(The following post is from 2010. I imported my blog posts from my month long trip to Japan for posterity and to remember fondly!)

The past few days I have been exploring Chiba and the Tokyo area, which is huge. I’ve been to Akihabara, Ueno Park, Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo Station, Wadakura fountain park, Shinjuku, Chiba-Minato, and Chiba Castle. I’ve taken a lot of pictures,but I will try to organize them the best I can and see what I can do. I’ve decided to use Google’s Picasa Web Albums this time.

These are in order of when they took place!

Tokyo National Museum and Ueno Park Photo album!

This was my first excursion into Tokyo and using the JR trains to get around.

The monorail/JR Trains are always very quiet. It is really common to see people taking a nap (or pretending to sleep to avoid giving up their seat) using their cellphones (texting, games) or just spacing out. These are my kind of people, haha.The intercom constantly reminds people what the next stop is in japanese, unless the next stop is a major station for switching rail lines. At first it was a little difficult to discern the name of the next station from the rest of the japanese, but once you become familiar with the station names it’s a lot easier. There are many lines that you can take to get from A to B. Rapid lines have a lot less stops and generally stop only at the major stations. Local lines have a lot more stops, but it is a lot easier to find a seat and more relaxing if you aren’t in a hurry.

At peak hours, you have to cram into the train in order to fit.

Tokyo National Museum was interesting, although I still don’t think i’m mature enough to fully appreciate all they have to offer haha. The museum contained a huge amount of art from Japan’s history, Armour from different centuries, Buddhist statues and Coins from the past. The exhibits were in Japanese and English, although there was a lot more Japanese text to be found.

After I left there, I crossed the street to Ueno park, which was a lot more my speed. Various performers were acting for tips and doing all sorts of crazy stuff. The video below is the one I watched. Don’t worry, I tipped him haha. For lunch I got Takoyaki, which is a japanese dumpling with Octopus bits. It was good! I talked to the people who served them for a while and even got a picture with them for some reason.

After that, I walked around the local area and found a UFO catcher place, which is a bunch of crane machines. Blew some money there for a while and finally headed back to Chiba.

Video from performer at Ueno Park:

Ramen Shop with the Takatas!

For dinner the other night the Takatas took me to a popular Ramen shop. It was really good, although a lot different from the Hakata Ramen I am used to from Shin Sen Gumi. We also had Gyoza, which is a japanese style dumpling. If you haven’t had real Ramen, your missing out. And I’m not talking about “Oodles of Noodles” or the little plastic Top Ramen packages for 10 cents at the grocery store!

Akihabara Electronic store, Wadakura Park outside of Tokyo Station, and Shinjuku

Ahh Akihabara, the otaku’s favorite district in Japan. Basically any electric appliance, Computer, or video game you could want you can find here. I went to a department store right next to the station which consist of about 9 floors. I saw the new iphone 4g, super small laptops, millions of tv’s, thousands of video games, manga everywhere, and had lunch at the top floor. I bought a few gifts for some friends back in the states and headed to Tokyo Station.

Tokyo Station is huge. HUGE. But honestly its more of a business district and there isn’t as much to do as other places. I walked around for a while and headed to a local fountain park, Wadakura park. The park was built to commemorate the royal wedding of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan in 1961, and then later reconstructed in 1995 with a more modern theme and also to commemorate the wedding of the crown prince and princess.

Shinjuku. Kind of a rough area but also the most exciting of the three. Shinjuku station is one of the worlds most busy stations. Although I was around there at about 2pm so nothing that exciting was going on, It was still fun to walk around and see all the stores and people watch.

ChibaMinato, and Chiba Castle! (big album)

Here I decided to explore Chiba City in depth. I took the Monorail to Chiba Minato, which is last stop in that direction, and walked back through the city following the line. I saw many small parks and people going about their business. One of the huge things that stands out in these cities is even though they are very loud, hardly anyone around you is talking. Everyone keeps to themselves unless someone really needs to engage someone in conversation, such as when buying something, or asking for directions. Maybe a lot of people would find this silence uncomfortable, but for me, to be honest I’ve never really liked small talk anyways.

I’ve had a lot of fun so far, and next week I will be activating my JR Rail pass, which will save me a ton of money on travel and also allow me to see some places a lot further afield. Thanks for reading, and sorry it’s been a while since the last post!