I’m once again on Japanese soil to meet up with my friends Hasse and Anders. Together we intend to do the rest of Japan, mainly by train, using the excellent deal you get if you buy a Japanese rail pass. For just under 60 000 jpy you get almost unlimited travel on the JR trains. You don’t get to go on the most modern Shinkansen, but there are enough of the older ones that you never have to wait very long at any one place. I arrived yesterday and checked in at a capsule hotel in Shinjuku. Capsule hotels are interesting. You get a tiny locker to put your stuff in and jammies-like pants and shirt to change into. Then you can roam the premises, go nuts on the vending machines, watch TV or go wash yourself at the onsen. Your dwelling is 2 cubic metres of hole in the wall, with only a curtain separating you from the other guests. There is a tiny TV in your capsule and at first it seemed to only show porn, the Japanese kind where all genitals are censored and the story line almost always involves the girl not really wanting to go along with the sex. Not sure why that’s the case, but suffice to say that it’s creepy as hell and not very enjoyable.
There’s no WiFi, but you can rent an ethernet cable and after a bit of exploring I realize that you can change the “band” of the TV to get the normal channels. Or whatever passes for normal in Japan that is… I’m meeting the guys at the Starbucks in Shinagawa and I treat them to one of my favorites; the mango smoothie, when they finally arrive. It’s rather hot in Japan this time of year, so it’s a welcome refreshment. We head back to the capsule hotel to check in, but apparently we’re too early, so I take them for lunch at the nearby CoCo Ichiban. CoCo Ichiban is a chain serving the Japanese take on curry, Their thing is that you can choose exactly how spicy you want your curry on a scale from 1-9. Since I’ve been here before I decide to go for an 8. Not too bad actually, I could probably stomach a 9 if needed.
Back at the hotel the guys check out their caves and we decide to go for a bath since they’ve just been travelling for some 20 hours. The onsen (and the entire hotel) is male only, these hotels rarely are co-ed, and even when they are, there are usually two entirely separate wings. A bath and a nap later we head over to check out Akihabara as I want to see if I can get my camera repaired at one of the shops there. When I pick it up to demonstrate its brokenness to Hasse and Anders though, it turns out to be working again! I guess it was the humidity that did a number on it. So mostly we end up checking out all the big electronics stores (as well as another visit to Super Potato) but also just walk around taking in the neon and atmosphere of it all. When we later return to the hotel, which is situated in the middle of the party quarters we get pursued by a multitude of barkers, of whom the the funniest one promised us: “All you can drink, all you can touch!”
The next day the plan was to walk up and down Mt. Fuji, but by the time we get to Kawaguchiko, the train station closest to the mountain, the weather isn’t that great and Anders is having problems with his Achilles tendon to boot. So we decide to postpone the entire thing and go for the FujiQ amusement park instead. Problem is that all the roller coasters are closed due to hard winds. We just can’t catch a break it seems. So we retreat back to Tokyo and Yoyogi station for the best coffee in all of Tokyo at Tom’s. Finally something going right! The guys fall in love with the place just as I have and we spend upwards a couple of hours in there.
We make another stop in Harajuku and Omotesando street, but today isn’t very lively so I suggest we go for Tokyo Tower instead. The guys go all the way to the top and spend a small eternity taking pictures before calling it a night.