Pollinic's thread is making me kinda jealous, so I want to chronicle my travel in a format a bit more permanent than the "what's going on now" threads, so I'm going ahead full-narcissist and making a thread all for myself.
And since I'm not going back until august, I'm gonna waste your bandwidth going over my earlier trips. I'll try to keep things as little repetetive as possible. Hopefully it can be a taste for people who haven't been yet. I'll also try to only pick pictures that have a story.
2008 (full set on flickr)
First trip. Went with my friend Mike, we didn't really know WTF we were doing, didn't plan anything ahead (didn't even book hotels until like a day before). Studied Katakana on the plane trip over so that's all we could understand.
First issue with the no-plan trip: How the heck do we get to our hotel? Well luckily, our hotel was major enough that we could just ask at the desk, and one of the buses went almost direct.
That first bus ride through the city was absolutely magical, seeing all that shit you've only seen in movies and on TV, and trying out the katakana we learned on the plane by reading the side of the buildings that went past all too fast. To bad the windows were tinted a really sickly shade of blue, making photography impossible.
At the time I was a massive mobile phones nerd, so roaming onto the legendary DoCoMo network was a long time dream come true. Oh yeah, all the photos on this trip were taken with this cell phone, I didn't have any digital camera at the time.
We also got to see the DoCoMo stores with the old design. Soon after our trip they changed to their new logo, which doesn't have nearly as much personality.
We went a bit overboard with our hotels, but at least we had a sweet view in Tokyo.
This is the legendary akiba sex shop. Nowadays they sell all kinds of knock-off AKB outfits for all your jurina-boning fantasies. At the time though, we had to settle for screens on every shelf showing weird-ass porn where a dude fills a girls ass with milk, then massages the asshole with a drilldo util she shits it all out.
It's so strange seeing these old photos of Donki Houte where the building isn't plastered with AKB48 ads. Now that pillar is covered in their RIVER group picture, the banner that in this picture says pachinko/slot is now AKB48, etc. When this was taken, the big attraction in the building was the new @home café!
One of my favorite stores in Japan is Tokyu Hands, because they have almost anything you can think of. On a recent trip I learned of Loft, which is better in some ways, but Tokyu Hands will always be closer to my heart.
They also sell stickers with random engrish on them
Now the store that really IS my favorite, is Yodobashi Camera. If it plugs into the wall or has a battery, they sell it. I've spent days in here, and I can never leave without having bought some brilliant little adapter or odd cable I never even knew existed before!
Here's your regularly scheduled perv break:
And here's the bonerkill for if you scroll down too quickly while fapping:
Oh yeah, PRO TIP for maid cafés: Don't order the food. Go for a dessert instead.
All hail JR! On this first trip, getting familiar with the train system was a handful. At least all the signs had english, so it was totally doable. At least our first order of business was to get SUICA cards, so we didn't have to be the suckers who have to figure out how much change they need for this one leg. Just tapping your wallet and walking through the gate is the only way to do it.
We also had a week-long JR pass, but that's also a pain to use on the metro as you have to stand in the prole line behind old women and shit.
After a few days in Tokyo we moved on to Kyoto.
The budding train nerd inside me loves these square volvo240-esque old trains:
And the programmer inside me loves it when you number things starting with 0 instead of 1:
One big regret about this trip is we were really fickle about eating. Walking around and getting tired you just want something easy to understand to eat and don't care to "experience" anything, so we ended up eating a lot of supermarnet bentos and yoshinoya. This was one of the few actually decent meals we had.
My tip to anyone going: Just go into any place that looks vaguely restaurant-ish, even if it seems intimidating. You'll be taken care of, and you won't be disappointed!
Video in AMERICA!!! In Japan.
In Japan, absolutely EVERYTHING needs its own mascot. Kyoto tower is no exception. I present: Tawawachan.
Walking around the golden palace area, we suddenly heard a "herro!" behind us. Thinking nothing of it, it happened again; "herro!". This time I turned around and bellowed "KONNICHIWA!". And now those girls will never attempt to talk to a foreigner ever again. Sorry. (girls on the picture unrelated)
Speaking of herros, we also got to give an impromptu english lesson to some elementary school boy sat next to us on the train. He asked us to explain in what situation you'd use the expression "How's them apples?". We didn't have the heart to say "when you find a time machine and go back to 1955". This hot food vending machine was at the train station we ditched him at. Microwaved french fries are gross.
JFYI this is my favorite sugary drink:
Of course, the dydo vending machines spit out point cards, so every time you use one to buy a drink, you get one point. Once you have like 100 points, you can redeem them for free shit. I have like 5 points (dydo machines are the rarest ones... maybe they should rename to dodo?)
Again, maybe we went overboard on our hotel budget...? Hiroshima now.
One thing that's kind of a shame is that all the castles in Japan were bombed down in WW2, or just randomly burned to ground since everything was wood. So all the castles you see today are recent reconstructions.
The Hiroshima atom bomb museum is depressing as fuck. Stories of people who had their clothes melt into their skin and shit. One bright side though: On their globe of the world's stockpiles of nuclear arms, you can tell they've plugged up the holes where some have been decomissioned.
Close to Hiroshima you'll find the Miyajima shrine, which is definitely worth a visit, if anything to take a great postcard photo. Or at least to see the world's largest spatula. They also have random deer walking around if you feel like getting your hand bitten off.
After that, we went to Fukuoka where we did fuck-all for a day, and flew out that evening to South Korea, where the first thing we saw when we plopped down on our beds was Starcraft on TV...
It's also where this infamous photo was taken
But this thread isn't about Korea, so I'll end it right there. One thing I'll say though, is I had huge culture clash coming to Korea, since I expected it to be as modern as Japan, but it was actually quite more china-like - night food markets with dead half-skinned chickens hanging from hooks, dirty, cramped markets with cheap clothing stalls packed in tight, etc.
This trip was a dream come true, and I knew then and there it wouldn't be the last word.
Next up: 2009!