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Old 2009-03-22, 11:42   Link #481
LynnieS
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Join Date: Mar 2003
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guardian Enzo View Post
Afterward, after discovering Odaiba is much bigger than it seemed (Tokyo has that effect) I went to Oedo Onsen. After some fumbling with the procedures (dressing and changing rooms, not to be confused, and no less than 3 locker keys) I spent two of the most relaxing hours of my life once the embarrassment factor died down. Lots of indoor and outdoor baths, and a foot onsen complete with Dr. Fish (Google it). I did the whole routing - drank coffee milk after, soba and beer... They have a nice setup where you can lounge around their recreated Edo village in your yukata and drink and eat, etc. Lots of fun. Hokey? Sure - but for a tourist, lots of fun.
But the food was so bad... OTOH, the resting lounge was, I thought, excellent. Friends and I just fell asleep there for a couple of hours - happily snoring away. Did you try the sand bath as well? Not too bad, but watch out in case of ants...

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Originally Posted by Guardian Enzo View Post
Most of the ones I checked out seemed borderline sleazy, and I hated the one at Don Quixote - crass and artificial. The "Cafe With Cat" easily had the most style and a real sense of humor. Nya!
Even the native Japanese whom I know don't go to these. Many of those in Akihabara were, when I was interested in going, were in buildings that... Let's just say weren't exactly nice looking? Akihabara has cleaned itself a lot now, though; it lost a lot of the old character, which is too bad.

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Originally Posted by Guardian Enzo View Post
I'd really hoped to find some unusual T-shirts like "Beck" or "Major" or something, but no luck really. Is there a better place to look for that than Cospa?
There is this small shop on the second floor of Radio Building that carries some of these things, but Animate is pretty much the place where I would tell people to go.

The Radio Building is by the southwest part of the JR Akihabara station - about 30 seconds out of the Electric City gates. Go out these gates, and turn left. You'll see a Labi store with (usually) a guy rapping the deals and such in front. Turn to the right and walk along the promenade for 5-10 seconds. Just pass that small artworks(?) shop with the attractive women handing out flyers to it, you'll see a building with an escalator going up on your left. Go up it to the second floor. There are some small shops in the building along with a Volks store on the 8th(?) floor.

For a (very bad) map - http://www.k-books.co.jp/

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Originally Posted by Guardian Enzo View Post
I bought a couple doujins (I'll keep which series to myself, to preserve a little mystique) and a couple manga, but I can find published manga at Kinokinuya in SF pretty much as soon as they're out, unless it's an odd title. There are other doujins I'd like to hunt out that I didn't see - any suggestions for a good source in Akiba? Toranoana seemed to have the best selection - Mandarake was good too, but not as easy to browse.
Mandarake is where I go. Either that or go on-line to Toranoana's site or Yahoo Japan's auctions site.

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Originally Posted by Guardian Enzo View Post
Three days left. Weather is horrible today, but I did see the first hearty Sakura at Shinjuku Goyein. I love, love the rail system here in Tokyo - it takes an unimaginably large and complex city and makes it livable and easy to navigate. By far the best I've ever seen - not even close. Little things still jump out at me - like the way the Japanese love to anthropomorphize things. Not just animals, but allergy pills and manhole covers and everything under the sun... You see it constantly in advertising and public signage. I wonder if this ties into the long history of Shinto in this country, and it's power in the Japanese psyche.
Indeed. Today was - and still is - very windy, but tomorrow should be better. More blossoms should be coming out by next weekend as well.
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Old 2009-03-23, 00:54   Link #482
Ryuou
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Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Dying to get back to Japan (but currently near Chicago)
Age: 27
Glad your trip is still going good Guardian Enzo.

Quote:
(who I know through our mutual tragic obsession with the Cubs)
You a Cubs fan? I'm not really into baseball, but I'm a diehard Chicago sports fan. Speaking of baseball, congrats to Japan for advancing in the WBC.
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Old 2009-03-23, 06:19   Link #483
RandomGuy
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Originally Posted by ShimatheKat View Post
Quote:
If I'd missed my Hikari from Kyoto, i would have had to wait a whole 30 minutes (in which time two Nozomi's would have left). In the US even if we had bullet trains, on a route like that it'd probably run once a day.
OMG, I had no idea. WTF happened in US??
Cheap oil, combined with and an ill-advised love affair with the automobile, gutted railroad infrastructure in the U.S. while driving settlement patterns into increasingly decentralized and unsustainable forms. Entire populations would have to reorganize themselves for rail transportation in America to be truly effective again, to say nothing of winning the hearts and minds of an American populace whose mental image of trains is stuck in the 19th Century. (I've had the misfortune of reading a number of blog comments which make it clear that their posters think the Shinkansen runs on diesel, if not coal. I guess all those overhead wires are just for show. ) Things wouldn't be half as bad as they are now if the government gave Amtrak enough money to maintain what facilities it has and make service more frequent, but politicians use crappy, infrequent service and low ridership as a justification to cut funding still further, leading to even crappier, still more infrequent service with even fewer passengers. It's a vicious cycle.

Of course, I'm secretly hoping for people to abandon that blighted exurban sprawl they've forced themselves into, and form discernible communities with walkable business districts centered around the local train station. It's a long shot, but it's an effective model...

Last edited by RandomGuy; 2009-03-23 at 06:35.
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Old 2009-03-23, 07:37   Link #484
Guardian Enzo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryuou View Post
Glad to see you're enjoying yourself Guardian Enzo. I'm not sure if I caught whether you were on this trip by yourself or with family. If you don’t mind sharing.


Yes. Yes he is.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryuou View Post
Glad your trip is still going good Guardian Enzo.


You a Cubs fan? I'm not really into baseball, but I'm a diehard Chicago sports fan. Speaking of baseball, congrats to Japan for advancing in the WBC.
Yes, I was rooting for them - I admire the fundamental baseball they play here and the American players are generally assholes. Every shop I passed today had a radio or TV tuned to the game - the WBC is a huge deal everywhere but the US.
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Old 2009-03-23, 08:14   Link #485
Guardian Enzo
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Join Date: Dec 2005
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Today was a success in that I saw my first Hanami parties, at Ueno park. Not as rowdy as rumored, but only about 10% of the blossoms were really hopping. And these were mostly students, not businessmen - who I hear are the ones who really go nuts at hanami. I did hear some karaoke, though.

Also saw that goldfish scoop thing, at one of the stalls leading to Toshugo. It looks impossible to me. It wasn't in any of the books, but I found Gojo-Tenjin Shrine extremely impressive. Bulk of the day was Kamakura, which was tremendous. The Kannon temple by the seaside there probably ranks second only to Kiyamizudera for me so far, temple-wise. But the hillsides there are just crawling with zen temples and shrines, and who knows how may more than I saw on the maps - there were all kinds of rock stairways leading up into the trees.
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Old 2009-03-24, 09:47   Link #486
Guardian Enzo
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Join Date: Dec 2005
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Last full day... The Hakone circuit, with a stop at a real onsen this time. I love the onsen experience. Another note - I've tried three kinds of curry-pan, and none of the three (two from the same bakery company) looked or even tasted remotely the same - interesting. Another note - heated seats on the Yamanote line. Heated, I tell you!

I hadn't planned it, but something drew me back to Akiba one last time tonight. And lo - I found a doujin that I'd missed before. And I finally found the nerve to ask for the two doujin series I was interested in at Toranoana, and while the very nervous clerk tried to find something while fumbling his Engrish, the theme song from the other series I'd wanted to check for and forgot came on the PA as if divinely sent. I asked, and sure enough, they had a couple (your hint as to the subject: "I'll be bashful!"). A worthy stop, indeed.

And I mustered the nerve to actually sit down and order something at Cafe With Cat, no mean feat for a basically shy gaijin. I'd looked at a couple cafes from the outside but being with a non-otaku friend, really couldn't go in the other night. My initial reactions were confirmed - CwC is basically enjoyably low-key and even sweet - the crowd was an interesting mix and quite respectful towards the nekomimki - clearly a lot of regulars and a lot of joking around. None of the sleaze I felt from the competition.
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Old 2009-03-25, 15:23   Link #487
Guardian Enzo
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And so, it ends...

Last day was Jinbo-cho. Didn't see the Paper Sisters, had an hour and could have spent a day. There was a huge crowd of people headed off towards the Imperial Palace (I think) many in kimono, so I assume there was something going on there. It's interesting that the manga has made such a huge impact on American pop culture, yet the light novel hardly at all. Touring those bookstores you see how huge they are over there. That was followed by a second trip to Harajuku to buy myself a Yukata, and a bowl of kimchi ramen from ichikawa served boiling (I do mean boiling) in a stone crock. It was a unique presentation and quite delicious - too bad they allowed smoking. It was a tiny basement place with no possible way of segregating the smokers out. Then a brief, rainy visit to Meiji Shrine, but at that point my feet were killing me and I was pretty gassed. I must have put 70 miles on my shoes on this trip.

Just when I thought I was really starting to understand Tokyo, I was befuddled yet again. When I left the ramen shop, the waitress called me back in and gestured that I should take one of those ubiquitous plastic umbrellas from the stand. I knew there cheap (400 yen) but I guess they're like the bicycles in Amsterdam - community use.

What an amazing time I had - it's strange and surreal to be home, and that's not just the jet lag. I loved Japan - the mad contrasts of old and new. This is a country of paradoxes - how is it that in a country with such a low birth rate, teenagers seem to be everywhere - and have a huge impact on society as a whole? The utter madness of Tokyo in general and Shinjuku Station in particular, endless waves of people that somehow always get where they're going. Those theme songs on the subways and trains - God, I'll miss those! Are they available as ringtones? The technology. When I checked in at Narita, all I had to do is scan my passport and it pulled up everything and printed my boarding pass. How sugoi is that? And boy, will I miss those onsen. They did wonders for my aching back.

As all great adventures must, it ended with irony. In a country where you take off your shoes everywhere, you go through airport security without taking them off. And when I thanked the information desk lady at Narita for giving me directions to my gate, how did she reply? "Do itashimasshite."

What a country.
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Old 2009-03-25, 20:03   Link #488
asgard_shill
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Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Southwestern US
If you've got some serious coin to throw around and a few days to spare during say Obon, try to hit one of the resorts in Shimoda (my personal favorite is the Shimoda Yamatokan, but I had every bit as much fun quasi-legally camping on the beach).

Just don't try to go in the water at Tatado Beach without a board of some kind. You'll be politely but firmly run off and directed to the other areas there where that sort of heresy is legal. They'll call you a baka gaijin too

The rooms at the Yamatokan are furnished in the classic Japanese style - low tables, tatamis, futons, all the trimmings, with a tremendous view from your private balcony. You're pushing Y30,000 a night offpeak for this, but IMO its worth every bit.
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Old 2009-03-25, 20:38   Link #489
Guardian Enzo
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If anyone can point me to an MP3 for the tune at 0:58, I'd appreciate it more than I can say.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iW_0zOR_bdM

If nothing else - which station is it? I can't remember and it's driving me nuts.
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Old 2009-03-25, 21:19   Link #490
asgard_shill
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It sounds an awful lot like the first few bars of "Seasons in the Sun" by Terry Jacks. I don't have a link to it though - sorry.
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Old 2009-03-25, 21:23   Link #491
Guardian Enzo
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LOL - it's actually one of the "station themes" from the Yamanote line in Tokyo. I'd love to have it as a ringtone. I heard it so many times I can't get it out of my head - I'd at least like to know which station it was.
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Old 2009-03-26, 00:39   Link #492
Ryuou
進む道は武士道のみ
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Dying to get back to Japan (but currently near Chicago)
Age: 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guardian Enzo View Post
LOL - it's actually one of the "station themes" from the Yamanote line in Tokyo. I'd love to have it as a ringtone. I heard it so many times I can't get it out of my head - I'd at least like to know which station it was.
It looks like the station it's played at is listed on the bottom of that video.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RandomGuy View Post
Cheap oil, combined with and an ill-advised love affair with the automobile, gutted railroad infrastructure in the U.S. while driving settlement patterns into increasingly decentralized and unsustainable forms. Entire populations would have to reorganize themselves for rail transportation in America to be truly effective again, to say nothing of winning the hearts and minds of an American populace whose mental image of trains is stuck in the 19th Century. (I've had the misfortune of reading a number of blog comments which make it clear that their posters think the Shinkansen runs on diesel, if not coal. I guess all those overhead wires are just for show. ) Things wouldn't be half as bad as they are now if the government gave Amtrak enough money to maintain what facilities it has and make service more frequent, but politicians use crappy, infrequent service and low ridership as a justification to cut funding still further, leading to even crappier, still more infrequent service with even fewer passengers. It's a vicious cycle.

Of course, I'm secretly hoping for people to abandon that blighted exurban sprawl they've forced themselves into, and form discernible communities with walkable business districts centered around the local train station. It's a long shot, but it's an effective model...
This is something that I dislike and I don't think I'll ever get used to about the States.
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Old 2009-03-26, 02:56   Link #493
Mystique
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Originally Posted by Ryuou View Post
It looks like the station it's played at is listed on the bottom of that video.
Yeah, but the kanji is ugh, I guess he'd like the names in romaji~~
I'm kinda curious myself, haven't heard that tune though.
(and I'm glad it isn't just me who recorded all kinds of JR train music on my first trip to Japan) xD
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Old 2009-03-26, 07:04   Link #494
LynnieS
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guardian Enzo View Post
LOL - it's actually one of the "station themes" from the Yamanote line in Tokyo. I'd love to have it as a ringtone. I heard it so many times I can't get it out of my head - I'd at least like to know which station it was.
That's "Airy" played on track 16 of the JR Shinjuku station (and it looks like 3 other stations?) for the Chuo-Sobu line. Unfortunately, I don't know who is the artist or even if it is taken from an actual song...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NX7hub4QRaE
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Currently listening: Nadda
Currently reading: Procrastination for the win!
Currently playing: "Quest of D", "Border Break" and "Gundam Senjou no Kizuna".
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Old 2009-03-26, 07:31   Link #495
Chronosphere EXIA
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Man! I want to visit this country soon.
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Old 2009-03-26, 10:40   Link #496
Guardian Enzo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LynnieS View Post
That's "Airy" played on track 16 of the JR Shinjuku station (and it looks like 3 other stations?) for the Chuo-Sobu line. Unfortunately, I don't know who is the artist or even if it is taken from an actual song...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NX7hub4QRaE
LOL - that explains, it, it's the track closest to my hotel! Thanks a lot. I had no idea any of the songs (other than the Tokyo Disney stops) actually had names. Now I just need the MP3!
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Old 2009-03-26, 14:32   Link #497
Ryuou
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Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Dying to get back to Japan (but currently near Chicago)
Age: 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mystique View Post
Yeah, but the kanji is ugh, I guess he'd like the names in romaji~~
I'm kinda curious myself, haven't heard that tune though.
(and I'm glad it isn't just me who recorded all kinds of JR train music on my first trip to Japan) xD
Well if you or Guardian Enzo have ones that you want to know, just tell me the time on that video and I can try and tell you the station name. Although my kanji reading capabilities aren't all that spectacular when it comes to names, I should be able to figure it out for stations in and around Tokyo.
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Old 2009-03-26, 16:18   Link #498
Guardian Enzo
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Join Date: Dec 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryuou View Post
Well if you or Guardian Enzo have ones that you want to know, just tell me the time on that video and I can try and tell you the station name. Although my kanji reading capabilities aren't all that spectacular when it comes to names, I should be able to figure it out for stations in and around Tokyo.
:30
1:05 (I think it's Meguro)
1:24
2:44

Strange the impression silly little things like these can make in your psyche. I wonder who writes these things.
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Old 2009-03-26, 21:44   Link #499
Ryuou
進む道は武士道のみ
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Dying to get back to Japan (but currently near Chicago)
Age: 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guardian Enzo View Post
:30
1:05 (I think it's Meguro)
1:24
2:44

Strange the impression silly little things like these can make in your psyche. I wonder who writes these things.
30 - (Spring) Yoyogi 2, Shinagawa 4/14, Kawasaki 4 (ect.)
1:05 - Shinjuku 15, Oomiya 19, Utsunomiya 5 (ect.)
1:24 - (Kigi no mezame) Shinjuku 12, Kamakura 2, Kawagoe 3/4 (ect.)
2:44 - (Spring, new version) Akihabara 5, Yotsuya 3, Ichigaya 2, Tabata 1, Kouenji 2, Tennoudai 1 (ect.)

I take it the season is when it's played during the year. Actually you know what, it's the name of the song. Not sure what the numbers are though. Track, platform, line?
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Old 2009-03-27, 01:46   Link #500
LynnieS
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Join Date: Mar 2003
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryuou View Post
30 - (Spring) Yoyogi 2, Shinagawa 4/14, Kawasaki 4 (ect.)
1:05 - Shinjuku 15, Oomiya 19, Utsunomiya 5 (ect.)
1:24 - (Kigi no mezame) Shinjuku 12, Kamakura 2, Kawagoe 3/4 (ect.)
2:44 - (Spring, new version) Akihabara 5, Yotsuya 3, Ichigaya 2, Tabata 1, Kouenji 2, Tennoudai 1 (ect.)

I take it the season is when it's played during the year. Actually you know what, it's the name of the song. Not sure what the numbers are though. Track, platform, line?
The numbers give the track at which each snippet is played.
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Currently listening: Nadda
Currently reading: Procrastination for the win!
Currently playing: "Quest of D", "Border Break" and "Gundam Senjou no Kizuna".
Waiting for: "Shining Force Cross"!
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