Finally

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Sadly this is going to be my last Japan trip post (although I will still be posting bits and pieces on my Instagram as well as some vlogs later on), but for this final post I still have a few days worth of things to share with you all, kicking off with this giant run down looking building on the east side of Kawasaki.

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This ghetto looking place is actually a destination that Tina (simplyteee) wanted to shoot at, however she was told that it was already closed down so we didn’t go. After she left Tokyo I decided to search it up anyways and as luck would have it, it was still open for another four days (get rekt Tina).

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By the time you’re reading this post this building will sadly be officially closed forever to the public…

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…but for now, welcome to the legendary Kawasaki Warehouse.

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What is the dirty nasty looking building that I’m venturing into you may ask? Kawasaki Warehouse was a five-story arcade/amusement building which contained pretty much everything; retro arcade cabinets, modern day arcade games, lots of UFO catchers (two-pronged crane machines), pool, table tennis, darts, and of course, pachinko.

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The interior is deliberately designed to look both worn and run down and resemble the former Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong with many props being imported from Hong Kong as well.

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Being a gamer who has spent lots of time in arcades myself, this was one destination that I definitely did not want to pass up, especially since they would be closing their doors for good soon.

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Up on the second floor where the majority of the action takes place.

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This is where you really get that old school Kowloon feel and it’s also an incredibly popular spot for fashion photography (ahem, TINA). Don’t worry that BBQ duck isn’t real.

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The second floor is also were most of all the arcade cabinets are located and there are absolutely tons to choose from.

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More Maximum Tune and Initial D racers who I sadly couldn’t challenge…

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Glad to see some good old DDR since DANCERUSH STARDOM has pretty much taken over.

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The view from the second floor.

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A bit of Roman styling going on upstairs.

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Lots of table tennis tables. Sadly, also no one for me to challenge that day…

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Billiards with underglow? Hell yeah.

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I actually quite enjoy playing darts but sadly we don’t really have anywhere to play here in Edmonton…

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This place was amazing, and even though I only went once, I immediately knew that I was going to miss it when I left. I made sure to sit down at a few cabinets to play a few rounds all while trying to savoir the final moments of this wonderful arcade. Peace out Kawasaki Warehouse.

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Later on that night I stopped by Akihabara, took this one picture, and left. No maid cafes were visited that night.

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One place that was visited that night however was Jackson Hole, a very Western and cowboy themed bar. Why the heck would I go to a bar, let alone one that’s cowboy themed? The answer is simple; Nana.

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Now before all of you ask me “who is Nana?” and start spamming that name all over my social media, Nana is a manga (and later an anime) written by manga author Ai Yazawa which featured this exact bar in the story. This was the go-to spot for the characters and they would always enjoy a Jackson Burger which is what I did as seen here!

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Ai Yazawa was a regular at one of the owners other restaurants and when she asked the owner about adapting the restaurant into her new manga, the owner suggested using the newly opened Jackson Hole instead. Scattered all around the restaurant are many items brought over from the States as well as a few copies of the original Nana manga and Ai Yazawa’s autograph. This is one of my favourite animes of all time so I was absolutely stoked to be finally be here!

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The next day was literally spent just eating. Like actually. I had a leftover onigiri from Onigiri Bongo for breakfast (I ordered three the previous day and couldn’t finish all of them because they’re HUGE!) and then hopped onto the Ginza Line to go to the Tsukiji Fish Market for what would essentially be my lunch for the day, starting off with the strawberry daifuku’s seen here.

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I was definitely overwhelmed at first as there are SO many different foods to try. Fresh crab, uni on wagyu, uni on scallop, uni straight from the shell, pretty much every kind of fish you’d ever want, this place had it ALL!

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There was definitely no shortage of variety (assuming you like seafood that is) so I decided to do a quick lap around the market before eventually deciding what to try. On a side note, the spikes on uni shells HURT.

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Besides the strawberry daifuku, I also had a grilled scallop with uni, unagi, Hamachi, more uni, scallop, and some strawberries and pineapples to finish it off.

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Real wasabi!

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GIANT tuna heads…

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A quick shot of the shrine that happens to be near the entrance of the marketplace.

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After filling up on plenty of sashimi, I hopped onto another train for a long ride over to Yokohama for the evening. Next stop, the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum!

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I’ve only ever seen photos of the basement area so I was pleasantly surprised to see small museum section here.

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There’s plenty of information on the history of ramen, lots of different magazines and even manga that feature ramen, a replica of the first ever mobile ramen stand, and of course lots of different brands of instant ramen on display too.

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This neat display in the shape of Japan also highlights the different types of ramen that each region is known for.

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For the record I do not recommend that your diet consist of ONLY ramen, unlike this guy here…

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After taking a look around upstairs for a while, I eventually descended down the stairs…

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…and walked straight into 1958, the year in which instant ramen was invented.

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This makes for a really unique vibe and it really does feel like you’re walking through history here.

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In addition to a café and an old-fashioned sweet shop, there are a total of nine different ramen restaurants that you can try here, each one with their own specialties.

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I usually drink the broth of my ramen when finished, but considering I just came from the Tsukiji Fish Market and wanted to try as many different bowls as possible, I decided to actually skip drinking the broth for the sake of leaving enough room in my stomach.

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All the restaurants here offer “mini” sized bowls for those who want to sample many different kinds of ramen, HOWEVER, not all bowls are offered in a mini size. You can view each restaurant’s menu prior to entering, so be sure to check out each place to see which bowls you’d like to try first!

During my visit I enjoyed a mini bowl of tori paitan (chicken white soup) ramen, a good ol’ tonkotsu (which had a VERY flavourful broth and this particular spot used a thicker noodle than most), and lastly, this German style ramen seen here. Yes that’s right; German style ramen! Featured in the anime Ramen Daisuki Kozumi-San, this unique bowl of ramen by Muku Ramen features a mix of sauerkraut, speck (German bacon), and a herby-smokey spice mixture. This was hands down my favourite ramen that I tried here! That being said, it is not available in a mini size, so I was about ready to explode by the time I was finished.

After eating three bowls of ramen at the ramen museum, I would later go to Kikanbo that night who specializes in spicy ramen for yet another bowl of ramen for dinner. Disclaimer: no one should ever eat four bowls of ramen in one day.

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On my final day I headed over to Shinjuku where I spent most of my time, stopping off at ARTNIA for a very anime looking breakfast. This picture really sucks but I wanted to at least show you all what the Luxury Area looked like, but more on this in a bit.

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Located right next to the Square Enix headquarters, ARTNIA is the only official Square Enix shop in the world and also has a lovely café and bar.

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The Luxury Area is absolutely gorgeous with lots of highly detailed figurines and jewelry on display as well as this Crystal waterfall in the middle…

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…with a color collection of Materia on the bottom!

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Playing in the background are everyone’s favourite songs from the Square Enix Piano Collections as well, further adding to the ambience.

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The Engagement Pendant from FFXIII in the middle there which I really wanted to take home with me…

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Chocobo, Moogle, Cactuar, and Cloud Strife pendants.

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Absolutely insane Advent Children Cloud figure on display. This thing is incredibly detailed and also huge!

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Filled up on pancakes and lattes from ARTNIA, I wandered around Shinjuku for a bit, not really knowing where to head to next. My flight back home was later that night and I had left my luggage at my hotel in Shibuya, so I didn’t want to venture off too far just in case.

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Eventually I stumbled upon Shinjuku Gyoen, a national park in the middle of this busy and bustling city.

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I’m no historian, so here’s an excerpt from the Ministry Of The Environments website for you all:

“Shinjuku Gyoen was constructed on the site of a private mansion belonging to Lord Naito, a “daimyo”(feudal lord) of the Edo era. Completed in 1906 as an imperial garden, it was re-designated as a national garden after the Second World War and opened to the public. With 58.3 ha(144 acres) in size and a circumference of 3.5 km, it blends three distinct styles, Formal Garden, Landscape Garden and Japanese Traditional Garden, and is considered to be one of the most important gardens from the Meiji era.”

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As you would expect from a garden, this place was very calm and peaceful and was a good way for me to spend my last few hours in Japan.

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This place is also huge as well, so I really did end up spending a few hours here.

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Besides the various Japanese gardens, there is also an English Landscape Garden, a French Formal Garden, a greenhouse, a couple traditional style tea houses, a restaurant, and of course a nice little café where you can enjoy some matcha ice cream.

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In some of the ponds are some GIANT koi fish swimming around as well.

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Eventually the sun was setting which meant that it was time for me to find some dinner, grab my luggage from my hotel, and then head over to Haneda Airport for my long journey back home.

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While this marks the end of my trip, there is one more thing that I want to share with you all.

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Going slightly out of order here as I wanted to save this for last, but I’m going to rewind back to my tuning shop day in Tokyo. On my way to Bingo Sports I happen to have passed by the Hie Jinja shrine which looked interesting, so once I was done at Pagani I headed back to take a look.

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By this time of the day the main temples of the shrine were closed, but you could still walk around most of the grounds. I decided to explore around a bit by myself to see what was here. Keep in mind that by now it was dark out and I was the only person present. In fact I felt like I was starring in a Japanese horror movie and was just waiting for Sadako (The Ring) to come out and murder me any second. Cool.

No matter, since I was at the shrine I decided to walk over to the temizu to take a look (where you go to purify your hands) when all of a sudden THE BLOODY WATER STARTED FLOWING BY ITSELF OUT OF NO WHERE. Not cool shrine, not cool.

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After getting the life scared out of me by some running water, I decided last minute that night to visit a particular tourist attraction that I’ve wanted to for way too long…

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For those of you old enough to remember Edmonton Online, one page layout that I had for a long long time was a picture of Tokyo Tower set with “Under A New Moon” playing in the background. I was finally here.

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It’s rare to get peaceful moments in cities that don’t sleep such as Tokyo, but on this particular night I found myself the most relaxed during my entire trip. Despite it being almost closing time, there were still a few tourists walking around, the staff were of course incredibly polite and welcoming as always, and the view was perfect.

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I guess you could equate this to setting a long-term goal for yourself and then finally achieving it one day. It was back in 2005 when I was captivated by this exact view of Tokyo Tower, and for whatever reason it has always stuck with me. Fast forward to 2019 and I’m finally here.

Tokyo, Osaka, Kobe, Yokohama, Kawasaki, Chiba, Tochigi, Motegi, and Tsukuba. I’m going to miss it here.

またね。

-brandon.

Click here to view the full photo set on Flickr.

See more from my Japan trip here !

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