Sunday, January 24, 2010

Japan/SoKor Day 5: Ginza, Partying in Shinjuku

December 15, 2009
Japan Trip Day 5: Ginza, Partying in Shinjuku

Today started off with a quick breakfast of toast and yoghurt from the "Sheven-Eereven" (7-11) just down the alley from the hostel. Also grabbed a quick "hotteh cohii" in a plastic bottle, those are awesome. There were a few folks in my hostel who were going to Siggraph too, so I chatted with them for a bit which was cool. Then, off to meet Tatsuya again at the Shibuya Starbucks!

I successfully found Tatsuya at the Shibuya Starbucks, and then we wandered a bit in "Tsutaya" (not "Tatsuya", but close!), a music store. We joked around and said how cool it was that Tatsuya had his own music store named after him. We wandered to some bookstores and comic stores, and maaaan there are a lot of anime comic books here! Most are in Japanese only, but the art is really cool. We then went to the Post Office and it was SUPER efficient. They were very fast to serve people, there were gifts you could buy for your family in another city and have them gift-wrapped and mailed right away... it was all very organized and Japanese. :) I bought some stamps to send postcards home, but the 70 cent ones just had a boring blue "twitter bird" (looked like the Twitter logo) on it, so I went extra fancy and upgraded to the 80 cent stamps for everyone (haha, big spender) so I could get everyone cooler Anime character stamps! The Post Office is very big in Japan now, and does a lot more stuff including running a large bank. The Post Office ATMs always take "Cirrus" or "Plus" cards (so you can use your American or Canadian bank card directly in Japan), and have an English option for the screen menus (this is a lifesaver!!)

From the Post Office we continued wandering and found some hilariously unexpected stuff like Outback Steakhouse and KFC. Wow, cyclists are crazy in Japan. Everything is perfectly in order, people walk in straight lines on the sidewalks, sidewalks have arrows instructing you where to walk and how to keep orderly... and then come the bikes! Bikes seems to be the only time when Japan is a complete chaotic free-for-all. Bikes weave maniacally throughout massive crowds on the sidewalk and street, driving at full-tilt completely oblivious of the absurd danger they are causing for pedestrians and themselves. It's hilarious and insane... I think people are so organized everywhere else in life, that getting on a bike must be their only time to kick back and ignore any semblance of transportation-related safety. :)

We saw a huge group of white people and they smiled at us. Later on we went for lunch at a Shabu Shabu place, and the huge group of white people was there!! We were excited to chat with some folks who spoke English, and it turns out that they were a big Mormon group all doing their missions in Japan. It was interesting to chat with them and to hear their opinions of Japan. Tatsuya and I then had an excellent all-you-can-eat lunch of Shabu Shabu, and it was sooooooo good.

From there we went to Ginza, and did some shopping. We went to Uni Qlo, a really nice H&M-style store that is from Japan (I think), but they also have it in Europe. It was a cool place and I got a nice purple flannel shirt. There was a huge Abercrombie & Fitch store opening down the street, and there was a lineup 2 or 3 blocks long and TV cameras for the opening!! Crazy!!

We then got to the Apple Store in Ginza and believe it or not... iMenorah was in the frickin' window display!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I couldn't BELIEVE IT. This artwork was created by my buddy Matt and Me, and was not only across Apple's holiday advertising in the USA and Canada, but it made it's way alllll the way to frickin' JAPAN!??!?!!!!!!!!! I was totally excited.

After the Apple Store excitement, we continued on to Le Cafe Doutor in Ginza to get a nice Mille Feuille cake, and I got a "Blended" coffee (rather than an "American" coffee - still not sure what the difference is!) Had a nice long chat and relax talking with Tatsuya there and watching the colourful streets of The Ginza. Then said goodbye to Tatsuya, and headed back to my hostel to meet up with some new friends there.

I got back to the hostel, dropped my stuff, and went down to the common room to hang out with my new buddies there. I'd chatted the night before to Ben, Jon and Lynsey (cool people from England) and they were keen to go out tonight. We headed out soon after for Shinjuku! We got there and, in a classic Jutan moment, while standing across from a HUGE set of lights and busy city goings-on, I said "There might be something to do over there!" Haha. Ben thought that was hilarious and in true British wit, responded with "Yeah, I dunno, I guess there might be something to do over there!" We got some great curry for dinner and Asahi, and then wandered throughout Shinjuku via some dodgy club district. Some random weird guy/club promoter asked us "So, what kind of beer do you like?!" trying to entice us into his random morally questionable establishment, I expect. haha. We didn't fall for it and instead chose a nice little pub where an older dude standing outside said, "Hey, come in, just for 1 drink!" It seemed like it would be a friendly place, and it definitely was. There was Shochu on the menu, and I'd presumed it was the same thing as I'd had the night before at Alcatraz E.R. with Tatsuya: a nice, light mixed drink... right? It said there was a brown sugar one, so I tried that. Turns out it was just straight shochu and it was "extracted from brown sugar" (ohhhhh, I get it now). The bartenders laughed at us cause we were so surprised with what we got when we ordered it. The other guys ordered some plum wine (which was a much better choice) :) After that we wandered some more and found a really fancy/classy spot where I ordered a tiny daiquiri and managed to spill half of it within 10 seconds. We missed the subway back (I think it closes at 12 or 1) so we took a taxi back to the hostel. The taxis are funny here, the driver presses a button and the back door swings open for you! It's really funny. It was a great evening, and when we got back tons of people in the hostel were still up so we yapped with them until 3ish. Great times. :)

Monsters Inc and other Pixar DVDs in Japanese

This was cool, each DVD came with a microSD card version of it (for your cell phone, presumably)

Trying on some fancy glasses

Halloween costumes

...and the hot halloween costumes

Then I had to try the hats on

I think this is kosher

Hahaha, Japan is crazy

Exciting underpants (look at the faucet one on the right!)

At the Disney Store

Cool "Andy's Room" setup at the Disney Store

Outa-baku Steak-a-haus-u!


Tatsuya and I went to get Shabu Shabu, it was super good. You have a bubbling bowl of soup in the center of the table, and you boil thin slices of beef and vegetables in it.

All-you-can-eat vegetable and tofu options at the Shabu Shabu place

New Balance "Rainbooww Runninnng!" - the craziest shoes I've ever seen

Cool store in Ginza

DeBeers in Ginza

Matsuya (not Tatsuya!) Ginza store

And then I freaked out. iMenorah (my iPhone app that I created with Matt) made it into the store display... at the Apple Store... in friggin' Tokyo, Japan!

iMenorah on the "App Store Christmas Tree" in Apple Store Ginza, Tokyo

Super excited


Checking out the Japanese tunes

There was a cool talk at the store tonight, but we had to race off to see the rest of Ginza

App tree from inside the store

Apple Store from the outside

Cool display

Ginza is awesome at night


Siiiiick H&M in Ginza

Doughtnut Scotch tape

Bobbleheads galore

Toy Story stuff

More Pixar stuff

Disney Store cars

Cool Cars from the "Mater's Tall Tales" Cars Toons

Lots of Totoro stuff!!

The "Japanese Monster" section


A crazy somewhat "Up"-inspired invention called "Bowlingual Voice"... seems to be a collar for your dog so he can speak Japanese??!!!!!

Hahaha, wow

People lining up down the block and TV crews for the new Abercrombie & Fitch store opening

Interesting balcony

Bling bears

Now I've seen it all... a doughnut version of a gyros store

More cool displays

Then we got tea at Le Cafe Doutor

Mille Feuille and Coffee

Nice view of Ginza

Then off to Shinjuku with the Brits

"I bet there's something to do over there!"

Dinner time


Dimly-lit fancy bar

Good food

Classy move of the night: spilling my tiny daiquiri drink at the really fancy bar

Back at the hostel at 2am

Utaka excited to see us

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