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Wednesday, 30 June 2010

The crazy place that is Akihabara & the World Cup

This is killing me cuz I want to write about last night - the Japan vs Paraguay match! but I MUST write in order... so bare with me... or skip straight to the video at the end!!!

Yesteraday we went to a place in Tokyo called Akihabara. We had read 3 main things about this place;
  1. It is the place to be if you are shopping for anything electronic/computer related,
  2. It has a massive Anime/Manga scene (Japanese animations and comics), and
  3. It has rather alot of maid cafes... these are cafes were girls/women dress up as maids and serve business men. 

I I must say I was extremely intrigued by these maid cafes. To be fair, I only had a peek in one cafe, but I didn't feel comfortable enough to actually go in so I guess I can't really comment. However, from the 5 seconds of peering in I noticed that the girls there were quite young, and the customers were mainly business men. From what we have seen in both Akihabara and Harajuku I think it is fair to say that there is a certian eccentric fashion among the Japanese teenagers that hang out there. I think these girls must take on a role, much like they do in Harajuku when they dress up as their favourite Japanese anime character because all the adverts for the maid cafes show anime characters and not actually girls...

This girl here is not dressed as a maid, but she was on the street advertising her shop - I was asked not to take photos of the maids. So fair enough. I'm getting into the habbit here in Japan were you can just take photos or anything and everything because the majority of people love having photos taken of them... and they are always very apologetic when they ask you not to take photos... I must learn the Japanese word for sorry... zennen desu, zennen desu, anyway... enough about maid cafes (sorry for going off on one there!)

 Ok so electronics yes. it was crazy all the shops here go up into to the top floors of every building, it takes some getting used to just getting into a random lift and pressing a random button just to see what shop you end up in! So there were floors and floors of everything you could ever imagine needing, wanting - Very surreal!!! and the anime thing... ok, floors and floors of arcade games... all devoted to the japanese anime. Kind of looks like a casino for kids (haha). Oh by the way pretty much all gambling is illegal here... I heard something about a loop hole though... hm I don't think we need to get into that right now!!! There were loads of anime comic stores most harmless... but lets just say we walked into a particular shop that happened to be full of men (it was an "adult" cartoon book store)... and the nicest way to say it is I have definitely been scared for life... so I won't be going there again!!!
Below is a picture of the nice anime book store :-)

It was tiring a tiring day... but we were soooo ready to go out to watch the match. We thought we could see if they were showing it on the big screens at Shibuya crossing, that would of been great but they wern't. :-( How ever we had a great night. This video will explain it better than I ever could...

Ok so when we figured out that they wern't showing it on the big screens we wanted to find a bar to watch it. Everyone was at the crossing watching tv on theirs phones or listening to radios. We did actually find a pub to watch the last half an hour in - it was lovely. Just a small pub maybe enough room for 20 people max. and everyone was talking to us... it was so nice... made me want to learn Japanese!!! Fran has been feeling extremely fragile today though, hehe. Hopefully when we wake up tomorrow we will both feel great! We are off to the Zoo tomorrow!!! WOOP oh my god we are going to see pandas... in real life!!!! Watch this space!!!!

Sunday, 27 June 2010

This time last year...

We were at Glastonbury!!!! We have been watching some of the gigs that have been uploaded to YouTube to get in the Glastonbury spirit! But this year... we are in Japan, don't think that has quite sunk in yet, but we have been here for 2 weeks. It's all still quite daunting.

So yesterday we went to Tokyo Bay where there is a BBQ field - everyone in Tokyo has pretty much the same problem, no where to BBQ. It wasn't what we were expecting at all to be honest... we were told "best place to BBQ in Tokyo" and "field looking over the sea" or something like that. and we got there and it was a field full of people having BBQs... no view and not to much of a special field. I think I'm concentrating too much on the negatives... Don't get me wrong, if we had booked like everyone else it was probably great (you got designated tables with gazebos). And despite the rain... (yes it rained) we all ate alot of food, had some drinks, chatted loads, and all had a really great time!!! :-)
We packed up and we were all very full, and maybe a little drunk... so we decided it was a good idea to go on the Ferris wheel/tiny London Eye replica thing.

So that was a pretty big thing for me... being in a enclosed space, not being able to get off, being high up. Yeah, I am really proud of myself so thanks to Fran, Dave and KT for going with me!!!! :-D and the view was pretty good!!!

So it is Sunday today, and we said we wanted to go to Harajuku again to take photos of those famous Harajuku girls... to be honest Harajuku is an amazing place for fashion, and pancakes, and it has a great park called Yoyogi Park (if its good weather tomorrow, im going to take a towel and chill out there whilst Fran is at his interview!!!! I need to get me a tan!) but for what it went for... the crazily dressed teenagers, Harajuku was a bit of a let down... again. We went about 3pm, and we saw a few crazily dressed people but nothing to really hang round and photograph.

There was this one girl, stood by herself, everyone was taking photos of her, so I handed Fran the camera and went and got in the photo with her. She looked so cute and sooooooo overdressed! I wish I had seen more people like that!!!! Its fun!!! But, I am determind to see more... so one sunday in the not too distant future, I'm going get up early and head down there before noon, see whether there is anymore action.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Some opinions we wanted to share

Ok so we have had quite a productive week, neither of us have jobs yet but we have had interviews or are returning for the follow up interviews. The pressure certainly is on... we are in a new surrounding... wanting to see new things but on a very tight budget. We will let you know how we get on job wise, but we will definitely be cutting spending down to a minimum, I guess using our money mainly on traveling, we don't have to be spending money to be seeing/doing something different!!!

The picture at the top is another one from our local park in Hiroo.

Anyway, there are a handful of things we have noticed since being here, and wanted to share with you guys...
  • People leave there bikes parked up all around the city and yet I haven't seen any bike chains at all.
  • The first time I saw a homeless person here I was shocked. I think because there seems to be no apparent class system in Tokyo its very hard to understand the massive gap from what someone would consider a homeless person, to maybe what they would consider working class.
  • Japanese ladies, are always carrying an umbrella whether it is to not get wet or to protect their skin for the sun
  • Everything is "cute" - restaurants with a photo of their food on the window with a smiley face, or a drug store which is practically pink the whole way through. Also, the dogs... hm maybe I'll start a new bullet point
  • The dogs here... it seems the smaller the better, honestly some of the dogs here are just the cutest thing you have ever seen!!! The crazy thing is though, their owners seems to treat them like their children... the dogs wear dresses, socks, bows or their heads... I mean we have seen a couple of time people walking around with shoulder bags, and a tiny dogs head poking out the top. (I'm gunna have to take a photo!!!) The most ridiculous thing we have seen so far though - there was a woman walking ahead of us with a tiny little poodle or something on a lead. She had stopped and bent down unzipping her bag. When we actually came to passing she had put the dog in her back, and was zipping it up!!! I was so shocked... I walked past staring with my mouth wide open!
 Another thing is I have never ever been so aware of wildlife as I am here, I was sat in Hiroo park on a rock very close to the large pond that is there... there was a terrapin sat on the end of the rock...  more terrapins swimming close by, ducks, pigeons, drangonflies, butterflies and fish. It's quite amazing!!!
This video below, was a quick film I took at the park when I realised that I was totally surrounded by wildlife... it was quite surreal... which too be honest, this who trip has been so far... I wonder at what point is this going to feel "natural".

    Monday, 21 June 2010

    Fantastic Weekend!!!

    Had a fab weekend, got alot sorted for apply for jobs here, just off to get a bank account now then can get applying!!! :-) We had such a great day yesterday, we managed to squeeze so much in!!! and I can't even imagine how much walking we actually did yesterday! Crazy!

    So we started at Nihombashi Bridge, It had pretty impressive statues on it like this dragon.
    We then walked along to the Imperial Palace Gardens, which was so so beautiful! The whole place was surrounded by a massive thick stone wall and a moet. It was so peaceful. I really enjoying walking around in side here
    There were a whole load of wildlife that I'd never seen before, drangonflies were as common as flies are in England, every bush was covered in a thick spider web, there were birds flying between the trees (mostly cute (but I can't stand the crows, they are huge and make such a horrible noise!!!)), and different coloured butterflies floating around. The butterflies never stayed still long enough for me to take a photo, I kept chasing them - bet I looked like a right idiot!
    My Uncle Dave and KT!!! I've told him... I'm fasing out the uncle cuz it's just not cool saying Uncle Dave all the time... haha. No honestly, these guys have been so amazing, they have been ssooooo helpful, definitely couldn't of done this without them!!!! (although no more history museums please U. D!)
    We visiting the Yasukuni Shrine which was very beautiful, the Temples and Shrines look very similar but the ones we have seen has slight differences. this was in my opinion by the far the most peaceful.

    After that we split off from Dave and KT. Me and Fran headed to Harajuku again... only we didn't walk down the same road we had before because it looked quite hard to get anywhere - as you can see! We were told that to experience the real Harajuku culture we had to go on a Sunday. We were told that teenages gather and dress up in crazy costumes to resemble anime characters, punk rockers, or anything they fancy - just as long as it's crazy! They dress for the attention and love to pose for any camera!

     We actually just followed the crowd and we ended up at a concert venue, which had totally thrown us off. There isn't a concert every Sunday so I think we are hoping to spend the day there next sunday to really get some great photos, and soak up the atmosphere. We went for a walk in Yoyogi Park nearby. and we could hear music... so obviously (being us!) we followed it and ended up at this outside little concert venue, probably about 150 people watching/dancing/singing along to this rasta/acoustic music!!!

    After chilling out to this pretty cool music we walked in the direction we thought there would be a place to get some food... I had no idea we had walked so far but we ended up in Shibuya! We had a bite to eat and fran got some footage for our first video. So be ready for that one :-)

    We went back to the flat and totally flaked out! I think we are totally over our jet lag now - WOOP!

    Thursday, 17 June 2010

    Go Away Jet Lag

    So jet lag is still lingering, feeling the most tired/exhausted today!!! but we have still been doing lots of  stuff!!!
    Yesterday, we went to get our citizenship sorted, the people were lovely and so helpful, as we weren't 100% sure where we were going. It then took about 45mins to fill out paperwork, and it didn't even feel a pain to do, it was quite cool actually! Japanese people are so lovely! I was fanning myself with my papers and a Japanese women over the other side of the room smiled at me, walked away and came back and gave me a proper Japanese fan!!!! It was so nice of her, its the little things that make you feel good isn't it...  :-) We headed into another nearby suburb called Roppongi, we came out of the train station at Roppongi Hills which looked pretty cool! There were water features all around and... well I can't describe it... so look at this picture...
    see all the mist above me? it was like tiny droplets of water to coming from a tap to cool you down!!! People were sat chilling under it!!!
    Here is a picture of the Tokyo Tower, we want to go up it at some point the views are meant to be brill!!! Gotta remember to get a tripod, as that was one of the things I left behind in England cuz it was too heavy for my luggage!
    Ok, the above photo may seem totally random BUT I was getting all nostalgic yesterday about my best friend from school, she is from Tiawan, and had alot of similar food to what they have here, so that's my excuse for the left box... However, the right. Fran wanted milk, and Hello Kitty was on a milk carton, so of course, we HAD to buy it... you should of seen Fran's face as he took his first sip... I wish I had taken a photo! its was pineapple flavoured milk!!!! Poor Fran!!!
    Then today we went to Harajuku!!! I was so excitied cuz we've heard of Harajuku alot in England, what with Gwen Stefani and her Harajuku Girls, and then Harajuku Lovers Perfume!!
    So you walk out of the train station in Harajuku to this...
    We walked alot today!!! I reckon maybe 5-6 miles, and I think we saw like 6 pancake shops, all looked amazing. So gutted I couldn't eat them :-(
    Then we went to see the Meiji jingu Shrine... and then our legs hurt so we came home and collapsed!!!

    Tuesday, 15 June 2010

    We have done sooo much in 24 hours!

    So, we landed 24 hours ago! we have done soooo much! Went for a meal with Uncle Dave and KT last night which was cool. We had some lovely stuff but it was a realisation moment as Fran is vegetarian and I have ALOT of food allergies... main one being rice. which is pretty crap!!! And all the rice meals look really so so so good as well - so unfair!
    So we had a task today... to get the flat key cut! so Uncle Dave took us a bit of a tour, drew us a map and gave us a few maps of the subway and of Shibuya to help us find our way around.
    We came out of the train station to this... Shibuya Crossing!!! my goodness it's big, with sooo many people. God knows what it's gunna be like on a weekend! Crazy I'm sure! We didn't seem to have any problem finding what we needed, followed the map to find the keycutting place and then we just wandered around Shibuya. Now I'm sat in the flat it was pretty surreal!!!
    We were stood on the side of the road looking at our map of Tokyo and an American gentleman came up to us to help us, it was so nice of him as we didn't even ask. And then the same thing happened about a hour later... got the map our and a lovely Japanese girl came over and asked if she could help us. We both thought it was lovely!!!

     We were both feeling quite tired so decided to come back, so we got the metro to Hiroo Station where we had been told there was a Supermarket. KT had mentioned that there was a park over the road from it so we were thinking typical english park... flat green grass and maybe a play area for the kids... but oooooh no! how wrong were we!?!

    More like a small nature reserve!!!! it was beautiful. loads of trees, small paths leading up and down and pond and a small river and a few small waterfalls!
    there were ducks, birds, tortoise, butterflies and dragon flies!!! It was beautiful!! we had a lovely walk!

    Also, we were walking along and there was the smalest tortoise just sat on the footpath, I wanted to move him so that he wouldn't of got trodden on so I had to take a picture!!! look How Cute!!!

    Anyway, the jet lag is going ok I guess, feeling quite disoriented... don't know whether that's the time difference or being in a new place, but sure everything it will be fine soon. I think are going to sort our visa stuff out tomorrow so will write then

    Also, don't forget, you can hit the comment button at the end of each entry/post and leave us a little note, that would be cool :-) and also, ALL our photos whilst we are over here in Japan will be on our new Flick Photostream - Fran and Vicki's Photos so please keep checking what we are up to. and Hope everyone back home is well!!!!

    Monday, 14 June 2010

    We Made It!!!

    Well, we are here! we are in Tokyo!!! The flights were fine, we flew with emirates and they looked after us every step of the way! The photo above was taken between Manchester and Dubai at sunset. It was beautiful to watch, never seen such a colourful sunset before... hopefully this will the be first of many!!!!

    So when we finally got there it took us like an hour to get through customs cuz stupidly in the muddle of getting everything ready in England it had totally slipped my mind to write my uncles address and phone number down, and they needed to know where we were planning on staying. So, after a little bit of negotiation we got through and Uncle David was waiting for us, like he said he would be! We got on a coach to bring us to Shibuya and then Dave and Kt took us out for a cute little meal up the road from their house!!! Feeling extremley wobbley (never had jet lag before!) so I'm gunna lie down now and try get some sleep! Nunight!

    Saturday, 12 June 2010

    Visa Process : ANTI-CLIMAX!!!

    Right, well we didn't video any of the visa process as it was the biggest anti-climax EVER!!!! We flew down to London, went to the Japanese Embassy handed in all our paperwork, they said "right, that'll be ready next week for you" it cost £20 and we got it in the post with our passports back!!!! So we did it! Woop!

    We had an awesome leaving do in Bolton, everyone was so lovely! My friends from work Jodi, Sara and Dave bought me the Discovery Channels guide to Japan... honestly I would recommend it, its got plenty to read and packed full of photos!

    So this will be my last post before we head to Japan.... we are very excited!!!! See you on the otherside of the world!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!