Capsule hotels!

July 17, 2008

Today, having got back from Kyoto last night on the bullet train, we spent about 3 hours traveling round various parts of Tokyo looking for a capsule hotel, specifically one which accepts both boys and girls!  Capsule hotels, incase you’ve not heard of them before, are tiny little compartments you can sleep in, and thats about all.  It has a TV, radio, little light- it’s like a bed on a space ship or something.  These are generally men only, but as they are becoming more popular are gradually opening up to the fussier gender :p

It’s very minimalist- and you have to endure a communial bathroom with showers, but it is something we were both eager to experience, being totally japanese– i’m not sure any other country in the world has these- they seem like a logical solution to Japan’s work obsessed way of life, and their lack of building space!

Here’s a link to the website of the exact hotel we are staying in, as at the moment we don’t have any pictures to put up as i forgot the lead for my camera (will try to put some up when we get back).  It’s about 8 mins walk from the main Akihabara (electric town) sub way station.

Hiroshima and Miyojima

July 16, 2008

So we had our second round trip on the bullet train, this time as part of a tour going down to Hiroshima and Miyojima.  Miyojima first- this is a small island just across from Hiroshima which we had to get a ferry for across a little stretch of water where they catch oysters-

oyster beds

oyster beds

naturally the island has a shinto gate on it- a proper massive one though just sat on the sea bed- not buried or anything- its just held there by its own weight.

tash next to the massimo shinto gate in miyajima

tash next to the massimo shinto gate in miyojima

If you look closely above, tash is standing to the left of it!  We also had a look around one of the big temples there.

Then we headed over to Hiroshima to see where the atomic bomb was set off during world war 2.  Was actually really interesting if a bit grim- they showed you a lot of the after effects in lots of detail. There is one of the original buildings still standing which was hit by the original buildings still standing which was hit by the bomb, but wasn’t totall destroyed.

The "A Bomb Dome"

The "A Bomb Dome"

They also had a big meseum there with pieces that were retreived from after the blast- like roof tiles and pieces of stone wall which bubbled up and started to melt!  It’s mad to think that things like stone melted!  Anyway this has to be a brief post because we only have 30mins on the hotel computer here in Kyoto, and the images my new camera takes are enoumous and take about 3 mins each to upload!  We leave Kyoto tonight back on the bullet train to Yokohama, then tommorow night we’re going to try and get a night in the Capsule Hotels!  Will let you all know how we get on!

The Bullet Train

July 14, 2008

Internationally renowned for it’s immense speed, today we went on the bullet train!  We’ve traveled from Hiyoshi by Yokohama to Kyoto which took just under 2 hours- the google map linked there reckons this should be about 4 hours san-bullet train!

the bullet train!

the bullet train!

The train itself does look proper futuristic from the outside, and the inside is really spacious- but it was a bit of an anti-climax i think. There’s no denying it does go well fast- the outside scenary is just a blur compared with normal trains, however it is essentially just a normal train which goes a bit faster- i dont really know what i was expecting to be honest; i think like a lot of things in Japan they are get really hyped up and then you’re suprised by how normal they are.  This wasn’t one of the magnetiv floating trains- apparently there’s only one of these further north in Japan.

So we’re settled in our hotel in Kyoto, which is actually really swank which we were suprised at, with it being one of the cheaper options available.

Our Hotel's Swanky Garden

Our Hotel's Swanky Garden

We went up the Kyoto sky tower, a classic for any new city and saw a couple of bits to go and see which we then saw today.

view from the tower

view from the tower

They have a whole mass of old skool buddist temples and another giant budda!

Back at the hotel we booked a day trip tomorrow to see hiroshima and miyajima which should be cool. Our last day in Kyoto will be Wednesday when they have a big festival going on which will be good to see.  Anyway I’m off for dinner now-will post some picture from the trip up the day after tommorow!

Well i finally got a new camera and it’s awesome- it’s another Canon, a few models up from my old one (rest in peace) and its a proper jap exclusive- an IXY as opposed to IXUS, so you can ony get them in Japan. Swank.

So today we booked a trip out to Kyoto for the next 4 days starting tommorow, for which we shall be taking… the bullet train! We originall planed to go to Nikko but you have to book that 10 days in advance, and apparently Nikko has got quite “commercial” of late. Kyoto is a big historical kind of place with old skool temples and palaces etc- and there’s also a big festival going on there at the moment, so it should be there. Like i say, we’re there for 4 days so will give us a good while to look around and we may even try and pop ovewr to hiroshima for a day or so to see where it got bombed during the war.

Today though, having sorted all the booking stuff with the help of Satoko & her Mum, we went over to Kamakura to see the enourmous budda statue they have there, and see some of the seaside towns in Japan.

The trains leading there on the JR (Japan Rail) lines were tiny- it went from (Japan Rail) lines were tiny- it went from normal modern trains to a tiny old style train (we had the change half way) which was essentially squeezing through tiny back alleys behind peoples houses and past their drive ways!

train track running through some of the tightest track i think i've ever experienced

train track running through some of the tightest track i think i've ever experienced

Eventually, we arrived;

the guards at the enterance

the guards at the enteranceThe main event here was an enourmous Budda, which you could actually get inside!genius pieceof photography

the Budda was built in the 12th centuary and has survived wars and earthquakes through out the years.

genius pieceof photography

genius pieceof photography

inside budda!

inside budda!

There was a little door in his side which allowed you to actually go inside which while cool, was hotter than the sun.  It’s like 30 odd degree’s outside so we didn’t stay for long.  Anyway aside from a little more shopping that was the bulk of today- it was so hot.  Oh yes- spent about 45 minutes in town trying to find a cash machine that liked either of my cards (meastro (cirrus) and visa)- Japanese machines don’t like foregin cards- infact they pretty much only take JCB (Japan City Bank) cards!

Anyway, tommorow we go on the Bullet Train to Kyoto!

This is part 2 of the article- so if you havn’t already, read part 1 first, below!

We slept until 3:30 and i awoke with a massive head ache from dehydration i think- but despite this i felt like a new man- i was ready!  Tash’s asthma was really bad though and she was really tired- it was as though we had traded places from the day before.  We affixed our head torches and set out- there were already masses of climbed who had stopped at lower huts passing our one- you could just see 100’s of head torches passing the windows.

climbing in the dark

climbing in the dark

The above image was after we had been climbing for say, 15-20 minutes or so and there was a glow on the horizon for the impending sun rise!  Tash’s chest was really bad and she was so tired- we would take 10 or so steps then have to rest for a moment- i did my best to spur her on as we had come so close- this was the first time we could actually see the top!

me and my stick

me and my stick

tash with her glowing head lamp

tash with her glowing head lamp

I like the above pic of tash as it looks like she has some kind of Iron-Man style glowing heart.

above the clouds

above the clouds

The above picture was as the clouds started to roll back a little.

shinto gate

shinto gate

this was another Shinto gate on the way up which had loads of coins stuck into it- this was about 15 minutes from the actual summit- by this time we were reallllllly excited!

adding a coin to the shinto gate

adding a coin to the shinto gate

No- i wasn’t stealing one- i was pushing one in– honest!!

sun rise!

sun rise!

The first bit of sun we saw that day just sneaking up on the horizon.

a few minutes later..

a few minutes later..

within moments the sun started to shoot up on the horizon, making everything instantly hot!

man pose

man pose

Yes, we had conquered the mountain…almost..

view as the clouds cleared

view as the clouds cleared

We were really lucky- as the sun started to rise the clouds seemed to just disappear opening up the entire mountain for view and letting us see loads of the huts we had stayed in along the way

the top! wooo!

the top! wooo!

this was the FINAL shinto gate, marking the summit.  The last bit of the trail turned into steps- it was awesome to have finally made it!

tash presenting the view...

tash presenting the view...

The view from the top was awesome.

our time of arrival

our time of arrival

This was actually just as we were about to start the descent- jap time on the left, uk time on the right-

note to Dean- the posh watch has now been all the way to the top of Mt Fuji!

...and now back down again

...and now back down again

So now we had made it- it was time to do all that again in reverse.  There is actually a separate descending route which started off really nice, but actually went on to give me the worst blisters I have ever had.  The whole downward route is in like this kind of shingle- really fine in places then course in others. You have to kind of walk with your heels out so your feet dig into the ground and can slide a little- as you do slide with every step- proper makes you knees and ankles ache.  To add to this situation- the fog came back…

yay, more fog!

yay, more fog!

We were starting to miss it anyway.  So basically the decent was painful, boring and repetitive.  It is essentially a massive, never ending zig zag down the whole mountain- slide/walk for a bit, turn around, repeat- for 3 and a half hours.

I won’t dwell on this, as we both hated this section.  Suffice to say we made it down in one piece with only tash slipping over on to her bum once, which was the highlight for me.

back at the start.

back at the start.

And that’s the end!  we got back on the coach- there was Tash, myself and one other guy so it was silent and we managed to sleep almost the whole 2 hours which was cool.

In Japan Mount Fuji is referred to as Fujisan which translates to Mr. Fuji. I’m not sure if this is because of the religious significance of Mount Fuji, or if it’s the Japanese obsession with having to make everything a character (almost everything has eyes and a smiley mouth on it in adverts!)

Yesterday we went out to meet Mr Fuji, and we didn’t get on.

Having arranged the bus the day before, we set out for Shinuku on the train at stupid o’clock (7.40) to arrive there for like 8.45- We had our camel back’s on with a sleeping bag and poncho and all sorts of stuff hanging off of them and we were absolutly crammed on the train-worse than the picture from the other day as this was actual rush hour.

We got there on time with no problems and got on the coach which had like 4 other couples on it and that was it- all American except for an Australian couple- no Japanese. After two hours enduring the droning American accent we thankfully arrived-

Tash in the car park as we arrive.

Tash in the car park as we arrive.

we popped into the small shop there to buy our sticks which we can get stamped at the checkpoints on the way up, then we set off!

at the start of the climb

at the start of the climb

At first it didn’t seem so bad- a gentle upward slope on a fine sandy kind of gravel which quickly turned into a steeper version and we started to get a bit of a sweat on, but still nothing we couldn’t handle. we reached the first checkpoint (number 6) after about 40 minutes and cracked open some crisps for a small rest then carried on.

a short break...

a short break...

The gloves were off at this point- the mountain had become like an enormous zip-zag stair case- the stairs each about 2 meters deep, and about half a meter high so it was a proper step up. Effort. So this was more difficult but still not a proper “mountain” climb, none the less it seemed to go on forever.

we were upgraded to real life stairs!

we were upgraded to real life stairs!

After over an hour of this we reached checkpoint 7, which we were most pleased about. It was around here that we lost my camera (hence why i have no pictures up to this point- tho i do have the memory card still so will try and retrieve the images and add them to the post later)- so yea we stopped off at the toilet at checkpoint 7 and i’m in one of the cubicles and tash is just going into the one next door and i hear “oh no” and some water sounds… the toilets on the mountain don’t have plumbing- its a toilet with a weird flap at the bottom- so you do your thing then manually pour a spoonful of bleach on there from a bucket to the side (kind of like adding water in the sauna)- Tash had somehow managed to drop my camera in this bucket! It could have been worse- if it was down the toilet, it would have gone straight down the flap and been lost forever- she immediately pulled the camera out and we managed to get the card out ok, but the camera was knackered.

the last picture my camera took before drowning- the blue bucket is what killed it..

the last picture my camera took before drowning- the blue bucket is what killed it..

We continued our climb onwards, at which point the terrain changed from the familiar steps, to jagedy rock. Credit to them, it did have some rope to hold on to and spray painted upward arrows, incase you were unsure which direction you were to be climbing in, but that was essentially it.

the start of the trail from checkpoint 7

the start of the trail from checkpoint 7

we set off and within a few minutes we could see a hut above us- this was great! We thought that must be checkpoint 8 already- this is going to be easy (8 is the last checkpoint before the summit). We reached the next check point, an got our stick stamped then continued the climb. Again within a few moment we saw another hut, which was a trifle confusing as we thought we had just passed the last one.

another checkpoint in the distance up the mountain

another checkpoint in the distance up the mountain

Again we got our stick branded and asked them to point on the map where about we were. To my horror, he pointed down by the bottom. It turns out, hilariously, that checkpoints 7 & 8, unlike 6, are actually made of about 7-8 huts dotted up the mountain. So we were infact at the bottom of checkpoint 7. Tash thinks this is probably due to these checkpoints expanding as the climb has become more popular- and it wasn’t all bad as it meant we got regular, much needed, breaks as we climbed.

say cheeeeese! me and tash as snapped by one of the mountain people

say cheeeeese! me and tash as snapped by one of the mountain people

We got the above picture taken by one of the people who lived in these huts dotted up the mountain, who liked tash’s long hair, with herself having really long hair. I think it’s kind of weird how people live here- It’s seasonal as you can only safely climb in July-august due to the snow, so these people must hike up with all their stuff and supplies and just live there making cash from the 200 yen or so they charge for branding a stamp into passer-by’s sticks and selling them over priced (though still cheap by uk standards) food, drink and occasionally a bed for a couple of hours.

fog set in...

fog set in...

As day gradually turned into evening, and as we got higher up into the mountain and the clouds, thick fog really started to set in- and as the air became thinner it magnifies any kind of tiredness you have. At this point i was cracking out the Kendal mint cake. This stuff saved my life i think- the night before we were up till about 11:30 then couldn’t sleep- i set my alarm for 7 but Tash got up slightly earlier- i awoke at about 6:50– the moment my first eye opened she set on me “c’mon shaw- get a showered lets go” i was robbed of those last 10 minutes which i think was enough to tip me over the edge.

a shinto gate

a shinto gate

This was a shinto gate at the entrant to one of the seemingly never ending huts which made up checkpoint 7.

ergh! more climbing...

ergh! more climbing...

In the fog everything seemed so much more difficult- you could often not see the next checkpoint so you were climbing for an indeterminate amount of time- plus the fact by this time I was so tired i could have slept on the spot, and was moaning a lot.

3000 meters up!

3000 meters up!

This was a nice sight. It was a random sign dotted on our way up, which we only noticed by accident while sitting down for a rest- i think by this stage we had cleared the last of the checkpoint 7 huts and so were traversing the enormous gap of no huts, up to checkpoint 8.

the fog, and my fatigue

the fog, and my fatigue

It was beautiful as you got further up- although it was cloudy, the wind would blow occasionally clearings where you could see everything- I was so tired by this stage I’m not sure I could accurately put it into words. Tash on the other hand seemed fine, and on only 4 hours sleep too (due to her being too excited to sleep!)

looking up with the fog

looking up with the fog

After hours climbing and 100’s of meters covered, looking up still looked as though we hadn’t done a thing! it really did seem to be never ending. One of the things that really got me with this also was the sense of scale– we were looking at the tops of the clouds- as we got higher i was pleased that we must be getting closer to the top but at the same time i kept thinking to myself “that is the top of a cloud- we dont ever see that” and kept thinking about all the way we would have to climb down at the end!

red rocks

red rocks

As we got higher the landscape seemed to change again- the rock’s become red- like a mars landscape or something and the stones became really rough when you sat down- proper volcanic rock. Note- that isn’t the peak you can see in that picture- as much as i wished it was at the time…

pot nooooodle!

pot nooooodle!

We reached one of the checkpoint 8 huts, and to my horror, you just cannto escape pot noodle- even up mount fuji they were selling “sea food cup noodle” which was a pot noodle with prawns and egg in it. mmmm mm, every bit as nice as you imagine it to be!

rocks to hold their roofs on!

rocks to hold their roofs on!

All the huts had massive rocks to hold their roofs on during high winds, presumably from the off seasons. High wind and avalanches are the biggest dangers on Fuji, aside from the obvious like the cold if you are ill-prepared.

another 100 meters in the bank!

another 100 meters in the bank!

Dark sets in around 7 in Japan, with the sun rising at about 4, and it was starting to get dark- we managed to get another 100 meters done but by this time the pace was definitely slowing down. Throughout the climb we would pass a constant torrent of other climbers, but this was starting to thin out to a thin trickle as people were checking themselves into huts to eat and rest ready for the remaining hike up to the summit at around 3am, ready for the sin rise. We decided to soldier on and get as close to the top as we could so we wouldn’t have masses to do in the morning.

night had set in

night had set in

By this time i was too tired to climb- it was proper pitch black and we had our head torches on- the fog was getting thicker and it was raining- far from ideal conditions. We had managed to push out another 350 meters of climbing- we stopped in the Fujisan Hotel and asked to rest there for an hour- they charged us 1000 yen each which i payed on my card- then i asked “erm… so where are we sleeping” and they were like “here…in the bar”. I wasn’t happy but was too tired so got about 40 minutes sleep leaning on a table in the smoke filed bar with a group of noises japanese drunks. When i woke up Tash and myself decided to carry on up to fid somewhere better. Looking up the mountain we could see the faint glow of lights and decided to go for it. We climbed for about 10 minutes and reached a place which looked shut- just the outside lights on- looking up from there was nothing but darkness, and by this time we were surrounded by thick fog, with not a single other climbed out with us- things were looking quite deperate. We were determined not to climb down to the previous hut so were contemplating sleeping rough somewhere- i think its the worst situation i’ve been in- there’s no one you can call for help as you are stuck on a mountain. We eventually found another door and quietly called “hello?” inside, to which a small japanese woman ran out saying “come in come in” and we managed to get a room until 4am so we could set off again.

enormous shared bunk beds

enormous shared bunk beds

It was 5000 yen each for the night, which is like 25 pounds but by this point i didnt care. After 8 hours of solid climbing, and being so tired we were just releaved not to have to sleep outside in the rain. We settled into out bed which was a massive communial bunk bed which everyone just grabs a spot on- there was only a couple of other couples there. We unrolled our sleeping bags and all got a bit emotional- tash had a bit of a cry and i may have shed a single “man-tear”- we were just so pleased to have got this far and found somewhere nice to stay.

Click here to read part 2

FoooGeee- DONE

July 10, 2008

Pah- Mount Fuji’s 3,776 meters (Twelve THOUSAND, three HUNDRED and eighty five feet) conquered!  Only minor casualties;

  • Tash now has a cold – probably from me (tee hee hee)
  • My camera which Tash dropped in the toilet (karma i guess…)
  • and i have some horribly painful blisters – cheers 1000 mile socks!
It was awesome, at times quite emotional due to sleep deprivation and massively tiring- i really cannot describe the sense of accomplishment though at having scaled a real life actual mountain.  It was kind of like our lake district visit, but 100 times harder- no nice paths for you to walk on either, there is a lot of scrambling- i would say like 60 – 70% of the main climb.  Will post in more detail as soon as I can get the pictures off the memory cards!

Today we had a lay in until like 11:30 which after the last few days of non stop sight seeing and shopping was a welcome break.  This is, afterall, a holiday.

When we eventually did get up and about, after a hearty breakfast/lunch provided by Satoko’s culinary gifted mum we headed out to Shibia (at the end of the toyoka line).  

a statue, of a dog, with us posing.  say cheeeeese.

a statue, of a dog, with us posing. say cheeeeese.

(above is a statue of a dog waiting for his owner just outside the station, but his owner had died– erm then the dog did or something.. i cant actually remember) 

This station is one of the busiest in Japan, and it’s enormous!  While here we headed over for a drink at star bucks-  This place had a massive cross roads outside the station and 100’s of people poised at each edge of the road waiting for the lights to change- i got a video of this as it was mad but shall have to upload it later as i cant get to an english you tube at the moment- heres a picture to tide you over..

japanese road crossing

japanese road crossing

From here we went on to Shinjuku to arrange a bus for tomorrow to take us up to Fuji.    So with that all sorted and us having tried to kind of memorized how to get there (take the central east side exit then turn left- BAMM!) we headed out for some shopping.

First things first we stopped into a Japanese pharmacy to get some emergency food for tomorrow- which with the Japanese love of colour managed to somehow look more like a theme park– it was also incredibly narrow

 

japanese pharmacy

japanese pharmacy

After this, Satoko had to pop into a craft store to pick up some stuff where i noticed something mad- Like how we have Tesco cards and Boots cards etc etc- they don’t have that in Japan- they can use QR Codes.  These things are everywhere- on posters and bill boards, in managazines- everywhere.  So they can go online, sign up for a loyalty account with a shop like tesco’s or whatever, then instead of a card, the shjop sends a QR code to their phone- then when they are in the shops they bring this picture up on their phone, and they have special scanners for readig them and thats it!!

a QR Code on Satokos phone

a QR Code on Satokos phone

Special QR code mobile phone scanner

Special QR code mobile phone scanner

Madness! I also managed to pick up some Jap-style sun glasses to help me integrate seemlessly with the local populus and pulled the text book japanese tourist pose with satoko..

fo shizzle

fo shizzle

Unsure as to if these left me with the look of a post-operative cataract patient, i went on safe in the knowlege that Satoko thought they were cool on me :p

we went on for some local japanese ice cream.

Tashs Strawberry Parfait

Tashs Strawberry Parfait

Tash had a really nice strawberry based desert with jelly and cream and yogert- Satoko went for a coffee based ice cream ad i had a traditional green tea ice cream..

My green tea flavoured \'shaved ice\' and ice cream

My green tea flavoured shaved ice and ice cream desert

Its like “shaved ice” which is kind of like a green tea slushy.. it was refreshing, but ultra sweet.

We carried on into town and did some shopping- i got a swanky new clock by a japanese artist called Yoshitomo Nara, and a Gundam t shirt- they love that over here to go with my glasses and help complete the transformation into Japanese local.

Walking around, another strange thing that you see everywhere in resteraunts in japan are life life replica’s of the dishes they sell, in the window, made of plastic..

plastic food...

plastic food...

It was a long day of walking around mall’s and spending cash, something which has never put me at ease, but it was quite a relaxing break, thanks partly i think due to our later start, so a good day ready for mountaineering tomorrow.  The trip home was a different story- we made our way back at about 8:40, so not rush hour or anything, but the subway was none the less packed.  It’s not like england- people CRAM on to the trains here (even though they run like every 3 minutes or something!).  The image below, i’m told, isn’t entirly uncommon;

note- this isnt one of my photos!

though i’ve yet to see this myself, i can well imagine the situation.  On the way home it was heaving.  When it’s busy like this obviously the locals have difficultly sleeping so they go to plan B;

japanese on their phones on the train

japanese on their phones on the train

Mobile phones or failing that PSP or failing that a nintendo DS- they crack out the hand helds en-mass.  Truly the digital age.

the view behind me on the metro

the view behind me on the metro

I took this photo at random behind me- that’s the top of my disheveled hair during the stressful 9 or so stop journey home.  Almost the entire trip i was being dry humped by a grey haired business man who was practically a part of me he was standing so close (he’s actually standing so close to my head behind me that you cannot see him in this image!).  I remember speaking to a guy in Sri Lanka we met called Adam who said “the Japanese have no concept of ‘personal space'”- this is never so true as on the Metro.

Anyway- we have to climb a mountain tomorrow so must get some sleep- 7am start.  Probably won’t post for a while as we will be out and about!

Crazy Japanese Toilets

July 7, 2008

So yes- Today we went to McDonalds in Japan to use their fine Water Closet facilities– turns out McDonalds is on the cutting edge of shitter technology in Japan– This is the “Control Panel” to our “Shower Toilet”

Shower Toilet Control Panel

Shower Toilet Control Panel

Complex, no?

The first thing you notice when you squeeze in the, admittedly tiny, cubicle (my only complaint) is that the seat is pleasantly heated (a nice touch).

Once on there you can use any of the gadgets including a 30 second long flushing noise.  I read that this was introduced to save water as often people would flush the toilet to disguise the many amusing acoustical by-products of taking a dump- so pushing this button makes a noise loud enough to disguise this.  There is also the shower part- when you press this, a little robo-arm pops out and takes aim then squirts water right on your bum- with adjustable water pressure, of course.

The most amusing button, which actually made me laugh loudly when inspecting the buttons at my disposal, was marked simply as “POWERFUL DEODORIZER” (I sometimes wish we had this option at Graffham when using the toilet after Dean 😛 )

Today we once more took to the Railways, which we are now veterans of (ish), and made our way to Akiajbara– known on English speaking maps and tour guides as “Electric Town”, with Satoko.

Incidently, if you ever go to Japan the easiest way to use the trains and busses is by getting a “pasmo” card which is like a credit card you can top up and just swipe at the gates of trains or on the busses (like the oyster card you get in london i think?)- so much simpler!  While I’m talking about trains- it is true that Japanese people will sleep wherever- especially on public transport- i managed to grab this sneaky voyeur shot today…

japanese people sleeping on the trains..

japanese people sleeping on the trains..

Anyway- so electric town was awesome, to any one who has geeky ways like myself and probably most the people who know us well enough to be reading this.  Outside the big stores, in the streets, its like some kind of bazaar- like the kind of thing you would see in egypt with people shouting everywhere trying to sell you rugs and fish, only in electric town everything they are trying to sell is technology based- either some kind of computer or a phone or a phone with a computer in it (or more likly a phone with a tv in it- EVERY phone in Japan has built in TV- infact almost everything which is connected to a power source in some kind of remote way has some kind of built in TV– in cars, on fridges and even in the shower/bath!).

crazy smile detecting cameras

crazy smile detecting cameras

All the big shops are like 7-9 floors, absolutely packed with anything even remotely technology based- a floor of computers and laptops, another floor with racks the length of like 3 buses end to end full of just keyboards, one with mice etc etc- it’s almost too much, even for me to maintain interest in (theres only so many wacky styled keyboards you can look at before your attention starts to wonder…)  Further up are cameras, automatic telescopes, automated robot hoovers (seriously!), diamond coated rice cookers, tv enabled fridges, computer games, tamgochi’s– everything.  Looking down the isles of the big store’s is just a mass of colourful banners, with the sales people leaning out in to the walk way shouting deals over megaphones or over PA systems– it’s mad.

Electric town computer store

Electric town computer store

They had some really cool, absolutly tiny laptops- prices are less than the UK, however they all have the japanese keyboard layout; this isnt massivly different to ours (I’m using one now!) but there are a fair few jap-specific buttons.

there was also a lot of components on display like new motherboards, swanky new cooling systems and cases and a big display speaking about cat7 cabling which allows network speeds of 10 Gigabits- 10 times faster than the brand new network we’re installing at graffham at the moment…

So after Akiajbara we headed over to Ginza, which is the posh bt of Tokyo and home to “The Sony Building!”–

The Sony Building

The Sony Building

Ah- but before i talk about that- i almost forgot to mention crazy Japanese toilets!  We popped into McDonalds for a “McShitter” and we’re pleasantly suprised to find the most technologically advanced toilet i’ve yet to see- it was a “Shower Toilet”… infact no- this is good enough to warrant it’s own post- read about it here.

Ok so like i was saying- “The Sony Building”.  This has a swanky show room with all their cutting edge products- special cameras which automatically recognise if you’re smiling and then take the photo and of course, Playstation 3’s!  They also have musical stairs leading up from the subway (like in the Tom Hanks film, Big).

Satoko had to work today at 3 so left us before we went to Ginza, so we had to make our own way home (a couple of train changes and a bus ride) but we made it back like pro’s.  So anyway- its 35 minutes past midnight here now so we’re off to bed!