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Japan 2020 - The Idiot Returns

Noel Mugavin

Active Member
Joined
Sep 5, 2010
Messages
875
Lazy start to the day, wandered down to Don Quijote and picked up a few items to take home. Back to the hotel, coffee in the cafe on the 1st floor before heading out again.
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10.30 opening time, arrived about 10.15 and about 10 people in line.
Inside, ordered fairly quickly and then busy on the phone while I waited

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Menu tells you it takes 20 minutes to make the pancakes, was closer to 30 and turned out i was the first to get my order in and as such the first to receive said order. Bit anxious as all eyes were on me.

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Definitely had to have a walk afterwards

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To and through Yoyogi Park
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Noel Mugavin

Active Member
Joined
Sep 5, 2010
Messages
875
Out of Yoyogi Park and traversed across Harajuku to the Olympic Stadium

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Zigged when I should have zagged but eventually found the Olympic Museum

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Think it was 500 yen entrance fee, a small display area on the ground floor, then upstairs to the main display area
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Attachments

Noel Mugavin

Active Member
Joined
Sep 5, 2010
Messages
875
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Made my way to Asakusa where I picked up a couple of touristy things from Nakamise Street
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Back to Shinjuku, wandered the streets and picked up some of my now favourite chocolate bars - Black Thunder
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Made it to the south entrance of Shinjuku Station where I was after a taste of the US - it wasn't Starbucks

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Shake Shack and a smoke shack burger

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Hotel for a rest, then out again to have a look at Tokyo Tower

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Noel Mugavin

Active Member
Joined
Sep 5, 2010
Messages
875
My last day in Japan and I had what I was going to do in the afternoon sorted, however not much of a clue for the morning. As i mentioned somewhere earlier I had discovered the Abroad in Japan podcast and the host had mentioned one of his best memories was sitting in a coffee shop overlooking Shinjuku Station for a few hours from early in the morning and watching Tokyo wake up. He replied to a listeners question about things to do in the early hours and he suggested walking from Shinjuku to Ginza for the same purpose of watching and experiencing Tokyo wake up. I'm a bit of a walker and had wanted to get to Tsukiji Market so I was all over this suggestion.
Woke up about 5.30 and I was out and about in the cold winter morning by about 6.

Early morning Piss Alley
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From the south end of Shinjuku Station
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I would love to tell you how wonderful the walk was, however it was cold, windy and persisting down with rain, with my pet hate - my shoes and socks getting soaked. So after an hour i bailed, jumped on a subway and went option B - coffee overlooking Shinjuku Station

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I don't know if it was the rain or that it was a Saturday, but Tokyo wasn't transforming into a bustling metropolis, so I headed back to the hotel for a couple of hours and let the hair dryer do its work on the shoes and socks.

Out again at about 11 for a last Ichiran ramen, then to Odaiba and Odeo Onsen Monogatari

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Not a problem for me
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Entrance, take off your shoes and into lockers to the left, take your key with you
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While Justinf is currently galavanting around Japan with his 2019 Premiership gear, this Japanese guy has him trumped. Still celebrating the 67 VFL Grand Final win over Geelong with his Paddy Guinane signature Premiership backpack.
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Enter, get given a wristband with a key to a locker and a barcode, then to grab a yukata. Men to the left have a choice of 4, women to the left, choice of 9 I think
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Noel Mugavin

Active Member
Joined
Sep 5, 2010
Messages
875
On the way into the changeroom

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Into the changeroom, find your locker number, into your yukata, keep your jocks on, all your worldly goods as well as the shoe locker key into your locker. Wristband with barcode and key onto your wrist and out you go into the Edo Era Hall.
Across the hall to the entrance to the baths, men to the right women to the left. Entering the bath changeroom, given a towel and a flannel as well as another locker key. Find your locker, in goes your yukata, towel and your jocks and now 1 gaijin and about 70 Japanese blokes are living free and easy.
Through to the baths and to the washing area to the right, then in to the baths. About 7 or 8 different types inside and a couple of outside baths.
Tried them all out, outside baths were amazing, so refreshing with it being freezing cold outside as well.
All inhibitions about being starkers are lost, however bit uncomfortable a couple of times with it getting a bit too close for comfort with blokes getting in and out of the baths.
Washed again when leaving the baths, dried and changed, returned the towels and back out to the main hall. Went back to the main changeroom and grabbed my phone and took a few snaps.

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Restaurants, shops and sideshow type attractions, scan the barcode and away you go.
I settled for a crepe

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Back to the baths, started snowing so sat in the outside bath with the snow falling.
Eventually called it quits, back the main changeroom, through your yukata in the bin, head to reception, scan your wristband, pay your bill. They give you a slip that you give to the fella manning the exit gate allowing you to exit. Grab your shoes and you're on you way.
Well worth a few hours visit.
Heading back to the hotel hit up a 711 as needed to clear the money on my Suica. Off course an egg salad sandwich had to be included in the haul. More snow as I was walking back to the hotel.
 

rbjhan

Active Member
Joined
Sep 16, 2016
Messages
862
Haven't been to Odeo in Odaiba, but I visited Heiwajima onsen near Haneda airport before, similar place but with shuttle bus to the airport.
Highly recommend if you are arriving/departing Heneda at some strange hour.
 

Noel Mugavin

Active Member
Joined
Sep 5, 2010
Messages
875
After packing my bags it was time to head out for the last supper. Had decided on yakitori, just had to find a place. There was a decent restaurant next door to the hotel where I had yakitori previously but I wanted to have a walk and a last look around. Headed to Shinjuku, then Kabuchiko where I finally landed at Yakitori Center.
Put my name on the list, then about a 15 minute wait for a table.
Started with a really tasty potato salad

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Ordered a mojito and yakitori was delivered intermittently to the table

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All very tasty and able to get rid of some 500 yen and a heap off 100 yen coins.
Followed by a wander and long lingering looks and a final, depressing walk back to the hotel.

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Noel Mugavin

Active Member
Joined
Sep 5, 2010
Messages
875
Up early for the 15 minute or so walk to Shinjuku Station and the 6.34 NEX. Not much going on around the station, with just the 5 or 6 homeless people starting to stir. Through the gates, then the looong walk tot he NEX platform. A couple already there sitting in the waiting room.
10 minute or so wait then on to the heated train and with that off came the heavy jacket and long pants, consigned to the suitcase. In shorts and felt like I'd been released from a long stint in prison.
Quite a vacant carraige and an unenventful ride to Narita.

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Quick check-in, premium Economy have their own counter, priority tags on the luggage. Efficient immigration then to the ANA lounge. Quite sparsely populated at this stage
Food to the left, noodle counter to the left and back, toilets/showers front and forward and another large section past the toilet area, full length windows to the right.

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Western and Japanese breakfast items as well as egg salad sandwiches which i couldn't pass up. Also some little pastries, one filled with chestnut another with custard, very moreish.

Grabbed breakfast and a coffee, sun was quite harsh through the windows with the blinds almost at full length to cut the sun out. Couple of snaps a little later on as the sun moved a bit higher.

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Bit of time before departure so left the lounge and went for a wander, as well as getting rid of some of my yen on Royce Chocolates and Tokyo Bananas. Ended up coming home with only 15 yen in coin, pretty happy with that, and in a cunning move by myself to ensure I return to Japan to get rid of it, 2000 in notes.

Returned to the lounge, hell of a lot busier by now, not helped by a little kid playing monsters. I'm sure it was delightful for his parents, not for this grumpy old so and so though.

Relaxed in a seat for a while, even put up with a Japanese fella slurping in his noodles about a foot away from my ear. Love Japan, can do without the slurping culture though.

Headed down to the gate and the ride to Perth

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Boarded shortly after and wouldn't you know it monster boy was with his parents in the mini cabin. Did feel for them, they asked to swap seats with a couple in the middle row so they could sit either side of him, Dad sheepishly quipping 'We can both keep our hands over his mouth now'. Little bugger hardly shut up for the whole 9 hours.

Leg room

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Looking with envy into business, especially when an about an 8 year old kid ended up sitting in the seat.

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Flight attendants came around offering amenities such as face masks and toothbrushes, slippers were on the seat. Also offered the Wall Street Journal, bit wasted on me.

Hashed beef for lunch, was okay. Side dished quite decent and filling

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In premium Economy had read that you are offered a business class dessert. Didin;t happen on the flight over, so was quite pleased when offered on this flight. Choice of Matcha Shortcake or an Emotion Mount Blanc.
Went with the Emotion Mount Blanc, which is a chestnut jelly, sponge, eglantine and strawberry compote and vanilla and mascarpone cream. Very nice indeed.

Live TV on the flight and fortunate enough to have a Big Bash double header. Only games of the Big Bash I have seen for the last couple of years, but much appreciated on this flight.

Another snack a couple of hours out, coleslaw roll, yoghurt and fruit

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Landed pretty much on time, immigration quite painless and priority tags on the bags worked well. Sailed through customs, ordered an Uber and back home.

4 years between drinks in regards to Japan, certainly wont be as long before my next visit. Pretty much a confirmed Japanophile. Would like to spend more time in the snow and have a crack at skiing, and also staying at an onsen definitely on the cards.

Reflection on Japan - if staying in business hotels, take your own pillow; my chopstick skills are shizen and definitely showed no improvement; glad I had a bit of an expanded vocabulary, but annoyed not large enough to instigate or carry on a conversation

Was about to pull the trigger late January on a South Korea trip for September, with a quick flight over to Fukuoka for a few days. Was just waiting for a new credit card to arrive before booking, with Cathay no less. Will just hold off on that one for a while.
Melbouren with 20 darlings in April; Port Douglas and Cairns in July; nothing for September/October as yet, young bloke could be playing in the NFL, another young fella just been accepted into the University of Texas Physics Department for a Semester, so a US trip could be on the cards; January off to the US for the Rose Bowl and a Panama Canal cruise. Booked a reward first class and business on Cathay so fingers crossed.

Thanks for reading.
 
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