For those reading who don't know me, or have forgotten my name, I am Neil Gordon and I intend to keep this blog up to date with my travel activities in Japan - taking place from mid July 2010 till some time in January 2011.
I'm English and am interested in the Japanese culture and language, as well as computers and technology.
The blog name neiltanken is simply my name + 探検 (tanken) - which means expedition.


Tokyo sightseeing - day 2

Left the net cafe (Moopa) at 4am. The aircon was too cold and I didn't get much sleep.
We reached the front entrance to Tsukiji in about 15 minutes, but we took a little too long working out where to go for the reception to the fish auction guide.
The number of tourists allowed to sightsee the auction has been limited to 2 groups of 70 since 2010, and when we reached the reception about 15 minutes after it opened all the spaces had been filled.

So we ended up disappointedly buying some drinks from a alley vending machine. An old gentleman who was drinking canned coffee talked to us and explained that we can still see the market and use the sushi restaurants inside Tsukiji - he recoomended a sushi restaurant named Yamato.

So we wondered around the market stalls selling various fish and veg, then found the Yamato restaurant.
Yamato Zushi

A we started talking with a friendly man who joined the line after us, andaccording to him Yamato normally bid off the 2nd best tuna going in the auctions.
He also told us that only yesterday the 2nd largest tuna in Japan's history was auctioned yesterday, it was 445 kilograms. (confirmed this on a news website)
He also told us that if we like anime and stuff, to visit Nakano Broadway (a shopping center with a lot of anime goods stores)
We entered Yamato and ate the 'masters choice' for 3500 yen.
I enjoyed it all, except perhaps the sea urchin and the squid, mainly due to the texture.
These cart/truck things were whizzing about the market.

Next we went to Hibiya park, and I took a 3 hour break while Yousuke checked out Akihabara some more.
There were several fish and tortoises swimming in the park's pond.

I got thirstly, so I went to the nearby police box to ask if the policeman knew where I could get a drink.
We ended up talking for a bit, and it turns out he has visited quite a few places abroad on holiday.

After getting a drink and returning to the park, I got talking to an elderly gentleman who seemed to be a little concerned for me and advised me to be careful who I trust among other things. I'm sure we talked about other stuff too, but I was still tired and don't remember well.

After meeting up with Yosuke again, we headed for Nakano Broadway.
On the way, we encountered an Okinawa themed event "Nakano Chanpuruu Festival"
I bought some sweets called Saadaa Andagii, and watched the live band with the singer Kazuma Tei whilsteating it. We heard about 3 songs.
Check out one of the songs we heard: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=skiHMcilrtA It's a folk song in protest of plans to possibly move Okinawa's american base to Tokushima.

Then we went to Nakano Broadway.
There were a lot of shops selling figurines, Manga and Doujinshi. I was surprised at the number of shops and the amount of things on sale.
Before leaving, we checked out aWarhammer shop inside Nakano Broadway, and a nice guy working there explained how the game works to us by actually stepping us through a short battle.
I knew at least one person in England who did Warhammer, but I never knew how the game worked.
Just before leaving we ate pork Manjuu and prawn Shuumai in a basement level shop.


Tokyo sightseeing - day 1

I fit rather a lot into today, but it turned out well.
Yosuke, who is letting me stay in his appartment, took off this friday from work and we came to Tokyo to do some sightseeing.
First we went to Tokyo station, walked to the imperial palace and started the (free) guided tour.

The route our guided tour took can be seen here.

The first gate before entering the palace grounds - Kikyoumon (Bellflower gate) - from inside.

Fujimiyagura (See Mt. Fuji Tower) Rebuilt in 1659. The tower was used to watch out for any oncoming foes.

Imperial Household Agency

The palace. Very large and made up of several rooms for the various empirial functions.

Ishibashi (stone bridge) as seen from Tetsubashi (iron bridge). They are also called Nijuubashi together.

Fushimiyagura - It's supposed that the Fushimiyagura in Kyouto castle was disassembled and reconstructed here.
A picture of me & Yousuke in front of Kikyoumon which we got someone to take for us. Identity protected.

After looking at Sakuradamon and Hanzoumon, we returned to Tokyo station and went to Akihabara - the electric town.

We ate lunch at a restraurant called Katsuroku (vitality) which was Yousuke's reccomendation and ate Hiyashichuuka (a cold served chinese style noodle meal). It was tasty and refreshing.
We looked around several shops and there were a lot of places which dealt in electronics and anime/manga related goods.
I got to see a lotof figurines (small plastic models of charactors), amature published games and comics as well as Gachapon (machines where you put money in and get one of several items at random) and 'UFO catchers' (those arm grabbers you often find near the seaside in England)

We were pushed for time on todays schedule, so we next went to Asakusa to see the still in construction "Sky Tree" broadcast tower.
Apparently when finished it will be 634 meters. Its already the tallest manmade structure in Japan and only a little over half complete.

I took this picture too, but the other rather unique looking buildings draw the attention away from Sky Tree.

From there, we walked into Asakusa.
On the way to Sensouji temple in Asakusa, we saw quite a few rickshaws and had to refuse their services a few times.

The first gate into Sensouji temple - Kinryuumon. The lantern is huge.

The front approach to the temple is lined with shops mainly selling suoveneers and food. They are called Nakamise.

Shouzoumon - the gate between the temple and the Nakamise.

The view of Sensouji from outside. It's currently under some kind of maintainence and there's a dragon image died into the net.

The temple's Saisenbako (change box) - people make wishes or simply show their respect to the SHinto god here after throwing in some money.

We both tried selecting a omikuji (a fortune slip you select at random from a box.).
I got 'lucky' or what is concidered 'normal luck' which isn't overly good but certainly isn't bad. Yousuke unfortunately got a 'bad luck' slip.

Next we went to the river bus on the Sumida river to gt to Hinodebashi.
View of Sky Three from the boat.

Vie of rainbow bridge from boat.

After arriving, we walked to Shinbashi, are dinner and booked 8 hours at a net cafe to spend the night.
Dinner - Currey rice & Soba noodles

It really was hot today, hot and humid.
I probably spend over 5 pounds on waterfrom vending machines.

The planis to leave the net cafe at 4am tomorrow abd go see the Tsukuji fish market.


A lot happened and I'm really tired, so I'm going to make this really

I entered Japan fine through Narita airport and got to Kuki City station

I applied for my alien registration card abd withdrew money at an ATM.
And I safely reached the house of my friend.
He was as nice a guy as I though from talking to him online.


Moscow Escape

Yesterday (Moscow), the group of us going to Japan slept on the sofas at the back of a pub in the departure lounge.
I say slept, but I wasn't able to sleep much due to the constant music and the aircon making it cold.
A member of staff had told us that if we saw them at 9am, then they could secure us hotel rooms. So when we went at 9, we were told to wait 10 minutes.
In the end we waited a full hour until it was 10am, but we never saw that staff member again!
So we got the attention of another ember of staff, who told us that we'd have to wait till 11 before any hotel rooms would be available.
So we saw them again at 11, had our passports taken and had to wait in anxiety for another 30 minutes.
Aeroflot, just what do you call this customer service?
We ended up at the hotel at around 12:30.
But, it was a pretty good place with a shower & bath - plus they provided us with lunch.
However, even though Aeroflot had promised to come pick us up by 6 in a bus, we didn'tsee any sign off them by 6:10, or even by 6:30.
On top of that, when I checked, it turned out to be impossible for us to go to the ground floor lobby.
Even the emergency escapes were locked. Rather scary.
After appealing to the hotel reception and staff for some time, they did eventually phone Airoflot, and the bus camed to pick us up by about 7.
By the way, our departure is at 7:40.
By the time we arrived at the airport, everyone was rather frantic. We hurridly checked in and checked the gatefor our departure - then ran for it.
We made it on fine, so everyone was extremely relieved.


I'm currently in the aeroplane, however regardless of the fact it's over 30 minutes late there are no signs of taking off.
The Aeroflot checkin counter seemed to be having issues with their system and had to provide me with a hand-written boarding pass.
Security wouldn't let passengers through with this, so I had to go back to the checkin desk - by which time they were able to print a proper boarding pass. What the hell.
I hope the change over at Moscow goes better than this.
Or I did - the flight ended up a full 2 hours late.
It turned out that the next flight they could put me on was the same time as I was planned to get on today, but tomorrow. They gave me the boarding pass and 3 food coupons.
Apparently they would normally provide a hotel too in this situation, but for some reason they couldn't.
So I, and another 5 people headed for Tokyo, ended up wondering the airport departure lounge with 22 hours on our hands.
But it certainly wasn't all bad, as the 6 of us got on well and decided to spend the time together.
At this point in time (writing this) we still have to wait another 14 hours.
If I can, I really would like to meet them again after entering Japan and laugjh about the experience.