Part 2: Japan Trip Report (August 11-13, 2014)

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This is Part 2 of my Japan Trip report. For more details, please refer to the preceding sections of the trip report:

Part 1: Japan Trip Report (August 08-10)

Day 4: August 11

The weekend was now over, and I woke up Monday morning thirsty for more adventure! As was becoming routine for me, I started the day off in the wee hours of the morning, jogging outside on the streets of Meguro Dori. The humid air was something I was still getting used to, but it was nice being able to run comfortably in just shorts and a t-shirt at this typically “cold” hour.

Similar to Sunday morning, I visited the same nearby cafe after my jog for another round of oatmeal. Some of the staff who seated me remembered me from yesterday, and they were now getting accustomed to my daily routine. 🙂

I talked to a few of the waitresses, and shared stories and photos from the day before. One of the girls in particular expressed a bit of enthusiasm for my tales, and seemed pretty friendly, so I asked her if she wanted to accompany me to dinner later that night. Again, one of the great joys of traveling alone and without a plan is you get to do things on a whim

She nodded, and we agreed to meet later in the evening, after her shift. Since I still didn’t have a dataplan for my phone, I thought now was as good a time as any to get that taken care of.

I actually tried solving my data dilemma a day before, but the SoftBank store I visited told me that only one shop (outside the airport) offered rental services. To rent a SIM card, I would need to visit the SoftBank store in Roppongi. Yes, I could have rented one of those MiFI wireless router units, but I didn’t want the hassle of lugging an additional piece of hardware along, especially one that required batteries. I just wanted to keep on using my iPhone, so off to Roppongi I went…

I got off at the Azabu-Juban Station because I wanted to walk around and sightsee for a bit.

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Like most of Tokyo, even on the weekdays, there’s always plenty of people walking around. Roppongi Hills is a pretty interesting place. There’s been a ton of development in the past few years, and lots and lots of businesses have moved in. It’s like a new urban center filled with professionals walking around in suits. It’s also right next to Roppongi, which has a reputation of being where the party scene is at, especially amongst foreigners.

Outside of the suits, there were also lots of kids playing around outside…

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I walked inside some of the shops and office buildings in Roppongi Hills, but again, I was primarily visiting to secure a rental SIM card. Once I got to the main street, it was very easy to locate the SoftBank store.

Here it was:

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Unfortunately, even at this store, they didn’t rent out SIM cards. Doh! I just couldn’t catch a break, I thought. But luckily, the store worker informed me that the rental store I was looking for wasn’t too far away. He told me to just turn the corner and walk down a few blocks. He told me to look for a big M building and I couldn’t miss the rental store.

Well, miss the rental store I did! I tried my best to follow the guy’s instructions, but when I finally got to the big ARK Hills Mori building, I was informed by the staff that the building I was looking for was actually located across the street.

Unfortunately, getting to the other side of the street was no easy task. I had to backtrack and walk a bunch of stairs, and basically loop all the way around. It was a total scorcher that day (and extremely humid), which is why I’ll never forget this experience…

Anyway, long story short, I eventually did find the building I was looking for. Counter to what the store worker was telling me, the SoftBank rental building was actually located inside this obscure building, M21:

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This building for SIM Rentals!

Man, it felt soooo good to get inside and escape the furnace outside. Nice and cool air conditioning! After about 20 minutes, I walked out with a fully functional smart phone! 🙂

Since I went on a detour for longer than expected, I wasn’t doing very good on time. I grabbed a coffee and quick bite, but I knew that I had to rush back to the hotel, if I was to catch my friend on time for dinner.

I was about 15 minutes late, and my friend was waiting outside for me at our designated spot… She didn’t look too happy… whoops!

Even though I had ramen from the night before, I was still craving more! Luckily, she didn’t need too much convincing, and agreed to go to Ramen Street with me, located in Tokyo Station.

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Clean streets of Tokyo

Tokyo Station is absolutely enormous. It’s kind of like Grand Central in New York City. Man, I’m still so amazed how clean the busy streets of Tokyo are…

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Tokyo Station
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Busy, Busy, Busy

A ramen restaurant inside a train station? Nope, not unusual at all. Actually, it’s quite the norm out here… Not to mention, the full blown shopping centers which are prevalent throughout all the train stations as well.

Finally, we arrived at the vending machine at Ramen Street:

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Ramen Vending Machine

I had Ichiran in Shibuya the night before, so my standards were already set sky high. Ramen Street in the Tokyo Station didn’t disappoint, but I would rank it a notch below my Ichiran experience. Still, a very solid meal and worth the price.

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Ramen Street

After dinner, we walked outside Tokyo Station for a bit, and went shopping. I bought a few t-shirts for running since they were so cheap…

Following that, my friend and I went to Shibuya. She said to me, “If you thought Shibuya was fun in the day, wait until you see it at night. It’s lit up like Times Square.

Man, do I love Times Square at night! There was no way I was going to turn down this invitation, even though I had just visited Shibuya the day before.

And I thought Shibuya was busy during the day… At night, it’s an even more spectacular sight. Get lost in the lights and immerse yourself in a whole new world…

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Shibuya at night

We visited an izakaya (Japanese drinking establishment) and just hung out and talked. I was still mesmerized by the bright lights, but doing my best to let everything soak in. I lost track of time, but we must have been there for awhile because it was getting close to last train by the time we finally got out of there.

In case you didn’t know, the trains in Tokyo don’t run 24/7. The subway shuts down around midnight and doesn’t open again until around 5:00 AM.

So, that was all for today, folks!

Day 5: August 12

Tuesday got started like every other day, I woke up and went jogging. Only this time, I didn’t grab oatmeal at the local cafe. No biggie, I figured, let’s try something new today.

Actually, let’s try something that I can also get back home:

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A lot of details from this day are now lost upon me, but hey, let’s just chalk it up as a “lazy” day, very typical of the early FI experience. That is: “We’ll play some, and we’ll rest a whole lot more.” 😉

I did make it over to Ginza, but it was pouring rain on this particular day, so there wasn’t too much to write home about.

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Ginza

But of course I managed to try some more of the local cuisine. Since I had ramen the previous two days, I figured I should mix it up a bit, and order some sushi again…

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Sushizanmai Menu

This place was very good. The prices were affordable and it was a step up from my first sushi experience in Tokyo. Slowly, I was building my way up to better and better sushi. 🙂

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Yummm!

After sushi, I walked around Ginza for a little bit longer before deciding to head on over to Shinjuku. A friend and I had arrangements to grab dinner, and agreed to do so in Shinjuku.

This would be my first visit to Shinjuku, and just like Shibuya before it, it made quite an impression on me:

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Beautiful Shinjuku Lights

My friend and I met up at the Lumine exit, at Shinjuku Station. We went to a nearby Korean restaurant, which was actually very good. Unfortunately, I must have been super hungry, since I didn’t end up taking any photographs. 🙁

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I ended the night on a sweet note:

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Day 5 was a really laid back day. It must have been mellow because I really don’t remember much about it… And these type of days are exactly the ones I’m most looking forward to when I get to early FI!

Day 6: August 13

Day 6 brought me back to Tokyo Station. Well not quite, but right outside of it is the KITTE building, which is where I agreed to meet up with some Couch Surfers.

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Tokyo Station at night

I met up with two Couch Surfers outside the KITTE building: one from Sapporo, and the other from Poland.

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Couch Surfer buddies

We waited in line for about an hour and a half… This sushi restaurant came highly recommended… Was I FINALLY ready?!?

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It was a loooong wait!

One thing in particular I love about Japan are the dispensable hot water faucets:

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Hot Green Tea

And on to the delicious, delicious food, which I will let speak for itself:

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Some happy campers:

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All in a day’s work! Today was a day of decadence. 🙂

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Part 4: Japan Trip Report (August 17-19, 2014)FI FighterFerdiSwriting2reality Recent comment authors
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writing2reality
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Dang, that sushi looks heavenly. Looks like sticking around Tokyo is working out pretty well given your ability to have some social interactions with various people.

FerdiS
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Great adventure! Thanks for sharing… makes me want to visit Japan. (I’ve only visited China in Asia, for only a week…)

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