Japan: March 2024

I went for another two week trip to Japan, this time with some friends! Here's a thought dump during various points of my trip.

So I’m back visiting Japan for the second time within a year’s time: this time with friends. When I first started writing this post, my time had so far been in the Osaka area, exploring in the surrounding areas. The last time I was in this area was in 2019 (back before COVID hit) when I went with my brother. Here’s just another thought post dump during some of the downtime on my trip at coffee shops and the such, so I’ll be jumping around between different things.

Anyways, in no particular order, here we go.

Side Quests

Himeji

One place I got to visit for the first time this trip was Himeji, where the (now a world heritage site of) Himeji Castle sits. I learned a little bit about the history and explored the side wing where we could go in (with our shoes off). That day we went also had a lot of school kids, presumably on a field trip to learn. It was super packed. Aside from Himeji Castle and the Kokoen Garden right beside it, we didn’t really get to do any other sightseeing.

Himeji Castle from the inner courtyard.

After our sightseeing, we walked around the area and managed to do some shopping, too. We hit up the local Animate and Lashinbang. I managed to find some merch that a friend of mine (Victor) had wanted at Animate. I even found the PA-15 figure I’ve been looking for as well for 14800 JPY unopened and essentially brand new at Lashinbang, so I instantly bought it. There was a Hands store with a ceramic Hario pourover set in stock, which I bought for my brother. Finally, my friend NekoDiv, and I found a Uniqlo that had a 1990 JPY sweater that was both in stock and with the size we were looking for: medium; we finally managed to buy one after going into countless number of Uniqlos around Osaka haha.

Shopping outside of the big cities is nice cause we found some good stuff along the way. Might come back again the next time I’m around (or maybe if I decide to visit Kobe since I didn’t get to go this time around).

Enoshima

Another place my friends and I went to was the island of Enoshima, located approximately 90 minutes south of Tokyo via train. Being a small island, there’s a beach, where we did enjoy the water a little bit. I took Syaro out for this trip, so she enjoyed the water a bit:

Syaro out by the water at a beach in Enoshima.

Of course, there’s also a shrine in the area, and we had some good food. The main reason we came was to watch the sunset at the end of the day. Before that, we walked around, went up the Sea Candle, and stopped for some coffee. NekoDiv also brought Pekora with him, so I also got photo with her and Hana. Syaro also enjoyed some coffee, as you can tell from the photos.

Photos don’t really do the area justice, but we did get to see it πŸ™‚

Sunset at the south side of Enoshima.

Culture

Once again, I’m reminded of how different the culture is here compared to back home in Canada. The general vibe just feels more safe and respectful: really I think it boils down to the small things. For example, on rainy days, if you use your umbrella and it gets wet and you go into a convenience store (or maybe any small store for that matter), the expectation is that you leave your umbrellas outside so as to not get the store interior wet. For bigger department stores or malls, umbrella bags are provided for the same purpose. Train lineups are pretty well respected, and there are plenty of markings on the ground to tell you where to line up and where to leave empty so that people can exit trains in an efficient (and orderly) manner.

The one thing I did notice was lots of maids out in Ikebukuro and Akihabara trying to hand out pamphlets and the whatnot to people. I’ve been just ignoring them while walking by, but yeah they’re just out in full force, especially during the late afternoon/early evening rush.

Food

Aside from buying hard-to-find or costly-to-ship-back merchandise, I’ve been also trying to hit up as many family restaurants. So far, I’v managed to hit Jonathans, Saizeriya, Royal Host, and Denny’s. I’m really gonna miss the prices here: The meals I’ve had there have ranged between 1100JPY to 1700JPY.

For deserts, I’ve also managed to find some good places in Asakusa. There’s a place that sells apple pies called mille mele: I bought one for 450JPY, and the (what is soupei in English?) crust was really nice and fluffy. There is also the purin place there as well, which was exactly like the one I visited in Ginza last year. They’re really good, so I’ll probably end up going back to get some more before I leave for home.

As for coffee shops, I’ve hit up a few. I went back to Sarutahiko Coffee at The Bridge in Harajuku twice already cause it was a nice place to just relax and have a cup of coffee: there are lots of seats inside. There’s also a few coffee places I went to in Kuramae, where we were staying: Square Cafe, en cafe, and Sol’s Coffee Roastery, all within 5 minutes by foot from the AirBnb we were staying at.

Aside from that, I also splurged one night by going to a yakiniku place with saya’s friend jat. We had some pretty damn good wagyu beef among other things. It was a set menu at 5500 JPY before drinks. There was also good ol’ Sushiro as well, which was doing a Genshin collab so the restaurant itself had a bunch of Genshin characters around.

I also tried Pizza Hut delivery, too. I wouldn’t do it again though: it’s really expensive. We got two medium-sized pizzas, which equated to North American smalls, for 3500 JPY, and this was after a 30% coupon discount. So yeah, pizza in Japan seems more of a luxury more than anything.

Shinkansen – Green Car

Since I stayed in Osaka and Tokyo both for approximately two weeks, I decided to take the shinkansen between the two places, both on the faster Nozomi train. NekoDiv, azntnak, and I also decided to ride the shinkansen in a green car (first class) this time around from Shin-Osaka to Tokyo. We bought eki-ben (train lunch boxes) at the station and brought it along for the ride. The seats were a bit more spacious, too. For ~5000JPY more, it was a nice upgrade.

It was also the only type of train car that offered in-train service, where you could order snacks from their limited selection. I still remember that they used to wheel a cart through the train cars and ask if you wanted any snacks or drinks back in 2019, so I guess they suspended it some time during COVID. But yeah, I ended up ordering some chocolate ice cream for the ride, delivered right to my seat for 400 JPY.

Oh yeah, the weather was also really nice, so I also got to snap a photo of Mt. Fuji at the train door between the train cars.

Entertainment

The Arcade

I also went to the arcade quite a bit this trip. My friend introduced me to the Tetote x Connect game on like the second day of the trip in Osaka, which is a rhythm game where you (literally) connect hands with the 3D character model on the screen by touching the screen to the rhythm. It was surprisingly super fun! The game features Hololive member Momosuzu Nene as your partner so that was a nice surprise. πŸ™‚ In the end, I think I played over 200 songs, and I don’t regret spending the amount of time I did there.

I also tried out Chunithm Luminous. I think we have the older version back home since I’ve played that one before, but this one was also pretty fun. There was some Uzaki collab event happening, so I unlocked Uzaki Hana and Sakurai Shinichi the first day played it. The event reminded me of Cinderella Road in deresute, so I just had to play, and I ended up clearing the Uzaki event. There were some great songs, too, like うまぴょい伝θͺ¬ and Say!フゑンフゑーレ!, so I enjoyed playing along with some bangers.

I went to play in Round 1 Stadium Sennichimae in Osaka, and when we came back to Tokyo, I went to Round 1 Ikebukuro several times to play more. There were other arcades closer to Asakusa (like in Akihabara), but Round 1 had a nice vibe.

In addition to playing arcade games, I also checked off an additional bucket list item for this trip: I also sang my heart out at karaoke at Round 1 with saya and her brother. We went on a Thursday night, and the entrance fee was 1990 JPY per person, and we could stay for as long as we wanted (unless it was busy, which it wasn’t, but if it was, it would be a maximum of 6 hours). Each person had to spend an additional minimum of 260 JPY, which was easily satisfied with one alcoholic drink. We ended up ordering a bunch of food like takoyaki, fries, and chicken nuggets, which brought us to total of ~14900 JPY after 6 hours of singing! Since saya and her brother had to leave midway for two hours to attend another event, I got two hours to sing whatever the hell I wanted. The machines in Japan are pretty good: we got a room with a DAM machine, and it had most of the songs I put in: it had TAILWIND and γƒˆγƒ¬γ‚»γƒ³ιŸ³ι ­ (Umamusume songs), をむム・を・γƒͺγƒˆγƒ«γƒ»γƒ—γƒͺンセス (an iM@S U149 song), and a bunch of Nishino Kana songs that I like to sing. My throat was basically done at the end of it, but it was so fun. I definitely will come back for more karaoke the next time I visit.

MOGRA

Another trip to Tokyo meant another trip to MOGRA. Fortunately, the day after we came to Tokyo from Osaka, there was an event featuring YUC’e, which also included Aiobahn, among other DJs, so sayaka, myself and her brother decided to hit it up. Being able to see them in person was an amazing experience. YUC’e’s set was pumping: she sang and her live vocals were so good. I wasn’t familiar with all her songs, but there were a few I recognized like Night Club Junkie and Future Candy, so it was fun jamming along to it. I was also lucky to get a spot standing in the front to see her perform, so that was a nice bonus. Aiobahn had a nice set leading up to YUC’e. I did record a few video clips, but yeah those won’t do justice for the actual experience. Thank goodness for earplugs; those saved my hearing for sure!

Definitely will go again next time! πŸ™‚

Suitcase Packing

The one thing I do regret doing is packing too many days of clothes: I packed roughly a week’s worth of clothes, a second pair of shoes (runners), and a thick jacket. That reduced the amount of space I had for any merchandise I wanted to buy and bring back home. I ended up only using the thick jacket once, and that was because I went out of my way to wear it. There were laundry machines at both the Airbnb places I stayed at, so we could’ve definitely used that more frequently with less clothes. I also forced myself to use my runners to actually do some running, but I also would’ve preferred not to bring it to save on space.

In terms of bringing back merch, I bought quite a few things. Beside the plethora of snacks I packed for friends and the office by playing Tetris. I bought a dakimakura cover back of Hachimiya Meguru from the Shiny Colors series, as well as a couple of doujinshis from said series of her I found at Mandarake and Fuyuko at Melonbooks. I also got another doujinshi of Genshin artwork of characters in bunny outfits at Melonbooks cause they were too cute to pass up. I touched upon it earlier: I managed to find a PA-15 figure; was glad I managed to find her on sale. To add some padding, I bought a couple of plushies: one yoshi one from Universal for the memes and an Eevee one from the Pokemon Centre for my bro. I also did get a Amico FumoFumo from the AmiAmi Radio Kaikan store in Akiba right before I went to the airport; though I ended up putting that in my carry-on bag.

Aside from the bulky items, I also bought two wallscrolls: an original bunny girl artwork by one of the artists I follow: ももこ, and an official Love Live! Superstars!! one of Tang Keke. The ももこ one was the one on display at Comic Jikuchuushinha in Nipponbashi, Osaka. I like visiting this shop (both in Akiba and now I also know they have one in Osaka) cause they have lots of merch from the many artists I follow on pixiv. This time, they had an art gallery featuring Piromizu-sensei at Osaka; the Akiba one was a private event, so I couldn’t find out who was being featured when I went. I’ll definitely go again the next time I’m around though.

The final weight of my bag was approximately 48 pounds, so it was pretty close to the 50 pound limit.

Final Thoughts

I’m pretty exhausted typing this last part out on my last day in Japan: I’m a little bit sick with a runny nose and sore throat. These two weeks in Japan really flew by so quickly, and I had a great time just roaming around and doing the things I wanted to do. It’s a good amount of time to relax and disconnect from work.

As per my usual bookkeeping duties, after hashing out the receipts, I ended up spending approximately $2292 CAD within Japan, excluding additional hotel and plane tickets. Those ended up being approximately $795 and $1365 CAD respectively. With those included, that comes up to about $4452 CAD. Not bad for two weeks.

My friend NekoDiv was also thinking about coming back in December for Comiket C105. I’m not sure if I’m going to do that yet, so that’ll still be up in the air. Nonetheless, it’s only a couple of days worth of PTO I’ll probably have to take since it’s the Christmas and New Years’ holidays, so I might consider if plane ticket prices aren’t at ludicrous prices…we’ll see.

Anyways, that’s all I had this time around. Until next time!
~Lui

Injabie3
Injabie3

Just some guy on the Internet that writes code for fun and for a living, and also collects anime figures.

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