Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Back from Japan!

My wife and I just returned from our 2015 trip to Tokyo and Sapporo. I've got a few things to write specifically about, but here are a couple general thoughts about Japan right now, and this trip:

  1. For the first time in a while, I was actually kind of glad to be home. Part of it's that we've sort of run out of new things to do there, and maybe the novelty of Japan itself is finally wearing off a bit for me (after 15 years!). It's just a regular place to me now, and that makes its little annoyances (which I've always recognized but usually ignore) a little harder to deal with.
  2. Japan seems to be searching for the next big thing. Usually when we visit, there are one or two things in pop culture that have captured everybody's imagination (or at least that the media wants you to think have done so). Things that get popular there are everywhere; you can't escape them. But this time, there was no one thing that everyone was listening to, or watching, or buying. It felt like something was missing to me. It made everything on TV, on billboards or whatever feel really random, like there was nothing tying anything together.
  3. Japan has once again literally made me sick. I have at least a cold; we'll see if it gets worse. This happens about half the times I visit. I realized this time that it's probably the sub-tropical climate; even in October it's very humid and "moist" in Tokyo, which is probably why so many people in Japan seem to be sick all the time. Once I actually got Swine Flu there - I'm not joking.
Of course we did do some fun stuff. I'm a little spoiled by past visits, which have been some of the best memories of my life. Here are a few of the things I know I'm going to write about:
  • Flying first class on ANA.
  • Riding the Cassiopeia night train to Sapporo.
  • SCANDAL concert.
  • Yen Town Band (Chara) concert, and I'll probably talk some about "live house" shows in Japan in general in this post.
  • Something something FOOD. Not sure what angle to take here, especially since we repeated a lot of restaurants I've written about already. But food is always one of the highlights so I gotta bring it up somehow.
  • Odaiba. I've written about it before but this was the first time we stayed there and actually spent most of our time there.
Hopefully it doesn't take me a month to get to everything.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Japan trip 2015!

It's almost time for what's usually my favorite part of the year... Japan trip!

After so many visits, my wife and I are really starting to run out of things to do in Tokyo. We've gone to other cities, but speaking for myself, at least, I just never have as much fun anywhere else. But this year, the big centerpiece of the trip is going to be a ride on the Cassiopeia from Tokyo to Sapporo - this train is the last of a breed, a luxury night train with dining car service. And this is our last chance to take it - it'll be discontinued next spring. (I previously mentioned my attempts to ride the Twilight Express before it was withdrawn - well, this time we actually have tickets. This is happening!)

So, Sapporo - not even sure yet what we'll do there, but they do have a beer museum and garden. We can go and pretend to be interested in the history of Sapporo beer, then get drunk for cheap!

In fact, this has been one of our more last-minute trip plans - and we still don't have a lot of full days. We've got a couple concerts to go to (probably do some show reports when I get back!), the short Sapporo side trip, probably do some guitar shopping, and... not sure what else. We're staying in Odaiba this time, which I've always wanted to do - land of giant ferris wheels, VR theme parks, retro shopping malls and the best ramen in the world. So I'll probably do all that again too. Cool thing is we can also walk to both of the concerts we've got tickets to! (They're at Zepp Tokyo and Zepp Diver City Tokyo.) And I'll get to see the full-size Gundam on the way to the latter.

I'm sure I'll do some work stuff there too - every trip there now is a business trip.

We had enough miles on ANA this time to fly out first class, so I'll definitely be reporting on that! (We're flying economy coming back.) I've never flown international first class before, so I'm looking forward to it. Coming back in economy is going to be a huge letdown, I'm sure - it's already depressing enough to leave Japan, much less being crammed in a tiny seat with a screaming baby right next to us. (Oh, it's going to happen - it always does.)

I'll post as much as I can!

About This Blog

This is increasingly not a blog about Alphabet City, New York. I used to live in the East Village and work on Avenue B, but I no longer do. Why don't I change the name if I'm writing about Japan and video games and guitars? Because New Yorkers are well-rounded people with varied interests, and mine have gone increasingly off the rails over the years. And I don't feel like changing the name. I do still write about New York City sometimes.


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