First up today was browsing through Family Mart, which I found out as I explored is the Japanese Walmart. The only reason I was browsing a grocery store at 10am was that I needed to kill some time as I waited for the rest of the shops to open.
I wanted to go to the Uniclo right near my hostel to buy the winter jacket I saw the other day. I decided I really liked it and is worth shipping home. I managed to grab a couple of boxes from a local 100 yen shop (Dollarama type store) and hoped it fit (it did). Got the jacket and won a scratch and win prize of 500 yen to use in the shopping centre I was in, and used it to buy an assortment of Japanese candy to ship home as well.
I wasn’t planning on sending anything back, but I want some of the cool stuff I’ve seen.
After wandering around for bit, I dropped my stuff off at the hostel and headed for Ueno. There is a giant park here along with a place called Yanaka Ginza that’s known for the wandering cats that hang by the Yuyake Dandan staircase. Sadly I only saw one cat, so that was slightly disappointing. However I did manage to have some delicious crispy snacks from a local shop, along with some street side dim sum. So tasty, I just love trying random foods everywhere I go here!
Next up was Ikebukuro, home to Sunshine City entertainment complex and about a billion arcades.Sunshine City is home to a couple of mini indoor theme parks, J-World Tokyo and Namjatown. It is also home to a Pokemon store, which was the most insane crazy crowded store I have ever seen. The line must have been 250-300 people long and wrapped around the whole place. Just for Pokemon!
As I wandered the streets, I popped into a couple of the arcades and pachinko places. These people mean business. There were so many types of games I have never seen, and their favourite is called the UFO, or as we call it in North America the claw game. The prizes are stuffed toys and action figures, but people treat these games the same way as gambling. Interestingly enough, gambling is illegal in Japan so this fills the void for people since they cannot win money, prizes are given out instead by trading in your tokens or balls.[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.ggpht.com/-WYyD9VTg6UA/VI08jfMUF3I/AAAAAAAAMqQ/5tPHB34Djlw/s144-c-o/IMG_20141214_161742.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/106936826608506155895/20141214?authkey=ORypHgJ55F0#6092592451268384626″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”IMG_20141214_161742.jpg” ]
My next destination was something right up my alley called Tokyo Dome City. It is an entertainment complex that has an amusement park, stadium, hotel, shopping and other awesome stuff. Totally my thing. As I wandered around looking at all the attractions at the park, I was awestruck about how cool Tokyo really is. I know I keep saying it, but there is so much to discover here. My style of travel is to do a lot of research before my trip, then as I venture around I find even more things to see. I like to be flexible and just wander, which is how the best experiences always happen.
[pe2-image src=”http://lh6.ggpht.com/-9kRYio1wKEw/VI1FW1Vx5qI/AAAAAAAAMq8/xO7QNf967CQ/s144-c-o/IMG_20141214_164428.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/106936826608506155895/20141214?authkey=ORypHgJ55F0#6092602129480017570″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”IMG_20141214_164428.jpg” ]
Since I was at an amusement park, I had to ride something. I didn’t want to pay for a full pass as it was around $40, so instead I picked one attraction that was very unique: The Big-O Ferris Wheel. It happens to be the worlds largest centreless ferris wheel. Tickets are 820 yen, so about $8, but the experience was priceless. Not only do you get an amazing view of the city for 15 minutes, there is a built-in multimedia screen that lets you select music for your ride. I listened to some incredible J-Pop as I made my journey up and around. How cool is that? I’m totally terrified of heights, but this was so much fun.[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.ggpht.com/-E71nUoQbYN4/VI1ngsNL1SI/AAAAAAAAMsk/e_3j9UCbmHU/s144-c-o/IMG_20141214_182319.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/106936826608506155895/20141214?authkey=ORypHgJ55F0#6092639682222085410″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”IMG_20141214_182319.jpg” ]
[pe2-image src=”http://lh6.ggpht.com/-a3LQkEBDr2E/VI1nepjGHSI/AAAAAAAAMsY/ooJh96XEmfY/s144-c-o/IMG_20141214_180630.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/106936826608506155895/20141214?authkey=ORypHgJ55F0#6092639647148940578″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”IMG_20141214_180630.jpg” ]
I also managed to visit the 45th floor of the Tokyo Dome Hotel. FYI I always walk through the front door of many hotels like I am staying there and never have any problems wandering around and exploring. You can have some awesome experiences this way, like incredible views of the city and super nice bathrooms, all for free!
Finally my last stop was to visit Akihabara, home to a million electronic stores and a large hobby shop filled with awesome comic and manga fan-boy things. I don’t know about 99% of the popular anime, manga and other things here, but I plan on getting into it more in the future because it’s all so cool. I keep overusing the words cool and awesome because I really don’t know how to describe everything im seeing. Sensory overload. That is how I would describe this whole experience.
As always after my 12 hour day, I am exhausted. Off to bed in a bit and spending my last half day tomorrow heading to Tokyo Skytree before flying to Bangkok tomorrow night. I know I’m going to miss the magical toilets here, along with about a million other things. It is all good, because I come back for 24 hours on my way home to Calgary! God I love this place!