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Photo TR: Zach's October with TPR in Japan!

Tue Feb 04, 2020 12:42 pm

Welcome to probably my biggest trip report yet!

When I first had the opportunity to consider the 2019 Japan trip it was nearly a full year before in October 2018. Let's take it probably 10 years further back, to 2008 when Tower of Terror at TDS was fresh. Robb and Elissa's trips to Japan with friends looked sublime and the whole country seemed so alluring and mysterious. The parks looked incredible as did the food, scenery, trains, and random excitement that comes with just being in Japan really piqued my interest. So when I saw Japan/October 2019 I told Elissa it's the easiest decision of my life :lol: Not only was it Japan with R&E, there was also going to be a lot of of USA 2018 trippers going as well!

Elissa and Robb did a ton of planning between October 2018 and October 2019. They really prepped us for pretty much everything! Helpful phrases, getting around, trains, hotels, and so much more all with the added complications of the Rugby Cup. Which, yeah, Japan was ALL about the Rugby Cup! They did a great job.

Anyways, as you saw from the updates in real time and in bert's excellent live report, we all had an incredible time.

Day 0/1
I'll dive right in! I flew out of Chicago October 5th at noon and was set to arrive in Tokyo NRT at 4pm the next day October 6th. I got a sweet start to the trip with an upgrade to business class so I arrived fresh, and we arrived early!

I had a different plan than the full TPR trip since I had never been to Japan before. I didn't do any of the Tokyo parks with the group and instead focused on exploring Tokyo itself. Staying in Shinjuku Sun-Weds morning. Getting in early set things up perfectly because I was able to meet up with Luke and go straight to Elissa to get my rail pass, which is the most important item I've ever come into contact with! That was all too easy - airport limousine bus to Shinagawa, hang out with friends, get rail pass & suica, then bounce up to Shinjuku.

Being solo the first few days I wanted to be prepared so I created an organized list of words/phrases for being out in the city, at restaurants, greetings/replies, and fun words. I think I did a great job trying to learn some Japanese. Shout out to Abroad in Japan podcast and other helpful youtube videos! I still have my document if anyone would like it, just DM me.

I stayed in Shinjuku right next to the busiest train station in the world; averaging 3.5 million people a day. It has over 200 entrance/exits and 53 platforms! Do not mess with Shinjuku station!

I immediately found my local gyoza izakaya (bar) next to my hotel - Ichigoro Shinjuku (西新宿 7 1 10 守矢ビル1F, 1, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 160-0023, Japan)

I spent the first full day exploring the West side of Tokyo and the middle: I started with a walk from Shinjuku to Meiji Jingu Shrine, Shibuya, Roppongi, Ginza, Tokyo Station, and Imperial Palace. Alex and I went around Harajuku at night and had an amazing improvised dinner at Soregashi (2 Chome-3-11 Ebisunishi, 渋谷区 Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0021, Japan) after the planned art/sake exhibit was closed and it started to rain. I wish I took pictures there! It was an incredible experience with help from our waiter who spoke a good amount of English.

Day 1 Japan surprises, learnings, and hilarity:

Walking at a normal pace in a pack of people down the sidewalk and the business men or women will just start sprinting full force to beat traffic lights or just get to where they need to go quicker :lol: In full suits/dress shoes! You never know when someone's GOTTA GO FAST

I got on the Hibiya train line and was immediately greeted to the sight of a woman with a giant bag of balloons. Thanks to learning some phrases and words I knew to say "Ohmadeto gozaimasu!" (Congratulations!!) and she laughed from the surprise of an American saying that so loud she apologized to the car (because everyone is polite and relatively quiet on the train) and thanked me a bunch before getting off the train :p

It is really easy to use Google maps to plan out where you want to go and how to do it, which is why I could walk around everywhere. Not once did I hit a dead end or get lost. Only Shinjuku station got me a little lost but it is the most populated station in the world (3.5 million people in and out daily I think).

I tried to win a little Tokyo Disney coin purse at a gachapon (coin toy capsule machine) but instead was first greeted by an older business man holding 2 gachapon capsules. He said "Look, same same." And then bowed and held out one and said "Special present." Clearly he had one the same prize and wanted to give the 2nd one away so I got a Lego-Gundam suit. Awesome! I thanked him a bunch.

More to come!

Check out TPR's Insta or mine @photoboothez for the collection of videos taken from the trip.
If your trip report starts with beer on an airplane it's going to be a good one! Also big recco for Stuber. Kumail Nanjiani is a national treasure.
My streak of delayed & canceled flights is over! Biz class on American to Tokyo!
It's funny and practical!
After a stop in Shinagawa, I headed on the Yamanote up to Shinjuku where I'd be staying the next 3 nights.
Memory Lane / Piss Alley. I wasn't ready to explore the intimate Japanese izakayas at 11pm on my first night in Tokyo coming off a 13 hour flight, haha.
I see you down there Godzilla!
I dropped my stuff off at the hotel, and walked a few blocks over to explore Kabuki-cho. Where are the dirty panty capsule machines?! Honestly I just grabbed a beer from 7/11 and walked around taking in the sensory overload of Tokyo at night for the first time.
Time for some food. I found a local gyoza izakaya next to my hotel - Ichigoro Shinjuku (西新宿 7 1 10 守矢ビル1F, 1, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 160-0023, Japan). All of this for about $12.
Here it is from the outside. I was given an ipad with an English menu which made ordering SO easy. I dream about those gyoza and I ended every night in Shinjuku here!
Stopping by Family Mart I picked up to random drinks - Strong Zero, 9% super popular Shōchū drink. It came in grapefruit, lemon, and lime I believe. So good. Then a classic Suntory Highball!
Origiri!!!!!! Being later at night, the conbini (another for convenience store| 7/11 | Family Mart | etc) was pretty much sold out. They're fresh and brought in daily. Look at the price. 110-120Y
Next morning! Let's explore. Ohayo, Cocoon building.
One of the coolest structures in the skyline. Are you hiding Mothra?
"Gashapon" is onomatopoeic from the two sounds "gasha" (or "gacha") for the hand-cranking action of a toy-vending machine, and "pon" for the toy capsule landing in the collection tray.
Oh hey some more Tokyo Disney collectibles!
Just a residential street a block off the business-y area of Shinjuku on the way to Meiji Shrine. I found a recording of a walk from Shinjuku station to Meiji Shrine on youtube and followed it. So easy!
Pocari Sweat and Green Tea and Coffee are your regular options! With a Coke machine typically next to it.
I walked from Shinjuku south to the north entrance of Meiji Shrine which included this really pretty walk through the park/forest, which was the opposite of the normal popular South entrance from Shibuya.
Oh cool, pretty!
Elissa I'm so sorry I should have never strayed from the group now I'm lost in the Japanese forest surrounded by giant spiders there's tens of millions of people in this city and there's no one out here and oh there's the shrine :P
All joking aside I only saw those spiders around the lanterns and up in the mountains at Fuji Q, but wow were they impressive! I think they're harmless banana spiders.
Squatting behind the camera and in front of the camera, Japan is rad. No photos near the Meiji Shrine itself, but I did the ritual to say a prayer and toss a coin in while the monks did a ceremony. Very cool!
Heading out the South entrance of Meiji Shrine I continued on down to Shibuya!
Shibuya at 10am on a Monday was not the best time to visit Shibuya as I walked through the famous crosswalk without even noticing it because there weren't very many people there on a random October Monday, haha.
Shibuya Shibuya Shibuya Shibuya Shibuya
Let's keep the Tokyo tour rolling! Onto Roppongi Hills where I was told the best view of Tokyo is.
Alright Tokyo I've had enough of the f***ing giant spiders!
Much safer up here. There was an art exhibit going on, so I had to combo the skydeck + art ticket which was whatever, but totally worth the view and figuring out Tokyo.
It just goes on forever. But it's so easy to get around!
Mt. Fuji if you follow the highway out, Shinjuki and Shibuya at 12.
This walking tour of Tokyo is sponsored by Coke Energy. A little DoDoDonpa in every can! :D
And now we're in Ginza! After the first 3 sushi spots on my list were too crowded, I just stumbled into this spot and ate lunch among the salary men and women. $12 for a huge marinated tuna bowl.
Ginza glowing up
Is this a train station or a 5 star hotel?
It's Tokyo Station!
Of course the Emperor has swans in his moat!
Beautiful Tokyo Station area..
I didn't study up on the whole Tokyo Imperial Palace area and I was meeting with Alex later so I turned back towards the train.
It was a beautiful day. Mid 70's. The sun seems pretty strong here!
Cocoon building! Back in Shinjuku! Success!
The busiest in the world!
Walking down from the station in Shinjuku taking a look at the entertainment section
Ahhhhh this view....
Craft beer drinkers - stick with Kirin/Sapporo/Asahi. Tokyo is still learning the craft beer game.
Slowly, please relax!! I promise I will have a roller coaster in the next update.
Last edited by PKI Jizzman on Wed Feb 19, 2020 10:01 am.

Re: Photo TR: Zach's October with TPR in Japan!

Tue Feb 04, 2020 1:14 pm

YAY !!

so happy to see you kicking this off. You did so many neat things before meeting up with the group - and even once with the group, y'all did some stuff different than others did (I'm sure our Disney experiences, while overlapping in some places? are gonna be VERY different in others).

can't wait to see more, as this is off to an amazing start.

(oh, and don't worry that you didn't get a pic of a dirty panties machine.. I actually did - tho it was more of a pic of the fetish shop. :) My next update this week at some point, will be mostly Shinjuku/Godzilla, so you'll see it, LOL).

Re: Photo TR: Zach's October with TPR in Japan!

Tue Feb 04, 2020 1:36 pm

Great report! While there are no coasters, Japan is such a fascinating country that I have no problem seeing a report on their culture.

Re: Photo TR: Zach's October with TPR in Japan!

Tue Feb 04, 2020 3:11 pm

Great report...adding your gyoza place to my list for next time!

Re: Photo TR: Zach's October with TPR in Japan!

Fri Feb 07, 2020 12:24 pm

bert425 wrote:
(oh, and don't worry that you didn't get a pic of a dirty panties machine.. I actually did - tho it was more of a pic of the fetish shop. :) My next update this week at some point, will be mostly Shinjuku/Godzilla, so you'll see it, LOL).

Oh good to hear haha. I was too distracted just taking in my first hours of Tokyo to find them and I was a little intimidated being solo at night not wanting to accidentally go into a place I didn't want to go haha.

Canobie Coaster wrote:Great report! While there are no coasters, Japan is such a fascinating country that I have no problem seeing a report on their culture.

Thanks there will definitely be more of non park updates!

SharkTums wrote:Great report...adding your gyoza place to my list for next time!

Thanks! It's such a convenient spot and consistently delicious! I liked the boiled better than the pan fried ones.

Re: Photo TR: Zach's October with TPR in Japan!

Sun Feb 09, 2020 5:43 am

The gyoza place sounds great. I agree that Japan is still trying to work out the whole "craft beer" thing; that being said, I did enjoy touring and dining at the Sapporo brewery a few years back.

Re: Photo TR: Zach's October with TPR in Japan!

Sun Feb 09, 2020 1:56 pm

Great update of a first day in Tokyo! It's so amazing just exploring the streets and parks on foot (and train) and see what cool places you find. Also adding that gyoza place to my to do list!!!

Re: Photo TR: Zach's October with TPR in Japan!

Sun Feb 09, 2020 3:12 pm

I've been looking forward to this. The cocoon building looks incredible. It's also surprising how many English translations are in foreign countries.

Re: Photo TR: Zach's October with TPR in Japan!

Tue Feb 11, 2020 3:39 pm

Thanks everyone! Let's continue with Day 2 Tuesday, October 8th. My last solo day!

Big fan of the hotel Mystays I was at in Shinjuku. Cheap, breakfast included, great bed and shower, and quiet even in Shinjuku! I got up and had another big day of exploration!

Nishi Shinjuku Hotel Mystays
Address: 7 Chome-14-14 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 160-0023, Japan

Since I spend the previous day in central and West part of Tokyo, I focused this day on more so on the East side. For this update I'll cover: Metropolitan building, Shinjuku Gyoen Park/Garden, Olympic Park area, Meiji Jingu Stadium (professional baseball for the Swallows) along with Akihabara, Asakusa (a-sok-suh, thank you Elissa!), Asahi and Nikka whiskey, Thunder Dolphin & Baack Daaann Coaster!

Quick notes and hilarity and learnings from day 2:
*Saying hello, good morning/how are you in Japanese to the many workers you see out in public is a great way to learn how greetings are exchanged and how they can vary. "Ohayo gozaimasu!" Put a smile on everyone's face and it helped me get more confident with just being out and about in the city.

->Asakusa was my favorite part of Tokyo. All of the bridges across the water ways, unique architecture, and areas to either embrace the touristy chaos (Nakamise Street & ancient Sensō-ji temple) or to just chill out by the Sumida river.

? I was in Akihabara going from store to store and went into what I thought was a 10+ level arcade. Immediately was hit by a cloud of smoke upon entering and I quickly realized it was like a casino. It took me a minute to figure out how to operate the motion-sensor door until I realized the image of the hand on the door was trying to show me how to "touch to open" where as I thought the sign was saying "DONT touch the door" :lol:

*Hangryness hit me all of a sudden so I needed to stop for lunch. This katsu spot looked amazing, but when I sat down I realized there was no english menu and google translate doesn't work very well. This amazing older Japanese women taking my order disappeared for a few minutes, and then I see a large 8th-grade-science-project-like-colorful-cardboard moving towards me. She brought in the picture menu which was probably used to be put outside because she was able to hide behind the entire thing as she shimmied it over. I thanked her over and over again and got delicious chicken katsu curry. :lover:

*Akihabra was playing a ton of No Doubt in Japanese. :lmao:

*Check the La Qua/Thunder Dolphin schedule and pick a day when it's open later in the evening. They sell an evening passport/unlimited ride wristband that's a great value vs just paying to ride TD a couple times.

*Thunder Dolphin was one of the few coasters in Japan where I could pick my seat. The first visit the place was deserted in the last 2 hours of operations so I rode the front, back, the ops were totally cool! They also let us pick when I returned with Allison and Alex on a return visit.

*There was a huge area cone'd off by police and a huge crowd gathering so I went to see what was up........
It was an electric scooter company like Lime (or any of the other electric scooters you see in big cities now) giving demos and business men and women were doing laps and looking so amazed at this new mode of transport :lol:

AKin no Kura Jr. (Akihabara katsu curry) - Japan, 〒101-0021 Tokyo, Chiyoda City, Sotokanda, 1 Chome−18−18 6階 ・駅前プラザ Akihabara Daibiru Building

Nikka Whiskey Bar - Japan, 〒107-0062 Tokyo, Minato City, Minamiaoyama, 5 Chome−4−31 B1F ニッカウイスキー本社ビル

Asahi Beer Asakusa - 1 Chome-23-1 Azumabashi, Sumida City, Tokyo 130-0001, Japan

Let me know if you have any questions or want more info I'm happy to answer!

FUJI Q update is next!
Boom here's my hotel. Just look at how many blocks it is from Shinjuku station...and then see how massive Shinjuku station is...massive!
Big plans for a full day 2!
Good morning Shinjuku Station!
I'm heading over to the Government building where there are two towers to go on top of for.... free! Thanks Tokyo!
Is that a new crack on the Cocoon building? Is Mothra hatching? Where is Condor to call Godzilla?
ohayo gozaimasu!!!!!
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is the green space on the right, I'll head there next.
Make sure to go on an off time or earlier in the morning to avoid long waits at the bottom. Again, it's free.
Ahh sights around Shinjuku as I head to the park.
No jellyfishing!!! Do not pet fish or eat Sweedish fish!!!
This bird only had one leg and was still successfully catching fish. Not pictured: a dozen photography students next to me
NTT Docomo Yoyogi Building, the 2nd tallest clock tower in the world. #1 in my heart.
One of the many gardens in Gyoen park. I think it cost ~500 yen to enter.
Just a great place to get away from the city for a bit and just relax.
In a Japanese garden in Tokyo in..Japan!!
Just popping out on the other side of the park. It's fully integrated with the surrounding residential area of Shinjuku.
t o k y o b i r b c r u
Approaching the Olympic park....TOP GOLF IN TOKYO?!
Jingu golf! I was tempted to swing though (heh) but was lured by something else...
Tokyo Baseball was in playoff mode, but there was no baseball today. Ask Jew/Joey about his experience going to a game! He'll tell you about all of the wrong decisions I've made!
Property of the Meiji Shrine, it is the home field of the Tokyo Yakult Swallows professional baseball team.
Are you part of the Swallows Crew?
Norichika Aoki is on the Swallows! A lot of MLB guys come through Tokyo or end their careers there.
Be a Swallows fan!
Swallows RISING
Here's the front of the stadium! They had their fight song/cheer playing on the speakers all day, it sounded like a game was happening.
Grindr for cats or luggage delivery? Email DAN at mrt0ad13@aol.com to find out and tell him to get back on the forum!
No update is complete without a gashapon! Do you want to annoy your cat? Here's how in 6 different ways.
Heading to Akihabara! This train station was very unique. I'm not even 6' tall and this hallway's limit was probably 7'5".
Random train station info!
Video games! I'm in Akihabara! This seemed to be the most popular game. Way too intimidated to play, it looked like a crazy RPG.
This it what a video game arcade looks like at 11am on at random Tuesday, haha.
Shopping, video games, gambling, snacking, lewd nerdy things, it's all in Akihabara.
1,200 for that OG Blastoise!
Listening to No Doubt in Japanese and having some amazing katsu curry. Have you booked a trip to Japan yet?
How many nazi zombies do I need to kill to win the kawaii Timon or Stitch?
I played this baseball game for probably 30 minutes. It was a cool pinball/baseball mashup.
Gotta hit it away from the infield and out field to try for a hit. It was so much fun!
Time to wash away all of the sins I collected going in and out of all the comic stores!
A short walk from Akihabara take the famous stairs featured in Love Live School Idol Project anime to take you to Kanda Myoujin Shrine! Climb the stairs and make a wish!
Kanda Myoujin Shrine gets a lot of visitors since it's in a lot of anime (since it's so close to Akihabara) so there are a lot of English-speaking guides there.
Across the street - Yushima Seido. Dating to the 17th century, this Confucian temple is known for serving as a center of learning.
Confucius say "Don't touch my forbidden fruit!!"
It was seriously a nice serene place, I'm glad I stopped by! Collecting all of the spiritual energy for our Fuji Q day!
You seein' what I'm seein'? Post a comment if you do!
Yes, you can take a Mario Kart 'track' around Tokyo. There have been some IP battles that might prevent you from getting in full Mario/Yoshi/Peach gear but they're still going!
A quick train ride over to Asakusa area! Glimpses of the Sky Tree.
This. Is. Tokyo.
It seemed as if it was perfectly centered looking down every street.
Indoor/outdoor shopping Asakusa near Orange St. Find owl/shiba cafes, matcha ice cream, and more here.
Tanuki Street is right around the corner! It was underwhelming, IMO. It was just some of these little (beer mug size) tanukis in different moods. It was cute but nothing to go out of your way for.
Getting closer to the Sky Tree.
All of a sudden, I was caught up in this crowd swarming towards Sensoji Temple and check it out, Sumos hanging out with their significant others on their time off!
William says "Definitely Rikishi (sumo wrestlers) and their significant others, enjoying their time off between sumo tournaments!"
Finally able to break away, I was treated to this stunning view.
the Sumida river to the right
Time for a high ball! First whisky of the trip! I made some Aussie friends in Tokyo for the Rugby Cup. Oh yeah, Rugby Cup!
Asakusa at sunset. Take. It. In.
Oh yeah, I'm supposed to go ride an Intamin tonight!
But don't forget to give money kitty a chin rub.
When in Tokyo, save all your energy for the evenings because that's the time to be out and about!
This is just so surreal.
Am I really here at Thunder Dolphin in Tokyo?!
My gracious. It's mineeeee allllll mineeeeee!
Oh, I didn't see you two.
Now it's mine!!!
Thunder Dolphin is like seeing a glass of water mirage in the desert. Is it really there? It's there. It's real. But it's just water, not a Coke or a beer. Sure, it'll quench your thirst but it's just water. Thanks for reading my cryptic review!
La Qua is into two pieces, on the triangle side you've got Thunder Dolphin, ferris wheel, flume, and across the street there's some more flats and the new coaster.
See you next time, Thunder Dolphin!
I rode Baack Daan! I had it to myself, it was hysterical. It's the perfect cute family coaster that's very Japanese and has some surprises!
Vending machines everywhere in Tokyo and yes that means ice cream vending machines!
Ending the night with William and Joey with some Nikka Whiskey! Thanks for reading! FUJI Q NEXT!

Re: Photo TR: Zach's October with TPR in Japan!

Tue Feb 11, 2020 4:18 pm

this update was everything I was hoping it would be, Zach.

some really STUNNING pics you got over by the sky tree. . . if I'm back in Tokyo, that's absolutely on my list to do (the whole Asakusa & Akihabara areas, actually)

thanks for sharing these. . I knew you got some really fun stuff done during your "alone" days before we all met up. Great to see the full pic reports.
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