on the bar…. ;) thank you very much! yatta!

Back on the dancefloor on my own was OK, but wasn’t quite as good as it could have been, so noticing some mad girls on the stage, decided it would be more fun to go dance with them… Lol, they were so drunk, but loads of fun, shouting ‘Agay (Aki?)’ repeatedly in time with the song. I don’t know what it meant, but it was fun, so i just joined in.. haha.. met up with a crazy (but cool looking) japanese guy (in the photos with the sunglasses) so we partied on down together :) - until i got up on the stage with the girls, then got dragged off by the bouncers… aparently only girls allowed up… grrr… had to leave, so went back down the corridoor where i bumped into Seiko and Justin who were heading back downstairs…

Chiakiy was happy to see me, but the music was, argh! nasty… however i did my best to try and dance, and must admit after getting used to the crapness of it all (hahaha) did have quite a good time, helped along by the very nice japanese guy who was giving us his (*very* strong) drink - too much though, and we had to sit down… lol…

Blimey, this is a long night report, but theres more!!! I couldn’t deal with much more r&b and seeing as there was only an hour or so left, i left the crew to go back upstairs to the dance room, where i hooked up with my new jap pals :) making sure not to jump on the stage again :) (though ironically, the girl got so pissed, she was carried off by the bouncer in a fireman style carry outside, only to escape and run back in!!! :))

A mention has to be made to my final drink, half an hour before the end, and realising i had a ticket left, i went up to order a vodka and orange. Now i dont really drink much here in the UK, so i dont know if its the same, but when he was pouring it, he does both liquids at the same time, then stops the vodka after glass about half full to fill rest with orange juice… except he didn’t he stopped both, looked at me, said ‘ah fuck it’ - then filled the remaining half glass with vodka!!?!? :) :D nice one!!! ;)

That was what it needed to tip me past tipsy onto all out pissed, hurrah! I hit the dancefloor with gusto and had the best hour of the night :) - sadly it ended, and i had to say goodbye to my new friends (i can’t remember the names, sorry!) and go find the rest of TeamTokyo who were waiting downstairs by the lockers, ready to begin our final saturday …. the fish market…

Saturday the 17th -

As knackered as we were, Justin was determined to see the fish market, and to be honest, i did think it would be kinda stupid to miss it as it was such a big attraction. Luckily, the train went straight there from Roppongi, so it was just a case of waiting at the subway station before the lovely clean train arrived!!! :)

Getting out at the other end, the fish market was easy to find, a massive ‘warehouse’ style place, surrounded by a huge car park, filled with lorries, and guys driving around on the most manipulative fish carrying truck things (the driver and the engine are mounted at the front in a full 360 turning circle part, allowing change of direction and monouverability second to none… also means you have to look out as they fly around *everywhere*!)

After just making it across the carpark with our lives (and dignity) we entered the main warehouse where all the selling took place. It was so busy and full, with just enough room for one of the trucks to drive down a path and little else. Everywhere were boxes and boxes off fish, many of them still alive and flicking water at anyone who walked past… Justin was off with his camera again, photoing anything and everything… :)

We stopped by one guy who was having particular trouble with a fish, he was holding it up with it flapping away, so he punched it! Then, not content with giving it a black eye (:)) he proceeded to stick a metal hook down into its body via its mouth and pull out its insides!!!?! yikes!

Now for the main plan, Mr J wanted to eat here, so we headed off to find a fish bar (still in the market complex) where you could actually be served the fresh fish from the market. For this reason, it was quite expensive, and as I was really tired, i declined the offer, instead sleeping on the bar for a few precious minutes :) Everyone else tucked into their food, with justin thoroughly enjoying his ‘fish brains’…. until he found out what they were ;) lol….

By now, everyone was really tired, and seeing as we had to be up quite early, decided it was time to go home… finding the station was a mission and a half though, and i was now hungry, so Chiakiy and I hopped into the nearest Lawson to get some Spaghetti Bolognese :) (no, really!) - however on coming out, Justin and Seiko had disappeared :( - we spent the next 30 minutes looking for them, but unfortunately to no avail… then finally caught the train home (the station was a mission to find too, we were wrecked and really just wanted to be back in bed), making it back home at maybe 8:30 (darnit! really can’t remember that…), but at least we were back! yatta! now we could sleep until about 2 or so, ready to clear our room by 4 ….


Bleugh… sleepy… sleep sleep…


Wtf?!? Who’s knocking on our door, its only 12… fuck off!

KNOCK KNOCK - scratching …. door opens, people come in, apologise and walk out!?!?

Neither Justin or myself were paying any attention (true!) so didn’t know what was going on, but Chiakiy who did see them said it was the same Korean people who had looked at the room before…

Confused… I’ll say… when suddenly - KNOCK KNOCK! “Phone for you, its Sakura House” - ah goddamit, so i got up and went upstairs to see what they wanted…

“Sorry to bother you, and I know you were moving out at 4, but can you do it sooner instead??!?” - was very annoyed, as the whole point of the later check out was so we could sleep in! Not for them to call us and wake us up anyway!!! Went back downstairs and explained it all, can’t remember if we went back to sleep, (too long ago.. sorry!) - however when we did start to pack, we realised maybe we hadn’t given ourselves long enough!! :D whoops!

The guy from Sakura house also turned up early (we were worried we would get in trouble for Chiakiy staying over, but he seemed cool / didn’t know / let us off whatever!) and helped us out a bit… We even got out of washing the bed sheets and hoovering as there wasn’t time :) result!! What we were left with the problem of though was trying to quickly get all of our stuff into our suitcases… not so much a problem for me as i had bought very little, however Mr J had, well lets just say… TONNEESSS!!! After putting everything in his case, it was at least 4 times as high as it should have been :) lol… serv him right for having too much money to buy things…

We had been given our deposit money back now, and although we felt bad, Chiakiy and me left for Harajuku for Kiddieland, leaving Mr J with a very puzzled expression on his face as to how he was going to pack everything …

Me and Chiakiy spent a happy afternoon (though perhaps a bit stressful) trying to find gifts for everyone (which was a lot harder than it seemed) and then realising that everything i wanted to get was in Asakusa… dilema… was there time to go there… unfortunately no, but i hoped that Shibuya might have everything.. we were to go there when we met up with Justin (about 20 mins or so…)

Except time dragged on, and on… we were waiting at Harajuku station, but Mr J had gone AWOL in kiddieland again… Seiko was telling us “he’s buying everything!!”, which was mad seeing the state of his suitcase to start with… however, we got some food and we sat on a wall, so not too miffed… (too tired to worry too much!)

When he finally turned up with a billion or so more bags, we just kept quiet … ;)

So it was now off to Shibuya to look for some lucky cats for presents and anything else that might be needed. I’m not too sure of the details now, but I think at this point we split up, Justin to buy his records and myself to find lucky cats.

Chiakiy and I did however find the greatest food stand in the world (just outside the station also! unless you count the cream puff shop also at shibuya station, but thats more a shop :)) - the Grilled Cow Tongue on a Stick Stand… £2 per skewer, but worth every penny (or Yen :)), in a special sauce and tasting absolutely perfect… they were wonderful, mmm….

Anyway, I digress… So we were off to the Penguin Supermarket (* ASK CHIAKIY NAME *) to find the lucky cats… except you can’t get them… heck.. nor did they have anything else worth buying for presents… this was pretty awful for me as I had put a lot of faith in the good old penguin… alas…

Met up with TT at the station, not quite happy everything was complete… “PORN!” - nuts, had forgotten Haroons present… it was either disappoint a friend, or make the effort… Never to dissapoint, we left the others at Yoyogi station and stayed on the train to Shinjuku (me + C) to find the perfect gift….

Now this was funny… if you imagine again the shops mentioned before, but this time really busy, me taking a very embarrassed girl into them, asking her to translate and point things out… hahaha… especially funny was when we went to the ‘underground’ shops, full of businessmen and *very* hardcore porn, for them all to look and stare at Chiakiy as she walked around (covering her eyes for most of the time!! :) lol)

After about 30 minutes, finally found something (just about) worthy as a gift (it seems all the Japanese Gals that do HC are quite minging, the nice ones stick to the SC stuff… ah well…) , so that was it… back to the apartment to get ready for clubbing at ‘Womb’.

However after returning, it was apparent we weren’t going clubbing that night as Mr J was still trying to pack his case!! Lol… repacked my case with everything we had bought into it, so all was perfect ready for the flight. It weighed in perfectly, which was good, but also rather upsetting, as there was so much i had wanted to buy, but just cou;dnt bring back due to the weight… ah well, Chiakiy said she would send what was needed, or i could get the rest next year… (a plan!)

Not wanting to spend the whole night in, me + C left to go back to Shibuya… long story, lots of walking, get some money out at Citibank (god bless you!) …… ;)

We ended off with some food at the really nice curry house, Justin me and Seiko had gone to before, staying there until the trains started and we could make the journey back to Yoyogi. We had wanted to stay out longer, but Mr J was very defiant that we get to the airport early, so go back we did….

Sunday the 18th -

Got back to our apartment (although I guess you can’t call it ours anymore!! :() at around 6 to find Mr J still trying to pack his case! Aparently it had been going on all night and required lots of throwing away of clothes. I wont go into too much, as i think J is writng about it, but you can see from the photos the fun that was had trying to fit everything in. I had quick shower (very quick, as there wasn’t much time, so no soap or the like, just a quick wash) and i was (very proud of myself also) ready on time… :D yatta!

Needless to say, when we actually got around to leaving, we were late… lol, this was a bit worrying as we wanted to get the bulkhead seats on the plane (after seeing the legroom on the way out, there was no way we were going to sit in a normal seat!!!) so we now had to rush. This was fine until we went to leave the building, or more to the point, Justin tried to lift his suitcase :) With all the additional items, it certainly wasn’t light, and slowed us down a heck of a lot more.

This was the only point when i was glad i hadn’t bought loads of stuff, as it meant i had a relatively light case to carry, or wheel to use the words correctly…. the trip to Yoyogi was pretty uneventful, and we managed to buy our tickets and get on the train without a problem :) hahaha… Nippori station was a bit of a different story, as there were a whole lot of steps and 2 heavy suitcases, but after taking a few deep breathes we managed to get up them, where we had to buy the tickets for the remaining part of the journey to Narita.

Here Chiakiy and Seiko were going to leave us, but we couldn’t have that, so a bit of gentle persuation and they joined us on our last train journey of Japan…. (well for this year at least)

As when we had arrived, we had come straight out into arrivals, we hadn’t really seen much of the airport before, so this was a new ‘adventure’ in itself. Unfortunately we didn’t have much time, so it was more a rush through, however one thing that should be mentioned are the escalators.

Now in england, if you want to take your baggage trolley up a floor, how do you do it… a lift (Elevator ;)) right…. well, a major flaw with that is time and you can only get a few people in it at once.. In japan (being the greatest country in the world and all), they’ve got a much better solution. Why not adapt the trolleys so they can go on the escalators?? Ingenious, they have a pivotted set of wheels (Which lock) so you just wheel it on, the front lifts up, then takes the back wheels on a few stairs down… AMAZING :) but such a simple idea..

Now was check in. Entering the main checkin hall we were greeted with hundreds of people waiting, Great! we thought, however luck was on our side as the desk for Alitalia had only just opened and there was pretty much no queue, I went through the baggage checks no problem, but suddenly… WAIT…

The canister of ‘Gun Power’ that Ming had requested Justin brought back (that he assured him would be ok) had flagged up on the X-Ray and J was told he would have to open his suitcase and take it out… now, baring in mind how long he had taken to get it shut, this was going to be funny….. 10 minutes later, and after fruitless arguements, we weren’t allowed to take it on, but could check in :)

This went without a hitch, and *BONUS* we still got our bulkhead seats! Yatta!

Then began the painful task of saying goodbye, it was now that realisation kicked in that we were going home. I’m not sure about J, but I really wanted to stay, there was so much we had missed and not done, 3 weeks just wasn’t long enough! Alas, we had a plane to catch, and we needed to get going…. a lot of hugs and goodbyes later, we were finally through security, wondering what all the ‘time delay’ fuss was as had a good 20 minutes to spare (note: the stamp on our ticket made it very clear the gate would *CLOSE* in 20 minutes) - we headed down the stairs, to walk into the largest queue we had seen all day. Apparently we had just been through security, now we had hit immigration?!?! fuck fuck fuck, this was worrying as although it was moving, it wasn’t moving very fast…. luckily, we made it through then made the dash for the plane, getting there with minutes to spare (ok, maybe not, but it sounds a lot more dramatic ;))

Our return seats weren’t like before as in right next to the door, but were the last row before business class started. It meant we didn’t have quite as much leg room (and didn’t have our ‘walk’ area) but was still a lot better than all the other suckers on the plane, as we could stretch our legs out and rest them on the wall in front if we wanted. The plan here was to try and beat jetlag, we’d stayed up all night before. Go to sleep on the plane for about 5/6 hours, then stay awake until we got home to go sleep again… and guess what… we did it! 1 point to us :)

Worth a mention are the awful air stewardess’s (well maybe they’re not awful, but their response time was) - I didn’t have any headphones, so asked for some… none came… i put on the ‘assistance light’ - 30 minutes later, still no headphones so i fell asleep. 5 hours later, i wake up and *still* no headphones. So call again, they say ok… then forget, finally about 45 minutes later i received my headphones… grrr…

Of course, being as stupid as we are, we had once again forgotten to change any euros for Malpensa airport (Doh!) but this wasn’t too bad as we were only there for 45 minutes this time :) - greeted with torrential rain… justin commented this was probably what england would be like, i was a bit more optimistic, but it was a far cry from the hot sun of japan….

And indeed, arriving back in England was bleak… a real come down from a great holiday, J was happy to be back, I however would have loved to stay a bit longer, didn’t really get done all the things i wanted to (Especially the mountain with the monkeys!), the massive rollercoasters and to actually go to the sea! (back in PC world, I had a photo on my desk showing a beautiful beach… i want to find it one day….)

This holiday has really been a life changing experience for me, not only has it let me get to know Justin a lot better (and i hope we are better friends because of it, despite all our argueing… lol) it has made me realise how happy it is possible for me to be. I love Japan and everything it symbolises, its such an interesting, fascinating place - the only downside being the lack of decent music clubs (although I’m told frantic do a night out there, just have to find it) and the food (noodle bar food, the rest is ok :)) and all the arcades, just cool! (if you live there, i’m sure there’s a part of you that never grows up…)

We made some good friends, some of whom will be returning to england in the summer, so we can meet up again and some who we will only see if we return, which i will do next year, i just can’t stay away from the place :D :)

So thanks Justin for the great idea, cheers for being a good friend and hope to see you around soon!


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.