Hi! I’m Ana

I’m a #content nut and digital native, lover of sweet treats, and pop culture fanatic. I live on the internet. That basically covers it!

heat rash in shinjuku

Day 2 - Ueno Park to Shinjuku and back to Ueno Park again

Rob recommended experimenting with the inbuilt bidet function in the toilet. "But remember, you have to press stop," he said. And so the morning started with a startling bathroom experience. 

Pleasant early morning walk through Ueno Park, hanging with the dogs and their sprightly elderly owners doing morning laps around the pond. We watched enormous catfish swim gormlessly amongst giant lotuses. Was frightened by a turtle that poked its head above the water to look at me.

Breakfast at a Lotte-sponsored foodcourt called L'Ueno. Ate suspect pastry with curry paste in the middle. Rob has mastered the art of presenting cash on tray rather than forcing direct hand-to-hand contact which is always politely refused by locals. 

Mid-morning snooze and gawk at Japanese tv which consisted of a documentary about the Japanese emperor, followed by a stationery showcase. A paper cutter that is so precise it cuts 1 piece of paper perched  on top of hundreds of pieces of paper. Post-its in the shape of teeth.

We head to Shinjuku where I power nap on the train like a local. At Club Sega, Rob survives till Stage 7 of Dead or Alive as La Mariposa. She is Rio Carnival-themed with a feathered mask, feathered bra, and skin tight leather pants with flames.

Club Sega is three stories of arcade games. It is dark, smoky, and there is so much noise coming out of it that I am guaranteed tinnitus for the next three days. The basement has all the fighting games and is very popular with Japanese men of all ages. The street level storey has the games with the claw you direct to grab a prize. Rob, in his usual chivalrous way, attempted to win a Japanese maid figurine for me but to no avail. The top level has racing games. 

While Rob was playing Street Fighter, there was an earthquake. I thought there were pedals involved with Street Fighter and the guys surrounding me were just mashing those foot pedals down hard. But no, it was an actual earthquake. Have morbid thoughts of being buried in the basement rubble of Japan's largest arcade store, surrounded by pre-pubescent Japanese men.

At Yodabashi Camera, I spend NZD$20 on dog-themed gashapon; specifically, three dogs incorporated into food, one dog peeing & a cool dog dressed as a bouncer. This guy understands.

By late afternoon, Rob has heat rash on his forehead and I have heat exhaustion. We soldier on to go 58 floors up a skyscraper to gawk at a view of Tokyo. We use the excellent posh bathrooms.

I move like a sedated turtled and threaten to faint in front of the Pentax stand at Bic Camera. But still find strength to appreciate how cheap cameras are in Japan. We get back on the JR Yamanote line for a thirty minute ride back to the hotel and the fifteen minute walk in 31 degree heat at 2 pm almost does me in. Again have morbid thoughts of collapsing amongst piles of crushed 2 litre water bottles that are stationed on the side of the road for recycling collection. 

Tokyo really mixed us up a knockout cocktail. Ingredients? 30 degree heat, very little sleep, too many sugary drinks, not enough water, wandering around in full sun between 12-3 pm, and jet lag. My first time in Japan I felt overwhelmed, intimidated, exhausted, and overstimulated. My second time is much the same but this time, I'm older and a lot less fit.

We recovered enough after dinner to wander back down to Ueno. We're distracted by all of the pretty sparkling lights down on street only to find ourselves right in the thick of "stripper alley". The touts leave us alone but one does try to offer Rob "gyoza" which I guess is a good enough code word. Name of strip bars are interesting. One is called "Lipples". Not sure if the misspelling was deliberate. Predictably, there is a schoolgirl themed bar.

Finally find something to eat after being lured by a giant pair of chopsticks magically scooping noodles from giant bowl on side of the road. We lurch in, fumble our way through ordering via a ticket machine and finally, wander back to the hotel.

Tokyo - 1. Rob & Ana - 0

otaku times in akihabara and through to shibuya

lanterns in nezu