Sunday, December 10, 2017

Japan - Part One

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
Sigh… yeah, it’s been a while since I updated this blog thing… and for that I apologize. Is this the end of the blog? Hopefully not. However, with the podcast, married life, doing several jobs all the time, all that stuff, I just don’t have the time to delve into my everyday nuance like I used to. How can you help? and sponsor us… and tell your friends to donate & enjoy our podcast as well… it’s really not just movies anymore. We’re doing legit interviews of Hollywood stars, travel episodes about our many adventures, reviewing beer & adventures around beer, sports, all that stuff. With your financial support, that’ll free up some time that I’d otherwise be working so that I can update this thing.
Alternatively, you can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & all that other stuff to see all of the great photos, just not a lot of the stories around them as much. I type fast but… it still takes time, especially to make the stories somewhat coherent. So in advance… THANK YOU for even reading this dribble!
Now to what you came for… our trip to Japan!!! Okay… so the Japan trip was originally going to happen earlier this year. Remember when we went to Iceland? Well… that started as looking into Japan, seeing that flights were ridiculously f**king expensive, checking other places that were more affordable, realizing they all went through Iceland with WOW Air, so then we went to Iceland… and now EVERYBODY is going to Iceland… because we’re f**king trendsetters like that. Seriously, look it up. You have a friend in Iceland right f**king now. Heck, I’ve had three go this past month & it’s basically winter there now (probably super cheap).
So then this summer, after Iceland was so great… we still wanted to go to Japan… because Japan is awesome. We looked into flights, asked a few of our friends who had gone a few times what they recommended… and we found a pretty good deal through Cathay Pacific Airlines (Hong Kong based) that would get us there the week before Thanksgiving, which apparently is during their big festival season, the weather is pretty tepid & wonderful, and it worked with when I could get time off from work without them having to burn the place down & start anew. It was meant to be. So we got the tickets, started saving & selling bodily fluids to pay for it all, and a few months later… we were off like a prom dress to Tokyo!!!
Day 1 – SFO to Hong Kong to Tokyo
Okay, so the flight over there wasn’t too bad. Aside from the feeling of a 15 hour bus ride through Chinatown with a slightly better smell from SFO to Hong Kong, followed by a 5 hour one from Hong Kong to Tokyo, there was plenty of legroom in our seats, there weren’t a lot of screaming babies, and we got free movies and TWO MEALS!!! How did I celebrate the free movies (and lack of sleep)? I watched a plethora of films that I’d been wanting to see… and with the flight back as well, I saw:
Brigsby Bear” – Definitely check it out!!!
The Circle” – I don’t know how this sucks so bad… but it does. Tom Hanks? Bad guy? That’s my idea for the Rockford Files reboot!!!
The Dark Tower” – Suffers from same thing as “The Last Airbender”, you’re trying to cram a dozen books into 90 minutes… and the director doesn’t know what they’re doing with it.
Baby Driver” – Loved it… check it out… fun & good driving scenes.
Baywatch” – Has the Rock peaked? God I hope not…
XXX: Return of Xander Cage” – This movie will be a future podcast episode if I can convince Izzy to ever watch it.
Spiderman: Homecoming” – Great flick! Lots of fun.
The Big Sick” – The funniest movie I’ve seen this year! Which is surprising since it’s also about comas & awkward family relationships. Definitely see it!
Trainwreck” – Last year’s breakthrough comedy hit! It was okay… I enjoyed… parts of it.
The House” – Ridiculous premise, ridiculous execution, still pretty damn funny. It’s a comedy you don’t want to think too hard about.
Colossal” – Okay, this movie… was odd… but pretty damn amazing! It’s basically a relationship movie… wrapped in a kaiju tortilla. Check it out!
Okay, so now we’re in Japan. FINALLY!!! Am I right? We landed there in the early afternoon… but the sun is setting at like 4 PM nowadays… so we basically went straight to our hotel, the APA Asakusa Karumae. Our hotel was a little guy (about 150 square feet maybe) so basically a queen bed, a desk that we basically put our backpacks on, and a bathroom. That’s all we need… and the price was right (about $150 per night during their festival season). Okay, now for the travel tips… we brought our neck pillows for the plane… and you’ll want to add those onto the little pillows that they give you probably… or maybe wad up some clothes or a jacket. Also, we traveled with backpacks. This saved us TONS on luggage fees, waiting for baggage claim, and basically hauling that stuff all around. I highly recommend that. Oh… and Japanese toilets are amazing. You may be expecting the holes in the ground that you get in other Asian countries… but no, the majority of the ones that we found were not only the Westernized style… but half of them were the ones with the warmed toilet seats, built-in bidets, all the fixings. Izzy said that some in the ladies rooms even talked… probably saying encouraging things to help you through passing rice cakes but it was in Japanese so it could’ve also been shameful comments about your weight. Would our Japan readers please let us know?
Day 2 - Shinjuku
After a wonderful night’s sleep, we woke up pretty early, got some breakfast, and took the train to Shinjuku. Oh… also fun fact, Tokyo isn’t a city really, it’s more like a state with a bunch of cities that make it up, so keep in mind for the next few days that we’re really in the Tokyo area… but I’m going to be throwing out some names of the cities (that double as neighborhoods with millions of residents) to help you remember were some of the sights are. Okay, so first up was Shinjuku. Why? Well… because the Hotel Gracery there has a Godzilla head & claws coming out of it! There was also a new Godzilla anime movie coming out so… there were lines around the theatre for that, which makes perfect sense. This area was RIPE with all kinds of cat cafes, anime stores, eateries, a ROBOT RESTAURANT, Toho Cinemas, all kinds of great touristy stuff… but I would recommend checking it out more in the afternoon/night because we were there in the morning so most of the stuff was closed, hence no Robot Restaurant review this trip. We did grab a bite at Burger King (don’t judge) where they had a SHRIMP Whopper and a Spam & Cheese sandwich. Good stuff!
Then we stopped at the Samurai Museum, where they had a fantastic collection of authentic samurai gear, a wonderful tour guide to tell you about the rich history of the samurai, and yes… you even got to try that stuff on!!!

Next, we met up with Izzy’s friend from college Toure, who has been in Japan over a year now teaching English… and he took us around to see the city. First, we went to the 45th floor observatory of the government building to see the city/state in all directions…
Then we went for a bite to eat and a few drinks at the Hub British Pub, which is a chain of bars in the area… and we ran into an interesting ex-pat named William who is apparently big in the drift racing circuit, has been in Japan for 17 years, and has a trick where he’ll put a lit cigarette out on his tongue… which he demonstrated several times throughout the night. Fun fact: I had seen it DOZENS of times in movies… yet I felt ill prepared to see it in real life. Shocking! So yeah, we basically caught up with Toure & had a fun night drinking a few pints, then back to the hotel.
Day 3 – Imperial Palace, Sunshine City & Shibuya
The next morning, we woke up early to go check out the Imperial Palace located, essentially in downtown Tokyo. This area had BEAUTIFUL gardens… and even with an overcast day, they were quite breathtaking. There was also a concert hall, some fantastically preserved structures, just a really impressive place to visit. Check it out!

Next, we met up with Toure again… and headed for Sunshine City so that Izzy could get her nerd on at thePokemon Center! We also stopped by the Lego Center to make some characters of Izzy, my buddy Scott & me…
That night, we met up in Shibuya. This is a bustling area which includes the most populated road crossing in the WORLD!!! I took a video of me crossing it… and it looks like a drone hovering over a few thousand people crossing an intersection. It helps to be two meters tall sometimes. For dinner, we ate at a Mexican restaurant. I hear your judgment but it was Toure’s pick… and apparently he’s a bit of a regular there. We had some great nachos, a few beers, and just had a great time!
We then followed it up wandering the neighborhood… and going into a kind of Ritzy part of town where there’s all of the Gucci, Burberry, Bvlgari & those kind of shops and checking out the area… here are some pictures from our journey…

After that, back to the hotel for another amazing night of sleep!
Day 4 – Yokohama & Ueno
We started off our morning by wandering around the neighborhood of the hotel as apparently there were some interesting things nearby. First up was a few blocks away across the river… and it was the Asahi Tower, headquarters of the Asahi brewery… and the design of the building was to make it look like a mug filled with beer & head on top… but the locals have dubbed it “The Golden Poop”, you be the judge!

Along the way, we also ran into Ban Dai headquarters, so I HAD to get my picture taken with Goku from Dragon Ball Z…
Then we took the train to the city of Yokohama, which is a pretty major port city for Tokyo, and they had a wonderful boardwalk area with a Ferris Wheel, rollercoaster, and plenty of shops… but we didn’t come for all of that… we came for the CupNoodles Museum. Now, I know what you’re thinking… because that was my reaction too, “I don’t even eat Cup O’ Noodles or any other ramen… so why the hell would I want to see a museum about it?” Good point… but it actually turned out to be a LOT of fun. They had the noodle bazaar where you could try a bunch of different ramen, learn the history of their amazing founder who lived into his nineties with a love for making the best freeze dried ramen for the world, and there was even a section where you got to design your OWN CUP OF RAMEN!!! Here are some pictures…

After a rest back at the hotel, we met up with Toure & his girlfriend for dinner in Ueno at essentially a local hipsters restaurant, where they stuck us in the “foreigner corner” and we tried a variety of different things. The food was great, service was terrible, but we had a lot of fun! We even had locust… and the other menu selections were even more odd…

So that concludes the halfway point of our trip… but stay tuned for next episode, where we travel to Kyoto as well… on a BULLET TRAIN!!! Until next time, have a great night everybody!!! Again, if you’d like more of this… send us a few sheckles at and we would gladly do stuff like this all day everyday!

Where Should I Go Next?