Jan 10th – Back to Tokyo. Early start and hotel breakfast, then made the long trip back to Tokyo. From Hiroshima JR station I took another Hikari RailStar Superexpress 469 to Shin-Osaka, this time it was a fancy Series 700 Shinkansen, which seems to be the best and newest model, however after seeing the round 500 series which is a sort of 2 tone metallic blue, the 500 series gets the points on looks. After a short wait I then transfered to another Hikari Superexpress 413 for the final trip to Shinagawa in Tokyo. Do not underestimate how long this trip is, it felt like the whole day was spent traveling, and I didnt arive at the hotel till well after 6PM. The hotel is interesting in itself, as there appears to be 2 of them, the original Grand Prince and the New Grand Prince, both appear next to each other and linked by the land in the middle which has the hotel’s convention centre. I can only vouch for the New Grand Prince, however this part alone is huge, and could practically fit a football pitch in the lobby. Very posh, very smart, and a very luxurious hotel, and my room on the Club Floor is beautiful, but what makes it is the view of the city and the Tokyo Tower.
Dec 31st, its finally the end of 2007, and where better to spend the New Year than at the Tokyo Tower?
I decided this simply had to be the place, having seen this done on TV and in so many Anime, I had to do it for myself. I still had the day to kill before hand tho, and went on a bit of a tour of Asakusa town area, and in the evening I decided that on the way I would make a special detour – to a place from my favourite Anime Movie – You’re Under Arrest – The Motion Picture. Where else would I pick but none other than the Kachidoki Bridge – this is the bridge which is raised after been inactive for 30 years in the final part of the movie.
Here are some pictures taken on the way to the Tokyo Tower.
I continued on to the Tokyo Tower and got ready for the 2008 count down.
There were quite a large number of people gathered under the tower, and it made quite an atmosphere that night.
After the Tokyo Tower I made my back to Asakusa, here are some pictures from the New Year celebrations near the main temple.
Lots of people here, and lots of stalls selling some really great food, drink and a few game stalls as well. Most of the people were queueing at the temple entrance however, this went on really late as when I arrived it must have been almost 2am! Another highly memorable night to never forget.
Dec 30th – Deciding to waste no time, I made my first full day a trip to Akihabara. For those who are not interested in Anime, Maids, or Maid Cafes – you might want to skip on a section :).I spent the entire day hunting out Maid cafes and electronic shops like the average geek, and to be honest thoroughly enjoyed it. The first Maid Cafe was a Studio Cafe, I wont give its name here, and was a little disappointing, was quite small, and the main serving person was not even in any costume. As they didn’t speak any English, I used the little Japanese I had to get an hot coffee and a hot dog. It turns out my Japanese was slightly miss-understood however, as I ended up with an ICE Coffee and a Hot dog. Regardless of this, no stirring service from the maid.
After alot of wondering, I had come accross another Maid Cafe, however they had a sliding door, and this extra complexity to entry, put me off at first. I later returned to this place to find a small group of people out side, also complementing entry. I decided to be slightly more brave and hang around the middle of this crowd. It was at this point a maid appeard, obviously wondering why so many people where gathered outside and not entering. As per a classic moment from hundreds of sicoms, as she arrived, all the others in the group, all Japanese, stepped back in uniformally perfect timing, leaving only myself standing right at the front. When she gestured for me to enter, I casually pointed to the rest, only to discover them now standing firmly behind me. It was quite comical, if not a bit embarrassing. I finally thought “what the hell?” she had removed the door complexity by coming out, so I decided to go in. Following my great bravery, the rest of the crowed suddenly followed right BEHIND me. The maid was clearly slightly bemused by this, and assumed we were all together, a bit of pointing and partial explanation by the others in Japanese corrected this, and we had to wait for the tables to be free. The gentleman who had initially hid behind me in the line, then took that moment to thank me, in Japanese, for going ahead and allowing him to come in as well. I only wish I could have explained to him how I had been just as nervous 10 minutes before, and had walked past for the same reason as him, and how it was the presence of the group which helped me.
As it turned out, this was the best Maid Cafe I have visited so far in Tokyo – they had performances every 10 mins or so, dancing maids, paper scissors stone with the audience, stirring service, photo service, decorative service on your food and even a cat basket under your table to put your bag in when you sit down. This was Moe, real Moe at its best. I even shelled out for a polaroid with my maid – see photo above.
The following are some photos from Akihabara, these were taken on different nights, but take a look at this car – amazing, would love a car like that, there were a few people stopping to look at take photos, such detail as well. I want 1!!!!
Dec 29th – My first day in Japan, starting off from Haneda Airport in Tokyo, I made my way through the Tokyo Subway to Asaksusa. After spending about 30 minutes trying to figure out which line and how much it was going to cost me, I ended up simply going to the ticket office and asking to get to Asakusa. I was pleasantly surprised that the attendant spoke perfect English, gave me my ticket and even told me which time and which platform I needed. Many thanks for saving me alot of time. I later discovered my problem was because I was looking at the wrong map, and further still discovered the stations have the English / Romanji name displayed on the platform. After a bit of time, the Tokyo subway is real pleasure to use.