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Thursday, August 27, 2015

I Had The Time Of My Life - Tokyo Trip Wrap-Up


Hello Everyone Again!

I took a trip to Japan for the first time from last Monday, April 27th to Monday May 4th, 2015.

So today, I would like to share my experiences with you, so you might learn from some of my mistakes.

Monday - Tuesday

So, I left Oklahoma City at 6:55 AM on the 27th and arrived to LAX by Phoenix at about noon. Now admittedly at that time I was quite tired already. I found my gate at LAX for Singapore Airlines that will connect me to Tokyo Narita at 7:15 PM on Tuesday the 28th.

Skip ahead 11 hours and I had sat sort of next (a seat between us) to this lovely l young lady around my age, just guessing. When we landed is when we technically had our first conversation and she was super nice at suggesting places to see and it was a plus that she was pretty as well. I did not get her contact info though, which looking back at it, I should have. Oh Well!

When you arrive at Narita, you go through quarantine, passport control, and customs to get to the trains. After getting through that easily I made my way to Narita Terminal 1 station. When I was doing my research on how to get to my hotel, which was in Kashiwa-no-ha in Chiba prefecture, I thought I was going to be at Terminal 2, not 1. I had to quickly find my way to the train.

This is where it gets funny.  I was tired as it was and I hopped on the first train hoping it was mine. Boy, was I wrong. I needed to get to Minami-Nagareyama via the Narita Express and I didn't understand what was going on at the station. I got off at some station I can't remember and ended up on a train heading for Nippori instead. I accidentally fall asleep on the train and end up in Ueno, which makes my heart jump out of my chest.

After asking where to go from the train attendants, I make it to my hotel about a hour and a half to two hours later than when I should have. Oops. Great story to tell though.

So I was tired and I didn't eat dinner because I was exhausted and went to sleep.

Wednesday

I wake up on the 29th, not really tired but tired. I decided I would head for Akihabara for the day and experience that.

So, I make it there by train, surprisingly, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I walked out of the station and looked to my right and saw the AKB48 Cafe and Shop and the Gundam Cafe. I waltzed into the AKB48 shop to take a look around but after careful consideration, I got nothing. I was actually a little surprised they did not have a lot of t-shirts or anything like that for sale. The had a lot of member photos, keychains, calendars, stuff like that.

After that experience, I walked around to see a bunch of sites I knew about and I ran into people selling souvenirs and bought a couple.

As I was about to head back to my hotel around 1:00 PM, I noticed the Kamen Joshi sign by the station and thought, "Hey, why not? You're already here!" So I tried to find the P.A.R.M.S theater in Akihabara, After getting lost after using shotty directions from the sign, I asked a few people where it was and they gave me well enough directions to find it in a resort hotel building. I walk in and I pay about $40 to watch the performance.

I get a coke and I head to the back of the tiny theater to take it in a little bit. Then I noticed that they allow their fans to be almost at the stage as it is standing room only. So I journeyed up to the technically first yet second row and started watching. I was so excited to watch the performance of all the small groups and then the Steam Girls, Armor Girls and then Alice Juban, in which my kami-oshi Anna Tachibana performs as center for Juban and also Kamen Joshi. As I jammed out to the groups, the fans were involving me in everything, from chants to fan moves to the music, such as swaying and cheering for your favorite members,

I received a glowstick from this man to use for the Alice Juban part. I almost broke it immediately and he told me to wait. I waited like a good little foreign boy and when he told me to break it, I did. So after jamming out to the music, it came time to meet your favorite members by purchasing items, such as tees and cds etc. like that. The man that gave me the glowstick started to talk to me in Japanese and then realized I spoke English and then he started to speak to me in broken English and then translating whatever was being said to meet your favorite members. I waited for Anna-chan to come back out after the man translated to me that she was changing. So, she came out and I was exuberant.

So, it was 2shot time and the man accompanied me to tell the manager that I wanted to meet Anna-chan. After paying $20 to go up on stage and meet her I must say, she is prettier in person. I kind of stumbled with talking to her because it was like a dream come true. Anyways, I told her where I was from while shaking her hand and she started to speak in English to me, which was ultra cute and made me blush even more. After talking with her, we got out picture taken and she signed it, which I will awkwardly cherish. After that we said goodbye and she said she loved me etc. (stuff a idol fan loves to hear).

I walked back onto the floor and the same guy who was chatting with me, asked how long I would be there and what I had planned, how I learned about Alice Project and then proceeded to give me all types of their first single. I was so happy. I never caught his name but I want to express my gratitude for helping me out. A great way to start my journey in Tokyo.

After the concert, I left to head back to my hotel and journeyed to the mall next door and see what the mall life was like. I enjoyed this great dinner at the Bistro 309 where I had a Doriya? which is gratin rice with cheese, ham with a egg on top and it was super delicious,

I walked around some more and enjoyed a concert series in the outdoor section of the mall, which was neat and just listened. Back to the hotel it was for me to fall asleep for the night.

Thursday

I got up on the 30th with a plan in mind, the Tokyo Skytree and Asakusa (Senso-ji Temple). I wandered on down there and took a good look at Tokyo from 350m up. Once I got the that mark and looked out over the city, I began to well with tears because I didn't want to leave. I hid those tears though and left the Skytree with a sense of sadness. Taking the train to Asakusa was next and I went to the famous Senso-ji Temple.

I walked through the famous shopping and souvenir street leading up the the temple that was streaming of people with those stupid selfie sticks, I went to the temple and cleansed myself of bad juju and got my fortune from the box. I got a regular fortune though. I took some photos there, as I did at almost every destination. I couldn't believe I was doing what I was doing and it made me happy.

I crossed the bridge into Sumida City where the Asahi Alcohol Corp. building is located. On the way over, I photobombed these girls picture and that was very funny. I sat by the Sumida River and thought about my plans for the future and what i have enjoyed doing thus far. At about 7:00 I went back to Akihabara to enjoy the night time there and it was ultra pretty. I enjoyed it at night because there were more people to watch and the stores were lit up.

Making it back to the hotel at about 9:00 was great timing because I was tired.

Friday

This probably was number three on my top 3 of the week. I had done my research on Yuuka Ueno for the post I made on her which you can find here. I saw that she was going to be performing at the Astro Hall 15th Anniversary Solo x Solo x Solo Girls Storm Golden event in Shinjuku.

I left a little early to get down there and had lunch and made my way to the famed Takeshita-dori where the fashion is strange and amazing. I saw the most Americans there than anywhere on all the days combined. After walking around for about two hours, I had a famous Harajuku crepe, the Strawberry Chocolate with Whipped Cream and it was really good, I had never had a crepe before, so that was a experience to say the least.

I waited on the concert to start and walked in to the tiny, tiny venue and got a spot up front. I will detail the concert in my next post later this week in order to give you the full rundown of the spectacle and the slight disappointment of some artists.

The event ended at about 11:00 PM and I rushed my way back to my hotel with the final trains and slept away my ringing and slightly deaf ears,

Saturday

Saturday, May the 2nd had the top moment of my entire trip, my interview with Notall. I will post more of my experience with them for their Exclusive Interview; Notall next Monday, May 11th. So be on a look for that one.

Also, May 2nd was my Japanese birthday and I once again visited the Skytree and the Skytree Town. I had a great birthday while I was there but other than the interview, my day was tame.

Kind of a lame review though.

Sunday

My final full day of Japan was held with a trip to Shibuya and the crossing there. I made it down there about noon and happened to stop across a idol group named Candy holics. I only caught the MC part at the end, which was disappointing.

My main goal in Shibuya was to find out where Amuse Inc. and shop is located. I found it and was disappointed because Amuse really isn't publicized in that area as I expected it to be. It was in a plain white building and had nobody in it (maybe because it was a holiday or Sunday?)

I went back to Akihabara to visit Yodobashi Camera store and looked at the Sony Walkman they had on display and they looked really cool and I had to rationalize with myself that I didn't need it because why have two MP3 players, including my phone and have to keep transefering music from device to device plus also I would have to have the settings changed to United States standards. Anyways, I walked out with two sets of headphones.

I went back to the mall by my hotel and did a little more shopping, which involved candy, and a couple of shirts that were quite expensive.

Since I knew I had to leave, I went to sleep a little later than usual.

Monday

May 4th was the probably the hardest day on me mentally and physically. I got to the airport about five hours early and waited for my plane to leave the country. As I sat waiting on my journey home I once again became overwhelmed with sadness. I honestly didn't want to leave and then made my journey back to the states.

I left Tokyo Narita at 7:15 PM and had somebody sit on the aisle seat but his in-flight entertainment didn't work, so he moved, which gave me room to stretch out and I went to sleep after watching a movie with one of my favorite Japanese actors in it. I woke up with a couple of hours to spare and watched another movie and landed at Los Angeles Airport at 1 PM. I got back to OKC at 11:15 PM, so according to a clock, I had only been gone 4 hours, which was strange.

Lessons Learned

1. Get mobile Wi-fi. I'm being serious. You will not get any important emails. I almost missed my interview due to that lack of communication.

2. Bring some extra money. I had over $500 and it barely covered my expenses.

3. Learn some Japanese, I occasionally used the skills I had to overcome the language barrier a little. Most residents do speak Japanese, so don't be afraid to ask questions. They will do your best to answer you.

4. Get a SUICA card. I got one and it helped a lot. What a SUICA is good for is it can be used on all types of trains and buses. You may have to refill it about once every two-three days but it helped to get where you're going.

5. Enjoy. If you want to have a great time, just believe you can do it and go out there.

Final Wrap-Up

I got to see a lot of sights and hear the sounds of a big city atmosphere and I loved it, I will definitely go back in a year and do the same things over or journey more around Japan.

I want to thank everyone I met and helped me throughout my journey, I may have not caught your name but Thank You!

You can follow me on Twitter or post your comments here. I don't mind.

And as always Please Wherever You Are Or Whatever You Do, Enjoy Life To Its Fullest And Have A Fantastic Day!