Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Japan 2: Homeless in Tokyo

Being the disorganized backpacker I am I had run into a bit of trouble along the way. Westpac bank caused me some grief when I was in Tokyo. I could not access any money out of my account for many different reasons so I was down to my last coins. I counted them out; 550 yen. Enough for my train ticket to my accommodation, a cheap sushi roll for dinner and 200 yen to spend on breakfast the next morning. 

When I arrived in Tokyo station after a long journey from Shirakawa-go I was lost, and must have appeared so as after about 15 mins of wandering around lost in translation a guy came up and decided to help me. He showed me where to get the ticket and where to catch the train from and just as I was thinking of which tacky Australian souvenir I should give him as a thank you for his whole hearted actions he took my 200 yen breakfast savings out of my wallet and ran off! I would expect that anywhere in South East Asia, but I was a little shocked that I managed to find it in japan.

After talking to some friends from the guest house I stayed in I realized I was not a sole victim of the 200 yen thief. The same guy had managed to do the same to another two people at the guest house. So if your in Tokyo train station looking lost just be weary of a middle-aged man in a black suit with a black briefcase, black hair and brown eyes (which I realize is about 80% of the people who occupy the Tokyo station area).

And so with no money in my wallet, and no money accessible from my bank account it was Miso Soup for two days in a row, needless to say I haven’t touched it since. With no money I also reached another problem. I had only paid for one night’s accommodation and had no money for the next night. I was money-less, hungry and now homeless. Luckily in these sorts of situations there is always an some amazing person out there who can help you out and this little angel was Tash from Australia. When she heard about my little situation she immediately bought me a meal and invited me to stay in her twin room at the same guesthouse, where she was only using one of the beds anyway! I stayed in her room for 4 nights and she left without letting me pay for any of them, so generous.
Budget accommodation #1 -A capsule bed in Tokyo. My first accommodation in Tokyo. It is literally a hole in the wall where i can lock myself inside. Much like a pantry cupboard really
Tokyo is definitely a place I would go back and visit. There is always something on during either the day or night so you are never short of anything to do. There are so many things to see and each stop along the train line offers some attraction.

The famous Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo. The starbucks overlooking the crossing is the highest grossing one in the world and you can see why. it is a great place to people watch as the scramble crossing occurs with the 100,000 people crossing every hour!

"Harajuku girls, damn you've got some wicked style" and Gwen Stefani was right. This area off the subway in Tokyo is a great to people watch, where nothing you wear is too outrageous! 

This video is a perfect summary of Harajuku...

This cool area is off the train line and is one I would highly recommend. There are no sky scrappers here and everything whether it be a boutique, restaurant or café are mostly on the floor level. There are lots of little alley ways that you could spend a few days getting lost amongst the recycled clothing stores, record stores and amazing coffee shops. Me and a cool fellow traveller from England, Louis, got lost amongst the alleyways and stumbled upon this amazing restaurant with a great reputation amongst the locals. Not only were we treated to seared macarel, sashimi and plenty of sake, but we were also lucky enough to have such an entertaining waiter, Sho, who ensured that we were comfortable and always had sake in our glasses the whole night. He had amazing English as he had studied it abroad in London. After a great night he then offered to show us some sights we may have missed in Tokyo the next day.

After a big night and morning of drinking and partying in Tokyo we were ready for our personal tour with Sho. He took us to the amazing district of Akihabara famous for it’s maid cafes, interesting urinals, manga and heaps of games arcades. Along the streets are girls dressed up in various costumes enticing you into their Maid cafes. These cafes are vibrant and fun where the costumed girls will entertain you and play games with you. When you buy a drink for example you have to sing a song with them. It can be very expensive though as you have to pay for your table and then the drinks on top. Still it is very popular especially amongst business men most of whom have silver member cars meaning they must have spent a lot of time and money in these cafes, an expat suggested that the business men could also claim the cafe as a business expense when taking clients there. I am personally not too sure how any form of business can be conducted in this establishment. CNN did a short report on them shown below which gives you some idea of what the cafes are like.

The buildings in Akihabara are brightly coloured and are covered in manga, and other game or comic related icons. Even the escalators, stairs and lockers are.

Akhiabara has buildings and buildings of games arcades. The more famous one being the Sega building. There are food and drink vending machines ensuring that the serious gamers don’t have to move too far for their lunch breaks. And even when they go to the urinal they are still playing games. Depending on how fast or strong you pee into the urinal an electronic screen shows a girl with her skirt flying upwards as well as other games. 

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