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TR- bert has a Spooktacular time with TPR in Japan!


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The Halloween decorations at every park were so much fun and since Happy Halloween = Happy Halloween in Japanese it was a delight that everyone was saying that to each other Great report! Looks like a fun day! It's great to relive the parts I missed through the pics and stories. Can't wait for more!

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The Halloween decorations at every park were so much fun and since Happy Halloween = Happy Halloween in Japanese it was a delight that everyone was saying that to each other Great report! Looks like a fun day! It's great to relive the parts I missed through the pics and stories. Can't wait for more!

 

I really enjoyed how the vast majority of the Halloween specific stuff was "cute-spooky" at most parks, rather than "scary-spooky" or "bloody-spooky"

 

even the zombie stuff at USJ and Nagashima Spaland were more cute than scary, with Zombie-dance parties and stuff like that going on. (tho the year round haunted house at Nagashima Spaland certainly veered more into scary, what with the floating crucified heads and all. . right? LOL)

 

I think the only park that had really scary "Halloween" stuff, was Fuji-Q.

 

but I really liked that so much of the Halloween stuff was in the "so cute" Category.

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^ it was a little bit of an "older" zoo. . ie: not super modern in it's enclosures. But the animals all looked very well taken care of and happy.

 

there were a few sections I didn't get to, and if I ever get to go back, will prioritize those areas - while still getting rides on Kawasemi of course !

 

working on the next update - Toshimaen.

(I actually surprised myself while unpacking, by discovering that I managed to keep Park Guides from every stop! Even when I don't recall taking a copy. Many of them in English too. It sure is helping looking up the names of areas of the parks and/or rides, as even the ones in Japanese are really cool souvenirs and glad I kept them in my shoulder bag (and put them into a side pocket in the suitcase while back at the hotel).

 

Glad you're enjoying reading along. . having a ball writing it up.

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Confucious Say (?): Every Trip Report of Japan Is...Awesome.

 

Awesome report Bert. I miss so much of what you've just seen, Tobu Zoo woo hoo!

 

Great reporting. Love it all. Again and again.

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^I think the zoo has come a long way in being more of a 'real' zoo and less of a 'typical asian' zoo. When we first went back in 2004 they had a parade with the animals including driving a giant tortoise around on a fork lift. No bueno!

 

that would have horrified me! Glad to hear they have come along so much from forklifting a tortoise.

 

We didn't watch any "demonstrations/shows", but from the set up of the stands for viewing? I got the impression they were more along the lines of "zookeeper talk" and "explaining the animals" rather than watching the animals perform or do tricks. So I found the set ups at least encouraging.

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Getting from Tobu Zoo to Toshimaen, was I believe only 2 trains, with a transfer to a line where (I think) Toshimaen was the final stop (?)

 

Toshimaen is in Nerima area of Tokyo, which is a "Special Ward" section (basically a subdivision of the City of Tokyo).

 

Nerima is a lovely area, and for those of us nerdy types not too familiar with Japan, it mainly would be known to the rest of the world for two main things:

 

1) it's the setting of the long running Manga & Anime "Ranma 1/2"

 

2) it's also the main setting for "Ju-On" - the series of films remade in America as "the Grudge"

(yep, the Grudge house is supposedly in Nerima)

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Since it was after 1pm on a Monday afternoon, the crowds on the trains going back towards the main Yamanote line for the transfer train, were MUCH lighter.

 

we had so much room, we were all able to sit, so Robb snapped this pic.

 

had to include this one, as still DYING over the local in the back right behind Luke, who posed for the pic with us (whom none of us noticed at the time, until Robb shared the pic with us on socials).

 

Look at that thoughtful pose!

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a couple of stops later, and TPR were the only ones in the entire car! (and the one behind us too).

 

it was a TPR Tokyo Train Takeover (TTTT !!)

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so we got a little touristy-crazy

 

hey. . no one will ever know, right? :p

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and about an hour of travel later? we were at the gates of Toshimaen, a wonderfully weird (to me) classic Japanese park.

 

you know how much I loved how Tobu Zoo looked like it had decorated for Halloween with a trip to Walgreens? (and no shade, I really did love it).

 

Toshimaen made a trip to Party City instead. .and it was just as awesome.

 

would I rip Six Flags or Cedar Fair (or Universal) for Halloween Decorations like these? oh, of course. . but for a "Family" Japanese park, I thought these were absolutely wonderful, and fit in pretty perfectly with the vibe of the park.

 

it's a really big park, with sports fields, a large waterpark section (not open today), and a very strange rides set up - with a few coasters, a flume, and lots of flats (all seemingly HUSS) that were all just plopped on top of the buildings there. It was a bit odd, but wonderful at the same time.

 

it was also the 1st park I had been to in Japan that did *not* have a Ferris Wheel - one of only a handful on the trip that did not. That seemed a bit strange for a "family park". .but it's not like one can't ride a Ferris Wheel at lots of other places in Japan.

 

we got there around 2:30, and the park was open until 5, so we had plenty of time to wander and ride.

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but first, a selfie in front of the gate, where they spelled out "Halloween" in balloons.

 

*charming*

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The main gate, with park namesake on it.

 

as you can see some of the balloons had eyes & Mouth paper decorations on them (a la party city) to make them "monsters", but again, it works.

 

I'm not really sure why the American flag is there either, since it was the only flag they had displayed that I noticed. But maybe they knew our group was going to swing by today and so it was a welcome? it was nice, but odd.

 

also very strange, and I really wish I had asked about it, are the winged Horse & Pig mascots in the Toshimaen logo over the main gate. I did see them in a photo op inside the park (and of course, took a pic with them), but this park is heavily branded with Tom & Jerry - as you'll see - so it was strange that the park mascots *aren't* Tom & Jerry.

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Pic courtesy of Robb. . here's TPR being "scary" - or at least some of us trying to be. . .before heading inside the gates to enjoy the park.

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before heading thru the gates tho, I had to stop and take a pic of this Tom & Jerry Halloween display.

 

it's at the same time, terrifying and impressive as hell.

 

A giant "Tom" head, made out of balloons.. with red balloons as tongue - tho if you use your imagination just a LEETLE bit, I can see blood from chewing on the balloon Jerry, who's not in the display !

 

(tho there's a wood cut of Jerry, declaring this a "say cheese! spot")

 

as I said, terrifying and impressive at the same time!

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Park map on dislay along the main walkway going in.

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some really neat "walkway" art, that if you stood in the space directed and took the picture, the flat design on the pavement became a 3D image.

 

I saw similar things a couple of times while in Japan, and it was always pretty impressive how well the 3D effect works in pictures.

 

we went from this walkway directly to our 1st coaster, pretty much as a group (I think maybe 8 of us?).. which was . . wait for it. . on top of a building. LOL

 

for some reason, I didn't take *any* pictures of this coaster tho I'm not sure why I didn't.

sure it was sorta boring but that's never stopped me from taking pics before! Especially since the 1st "car" was a train, simliar to Big Thunder Mountain at Disney.

 

Blauer Enzian is a powered coaster, maybe 1 step above a kiddie coaster. It was basically a double figure 8 design, and most striking about it to me (besides being on a rooftop) was that it had an extremely long train. I think the train may have been 15 cars long. . and they were only loading the 1st 7 or so cars.

 

I recall this clearly, because the operator asked us to each get into our own car, and then they did not load the back half of the train at all.

 

I'm pretty sure, once we rode it, that was because if the train were fully loaded? it never would have made it up the initial lift, as it barely crawled up the 1st half of the figure 8, so maybe the engine is struggling on this powered coaster?

 

we did go thru the course twice, so there was that, and it did have a bit of fun Centrifugal forces going thru the figure 8 layout once we got moving (emphasized by being alone in the row, so i slid back and forth on the turns). .but it was a 1 & done.

 

There was a flume, and a kiddie coaster (called "Kidy Coasteer Mini Cyclone"), but I wasn't interested in a kiddie (no judgement for those who were interested in riding it). . and the flume had a pretty long line, that I didn't want to spend time waiting in when we only had a limited amount in the park.

 

I had noticed several of the flats on other rooftops while we were riding, and was excited to get to try some of those, but since most of the group I was with wanted to focus on the coasters - and I didn't want to wander alone just yet - I stuck with the group and we decided to head to the "marquee" attraction for us at this park: "Cyclone" (aka: the Log Coaster).

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Cyclone had a very long line.

 

but I mean, it's train is a log. . and the seats are lined in Velvet. It's a Velvet Log coaster! should we wait for it even with the long line? there were a lot of school groups in the park, and they all seemed to be in this line.

 

while we were debating, someone pinged the group (Robb? or maybe Trent & Luke) to tell us that Corkscrew had no line at the moment).

 

it was only running one train, and it's a Corkscrew. .but those that rode it said it was riding pretty well.

 

and it sure LOOKED pretty and graceful, looping over the walkway.

 

so we decided to come back to Cyclone later, in hopes the line would die down, and we went over to Corkscrew.

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I'm here to ride rides, so why not.

 

yeah, it's an Arrow Corkscrew with over the shoulder restraints. . but I mean.. ok, let's do this.

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. . aaaaand William and I got placed in the front row.

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yep. . .

 

Honestly, it wasn't too bad, but yes it DID have a bit of headbang going on it.

 

Luckily it wasn't as awful as some other's I've been on (hey Cedar Point!), but yeah, this was 1 and done too.

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we got off the Corkscrew, laughing that we had gone ahead and ridden it, and the line for Cyclone (aka Log Coaster) was still pretty long.

 

So looking around at options, we decided to go into the Mirror House (which was seeming to be a staple at a lot of Japanese Parks. . .but after this one, didn't really see them again, go figure).

 

this one was really, really well done - even tho some figured out the "cheats" (1: look at the floor to follow the worn path, or 2: look at the ceiling, and you can see where the tops of the mirrors are). I chose not to do either, and had a blast figuring my way thru this house, which was hella fun.

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and had some really nice design work such as these Tarot Cards in the windows out front.

 

at this point the group had decided to go ahead and get in line for Cyclone (the line had gotten a little bit shorter, but was still pretty lengthy). I DID want to ride "log coaster". .but in all honestly, I had denied myself for long enough, and I really wanted to go do what I had been most looking forward from the moment Elissa had told us that this park was going to be one of the stops on the trip.

 

So I headed off on my own to get a ride on:

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Carousel El Dorado.

 

Carousel El Dorado, is one of the oldest working Carousels in the world.

 

built in Germany in 1907 by Hasse, it was imported into Coney Island, NY - where it was a mainstay at Steeplechase Park, until that park closed down in 1964.

 

after Steeplechase park closed, the El Dorado sat in storage until it was sent to Japan in 1970 for the Osaka World's Fair - and shortly after that, it was installed in Toshimaen, where it remains to this day (and which is why the American Flags here make total sense to me)

 

this is probably the most beautiful Carousel I've ever been on, and it was running a really long cycle.

 

it's not what one would typically think of as a standard Carousel - the horses, pigs, carriages, do not gallop, or even move (tho at one point they used to).

 

here's what the Coney Island History page has to say about the El Dorado:

 

"Years Operated - 1910 - 1966

Type - Menagerie machine with horses & boatyard animals

 

This fabulous German carousel was built at a cost of $150,000 and imported by John Jurgens in 1910. He had to pay more than $30,000 in customs fees. It was installed in a pavilion with 6000 lamps and a gigantic organ.

 

The menagerie machine contained three platforms, arranged in ascending tiers, each revolving at different speeds. Its crown-like canopy rose to a height of 42 feet. It featured horses, pigs and other barnyard animals.

 

It was blistered almost to oblivion in the Dreamland fire one year later. But George Tilyou salvaged it and placed it within the glass enclosed Pavilion of Fun."

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as mentioned above, the "Menagerie Machine" contains 3 levels, and each level rotates at a different speed:

 

- the outer level the slowest featuring pigs, horses, and wagons.

- the middle level is faster and features horses, wagons, and "teacups" that look like at one time they possibly allowed the rider to spin them.

- and the inner level offers no animals, but instead only velvet covered benches around the inner ring. This level spins the fastest -- offering a ton of centrifugal force.

 

the design style of gorgeous Carousel is Art Nouveau, from the carving style, the ornate light fixtures and statues. . . and the paintings on the inside ceiling? stunning.

 

I was in absolute awe of this thing.

 

It's basically Cedar Downs, if the horses didn't move, and it rotated much faster. I can imagine how insane this ride must have been when the animals moved/the cups spun, while the carousel rotated.

(but I also totally get why they no longer move.. it simply wouldn't be safe for smaller kids to ride it that way).

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I took at least 80 pictures of this. . cutting it down just just a bunch.

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my 1st ride was on the middle level, on a horse.

 

I got to ride history (the horses didn't have names, but I named this one "History")

 

LOL

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so beautiful. .and I can only imagine how stunning this must look in the evening, tho with all the lights on, even in the daytime it was impressive as hell.

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and it has bewbs

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and cherub butts.

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after riding once more on a bench on the inner tier (and man, does that fling you against the outside railing, more than a sizzler does. . i LOVED it), I was ready to make my way back over to Cyclone, but first stopped to snap a selfie by the giant flower display the park had up.

 

Not sure why they had oversized flowers set up in a big display, but I loved how interesting they looked. there did appear to be some plugs coming from some flowers, so gotta wonder if they light up? (tho there seemed to be spotlights aimed at them to light them up. .so maybe not? the park closed at 5pm, so that was before dark tonight anyways).

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Here's that photo op I mentioned earlier, with the Flying Horse/Pig park mascots. This was on the back side of the El Dorado Carousel. . and they had them surrounded by Halloween decorations.

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see? Pumpkins :)

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I made my way back over towards Cyclone after my Carousel fix, and the line had gotten shorter by 1/2, tho the group of folks I had been with were only just at the bottom of the stairs to the station.

 

I said hello to them, told them about the awesome Carousel (something I probably talked about for the next couple of hours), and got in the queue, a couple of switch backs behind them.

 

the wonderful Japanese crowd, who had seen me say hello to my friends, encouraged me to come forwards and join them in the line so we could all ride together. I didn't want to cut the line (I had no issue waiting) and kept saying "no, no, it's fine", but after a lot of encouragement from those in the line to move past them to join my friends? I went ahead and moved forward and by the time we moved up the stairs for the next train, I was back with many of the folks I had been hanging with all day.

 

It's really hard to express just how kind and nice everyone in the Country is. Even with a language barier sometimes? everyone wanted to help, and wanted to make everyone have the best time (it happened again later that night too, that I'll get to in the next update). The Japanese Citizens really impressed me with how polite and just damn *nice* they are. Did not meet one angry, or upset Japanese person while in the Country. It's such a wonderful place.

 

 

and here it comes. . entering the load area of the station (the unload is at the back of the station). . the infamous, Toshimaen "Log Coaster" Cyclone.

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it's not just a "log"

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it's a log, that's covered in brown velvet.

 

so, so awesome. . I mean, it's a whole lot of WFT??. . but that's what makes it so Awesome!

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Jon and I paired up to share a row, and we're smiling. . .

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until clipped the seatbelt on and realized this was gonna be a "snug" ride

 

BWAAAA-HAAAA-HAAAAA

 

but the crushed velvet was so nicely padded, it was great that we were so snug in our log.

 

(tho thank goodness those lap bars aren't really lap bars. . they didn't come down at all, and were just there to hang on to).

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a quick pic before we head out (and yes, i had permission from the operator to take this picture - I wear shorts with zipper pockets, so it was easy to slip the camera back in after taking the pic and zip up before heading out)

 

the seats behind us were full, so it wasn't a full TPR takeover (like on the train :) ), but the first 6 rows of the Log-Train was TPR!

 

Cyclone catches you by surprise. . it doesn't seem to do a whole lot, just some up and downs thruout the park, on the bright blue track you see supported on giant pylons while walking around.

 

but then it dives past the flume, does a turn around, and disappears into a long, dark tunnel. I mean, really long. So long, you lose your sense of speed, and it feels like you are absolutely flying.

 

Then you finally shoot out at the end of the tunnel, and up into the station. . with us all laughing and clapping.

 

what a wonderful, unexpected, element of this coaster.

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after this fantastic time on the coaster, we split up a bit as some folks wanted to ride the kiddy coaster, or re-ride Cyclone.

 

I am a big flats fan, and wanted to try out some of the parks Huss collection - especially since they are all on rooftops.

 

I had spotted a Magic Experience on the roof across the way while we were pulling into Cyclone's station and wanted to head over there. I had only ridden one before, at MarineLand in Niagra Falls, and loved it.

 

So I brought up that I was going to ride it, and when I found out that Allison had never been on one? convinced her, David, and Jon to come with me to ride.

 

it ran a shortish cycle (something that was true of all the Huss Flats at Toshimaen), and it wasn't super intense, but it was good. So good, we got off it and immediately got back in line to ride again.

 

William wasn't interested in riding Magic with us, but he wanted to conquer his fear of heights (maybe not "fear" since he DID want to get on the Condor on the adjacent building top (called "the Eagle" here). . but his dislike of heights).

 

Neither he or Allison had ever been on a Condor, so we went across to the other building and got a ride. I snapped this pic as proof that he did it :) you can see the "Magick" sign from the ride we just got off of on the building across the way

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and a selfie in my "bird bucket"

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I asked before the ride started, if it was OK to take pictures during the ride as long as the camera stayed inside the car, and got the thumbs up from the operator.

 

you get a fantastic view of the park from this ride while it's running.

 

this is looking towards the front of the park - the Blue Track is Cyclone, you can see some of the helix from the figure 8 track of Blauer Enzian coaster on a rooftop, the Red Track is the Kiddy Coaster Mini Cyclone, the flume, a kiddie train, some of the slide structures and lazy river from the waterpark area, and in the center - a ride pad, that looked like something had recently been removed, but not sure what may have been missing from just looking at the map.

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the other direction, you can see the top of a wave swinger, & Swing Around (on the roofs of the buildings across the way), and part of Corkscrew's corkscrew.

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looking across the parking lot towards the Narima Prefecture, and the homes there. . there are a lot of people living in this area, so I'm sure this park gets a lot of local support.

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a better look at Cyclone's station (and the "log train" is there just after the lift hill, about to go down the 1st drop).

 

it was post 4pm, and the park was starting to empty out (it closed at 5, remember). So not a lot of people in this picture, but there's also a good view of the swinging ships (on the building rooftop, of course), that are not running only because no one in line, and on the building rooftop just behind it is a Huss Breakdance, and a Huss Troika.

 

you can also see the Huss Magic Experience we just rode in this pic too.

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slightly blurry, but better picture of the Swing Around, and Corkscrew's layout along the back of the park.

 

it really is a lovely amusement park, with some nice trees thruout, making for a lovely setting.

 

Cyclone is also just about to go down the drop in this pic.

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Mr Hot-Dog was really enjoying squirting himself.

 

so who am I to not join in on the fun.

 

(and it was Allison who pointed out that he was there, so blame her for this pic. . :p )

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the group i was with splintered slightly further, as some folks ran off to do other things (maybe to grab some food before park close?), or headed out. . but several of us still stuck together, and headed towards the swinging ships, which Allison had wanted to ride (and which were now going - for I think 1 customer).

 

Made for a great pic.

 

She changed her mind and decided that she didn't want to ride, but since we were right at the steps to the roof, we noticed that those steps went up to a few rides.

 

no one wanted to do Troika with me. . which was OK, since I just rode one of those not too long ago at Cedar Point.

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But I hadn't been on a Breakdance in a long time.

 

So a few of us grabbed a ride on this.

 

again, it wasn't a long or super intense cycle, but it *was* a lot of fun. The most fun was trying to figure out who the faded stars were that had been painted on the backdrop -but that exposure to the elements had faded badly. Really, it was surprising how well maintained things like the Carousel, or Mirror House, were, but the rides on the rooftops, were just left to be exposed to the elements. . so the traveling carnival painted backdrops were all peeling and fading.

 

we were able to identify: Tina Turner, Madonna, Prince, Michael Jackson. .and .. maybe? George Michael on this back drop, but no idea on the remaining stars were.

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the swinging ship operating from the other direction. . with a handful of folks riding before the park closed.

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it was maybe 4:40, and instead of heading out to the train station, We decided that the Cyclone was really fun, so let's get another ride on it. So we headed back and after a very short wait, we were boarding.

 

it was just as much fun the 2nd time - tho this time we each rode alone in our row - and the tunnel was just as fun. Since there wasn't much line, was even able to snag this "smexy" pic of myself (thanks Jon), enjoying the feel of the crushed velvet.

 

and with that, the sky -which had been overcast for a little while, really began to look like it might start to sprinkle. . so we said our goodbyes to Toshimaen and started to head toward the subway station.

 

stopping for a bathroom break on the way, where a few of us guys witnessed something that is apparently very commonplace in Japan (but this was the 1st time I'd seen).

Most of the men's room urinal side, have a shelf along the back of the urinals (over the top of them) - similar to an airport. So we go in, and a local man comes in with his young daughter . . maybe 2 or 3 years old), and he sits her on the shelf over the urinal facing directly at him. . . and the little girl proceeds to play with Daddy's hair, and face, and hold a long conversation with him - WHILE HE'S PEEING.

 

We all stared straight ahead and tried our damnedest not to giggle, but it was so funny, and once we got outside, we were doubled over discussing what in the world the girl could have been talking about the whole time?

we were all like "well. . THAT happened"

 

as I noted, this seems to be very commonplace in Japan to bring the little ones with you into the bathroom (yes, it's common in many places), but I encountered some stalls even (at Universal in Osaka), where there's a little "baby seat" that is in the corner facing directly at the toilet, so again you'd be "face to face" with your child while doing your business. I know, it's a weird Westerner thing that I/we thought it was strange. . tho I quickly got over it, and realize it's purely a cultural thing that is *not* a big deal.

 

what I think got us going tho, was the ongoing "commentary" from the little girl :)

 

 

since the park closed at 5, we were on our own to do whatever we liked this evening on the way back to Shinagawa.

 

we had some good directions from Elissa how to get back, so the directive was to "have fun"

 

She had told us about an aquarium off of the Shinjuku station stop that was offering an evening 'event' with an exhibit focusing on how fish have sex - sounds scandalous, and a very "only in Japan" thing to do. . so I really had wanted to do that, especially since this exhibit was only a small portion of the Aquarium which would be open for anyone who went just for the "fish sex" exhibit. and I do enjoy Aquariums.

 

but there were other things that were competing with that - mainly, William had seen a restaurant featured on a Japan travel blog that sounded amazing, and he was on a mission to find it this evening and had invited anyone who was interested in joining him.

 

I hemmed and hawed. . since I really did want to go to the Aquarium exhibit - but I was the only one who wanted to do that. . and since William had invited along anyone who wanted to come, if I went? I would get to see some of Tokyo at night, and with a small group. and get some good food?

 

So I decided that it was a better call, and more culturally opening to me, to join William for Dinner - so I pinged him and asked if he was sure it was ok to join him? and we (Myself, Jon, Allison, and Luke) made plans to go with William from Toshimaen station to downtown Tokyo for an adventure!

 

 

continued in the next update!

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I mentioned Tom & Jerry, and here they are on the front of the Tosimaen park map.

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looking inside the map, you can see how large the space actually is (and Tom & Jerry are all over the inside of the map too).

 

the whole bottom section is the waterpark (which was not open during our visit. .and again, this park also had the "no Tattoos" rules).

 

to the left is a big track & field area, and a gigantic parking lot area.. another section we didn't go to (I think it was closed off).

 

on the right was a Toys R Us store, and another large spa, with another parking lot area - these did seem to be open, but I didn't go over to that side, as we only had a few hours here.

 

So we came in the main gates on the lower right, and went up to the central section of the map, to the area with the giant swinging ships (which were also on top of a building). and that's the section most of us stayed in.

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William did film a short clip of us riding it:

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Great report!

 

I just watched a POV of that carousel and it's really trippy how the different levels rotate at different speeds. I also love any carousel that has rocking horses like Story Land's. I used to think that was unique to the one at Story Land.

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Great report!

 

I just watched a POV of that carousel and it's really trippy how the different levels rotate at different speeds. I also love any carousel that has rocking horses like Story Land's. I used to think that was unique to the one at Story Land.

 

oo. . didn't realize there were some Youtube POVs out there.

 

I believe that my ride had organ music playing, at least I don't recall there being *no* music. .but I was so enthralled I may have just not noticed

 

one note of clarification tho. . El Dorado does *not* have rocking or galloping horses. Looks like they used to, but the animals are bolted in place and do not move independently.

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Bonus picture from Tobu Zoo (which Brad sent me last night).

 

here's the pic that he took of us on "Diggy & Daggy's Tram Coaster" that I teased he was gonna use for Blackmail.

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Pic courtesy of Brad.

 

Jon, Me, and Leia on a kiddie powered coaster

 

whee! :p

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Another great chapter! Log Coaster / Cyclone looks like a ton of fun and any collection of HUSS rides to compliment the coasters is a great offering.

 

yeah, only way the HUSS could have been better would have been if they were running more intense cycles (gotta wonder if they were running "medium" because of the placement on building tops).

 

but still, it was so great to have so many together in one place!

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a bit tired, and hungry (at least those of us who hadn't snacked much at the parks today), the 4 of us followed William as he navigated via his phone to find this restaurant he had seen on a travel Vlog.

 

William had done (or would be doing) a ton of cool stuff on his own during the 'off' days on the trip - such as wood carving prints, and touring historical sites. . So I TOTALLY trusted his navigation skills via his phone.

 

I wanted in on this restaurant stop, as it featured a "Grilled-Beef-Sushi" that sounded amazing, and a fruit-infused sake option. The place was called Arabashiri Kameido

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Exiting the station in downtown Tokyo, it had started to sprinkle a little, and the clear umbrellas (which I saw all over Japan. .the clear umbrellas are super popular) came out.

 

although I had been out at night in Japan thus far, this was really my first real "excursion" into Tokyo at night, and the neon and people really did feel just like I imagined it would from seeing the Country in films.

 

and that it was slick made it even more beautiful, as the lights and neon began to reflect off of every wet surface

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I snapped a bunch of pics while walking. . but sharing just a handful here.

 

as noted, it really was pretty much what "cinematic" Japan was to me.

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the restaurant was down narrow streets / alleys, and it did take us about 20 minutes to find from the train station, as the narrow streets are almost maze like, and all look very similar - with tons of tiny (seating 8-12 people) restaurants/bars lined up one right after the other up and down both sides of the street.

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there was some English, but not much.

 

and tho down these narrow streets, there were not near as many people about as on the "main" streets/pathways? I didn't at all feel unsafe.

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of course, *had* to stop and take a picture of a Vending Machine that we passed, that was located just outside the restaurant when we found it, and William went in to be sure this was the place (since there was nothing in English outside).

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It was a small place, but very comfortable.

 

Our plan to just point to what we'd like to order went out the window as soon as we were handed menus tho - since there were no pictures at all on the menu. Just double sided Japanese Text.

 

Jon had a translator on his phone, but it was kinda iffy (and besides, he was focused on translating the beer options. . LOL).

 

But the two customers I mentioned? - Gentleman and a Lady - *both* stopped their own meals, and came over to join the Waiter at trying to figure out what we were trying to order. They were both wonderful, and the lady really got a kick out of my "trainers" for the chopsticks, and they both absolutely loved the "Disneyland - Galaxy's Edge" that William had brought along in his bag, and gave to them as gifts.

 

it took a little bit of pantomime, and phone-translator, but eventually, they understood that we had seen the Vlog that featured the Grilled Beef Sushi, and that is what we wanted to try.

 

it was a bit odd, that once they realized what we wanted, they knew exactly what we were talking about. . and were repeating the name of the VideoLog where William had seen it. But they did not have any English on the menu, nor any pictures advertising the Grilled Beef Sushi. you know if this place was in the USA, then they would have pics of that particular dish plastered all over the outside of the place, or as an insert in the menu. But I guess tourists are not really their main goal, since it really did seem like a local, family place.

 

We eventually just asked the Waiter & Cook to give us what they thought was good, that we trusted them. And they said they would bring us 4 servings of the Grilled Beef Sushi, and asked if we liked Vegetables (to which we all said yes), and we nervously put in the order (wondering if we should have said "bring us what you like" and we were going to end up with a $500 bill at the end. . LOL - spoiler. . we did NOT. It was SUPER reasonable, and so, so good).

 

once the food was sorted out, we had another 10 minutes or so of help from everyone to order drinks, and most of us ended up trying some of the fruit filled Sake (myself and William both had Kiwi, Allison had Orange, and Jon stuck with local beer).

 

as noted, it was absolutely a charming place, and on the wall near the front door, was a poster highlighting famous Sumo Wrestlers, which interested William (as he was going to a Sumo practice the next day), and he got into a discussion with the male customer about it for a while, since the customer was a Sumo fan as well.

 

this is us at the table while William is talking to the Customer about Sumo.

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here's my Kiwi infused Sake.

 

it was so. damn. good.

 

the cubes of Kiwi were frozen, and when the Sake was poured over them, they became fruit ice cubes. The Sake was sweet, but really, all I tasted was the Kiwi.

 

and I'm a fan of Kiwi, so I loved it. (only had 1 tho, as I was feeling it from this 1)

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and then the food started coming out.

 

he brought out 5 orders (one for each of us). Each order has 4 pieces, so what they did was give us 4 plates (one after the other) with 5 pieces on it, so we could all enjoy and the cook could prepare them one batch after the other.

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here everyone is reaching for the first piece (and yep, notice my "trainers". . LOL)

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Oh. My. Gawd. This was possibly the best thing I ate in Tokyo (outside of a Disney park).

 

the beef was a super high quality beef, that the cook just barely grilled, and then finished off with a blowtorch type contraption once it was lied over the nigiri rice.

 

see all that fatty looking stuff on the meat? it *melted* in my mouth. I'm salivating just thinking about it.

 

it was THAT good.

 

I would eat this every meal if I could, and I don't think I'd ever burn out on it.

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we were all very surprised when the "vegetable" dish came out, and it was. . . Potato Salad.

 

we didn't quite know what to make of it, and we all had a great laugh about it later.

 

It was very good potato salad, with pieces of meat in it (turns out it was sausage) and topped with fermented benito.

 

(found that info on the link posted a few pics ago)

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turns out it's a specialty in the area. So yeah, it was potato salad, but it was a very good one .. tho I don't believe we finished it completely.

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Here we are with our Sake (Luke didn't drink, he posed with William's Kiwi one), and you can see part of the Menu in front of Jon.

 

out of curiosity while typing this up, I googled the restaurant, and found a review of it - in English!

They should print this out and keep a copy for visitors, as it recommends a few things, and could certainly increase the tourism a bit. . tho then again, maybe they want to keep it local focused, as the owner says the loyal patronage is what allowed them to open this location.

 

interestingly, the review notes it's a "Fish" and Sake restaurant - tho it does also note the Grilled Beef Nigiri.

I'm happy that we had 3 of the things mentioned :)

 

it's an interesting review, and has a nice overview of the restaurant if you're curious:

 

https://kotomise.jp/en_article/arabashiri/

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here we are posing with the two Customers who helped us, and the Waiter/Manager (the cook was off to the left cooking on the grill)

 

I'm so glad William took this pic, as it's a wonderful memory of the great people of Tokyo, who really went out of their way to try to help the group of English speakers who found their way into their local dining place.

 

they were all so cool.

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Once we confirmed we were in the right place (thank goodness for William's Japanese that was enough to get us confirmation and ask if we could be seated), the Manager welcomed us in - at least I *think* he was the Manager, there were only two Employees there, this Gentleman and the Cook.

 

as I noted, he welcomed us in, but wanted to be sure we understood that the menu was completely in Japanese (ie: no English), and we agreed that would be fine, we were in Japan, we'd manage :)

 

the restaurant was very small: maybe 6 stools at the bar, and 4 tables, that would hold maybe 16-20 people. . so the entire place would hold ~25 people total. there were two customers eating (separately) at the bar, and one of the tables had been pre-set for a group. . but we were welcomed in and led to the table at the back (maybe 15 feet from the front door, that's how charming and small the place is).

 

(I took this pic as we were leaving, but it's the only one I have of the outside of "Arabashiri Kameido" restaurant, so putting it first)

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dinner was wonderful, and pretty filling.

 

tho we got hungry again smelling all the wonderful odors coming out of the small restaurants as we passed them heading back to the train station (planning to head back to the Hotel).

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a couple of us had seen lots of folks eating "waffle" ice cream sandwiches (including a little boy and his Mom when leaving Toshimaen), and in this station we spotted a vending machine selling them.

 

so myself and Allison each bought one to try. This is me with a mouthful trying to finish it before the train comes, and you can see Allison daintily eating hers behind me (I just took giant bites).

 

the clock notes it's only ~8:20, so tho it had been a really full (and fantastic) day, we weren't really ready to go back to the hotel and go to bed yet.

 

So when William asked if anyone had been by the famous Shibuya crossing yet - I was all in to swing by. After all, it was a station we were going to be passing on the Yamanote line going back to the hotel.

 

so even tho it was a bit rainy, we had plans to go to Shibuya Crossing area now.

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Some Train cars are "Women Only" during certain hours, and those cars are clearly marked not only at the station but also on the connecting car doors into those cars.

 

we made certain we didn't accidentally go into Women Only train cars, even tho it wasn't the time when it was being enforced.

 

still thought it made a great pic of the sign stating a car is Women Only - with just behind the sign? a car full of Guys.

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when we got to Shibuya Station (a very large station, too, tho not the biggest we saw), we noticed several of these signs posted about "not retrieving articles that have fallen on the tracks" -- or maybe "call the Station Security to retrieve articles that have fallen on the tracks" ?

 

but we thought they looked like something Banksy would have painted . . so I snapped a pic of one of the signs.

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and down a few hallways, and up some stairs. .and we came out close to the famous Shibuya crossing (tho we still had to walk a little bit to get to it).

 

the drizzle had really moistened up the street, and I was *loving* the reflective surfaces that had been created reflecting back all the lights & neon.

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some advertising for the 2020 Olympics in Japan.

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getting closer. . but not quite at the crossing just yet.

 

can spot some of the lights there from here tho.

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closer

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sent to my Spouse, with the text: "Guess where I am??"

 

touristy, I know.

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and here it is. . glowing and glistening, and not as crowded as it would be if it weren't raining - but still pretty crowded.

 

the famous Shibuya Crossing - what is known as one of the most crowded crosswalks on Earth and has been featured in tons of films.

 

That Starbucks there, is also one of the busiest in the world (if you believe Wikipedia).

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it was so incredible and impressive, I took a crap-ton of pictures.

 

I was happy the rain had kept away some of the crowd (it was way more packed when I made a stop back during the day later in the trip), and seeing it at night all lit up?

 

got to check it off my bucketlist.

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when the lights change, and everyone gets the "walk" signal.

 

Oh my. . just incredible.

 

and even not "super" busy, there were still tons of folks stopping during the crossing to take selfies in the streets.

 

we crossed a couple of different ways, and headed towards that "alley" of neon signs directly across in this picture.

 

yes, it's touristy, but I love that stuff. . felt like I was in a much more polite, and cleaner, Times Square.

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snapping pics while crossing.

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this shot in particular, I felt, is VERY New York / Manhattan.

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tho, nope. . purely Tokyo.

 

these two guys were plastered on several giant displays around the Shibuya Crossing area. Never really did find out what they are advertising, but maybe a Movie?

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and now we've crossed, and we're about to head down this wonderfully lit neon street. . which *screams* tourist come look!

 

we gave in, and wandered.

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look a teeny, tiny, British Pub.

 

(oh, I'm *sure*it's very authentic. . .LOL. . but no one wanted to go in to check it out).

 

tho I do believe that it was near here where William stepped on a dead rat?

THAT is very "London"

 

LOL

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again, so glad I got to experience this area at night.

 

so hypnotically beautiful.

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and not super crowded. . just how I can best handle it.

 

it was starting to sprinkle a little harder, so we started to head back towards the train.

 

Besides, even tho it was only ~9pm, many of the stores were shutting down, so if we didn't want to go to a bar, eat, or Karaoke place, options of browsing were getting less and less as places shut down.

 

even the advertised "Souvenir Shops" we all closing or closed. . . the main reason I swung back by with Jon later in the trip. I wanted a Shibuya Crossing magnet.

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but hey, what's this?

 

Burger King? I saw McDonald's many, many times in Japan. But this was the only Burger King I saw.

 

too bad I wasn't hungry at all, otherwise would have tried something out.

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I mean. . this intrigued me. Those mushrooms look delicious.

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snapping a pic down a side street as we're walking back.

 

neon and lights everywhere.. so much sensory overload. And I loved it.

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and who doesn't like giant light up Gyoza ??

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back on the train, which was pretty empty at this point, and we ended up in the very back train, which seemed safe enough (although I guess if another train were to impact us, the back would be just as bad as being in the front - where we tried to never go in the front car).

 

there was no operator in the seat at the back of the train, since the conductor was I guess, at the other end.

So I had a great view of the tracks disappearing behind us thru the rain spattered windshield as we headed back to the hotel.

 

we were worn out, but everyone was in such a great mood. We'd had a fantastic day, and got to do some touristy stuff - including checking out "movie style" Tokyo this evening.

 

I really must thank William again, for enticing me to come along - and for leading the way.

Jon for that wonderful (and buggy) iPhone translator.

and Luke & Allison for the wonderful company.

 

I had SUCH an amazing time. and it was still on the start of the trip.

 

I believe this was the night on the way back from the station to the hotel, that I walked a couple of folks over to the location of the 7-11 that was connected to the Shinagawa Prince Hotel (and ended up with a strawberry parfait. . sheesh, no wonder I put on weight during the trip!).

 

then it was back to our rooms, where I took a shower, called home to talk to Nick, and then climbed into bed for a great night's sleep.

 

Tomorrow was a full day at Yomiuriland.

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That's awesome that you got a picture with the two customers who helped at the restaurant. I remember my first day in Japan, how nice and helpful people were especially after seeing a confused look on my face. Another fun update to read.

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I want one of those giant light up gyozas~on~a~plate sign/things!

 

Crowds and rain and buildings and massive signs all lit up, in downtown Tokyo.

 

And food. Perfect. Thanks Bert!

 

 

 

P.S. And I want to hire William as our guide, when we return to Japan, puhlease?

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Vending machine ice cream sandwiches, delicious drinks and food with friends, Tokyo on a warm night in the rain... all makes for a memorable night. So fun to see this side of your trip!

 

thanks! it really was a great night, and it's surprising for ME to realize that this is still two days before the trip "officially" started!

 

I've been really enjoying the pics of what you did on your days in Japan before meeting up with the rest of us!

Hopefully you'll post some of those here too on TPR (particularly loved the pics you took of Harakuju when you hung out with Alex).

 

 

That's awesome that you got a picture with the two customers who helped at the restaurant. I remember my first day in Japan, how nice and helpful people were especially after seeing a confused look on my face. Another fun update to read.

 

yeah, I'm rally happy that we got that pic of everyone. Look how happy we all are! it brings back those exact feelings every time I look at it.

 

this was overall SUCH a fantastic trip that it's hard to pick a "best" moment, as every moment was so phenominal (despite the Tsunami, and a minor Earthquake in Tokyo too)

 

I know the Spouse wouldn't like me saying it, but I really hope I get to go back at some point in the future!

 

 

:shockr: I want one of those giant light up gyozas~on~a~plate sign/things!

Crowds and rain and buildings and massive signs all lit up, in downtown Tokyo.

 

And food. Perfect. Thanks bert!

 

I would totally hang up one of the giant light up gyoza too in the living room.

 

and of course! really glad you're enjoying.

 

*lots* more coming. .I'm hoping to have at least part of Yomiuriland up by end of weekend.

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Nice report! Did you get a chance to see Shibuya from above? I remember seeing it from a 2nd or 3rd story window and it was the most organized mob of people I had ever seen.

 

Thanks

 

did not get to view the crossing from above - tho there were *tons* of folks in that Starbucks by the windows overlooking, it was so crowded in there. . no way was I gonna even attempt to get in (remember, it was drizzling too, so that also added to the crowd).

 

When we went back during day, Jon and I did go up several levels inside a shopping area, browsing the shops, but none of them had windows facing out that we could look down onto Shibuya.

 

but it was amazing being in the middle of it. . as you note, an organized mob.

 

 

I definitely need to spend more time in Shibuya the next time I'm in Japan! Thanks for another great report Bert!

 

for sure!

 

the "Shopping Building" across from the Starbucks would be worth a trip to, I'd say regardless. We went up to all 7 or 8 floors - smallish building with "stalls/stores" on each small level. That's where I discovered the DC Comics Pop Up store celebrating Batman's anniversary (as well as a full on "Hello Kitty" store) -- tho we had gone in mainly for the Shibuya souvenir store on the 1st floor that has it's windows facing out onto the crossing.

 

but we also did some street wandering and store browsing during this stop too. It was a great, touristy, area.

 

Always loved walking around Shibuya when I was out there. Lot of fun to walk around earlier in the evening right as the nightlife gets started but before all the shops start closing up.

 

I really enjoyed it during the day, but even with most stores closed/closing, was so glad I got to see the area at night on this stop.

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