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I've done three trips with TPR now. One as an official TPR trip (the last year they did official TPR trips) and two Robb & Elissa trips. I've always meant to post these trips here but never got around to it. Call me a procrastinator (I am). I was debating whether to post my 2016 East Coast Trip first or this 2015 Japan one, and I was going to post the most recent one first, but after seeing another 2015 TR on here recently, I figured its not too late to post a 2015 TR.

 

I was lucky enough to be invited to partake in this trip after just being on one official TPR trip, and 1 and 1/2 West Coast Bashes and I am ever grateful for it. When I heard there was going to be a Japan trip I jumped at the chance to get on board, as reading TPR's 2011 Japan TR is what got me to sign up to TPR to be a forum member after being an on and off lurker for awhile. My goal was to eventually go to Japan, and that goal was about to be fulfilled.

 

In June of 2015, I set off to Tokyo several days before the official start of the trip so I could sightsee on my own and absorb Japan and soak in all its awesomeness. I started off by flying out of San Luis Obispo (SBP) at 6AM on June 9th and connecting through SFO and SeaTac (SEA) before arriving at Narita (NRT) after 5PM the next day. I've never flown out of my local county airport before but I got a good enough deal to justify flying out of there and not having to go to LA or the SF Bay Area to fly. The flights was booked through United and the domestic flights were on United, but the trans-Pacific flight was on their Star Alliance partner ANA, so I was happy about that.

 

When I arrived at Tokyo, I went straight to Shinjuku and spent my first night in a capsule hotel (one of the nicer ones though). The next day I spent walking around Shinjuku absorbing everything before finding my hostal for the next five nights along the Sumida River. I spent a couple of more days just exploring and walking around the city seeing some major sites like the gardens of the Imperial Palace before meeting with TPR members for the pre-trip day to Tobu Zoo. Anyways, on to some pictures.

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Boarding my early morning flight out of San Luis Obispo to San Francisco.

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Boarding a plane the old school way!

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It was quick and painless flying out of SLO, and it was cool seeing my Central Coast region by plane.

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Flying over Stanford University in Palo Alto. It was about a 45 minute flight to SFO.

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After a quick layover at SFO, off we go again!

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Flying over the Evergreen State. Almost made it to Sea Tac!

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Almost time to board my plane to Tokyo!

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Amazing view of Mt. Rainier from Sea Tac Airport, which is between Seattle and Tacoma.

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ANA lets you review the menu options on the seat monitors before they come by and ask you which one you want. This is the menu for the Japanese set.

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This is the menu for the International set.

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Flying over Olympic National Park which had plenty of snow on its mountains in June.

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I went with the Japanese menu set, since I'm going to Japan.

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My first glimpse of Japan! Nice long sandy beaches and if you look carefully you'll notice they're lined with wind turbines. Clean energy for the win!

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OMG! Look how green Japan is! Coming from drought stricken California I was excited to see this much green.

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I haven't even gotten off the plane yet and I already had my first Hello Kitty sighting.

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So excited to be here!

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I just got through customs and immigration. What should I do first?

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They didn't just have drink vending machines, they also had ice cream ones!

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Check out the vending machines! So many choices, what should I try first?

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I tried this ice cream which was a blueberry & cream one if I recall correctly.

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I went with a ume plum soda - very Japanese!

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My first step outside in Japan.

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Time to take the N'EX (Narita Express) train into the city. Its about an hour ride from Narita Airport to Shinjuku and I got to witness a sunset on my way there.

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Made it to Shinjuku! This is my capsule hotel for the night. The Shinjuku Ekimae branch of the Anshin Oyado Luxury Capsule Hotel.

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Time to experience my first capsule hotel on my first night in Japan.

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This is a sign explaining how to use all the features on this awesome Japanese toilet. My first experience with a Japanese toilet was at the airport though.

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Since this was a deluxe capsule hotel as opposed to a basic one, it included features such as an onsen, and a dining/living area with included snacks and free pour vending machines. These drinks pour into small cups that pop down and I could try as many of these as I wanted to. Not all of these were sodas or cold drinks, they were also hot drinks like tea and coffee and even soup!

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This sign was above the urinal in the restroom. #JapanHumor

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The view of Shinjuku from my level of the capsule hotel.

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After taking a hot shower, enjoying the onsen (spa), and having some snacks and beverages I was ready to check in to my capsule for the night.

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It's actually pretty comfy in the capsule. You're provided with a locker to put your stuff in, given a bag with slippers and toweltries (no shoes allowed past the lobby), and if you have a large suitcase (like I did) they put it in storage behind the front desk. I turned on the TV and after a few minutes I was about to crash so I turned it off and went to sleep. Good night from Shinjuku!

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Time to say bye to the California Central Coast. See you again right before the 4th of July!

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My first full day in Japan, I just set out to explore Shinjuku with no real plan except to eventually make it to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building for sweeping views of city. I was checked out of the capsule hotel before 10AM, recharged and ready to go. I was able to leave my suitcase with the front desk so I wouldn't have to pick it up until later in the evening when I was ready to go my hostel.

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The capsule hotel included a breakfast of prepackaged pastries and breakfast sushi (which is mostly rice with a little bit of filling) along with miso soup and vending machine drinks. I'm all set to go!

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Vending machines everywhere with so many choices that you won't know what to try first.

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Starting out with the east side of Shinjuku.

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Time to explore Shinjuku!

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Not just billboards everywhere, but giant video screens too!

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I really liked the look of this building, which looked like it was a mosaic or puzzle. It was some type of apartment building I think.

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Shinjuku is filled with tall and narrow buildings everywhere with a bunch of billboards.

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As you hopefully know, Japan drives on the left side of the road.

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There's a few BKs in Tokyo. I wanted to try this melon float but wasn't thirsty when I was walking by so I figured I'd try it when I saw another BK, which I honestly didn't see for the rest of my time in Japan after this day.

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That elevated railway (along with other train tracks) separates East Shinjuku from West Shinjuku.

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I was randoming walking around Shinjuku and just came upon Godzilla. I honestly wasn't even looking for it (although I did want to find it on the trip).

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Here's a closer up view of Godzilla.

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Right by Godzilla I spot my first Krispy Kreme of the trip.

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I wasn't that hungry at the moment, but I'd eventually try Japanese Krispy Kreme.

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Godzilla is located among this building along with all these fine other stores.

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Time to find Godzilla. Up to the 8th floor we go.

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Great views of Shinjuku from up here.

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This view is from the same level where Godzilla is, the 8th floor of Shinjuku Toho Building, which is the first (lobby) level of the Hotel Gracery.

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In order to see Godzilla up close, you had to order something from the hotel cafe. They could have easily charged an admission to see Godzilla, so having to pay 800¥ for a passionfruit mousse cake instead and still get to see Godzilla seemed like a fair deal. Plus the dessert was really good!

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I found Godzilla after being in Japan for less than 24 hours. Mission accomplished!

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Here's one of Godzilla's claws to give you a perspective of how big it is.

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There's also several different murals of Godzilla.

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Here's Godzilla going to town, tearin' it up!

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Don't eat the Cocoon Tower Godzilla!

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Ah, the views from the top. That's why I'm here. It's totally free to go up both towers to get some of the best views of Tokyo.

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Soaking in those amazing views!

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Yoyogi Park, one of Tokyo's huge city parks.

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There's the Park Hyatt, the famed hotel featured in Lost in Translation.

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Looking down at Shinjuku Chuo Park, the small city park right across the street from the Metropolitan Government Building.

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Tokyo will be hosting the 2020 Olympics in case you already didn't know. Hopefully I'll be back to Tokyo by then.

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Here's a view of the walking street where I first spotted Godzilla.

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Godzilla's view of Tokyo.

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I'm finally thirsty enough to try another vending machine drink.

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Trying to fight jet lag, I need more caffeine, so I try this Pepsi Refresh Shot. It pretty much tastes like regular Pepsi (or maybe more like the Throwback w/ real sugar) with more bubbles and more caffeine.

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After leaving Godzilla, I walked around the neighborhood for a bit longer. I happened to walk by the Robot Restaurant, which wasn't open yet since it was early in the day and it's a night time place anyways. Some people went to the restaurant later on trip and really raved about it, but I didn't try it as I heard it was really touristy and wasn't sure if I was going to like it. Maybe I'll try it next time I'm in Tokyo.

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Another building with jumbo video screens as I walk towards West Shinjuku.

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West Shinjuku has more business type buildings, a.k.a. skyscrapers.

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Here's a modern skyscraper with a Japanese touch.

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And here's the Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower. I love this building!

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I'm on my way to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. Notice the Sizzler photobombing my picture? Yep, they have those in Japan. Nope, I didn't try one.

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Why am I going to the Metropolitan Government Building?

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Although it looks pretty cool, that's not the reason why I'm here.

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The Tokyo Metropolitan Government building has two towers you can go up. I started with the south tower and then went up the north tower. Here is the top of the north tower, time to go to it for more views.

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I can see Tokyo Skytree, which is the tallest building in Tokyo (and Japan) by far, and one of the tallest buildings in the World.

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I can also see Tokyo Tower, which is a replica of the Eiffel Tower built just a few meters higher in a red and white color scheme.

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Bird's eye view of the mess of the city including these elevated highways.

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Mt. Fuji is somewhere off in the distance this way. Its hard to see it in the summertime because it's Japan's rainy season and it is really overcast in the mountains.

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While it's not the tallest building in Tokyo, the Metropolitan Government Building is the place to go for sweeping views of the city in a centralized location. And did I mention its free!

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Looking down on some traditional Japanese architecture buildings.

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I can even see Tokyo Dome City (a.k.a. La Qua) and Thunder Dolphin!

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Another look at two of my other favorite buildings in West Shinjuku (the Cocoon and the white one to the left of it).

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It's been fun up here, but now its time to go down.

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Inside the north tower of the Metropolitan Government Building.

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Don't look down if you're afraid of heights!

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Dusk has hit and its time to turn on the lights on these buildings.

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They have Denny's in Japan in case your wondering.

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Looks like they've been here since 1973, and still sport the retro logo. The menu looks very different though.

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The Cocoon Tower and West Shinjuku look great all lit up.

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The base of the Metropolitan Government Building all lit up at night.

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Tokyo 2020 is going to be lit!

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Time to walk back towards Shinjuku Station.

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Walking through an electronics district.

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I was hungry so I went into a McDonalds and tried one of their Vegetable Chicken Burgers which has veggies right in the chicken patty. It was pretty decent.

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I'm at Shinjuku Station, which is the World's busiest train station.

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With my suitcase retrieved from the capsule hotel, time to head towards my hostel.

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The local trains weren't very crowded tonight.

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My home for the next five nights. The Kurimi Weekly Mansion by the Sumida River in the Minato ward of Tokyo.

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My room was basic and small, but it was clean, and about $35 a night so it afforded me the opportunity to spend extra nights in Tokyo.

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The weekly mansion was a cross between a hostel and hotel. I had my own private room which also has its own bathroom and shower, but no daily maid service.

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Here's a closer up view of the Tokyo Tower so you can see it better.

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Here's a closer up view of the SkyTree.

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I need to go back just to check out the "Godzilla building." And to visit Tokyo Disney. And to get some yakitori . . .

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Great report...looking forward to the rest.

 

After seeing the photos of the Japanese Denny's menu items, I might actually want to eat there (as opposed to the ones in the US).

 

Not sure if I would want to drink something called Pocari Sweat though??

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Great report...looking forward to the rest.

 

After seeing the photos of the Japanese Denny's menu items, I might actually want to eat there (as opposed to the ones in the US).

 

Not sure if I would want to drink something called Pocari Sweat though??

 

It's the Japanese version of Gatorade.

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^ Yes Godzilla does look quite happy tearing up that building!

 

Great trip report thus far! Everything looks so modern compared to the big city I go to (Boston). I really need to go to Japan someday and am looking forward to more updates.

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Thanks for all the responses and kind words. I'll post another update soon, but I'm bit tired tonight.

 

I need to go back just to check out the "Godzilla building."

It's definitely worth checking out. It was literally the new hotness of Tokyo when I was there, being open for less than two months.

 

And to visit Tokyo Disney. And to get some yakitori . . .

They'll be plenty of both of those coming up in this report.

 

After seeing the photos of the Japanese Denny's menu items, I might actually want to eat there (as opposed to the ones in the US).
Some of us did eat there later on in the trip, and I will report on it...stay tuned.

 

Not sure if I would want to drink something called Pocari Sweat though??
It's like a grapefruit flavored Gatorade and quite refreshing, I liked it a lot.

 

Am I the only one who thought this looked a bit phallic?

It's yuge!

 

Great TR, I really miss Japan, that trip was so much fun I want to go back.

That trip was an amazing life experience and I'm hoping to go back by 2020, but I don't know if I can wait that long.

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For the third day of the trip (my second full day in Japan) I walked around central Tokyo (mainly Ginza). It's so easy to get distracted by cool looking buildings and shops just walking around. It was still a couple of more days before I would meet up with the group and ride my first rollercoaster of the trip, but I got my first taste of Yakitori in Japan on this day. Anyways, on to the pictures.

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Right outside the extended stay hotel I was staying at was this vending machine. I had a hard time deciding which iced coffee to get.

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Crossing the Sumida River to get to the Tokyo mainland.

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Off in this distance was this really cool looking bridge.

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Behind me on the right was the Kurumi Weekly Mansion where I was staying, which is the blue building.

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Looking to the north, you can barely see the Tokyo Skytree in the distance.

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Crossing by another inlet of the Sumida River.

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A Shinkansen (bullet train) heading to central Tokyo on an elevated train line.

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My first Starbucks spotting of the day!

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I got a Matcha Tea Latte.

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My healthy Japanese breakfast/lunch.

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There's my future car! Just over two months later I would be getting a blue Toyota Prius.

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Made it to Ginza! Here's a busy intersection with a huge complex of shopping, restaurants, offices, and cinemas.

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Time to walk through the Ginza shopping district.

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There's the Sony building which has a multi-level Sony store.

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The Sony store showcased all of its products and even had a model of a mountain with a train going around it.

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Here's a view from the top level of the Sony store.

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Another Shinkansen slowing down as it heads to central Tokyo.

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I settled on a Strawberry Waffnut and a Watermelon Pop.

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I found a Krispy Kreme in this area. They had so many different donuts that I wanted to try.

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So easy to get lost in these huge buildings.

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Many elevated train lines separate the buildings of Ginza.

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Walking through a more posh spot of Ginza, I notice this cool looking building and car.

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I went up this building, which was a multi-level jewerly store.

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So many designer brands have their stores all in this neighborhood, including Louis Vuitton...

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I entered in this shopping mall.

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..Tiffany & Co...

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...and Cartier.

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Inside they had this umbrella store, since it rains a lot here.

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Looking down on this umbrella store from the top level of the mall.

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They have an Apple store here as well. That counts as a designer brand, right?

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I was thirsty enough for another vending machine drink, so I tried this apple drink, which is basically like the Japanese version of HiC.

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This building had shadow animations playing on it, which was really cool!

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The lights are starting to come on.

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This blue octopus thing was sticking out the window of this department store.

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Everyone is so orderly when crossing the street.

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This is the oldest department store in Tokyo I believe, which has turn of the century European architecture and is completely surrounded by modern buildings.

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I walked by a shop that had hand made mochis, so I got a couple of different ones.

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This French-style building really caught my eye among all the modern buildings.

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Time to check out Bic Camera, which is a huge electronics department store.

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Not only do they have electronics, but they have a whole level just for toys. Here are some cool Mario ones.

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You can buy an awesome Japanese toilet here!

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They also have a huge alcohol section. Yes, alcohol at an electronics store!

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Walking towards Tokyo Station now.

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Here is Tokyo Station, which is one of the largest and busiest train stations in the World.

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Time for my Yakitori dinner. I'm trying out Bird Land, which has a Michelin star.

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I'm starting off with the Shamo Chicken Liver Pâté, which is one of their signature items, even though it isn't Yakitori.

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On to the Yakitori. Here's the Negima one, which has leeks in between the chicken.

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Next, up was the breast meat w/ wasabi.

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Followed by the chicken neck and skin Yakitori.

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I also tried duck Yakitori, which was really good!

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Breaking up the Yakitori with cabbage with truffle salt, which counts as my salad.

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The next Yakitori was the teriyaki thigh meat w/ Sansho seasoning. I don't remember what the beer was, but it was some local, seasonal Japanese craft beer (not Asahi or Kirin).

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Chicken Wing Yakitori, which was one of my favorites.

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I was still a bit hungry, so I also got a Lamb Meatball Yakatori, which was really good.

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After dinner, it was time to head to Tokyo Station to catch a train back to my hotel.

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The Metro was packed tonight! How am I gonna fit on that train?

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Made it back to the Kurumi Weekly Mansion. Good night from Tokyo! More coming soon!

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I can already hear the cringey coaster enthusiasts complaining about there not being enough park TRs.

 

Great TR, BTW. This is still nevertheless very interesting. Japanese culture is so fascinating. Must head over there at one point.

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Enjoying this so far, Andrew! You'll never see me complain about non-coaster travel stuff like this. That's as much of the experience as anything else, especially when heading outside the US. For a place like Japan -- which I hope one day to visit also -- it's already giving me an overview of what it's like.

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I can already hear the cringey coaster enthusiasts complaining about there not being enough park TRs.

 

Great TR, BTW. This is still nevertheless very interesting. Japanese culture is so fascinating. Must head over there at one point.

No one's complaining so far, so it's all good! One more non park day though and the parks will come.

 

Thanks for all the wonderful pictures! That's wonderful that you got such a steal on accommodations.

Hotels.com works out really great for me. Plus they have a rewards program where they average the cost of the last 10 nights you stay with them and you get that amount off the next night after that.

 

Enjoying this so far, Andrew! You'll never see me complain about non-coaster travel stuff like this. That's as much of the experience as anything else, especially when heading outside the US. For a place like Japan -- which I hope one day to visit also -- it's already giving me an overview of what it's like.

I feel the experience alone is worth visiting Japan. All the nice parks, coasters, and sites are a nice added bonus.

 

I miss Japan.

I do too! You're lucky enough that you get to go there almost every year, though I imagine that every time you go there it gets harder to leave.

 

Great TR so far, Andrew! This brings back so many fantastic memories of Japan. Looking forward to more of this report.

It was great meeting you and becoming friends on this trip. Every time I look at my Japan pictures or post an update here it also brings me back. More of the TR and pictures coming very soon!

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