Trip Report – March/April 2007

Japan and Hong Kong
March 23, 2007 – April 09, 2008

Day One – Leave US for Japan
Day Two – Arrive in Narita
Day Three – International Anime Festival
Day Four – Kabuki, Asakusa
Day Five – Shinjuku, Imperial Gardens, NHK Studio
Day Six – Akihabara
Day Seven – Ueno Park, Harajuku
Day Eight – Meiji Shrine Garden
Day Nine – Off to Osaka
Day Ten – Kyoto
Day Eleven – Nara
Day Twelve – Osaka
Day Thirteen – Off to Hong Kong
Day Fourteen – Victoria Peak
Day Fifteen – Monk Kok
Day Sixteen – Hong Kong
Day Seventeen – New Territories
Day Eighteen – Back to US

  • Day 1 – Friday, March 23 – Leave US for Japan

    Left US for Japan via ANA.
    The service was good as usual. Haagen Dazs as dessert doesn’t hurt either.

  • Day 2 – Saturday, March 24 – Arrive in Narita
    Nauseous as usual. Stayed at one of the Toyoko Inns in Ikebukuro.
    Apparently, the North Exit is love hotel central. Looking at the map, I see all these little heart symbols in the area.
    Ah well, not that it’s a problem since no one bothers foreigners.
  • Day 3 -Sunday, March 25 – International Anime Festival
    The Tokyo International Anime Festival is held annually in spring Tokyo Big Sight.
    It wasn’t as crowded as I thought it’d be and the line moved fairly fast.

    There was a section dedicated to Anpanman in the beginning.
    How can you not like a hero who gives part of his own head to feed the hungry. :D

    Ah, one of my favorite scenes from One Piece when everyone is off to save Robin.

    There were a section where they set up some walls with figurines viewable from both the front and back.

    I really wanted the Higurashi ones! Nekomimi Rika-chan!

    Yurine from Karas. Looks very much like her.

    Let after a couple hours to grab a bite to eat. Got some squid ink curry at Venus Fort.
    Be sure to brush your teeth afterwards. It’s quite staining!

    Also dropped by Fuji TV. It’s quite crowded on the weekends (like everything else in Tokyo).
    They have a good model of the Going Merry.

  • Day 4 – Tuesday, March 27 – Kabuki, Asakusa

    Saw a kabuki show in the morning. It was just one section so it was short.
    You can purchase a tape recorder with English voiceovers.

    Lunch was an all-you-can-eat dessert buffet in Ginza. It was mostly women and quite crowded.
    They also had pasta. 90 minutes was the limit, but I couldn’t last that long. Too sweet…
    Actually, it wasn’t that good.

    Passed by Asakusa in the afternoon.

    I’m always amazed with the obsessions over the chest.
    Besides the F-Cup cookies you can get that supposedly increase chest size, there were also these puddings???
    I didn’t try them though.

    Had sushi for dinner. The ones on the left are Otoro (fatty tuna). 500 yen a piece though I couldn’t taste any difference.

    Had to go visit Tokyo Tower again.
    Was just as overrated and crowded as I remember.

  • Day 5 – Tuesday, March 27 – Shinjuku, Imperial Gardens, NHK Studio

    Visited the Imperial Gardens. The cherry blossoms weren’t in full bloom yet.

    Visited NHK Studio Park in the afternoon. It was very nice.
    They have an attraction where they’ll insert you into a section of TV using blue screen.
    You can pretend to dub a section of anime (have to be able to read hiragana though).
    Also, you can pretend to give a newscast. They have many available languages including English.

  • Day 6 – Wednesday, March 28 – Ueno Park, Akihabara

    Visited Ueno Park to see some cherry blossoms

    Also went to a maid cafe called Maid Dimension in Akihabara. Pictures aren’t allowed inside.
    It had a Nodame Cantabile theme.

    Ah…the UFO catcher.
    An infinite black hole for your loose change. I gave up trying to catch the box and tried to go for the figures on display and almost managed to get Lancer but had epic fail…
    Finally bought the nekomimi Rin from a consignment store for 1500 yen (after spending around 4000 yen trying to win it…)

    Dinner was my fave Mos Burger. Rice patties are the best.

  • Day 7 – Thursday, March 29 – Ueno Park, Harajuku

    Visited Ueno Park again. They have swan boats too.

    Poor junior salarymen have to setup up the picnic area and watch over it.
    They look bored…

    Cool clothes at Harajuku.

  • Day 8 – Friday, March 30 – Meiji Shrine Garden

    Meiji Shrine Garden is always a good place to relax.

  • Day 9 – Saturday, March 31 – Off to Osaka

    Took some pictures at Akiba before heading to the shinkansen station at Tokyo.
    Gotta love the Aoishiro ad.

    Tickets, please.

    Always nice to eat an ekiben (station bento) while riding the shinkansen for a couple hours.

    Stayed at APA Hotel in Tanimachi 4-chome. It’s right next to the station though the transfers are a bit annoying.

    Visited Osaka Castle within walking distance.
    The NHK Center at Osaka is really quite disappointing compared to the one in Tokyo though.

    Always nice to munch on takoyaki and mitarashi dango during hanami.

    More sakura and sakura-themed snacks.

  • Day 10 – Sunday, April 1 – Kyoto

    Off to Kyoto. Best to avoid on a weekend, especially during sakura season.
    Kyoto wasn’t as rural as I thought it would be. They’re not allowed to build skyscrapers, but there’s still lots of power lines etc.
    Dropped by Kinkakuji, the Golden Pavilion.

    Had lunch at Tofu Cafe Fujino where like its name, everything is made from tofu, even dessert.

    Off to Kiyomizu, a world heritage site also famous for autumn leaves(koyo).

    Food stamps and lanterns were set up at Yasaka Shrine.
    Cherry blossoms are also illuminated at night.

  • Day 11 – Monday, April 2 – Nara

    At Nara, there are free roaming deer though they’re more aggressive than the ones on Miyajima.
    I guess cause you can buy deer “cookies” to feed them. They will swarm you when they see you have them.

  • Day 12 – Tuesday, April 3 – Osaka

    Nice sakura along the Okawa River.

    Had teppanyaki for lunch though I didn’t order kobe beef.
    I heard the kobe beef was really tender though.

  • Day 13 – Wednesday, April 4 – Off to Hong Kong
    Flew to Hong Kong from Osaka.
    Staying one stop away from Causeway Bay.
    Went to Times Square for dinner.

    The person calling out the seating arrangements was like an auctioneer!
    Recommended to really know your colors and numbers in Cantonese or ask someone who can understand Cantonese for help.

  • Day 14 – Thursday, April 5 – Victoria Peak

    Visited Victoria Peak in the morning.

    The Peninsula Hotel is a famous hotel in Hong Kong. Nice to have high tea there.
    The building on the left is nicknamed the “Pineapple Bun” because it resembles one.

    Saw the Festival of Lights at night.

    Sweets Dynasty for dessert. The name is a play on the Tang (also means sugar) Dynasty.

  • Day 15 – Friday, April 6 – Mong Kok

    Had dim sun in Mong Kok.

  • Day 16 – Saturday, April 7 – Hong Kong

    Just wandered around Hong Kong today. Went to a gashapon fair at the Hong Kong Convention Center but there wasn’t much there.

  • Day 17 – Sunday, April 8 – New Territories
    Went to the New Territories in the morning to have more dim sum.

    Wow. Garlic naan was available too.

  • Day 18 – Monday, April 9 – Back to US
    Back to the US with a hoard of treasure.

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