Spring Breaking in Japan: Tokyo

After stopping over by Kansai (my hometurf), my friends and I headed to Tokyo for the last leg of their trip.  I haven’t been in Tokyo for about a year and a half so I was looking forward to checking out new areas and revisiting great places like the Golden Gai.

Rather than staying at a hotel, I stayed at a hostel/ryokan that my friend booked.  It was a real nice place which wasn’t too far from the hotspots and was close to a lot of restaurants.  The room was spacious and the staff was really nice.  If you’re ever in Tokyo and are looking for a spot, I totally would recommend Homeikan!

It felt really homey and you get the whole ryokan experience for cheap if that's what you're looking for.

It felt really homey and you get the whole ryokan experience for cheap if that’s what you’re looking for.

Since I was with my friends, I had to juggle stuff they wanted to do and stuff I wanted to do.  I didn’t mind though since half the things they were doing I wanted to do as well.  I stopped by my favorite game center/arcade, HEY.  I love this place because it combines the latest games with floors of the most old school games.  Most game centers only have a few of the latter and flooded with the former.  So despite Japan having a lot of game centers, a lot of them are basically the same thing.  I wish game centers like HEY were in my area but at the same time, maybe I’d be broke if that was actually the case.

I found a Typing of the Dead cabinet there!  Typing in romaji was weird.

I found a Typing of the Dead cabinet there!  Typing in romaji was weird.

A wonderful sight.

A wonderful sight.

Other must-stops included the Evangelion store.  If you know me, I’m a huge Eva nerd and will drop a nice chunk of change for ridiculous merchandise.  This year was no different but I think I actually didn’t spend as much this time around.  I only dropped around 40 dollars, which is an achievement! My purchases were a iPhone cover and an AT Field umbrella (for a mere ten dollars!).  My friend wasn’t so lucky though.

This is what my umbrella looks like.  It's awesomely nerdy.

This is what my umbrella looks like.  It’s awesomely nerdy.

My friend's new Evangelion lighter.  I will not share the price for his sake.

My friend’s new Evangelion lighter.  I will not share the price for his sake.

Other places that required a visit from yours truly was Devilcraft, which sell delicious deep dish pizza and beer.   It’s a little pricey but totally worth it.

A requirement for any trip to Tokyo.

A requirement for any trip to Tokyo.

After realizing my friends had never visited Golden Gai, I made it a mission to go there at least once.

It's been too long, Golden Gai.

It’s been too long, Golden Gai.

On the second night I showed them the area and we walked around.  I was looking for the awesome anime bar I went to last time but didn’t manage to see it.  Instead, this great sign caught our attention and we just had to check it out:

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The bar’s name is Deathmatch in Hell.  The inside of the bar is covered in random trinkets and VHS/DVDs of horror movies and 80s movies.  Playing on the background was Grindhouse.  The bar master was wearing a Wayne’s World hat and could’ve been a Japanese version of Wayne.  His English was really good and he said he mainly learned it from having foreigners visit his bar and has been doing it for eight years.  He tries to cater to curious foreigners as some of the bars in the Golden Gai don’t allow them in and require membership to even get in.  He was really fun to talk to and we drank quite a bit as well as tipped him.  We got a picture together at the end.  While I didn’t find the bar I was looking for, I ran into an awesome new one.  You can bet I’ll be back next time I’m in Tokyo!

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Here are other random bars that had nifty signs:

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That's one tiny door.

That’s one tiny door.

Overall, the trip to Tokyo was fun.  Sadly, I didn’t see any new sights but that was mainly because the weather wasn’t agreeing with me half the time.  I don’t know why, but whenever I’m in Tokyo, it’s raining half of the time I’m there. Next time I am there though, I will make it my mission to see everything I’ve been meaning to for awhile as my time in Japan is slowly fading.  Hopefully the weather will agree with me next time.

Finally, it was time to say goodbye to my friends as I needed to head back to check out this year’s Nipponbashi Cosplay Festival. I’m really glad they came when they did.  I was a mess after my students graduated and needed some distraction.  They came through and cheered me up when I needed it the most.  I’m glad that despite some changes that I have to inevitably face, their friendships are something that never does.

My favorite picture of the trip:  Andrew lost in Tokyo.

My favorite picture of the trip: Andrew lost in Tokyo.

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