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Trains

Know Your National Holidays… (Japan – Autumn 2018 Day 5)

Once again I woke before every one else in the house – around 6:30 am. I was not feeling well, and I noticed that my limbs had swollen even worse and my face was very puffy… I assumed it was due to some digestion issues of a rather uncomfortable nature  – things have… not been moving for a few days. Walking has been very uncomfortable due to all of this swelling and it has me quite concerned. 

Again I was ready to upload my blog to the website, but discovered that my photos were not uploading… finally I received a message that the server was taking too long to respond and it seems that the wifi included with our AirBnB has been throttled. I’m assuming that the 4 others have been using it as well because I’m certain that although I use my own fair amount of data it’s not enough to cause a throttle! 

I tidied my closet, straightened some things in the living room and caught up on messages…. at noon I was still waiting for the gang to get going and out of here and it was, quite frankly, making me very tense and upset. 

We decided to meet Chris in the afternoon but the group decided to first stop for Yakiniku for lunch – we went to a place called Kuidon, which I believe is a chain. We had a private booth with our Korean style bbq table and for just over 1,200 yen I had a feast!

 

Grillin’ dat meat!

We had a private room at Kuidon Yakiniku – a very nice experience and a very nice value.

Bellies satisfied, we moved on to our train and headed to Shinjuku, with the intent to go the the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden… we enjoyed walking the streets and found some beautiful street murals and funny signs.

 

Part of a mural in Shinjuku – I need to go back and get a panorama of this because it was awesome.

 

We even found a pop up cafe for FIKA! (Fika is a large part of Swedish life… basically it means to have a coffee and a pastry, often a cinnamon bun… but it’s much more than that as it’s a relaxing social time to reconnect with people and relaxation) We wanted to stop for fika but the shop was closed. 

We soon arrived at one of the gates to the garden – only to find that it was CLOSED! As it turns out if there is a national holiday that falls on a monday, then the next day the park is closed. Needless to say we were all quite disappointed… I messaged Chris to let him know that our next plan was to visit the Artnia store at the Square Enix headquarters.

There are SO MANY THINGS that I would have loved to purchase from that store… so much temptation. It’s a special place… sadly, all of the special figures in the museum portion of the building were all empty as the figures were on loan to another exhibit elsewhere in the city.

 

Artnia building at the Square Enix headquarters – a must visit for me each time I visit Tokyo.


After Artnia, we went to downtown Shinjuku and the Monster Hunter Cafe! They charged a 500 yen cover charge per person… despite the cute theming of the cafe I still feel like it was overpriced and we could have enjoyed a peek and a few photos from the doorway just as well without spending that plus the cost of drinks. Gotta say though, Capcom is being smart with all of this promotion and cashing in on the popularity of this game series – well done, Capcom… well done.

 

This Palico was big – a little over a third of my height. Monster Hunter Cafe.

 

After Monster Hunter Cafe, Paulina split off to go home and rest, Joy went back to Akiba for DDR. Chris, Zach, Fredrik and I wanted honey toast, but the restaurant was closed for the night… we did find out that a Tex-Mex bar upstairs also served the honey toast (apparently the building was one large hotel resort thing so the menu was universal to all eating spaces)

Honey Toast is a big loaf of bread, hollowed out, toasted and drizzled with honey… then filled with ice cream and fruit and other sweet toppings. These absolutely cannot be consumed by your self, or even two people… two honey toasts for 4 people was even too much – I think that in retrospect I could have been satisfied with just one shared amongst 4 of us as it was so sweet and filling. It was delicious but I think that now that I’ve tried it, I probably will never have it again. Also of note: It’s tasty, but nothing worthy of your palette… simply novel and interesting.

 

Honey Toast – I’ve got this out of my system now. Never again. (too sweet)

 

Chris was very tired so he said goodnight… Zach and Fredrik and I roamed around Shinjuku a bit longer to see all of the beautiful lights and then we headed home. There were good moments in the day but overall I was rather unhappy and decided that when I want to be active I will just split off on my own and not worry about the group – we can always join up again later. I discussed this with a few of them and they weren’t upset at all and in fact encouraged me to do so.

 

Shinjuku is beautiful at night – I was definitely feeling the Lost in Translation feelings today.

 

I love the detail on the street gates? posts?

 

I am a very active person, and I do believe that my style of enjoying a vacation most likely differs from the average person… I don’t sit still much so taking the day in such a slow manner drives me a bit crazy. 

Many personal things also bubbled to the surface of my mind as well, and I was finding difficulty to keep a happy attitude, all things considered. I think that tomorrow I will get some “me time” and visit a shrine to cleanse my restless spirit.


Technology Fails, Anxiety and also Fun Times (Japan – Autumn 2018 Day 4)

A veritable cornucopia of experiences this day most certainly was, as my emotions got tugged to and fro for a variety of reasons and circumstances that were largely beyond my control.

Not to say that I was emotional, as I largely was not but rather to say that things evoked internal emotional responses that were, to say the least, trying and frustrating to a person who just wanted to get things done and organized and out of the way so that she could fully enjoy her day without the thoughts of things needing to be done hanging over her head.

Goodness was the start of my morning – despite being drunk the night before (only my second time ever in my entire life) I was NOT hungover! I drank quite responsibly and for every ounce of alcohol that I consumed, I also drank an ounce of water, possibly more. I slept really well – definitely not having a sneak attack of jet lag woo woooo!

The first order of the day was to finish writing my blog post from the day before as I most definitely did not finish it that night! Second thing to do was to get my new (old) iPhone 7 set up… this is where things started to go south and without going into all minutiae, I had to re-set passwords and download my old profile… this took  F O R E V E R. Also… my MacBook simply would NOT transfer all of my previous day’s photos onto itself for some unknown reason – it’s very frustrating and sad that my iPhone won’t properly communicate with an Apple product… I expect this behavior when I plug it into my Windows PC, but not with Mac! I have had a long history of having to deal with this tedious file management so rather than try and try and try again to get the Mac to take the pictures, I simply emailed the ones that I wanted to myself, downloaded them onto my computer and inserted them into my blog post. Done and done.

Having all of this take literally my entire morning ( I had been up and about since 6 am) I was feeling stressed and very anxious… that anxiousness ended up permeating my entire day, I am sad to say, despite my best efforts to “let it go”.

At noon I finally gave up on getting all of the apps fully restored onto my iPhone. The Swedish Crew and I headed to Shibuya to see what we could find. First stop: Hachiko, of course! We had to say Hello to the OD! (the Original Doge)

We visited Hachiko! It wasn’t too crowded so we were able to selfie with him quickly.

 

Paulina mentioned wanting to see The Scramble from above so after crossing The Scramble ourselves, we went into the Magnet by Shibuya 109 (Shibuya Men’s 109 re-branded building) 

Up we went to the 7th floor, where there is a Fatburger and an onigiri bar (I can’t even imagine how many varieties they serve!)… it’s a cozy atmosphere there with loads of seating away from the main eating areas – I might take my computer there to get some work done!
(I forgot to snap a pic – later)

I really liked this open space leading to the Shibuya Crossing viewing platform.

Mural at the Magnet viewing area… my hair was still halfway decent at this point of the day yay!

 

Outside we went, and got a very nice view:

Twuuuuu Wuvvvv!

Da Boyz

Joy swears that he wasn’t actually trying to give me rabbit ears, that he was just doing a peace sign.

It wasn’t until afterward that I realized that we had almost an exact duplicate of a photo that we all took together in Stockholm 3 years earlier awwww! <3

 

Then one of them noticed that there was a way to have your photo taken from above with the scramble below as well – it was 1,000 Yen so we all payed a part to get these photos! You scanned a QR code with your phone which takes you to a website – you have 100 seconds to snap as many photos as you want by tapping your phone… we all looked up at what we thought was the camera but turns out that we all looked at what would be the spotlight that turns on at night and not at the camera itself – how silly we all felt!

Bird’s Eye view of The Scramble… with us looking in the wrong direction oops.

In the lobby of the Magnet building there was a Hello Kitty photo op… the sign said to be sure to use your flash which we thought was not necessary, but then when we looked at the photo, the black background had turned into a nice collage – that was cute!

We were all hungry (except for Joy) and so we went around the corner to Genki Sushi because it was fast and cheap – not the best sushi of course but to a hungry belly it’s all the same anyway, eh?

From there, the guys split off from Paulina and I. We girlies went to Loft to explore a bit… I showed great restraint by not purchasing a single thing, though many things both needed and just wanted called out to me… I remained steadfast and just looked. After Loft we spent a little time on a side street being silly:

I can’t even

 

A rare sight… an empty train! Mere seconds later two people joined us in this car.

After along while we left, found some unusual KitKat flavors to sample and went home for the night. While out I discovered that my phone data had been throttled… apparently when my iPhone was being set up, for some reason it used my data instead of wifi, which it isn’t supposed to do… so now I have 4 more days of only having enough data to use my maps and nothing else!

We met up with da boyz in Akiba… played some games and then went home.

 

 

 


Planes, Trains and Dying Batteries (Japan – Autumn 2018 Day 1)

Literally the only pic I snapped yesterday… and it was accidental… forward facing camera oops for the win.

This trip started out about as ordinary as it could be… I fussed over packing my necessities, then unpacked, sorted and re-packed… about 5 times. I stayed up late the night before my flight to acclimate my sleep schedule to that of where I was traveling to. I made a loose list of places I would like to see when I visit. I hopped onto a plane and had an un-eventful, and even pleasant flight with no one sitting in the seat next to me.

Then little things started to unravel… my sinuses decided to become swollen and painful… the line at immigration was looooong – it took more than an hour to get through when usually it’s no more than 20 minutes. Lines looked long for train tickets…. and then I learned why. One of the express lines was not functioning due to “electrical failure”… another of the local lines was not running either so I decided on the Narita Express, which I would normally take anyway (but wasn’t going to this time because it wasn’t a direct route to my end destination).

The line to purchase those tickets was L O N G. Like wait for 45 minutes long. Ticket bought, I proceeded to the platform to wait for my train to be cleaned from the prior run.

Boarded train, settled in… time to go! Train does not go. Five minutes later: train does not go. Announcement says that the track is being cleared of something… my heart sinks because I think that it must be a jumper. Five more minutes pass… then another 5 and another 5. In Japanese they ask us to disembark the train and go across the platform to another one… we all do so and sit there for another 15 minutes.

Train is a local one so it stops at every station. Soon we come to Chiba, where we are told to get on yet another train, which apparently everyone else in Tokyo was also getting on to. It’s raining. It’s humid. People are grumpy and shoving onto the train like they’re packing a sardine tin. I feel guilty for having so much luggage, especially when I actually prefer to travel very light. Aching muscles and exhaustion were making me really grumpy… you get the idea.

I made it to the neighborhood where my friends had rented an AirBnB only to have my phone die right as I got the the block where it was supposed to be… EVERY door on that block had the same number so I was confused as to which one I was supposed to enter! Eventually after waiting for my phone to charge enough to turn back on (and it ended up not turning on for another 15 minutes) I knocked on a random door  – a very kind older woman answered and her face lit up when she saw me, which was a reassuring comfort that I really needed at that moment. In very broken Japanese I told her that I was looking for an AirBnB and she knew right where to take me to – she waited until Paulina let me in before she left my side! What a kind woman!

All in all it took me 5 hours from when I left immigration to make it into the AirBnB… exhausted starving and half drenched from a soaking rain I dropped my bags and then immediately walked down the block to a Lawson’s to grab some snacks… that was actually just a few minutes ago. I am completely exhausted and at this writing I can barely keep my eyes open so it’s time to wander upstairs to my tatami mat and lay my weary head to rest. Day 1 of Japan Autumn Trip complete!