“Long time no see,” could also be applied to this blog! I guess various things have been going on, but I haven’t been much in the mood to write about them I suppose. I saw Matsushita Yuya in Kumamoto sometime in February, and my third-year students graduated recently, but I never got around to writing about those things.
But now I’m writing about my trip to Tokyo this past week!
There are two reasons I chose to go at this particular time. One: my favorite singer’s band was playing on the 16th. Two: my birthday was this week!
I took a plane up to Tokyo the morning of the 16th and took a train over to Yokohama, where the concert was going to take place. There I met R, who was going to spend the weekend with me. We stashed our stuff away and then headed off to the venue.
The band we saw is called “Gotcharocka.” I believe in the past I’ve mentioned Jui, the vocalist. I really love the tone of his voice, and I’ve been a fan of his since I was in high school. When I was in Japan last, however, I never got to see him live. His old band, Vidoll, broke up halfway through the year, and I didn’t have the money to see his solo concert. So I was very excited that I’d finally be able to see him!
The crowd was exactly how I’d expected it to be – visual kei fans dressed in over-the-top outfits, and mostly girls. R, dressed like a normal guy, told me he felt out of place. Once the concert started, though, he joined right in with all of the ridiculous dances visual fans do. I hadn’t expected him to join in so easily, so I couldn’t help but laugh. The show was fun, and Jui’s voice sounded as lovely as I expected it to.
While we all cheered for the first encore, R went off to the bathroom. While he was gone the band’s rhythm guitarist Toya came onstage and started singing “Happy Birthday” for no apparent reason. Of course, when it got to the part to insert someone’s name, everyone paused. Then the rest of the band came out and asked Toya why he chose to sing that song. When he shrugged, Jui asked, “Is it actually anyone’s birthday today?” My hand shot up into the air. “Really?”
“Well, it’s actually Monday…”
“Oh well.” Jui then asked my name and sang happy birthday with the crowd. I could hardly believe it! I was off in an entirely different world. R came back halfway through, totally shocked. “What the heck happened while I was gone!?”
The band ended up playing through their entire discography, including my favorite song as the finale. It was a lovely night.
The next day, since we were staying in Yokohama, we went to Yokohama’s Chinatown. It’s the biggest in Japan!
But before we actually got to Chinatown, we ended up getting off at a station very far away. We walked for a long time to get there. Though the walk was nice, it took a lot out of us. We grabbed some delicious food from a small stand and chowed down in a nearby park before wandering down Chinatown’s crowded main street once. When we looked at the clock, we realized it was already afternoon. We had plans for the afternoon, too.
Originally we thought of going to the amusement park Fuji-Q, but we thought of another comparably priced park that was much closer to Tokyo. Can you guess where?
I’ve actually never been to a Disney park, whether in America or elsewhere. I do remember my parents saying that something Disney was very good at was hiding the lines waiting for rides. I learned that was true right away. I thought the rides were way shorter than the wait warranted, though I did enjoy the Tower of Terror. At least I had R to play stupid games with while waiting in line. Rock-paper-scissors, 20 questions, shiritori, and a couple Japanese games whose names I don’t know. Things also cleared up as it got dark and the younger kids went home. All-in-all it was fun. I don’t think I’ve ever been so tired as I was that night, though.
The next day we hung out around Tokyo. For lunch we went to a sushi place where I tried the infamous fugu fish, this time raw.
You might remember the Simpsons episode that involved this fish being prepared improperly. Well, it’s been more than 24 hours, and I’m still living. It didn’t have all that much flavor, but I still enjoyed it. I also had sea urchin for the first time. Though it’s always available at sushi places, I never bothered to try it. Looking at it always reminds me of the time in middle school when we had to dissect starfish – that’s exactly what it looks like. It turns out that I actually like it, though. R isn’t a fan, so I ate his, too.
After this we did a bit of shopping in Harajuku. Since we were between hotels, R was carrying a lot of stuff and couldn’t climb the narrow stairs into the stores. He looked incredibly bored, so I decided to cut things off early. Instead we went to Ueno Park to look at the cherry blossoms that had just started coming out.
Spring in Japan is truly beautiful. It’s my favorite time of year.
That night R had been planning to go back to Saijo in order to pack all his things, as he’s moving. Somehow or another, we ended up going to his hometown of Nagano, an hour away by bullet train. Though it had been another tiring day, we met up with R’s friend and girlfriend and went to Round 1. Round 1 is the kind of place where you can go bowling, play arcade games, do batting cages, things like that. The two we met up with were an amusing pair. The word R used was バカップル (bakappuru), a combination of the word “baka” (stupid) and “couple.” You can probably imagine what kind of people they were from that.
Once again, it was a tiring day. It was the kind of vacation you need a vacation from. Not that I regret it – every day was fun.
The next day we bussed back to Tokyo, where R had to catch a bullet train back in time to do his packing. I had another half-day in Tokyo, but as we’d gotten up so early that day after such a late night, I went straight to sleep.
On my final half day, I decided to see the recently erected Tokyo Sky Tree. It’s an absolutely huge tower that can be seen almost anywhere in the city. Considering all the skyscrapers in Tokyo, that’s quite a feat. The crowds at the place were unbelievable. Once I got there I had to get a ticket promising me I could buy an actual admission ticket two hours later. Of course, I had nothing better to do, so I decided to loiter around until the time came. There was a shop inside the base of the tower with goods from all kinds of Japanese television shows, so I spent a while browsing. When I went back outside a street performer had just started a show, so I blew another half an hour there. Really, the time passed by easily.
Then I got my ticket and was boosted 350 meters into the air. The view showed the concrete ocean that is Tokyo, spanning out in all directions.
I don’t know if it was really worth the admittance fee, but I did enjoy the view. There were also screens showing timelapses, and some showing what fireworks look like from the tower. I walked around the circumference on three different floors and tried to find places I knew. It’s really hard to tell from that height.
And then I had to hop a plane back to Kagoshima. The ride only takes about an hour and forty minutes, but I was eager to get back. It was really a tiring few days! I’m quite glad I only have two days to work this week. I don’t think I could handle the whole five day thing.
Well, I haven’t been writing a lot of blogs lately, but hopefully I won’t leave a large gap again. My mom keeps scolding me over skype for not writing. I’ll try to do better!