Japan Travellog

When I look back at blogging, I mostly remember when I went to Japan in the summer of 2005 to Odaiba for a business conference with my parents. I spent about 2 hours each day fervently typing up posts, uploading and resizing pictures and copying and pasting the resulting photo links from Imageshack. These are the posts that always make me smile when I read them, and the only posts that make me feel really glad I blogged. Unfortunately, due to an incomplete backup, only one day was recovered. Let’s post that here anyway.


Japan (specifically, tokyo)

This place is da shit, man! I found designs here that you could only dream about in Malaysia!! Think, for instance, of a huge, wide bridge. That’s useless in rain because there’s no cover. And escalators operating outside of buildings, in the rain. And a huge building with the middle carved out and a huge hollow ball substituted in its place.
OK, architecture aside, I found that my earlier estimate on the cute chick population percentage in Japan was right. i.e., the CCPP really is 0.05%. Those cute chicks have all been snapped up by the modeling industry and are probably locked up in there working their curvy asses off until there’s nothing left in them, at which point they release them, and that’s where they get married, settle down, and start filming those advertisements for old folks’ homes (ok I saw one today, but she was already taken, besides what chance do you have your parents around). I swear, the Japanese are weird in this case. There was this advertisement on TV, and I don’t know about you, but making advertisements about old folks’ homes is just weird. Like, bad.
All women here speak in this rather elevated pitch. This makes them sound kawaii, but that also means you cannot use your ears to judge a woman’s beauty. You can, roughly, with Caucasian gals. And Chinese ones too. BTW it is a damn long trip from Narita airport to Tokyo. Nobody drives foreign cars here. I think I’ve only seen 5 Mercedeses out of the hundreds of Toyotas and Nissans here.
So I helped mom maintain her laptop today. The paging file was broken up into 4! pieces. Awesome. Now I’m listening to online radio, and constantly switching, because trance gets boring after some time.
I am rather bored… no not bored, sleepy. But somehow I still can’t sleep.
I’m gonna upload some pictures later. The meal on the plane was kinda awful. They served some kind of “omelette” that looked more like a microwaved bilious egg tumour from some fat person. Then in the end, there were some potatoes that tasted just cancerous. ew… and a block of green mush that’s supposed to pass for vegetables.
EDIT: I think I should make plans for tomorrow. The walking area around the hotel nikko tokyo can only get so interesting…. there’s no people here! perhaps if I go to Shinjuku where there’s rumoured to be more people I will see more cute chicks. Of course, the grown ups are just going to throw them plans away anyway. There must be something here to do! all the girls here are See Only No Touch. fucking boring.
Or probably I’m not trying hard enough.
EDIT2: hi kana! err…. didn’t manage to sleep on the plane at all, which was why I felt the bus ride was really long…. before falling asleep, and after typing the original entry I just recorded my parents snoring and hit the sack. So my plans for dancing to trance in the hotel room while parents are gone didn’t happen.
Now the recording was really funny. But I’m not putting it up 😀
EDIT3: what, btw, is the point of performing a Heimlich maneuver on a plastic cup from Mio Mio Pasta?
EDIT4: Yeah, this sure is a really crowded place. Even the streets feel crowded and narrow. It wouldn’t be hard to fill this place up with a traffic jam, but there doesn’t seem to be any sign of that happening soon, given the population density (low) here. Really industrialized, too. They’re so pressed for space they build steel shacks and living quarters under a train station. Or was that a bridge? Anyway you know those big wide bridges you see snaking around on Malaysia’s highways? people live and work in steel shacks beneath the bridges here. It’s so industrialized this place has no beaches. How does the land meet the water? by some kind of cement wall… yup. It’s like this place is some kind of artificial island, not originally part of the Japanese landmass.
Commenting on the flora, the diversity of the green growth on the roadsides in Japan is the most diverse you’ll find anywhere, I’m sure. In Malaysia, you see lots of yellow patches, and places where erosion has exposed the red earth underneath, and grass that looks like it’s growing on a 70 year old’s head. Here, the grass is lush and green (and diverse, no two types of weed here) and trees actually have flowers by the roadside. Now Malaysia doesn’t have that. My opinion is that this was originally a really nice beautiful country, except that the humans this side of the planet are really good at industrializing the country.
More to come as I think of it.
EDIT5: as I am writing this, the TV is showing an ad for the Toyota Harrier. Except this time it’s a Harrier Hybrid. Wow. They’re already doing hybrids here. No wonder the streets didn’t stink.
You can also rent handphones here. The handphones here put everything you have in Malaysia to shame. In Malaysia they give you clamshell handphones that creak at the joints when you put them to your face, and with an interface that is slower than snails. Here, not only is the interface fast, but it has more eye candy than the whole of Mac OS X put together (haha just kidding). Every single handphone is 3G here, apparently. Wow. No wonder people here are so into handphones… you can even make that model we have into a TV remote!

I played on the plane with some settings. I didn’t know it at the time, but ISO settings are for when the light is dark or light. When there is more light, you use a lower ISO rating… apparently you change the film of cameras when you encounter different light levels too. Choosing an ISO level that’s too high will make your photos grainy and not like an ordinary photograph that your mom took. Basically, if you look closely, you can see a lot of purple noise around. Like in the photo below.
lunch
That aside, that is “omelette with vegetables”. I rearranged the omelette so it doesn’t look so offending (it offends more visually than it tastes) but you can see what a load of crap “vegetables” is. And that red thing is supposed to be a cherry tomato, only they microwaved it or something, so it just melts in your mouth, and the flavour is all gone while the hot core of the tomato burns into your tongue. There are companies that actually make this kind of food and sell it to the airlines. I mean, hey, if the airlines did this themselves, it wouldn’t be that bad, because they have better things to do than prepare lunch (such as making sure the plane doesn’t crash). But take a company which specializes in food catering for airlines, you’d expect them to specialize in making food. This is bullshit.
IMAGE MISSING…. MUST CONTACT PARENTS FOR ORIGINAL
By great luck we met one of our friends at the airport. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Mr. Derrick. You know all the time dad says things about naivety and how stupid I am. Well compared to this guy, he’s just about as learned as a doorstop.
Or maybe that’s just perception. man how do you get so learned…
EDIT6: wtf is with this Microsoft Photo Editor? the JPGs look so grainy!
Sigh. So the day went on. The way this is going, I feel like a walking coat hanger to my parents, not really consultable in either way, not really significant in any way, just that this coat hanger eats. And sleeps.
Not really a coat hanger. Sometimes I feel like a dog, even. This place is nice, but when you have your dad hissing at you from halfway across the hallway… it just feels really meant for an animal.
Anyway, they took their own sweet time talking to Derrick all the way, while I took some pictures. Like this:

Or this:

ORIGINAL MISSING
The rest (or at least most of the rest) were taken with improper ISO settings. Now that I know how to use the ISO settings, tomorrow’s photos should be much better.
Y’all are not getting any night shots until I get a tripod, though.

Wednesday Morning

2005-Jul-6 07:52

Got up at 8am. Jesus, what an hour. So I think I only slept about 8 hours total yesterday, a far cry from my usual 12 hour marathons lately.
This morning, we went down to eat at this Sakura restaurant. Surprise, surprise, Uncle Derrick was there. He must be trailing us or something, I’m sure about it. Not that I mind, he’s fun to have around.
So, we were dining in this Sakura place. They didn’t ask us for a menu or anything, so I asked what was going to happen to our breakfast. Uncle Derrick said it was fixed, because he just assumed. And he assumed right. How come the “smart” guys always assume to get to their smart conclusions? Just like Shinichi Kudo, he always assumes when solving a mystery.
Since they had some kind of company meeting to go to later, it was agreed that I should be turned loose upon the streets of Tokyo (only the Daiba area, as I limited myself there because my legs were tired and I wanted more sleep). So I went off and got a map of Tokyo from the Bell Captain, and set off on my merry mission I assigned myself: to get a general feel for the area.
That was rather easy. This Daiba place is rather deserted, let me tell you that. Next to the hotel was the Meridien hotel (yawn, where are the Japanese lodgings with tatamis?!) and several malls, all lined up in a row. Tokyo seems to have many many many malls, although hardly anyone goes to them except for a select few school students. I must say, their school uniforms live up to the standard, although it does change from school to school. So far, I have not seen a single school uniform with long skirts. Praise Koizumi!

This is the Maritime center or something, a group of students from a school were going in before I took this picture. Couldn’t look closely though. Insert sarcastic comment from Ai Ling here. Took this picture from the train on the Yurikamome line. This Yurika is not the Yurika you might expect from M.S. Nadesico. No, nothing like that, although the line is blue. In fact, in kanji-translated-to-Chinese, you might interpret Yurika as “the way of the sphere”, or ball, or whatever that’s round and small.
That rhymed.
I heard there was an anime expo somewhere around here, but let me tell you there is nothing like that on Daiba. Daiba is a strictly industrial island/port. Take, for example, the huge Fuji TV building:
Not a very good shot, I know
Or this:

I took the above shot in a really deserted building. Probably because no one is supposed to be up there but businessmen, but there were no security around, so I just went up. The building was called “VenusFort”. There didn’t seem to be a way into the real insides of the building… so I just took this picture and another one from the Rooftop level and left.

OK so after going there, I decided walking down that fucking long street (what long, wide sidewalks they have here!) which looks anything unlike the welcoming facade of a mall, I decided to look for a front entrance to the VenusFort where I could be properly welcomed with trumpets and fanfare and cute chicks.
Sadly, a walk to the other side projected the image of some industrial shit going on inside, what with all the trucks and whatnot loading stuff around, so I left. Further down that “fucking long street” I mentioned earlier, was supposed to be Zepp Tokyo (seemed to have been integrated with Mega Web), Mega Web and some Neo Geo Centre (fuck yeah!) but I already played all the fun Neogeo games at home already, so I walked the other way.
OK, so you game freaks right now are saying why didn’t you go to Neogeo centre you freak of nature, hold on, I’m here for the cute chicks. I’m not here for games. I’m trying to get off games… in fact I’m almost 65% there already. At least, off arcade games. Once Chris comes back, though, I’m happy to show off my Metal Slug skillz again. I mean, all the malls and buildings in Daiba are empty and closed at this hour! I play plenty of Neogeo games at home, and I’ve seen enough hardware to finally get over being in the “can see and no can buy” situation. That situation is just plain boring now, although back when I was really interested, I felt that just being able to see one was cool.
Besides, those JAMMA size NAOMI and NAOMI2 board photos that I saw on the net were just plain letdowns. Nothing cool at all.
Moving on from this subjective (therefore useless to argue over) topic, here’s another one for ya

That’s right, Sega. What does that have to do with this? dunno. Anyway it’s where all the malls are, and this just seems to be another mall.

This is the inside. Deserted, isn’t it? Amazingly, some stray businessmen still appear in this area.
So I took more pictures. Nothing else to do, nowhere to spend money on (except the trains). There are no cute chicks around at this time of the day (probably offering some random guy at school bentos) and those that are around break eye contact.

Like this picture.
So at last I decided to quit walking around, and walk to the nearest train station (eki, right?) and buy a ticket to the very far, other end of this rectangle station. See, this island is almost like a big rectangle. Hotel Nikko is in the top left of this rectangle, and I want to go to the bottom right, where the “Tokyo Bigsight” is situated. Dunno what’s there, but it says International Exhibition there, so it must be good.
So I went there. The train went around the whole island, I saw a paper making factory (omfg) and some ships, and lots of buildings with vague purposes of being. Must be all business buildings. Damn this place is boring.
So I went to the Tokyo Bigsight, erected by BigSight Incorporated of Japan.

Jesus, check out all those businessmen! WTF are they all coming here instead of going to work? (cue bad feeling about having nothing interesting to look at again).
Walking a little closer, a big board named “100 Companies Japan Career Forum” or something to that effect revealed itself. The forum was supposed to have started at 10am, yet at 10:45 swarms of people were still pouring in. Latecomers, huh. So that’s where Malaysian time came from.
So I walked away from the Kokusai Tenjijou-Seimon eki, and went the other way, where a lot of people were joining the main flow into the Bigsight.
BTW, John Coltrane has finally gone nuts with “Leo”. Freaking weird song.

Note the puzzled as hell face of the guy in the corner. As you can see, he’s the only grownup who took the stairs instead of the escalator to the left. Shows you what lazy bums adults are. I, of course, took the stairs. So that’s one big passageway. In the distance, there is the trainstation hosting the train from Rinka (totally unrelated to Yurikamome) and the Ariake station, a station of the Yurikamome that’s not completed yet.
So while I was being disappointed at the Bigshow…. Bigsight, I checked out the nearby buildings. For once, it was kinda obvious that they were malls, but they were malls with awesome architecture. Here’s some:


OK gotta go they came back early. I didn’t even get to sleep! damn blog post.
Comments
Kat: So ur staying at Daiba place?? If u’re bored, go to the amusement park (if i remember it correctly there should b one there outside or inside the building…) 🙄

Wednesday

So after that, we ate lunch and went to the Kyodo News Building. Kyodo News, apparently, is the largest news providing entity in Japan (speaking of which, right after we finished the tour and went back to the hotel, we found that they had faxed copies of the Herald Tribune that reported the London bombing). It’s a nice building. Glass, ambient lighting, beautiful receptionists, just the rather bland tour. As such:

However, afterwards they came up and said that pictures were forbidden, so no more were taken, except of the surroundings of the building, as such.

So later on inside the Kyodo News Building, we saw a really heavy Macintosh presence. There was a Sun Microsystems monitor, but it had the mark of Fujitsu Siemens on the side, so I didn’t pay much attention after that. Since this tour was supposed to extoll the benefits that these corporations gleaned from using Eizo monitors in their work, this tour was all on the desktop publishing and image management side. They used P4s and Radeons there. Funny, I thought they would be using Parhelias. The tour didn’t really give much insight on the benefits of Eizo monitors, though. One person (the guy in charge of making the graphs and tables in the newspaper) confessed in Japanese to the Eizo translator that really, since colour printing was on the low priority scale here, they all used Apple widescreen Cinema Displays instead. And wow, were there a lot of those! So many G5s around.

Then there was this really cramped storeroom with moving shelves that locked together to prevent anyone from reaching their hand in between and snatching a photo from a shelf (the whole place was dedicated to archiving photos from 1940 onwards) and they were all scanning them. Hard work.
Still, this didn’t really pique my interest. I almost yawned. So eventually we went out, took the line to Shimbashi, but got off earlier or something. Then we walked along a rather normal, less industrial part of Tokyo that looked a little like this:

Reminds me more of Taiwan. That’s a good thing. Taiwan always felt like a real homely place to me.
So we walked along a street like that, and then we turned into a real small lane. You’d think this led into some abandoned warehouse or something, but instead, it led into some real polished place called Komori Inc. This is the company that makes professional printers. Not the stupid inkjet kind that Canon slaps their stickers on. Komori makes those printers that print all the banknotes of Japan.
Of course, after that was announced, somebody had to ask for a sample.
ohohoho. So we went into their “classroom”, where they bring people to show what Colour Management could do for them, and how the red on your paper isn’t really the red on your screen. Which is where “high quality Eizo monitors” come in.
Like such. The pictures a little blurry, but

So in case you don’t know, the big thing with the shroud (to prevent glare from fluorescent lights reflecting from the LCD screen, those eye guys are pretty picky about that) is the Eizo ColorEdge (professional line for designers and whatnot), and the PowerMac G5 is the silver box thingy.
Here the guide talked about their printers, how the colours from an inkjet printer and their own printers are compared with the LCD screen (thus the Eizo monitor is a must) and printed a test image on a sheet of metal. Mmmm…. it was nice and made a “wow wow” sound when it was shaken.
BTW, the mystery of RGB and CMYK was revealed then. RGB is suitable for colour displaying with light emission, while CMYK is for printing because it is suited to light reflections…. have to find out more on that.
On the way back, I took this:


So when we went back to the hotel, there was all this stuff about the London bombs which I’m listening to right now, and we met with Uncle Derrick and went out to eat dinner. That’s it. We went to the Joypolis (aforementioned) and did the shooting range, I was crappy at first (didn’t hit anything today) didn’t hit anything at first, but in the end, I hit a motherload, and got 6 bubblegum packs.
I don’t do bubblegum, by the way. I would have tried for the Rubik’s Cube, but that was my last shot.

Afterwards, we went up to Uncle Derrick’s hotel room and talked about how best to price our products and all that boring stuff. While I went out to the balcony and found that I can take clear shots without having to use a tripod!



I’d like to sleep now, but of course there are lots of fucking formalities to go through, such as showering and doing pushups. Man this sucks. At home I can just sleep (if my parents are not around). This really sucks when they’re around.

Thursday

Today I woke up late. This is the last day of the Eizo whatnot, so I don’t think I’ll be able to go off on my own so happily now without anyone bringing me down.
After eating at some Genkotsu house somewhere in the Aqua City mall (there’s no Aqua there, nvm) I took the Yurikamome straight to Shinbashi. Genkotsu is a nice place, cheap too, one bowl of mee is like 760yen, which is three times the price of a bottle of water. So it’s like paying RM3 for a bowl of mee, which is unheard of in Malaysia. Besides, this RM 3 is in a nice place in a mall, with tables that are NOT sticky, staff that are nice to you, have beautiful wrapped up chopsticks and whatnot, with air conditioning and no cockroaches running around! RM4 in Malaysia gets you worse.

Awesome place, man! all for the (relative) price of RM3!
Then I arrived at Shinbashi! I joined the mindless hord of drones that got out of the train with me and into the broad wide world. Their expressionless faces stared out into the deep yonder, perhaps gazing into the air to look for money falling out of the air conditioning vents.
Shinbashi seems to have a traffic problem around the junctions. The junctions are huge and wide and operate without policemen, however it is always crowded. Doesn’t matter what time it is… it was 3pm when I took this:

Well, near the Yurikamome station, there was a mark on my map that said the “International Arcade”, so I decided to check it out. I walked a couple blocks, turned right, and saw this:

Well, it didn’t look very arcadey to me. Looked more like some kind of children’s playground, except for the 3D rendered chicks. Check out the Shinseiki Evangelion poster next to it, though. Don’t know what it’s about.
So I went in, expecting to see rows and rows of Initial D machines, Tekken, Metal Slug, Dead or Alive arcade versions, test versions of the new King of Fighters, Time Crisis, and the occasional pachinko slot.

Yeah right. I mean, where’s the pimply faced teenagers and their girlfriends who are tagging along? it’s after school times, goddammit! Instead businessmen who are supposed to be at work bowing to their superiors are here gazing at Phong lighted 3D chicks in bikini suits doing the V sign while some funny stuff goes in the background (no, didn’t see any strip mahjong machines). What a disappointment.
Thus disappointed, I consulted my map to find the real deal. If you’ve played Sakura Taisen, or at least watched the anime, you may have heard of the Takarazuka theatre. It was only a couple blocks away, through some winding pathways here and there, so I decided to walk there. Like I always do when going to new places.
Well I got lost. I don’t know, but I think I got real off the path. Because while trying to find this damn Takarazuka, I stumbled across the real International Arcade.

Yeah you got that right. It’s not even a shopping mall, just some kind of “21” hour open convenience store. Even MORE disappointing.
Just to give you guys a feeling of what kind of streets I walked through while looking for the theatre, here’s a pic:

So after a lot of asking around, I saw a spire in the air. I thought, that has GOT to be it. I walked along, and I kinda perceived that the spire was of some building that was a bank or something, don’t remember. Anyway, I was kinda disappointed, so I asked a guy nearby where was the Takarazuka. He walked forth 10 steps, and pointed to the building to which the spire was actually connected. Whoops.

woohoo! it was kinda deserted, probably because everyone was at work. Still, it seemed to be partially open, like some big giant that’s got its eyes partially open after a long night’s sleep. Some stuff was outside, so to get a feel for what they were doing, I took pictures again.

Very amusing play, it seems. There was another poster for the same show, which showed a cat jumping onto the table, and everyone shocked. Sadly, I was too dumb to take a picture of that one.
Well, being a fast paced teenage boy, my mind was already on which place to go to next. Consulting the map, I saw a “Hibiya Park” right up ahead, so I walked in that direction. There was a Nissay theatre, but yawn, the Takarazuka was somehow related to Sakura Taisen, so I passed that one. Besides, there were no posters outside of the Nissay theatre.

The Hibiya Park appeared to be a big open space, encircled by two rows of trees, along which were placed many benches, of which were only 20% filled with people. The big open space in the middle was a nice fountain. As some Germans passed by I saw a woman who was taking pictures of everything. Even though I didn’t take a picture of her taking a picture of anything, at least I got her in this shot.
The map told me that up ahead were the government buildings. It’s always cool to see how politicians behave, and see them slip up and vomit after kissing X babies, so I went there. On foot, of course.
There was a crowd shouting. Apparently someone with a megaphone was shouting something, and the crowd was echoing his exhortations, just like Taiwanese demonstrations. I passed the Hibiya Public Hall building (built like 1800s buildings, red brick and all)

and beheld a whole crowd of people here.

If you look closely at the banner on the van, it says something about Hell. Surprisingly enough, there was no repression of this demonstration. The people in business suits just walked by and didn’t look at this at all. I even recorded the chantings. Most of the demonstrating crowd just stood there and looked on, some were doing the fist in the air thing. Overall, a rather weak demonstration.
I had a joke to make about it at first, but I forgot it.
Well, after that, I really didn’t see anything of interest in the government buildings…

Yawn. Boring.
So I decided to walk back to the Yurikamome, which would take me back to the hotel.
Except I got lost, and took pictures while going at it

Everyone’s favourite toilet bowl makes an appearance here.
And everyone’s favourite spark plug, too, but since I’m short of time that will not appear.
A lot of minutes later, after which my feet were really aching, and I had to backtrack a lot, and got lost, I finally got near to where I was. It was a seedy place indeed, and the really high land prices manifest themselves in the architecture. I walked in the back parts of the streets, which are kinda like this

When I saw the station, I thought thank god! But then I looked to my left and saw a cute girl.
A Very Cute girl.
During my extensive travels these few days I have reduced the Cute Chick Percentage Rating of Japan to almost the same as Malaysia, except that the cute chicks of Malaysia are still not as cute. That’s a bad thing for both Malaysia and Japan.
There were two men standing at the entrance. They immediately bowed when they saw a teenager charged with puberty looking intently at the fucking awesome picture of the Very Rare Cute Girl in Sailor Costume and said Irrashaimase! wow….
For some reason I kinda regret, I refused. Now that I think about it, I was scared.
Yup… I don’t quite think I like that. I should have gone in and at least seen what the fuck this was all about, whether this was a whorehouse with cute whores (or ordinary whores) or just a strip club.
Sigh.
I really regret this. Fortunately, I went back and took a picture! woohoo now you guys can wank off too.

I think the text down there says:
Even though there are no beautiful chicks we still have cute ones (uhoh). [PIC OF FUCKING CUTE GIRL WHICH WAS PROBABLY CUT OUT FROM SOME PORN MAGAZINE AND NOT ACTUALLY A PHOTO OF SOME GIRL THERE] Very exciting! ^3 Irasshaimase!!!
Doumo Arigatougozaimasu!!! 0 yen desu ka?
Sigh.
The grownups say it was a wise thing to avoid that place. I don’t really know. They said I was “daring myself”.

There was another one, so I took another picture. This time no cute chicks though. Check out that sushi shop in the background. Damn right they sell sushi… I think it’s called licking sushi. mmm mmm.
So that’s it. I went back, and there was dinner on the company’s bill…. a distributor’s meeting. I’m not documenting that.

Comments
zenogais: lol. Very awesome, cool to see what someones experience exploring Japan was like 😀

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