Before I start, just a little warning, these are just some notes about what happened in Japan. Lots off sightseeing, some observations and just a story about how the trip was.
It's not filled with details about the shows or anything like that, so if you're looking for that, this isn't the thread.
July 10th: Europe -> Japan
We're on the plane to Tokyo and it doesn't take long for the first "Lost In Translation" moment.
Since we're flying KLM, everything is first said in Dutch, then English and then Japanese. It seems like the first two takes half the time compared to Japanese (in the movie, the main character is filming a TV commercial clip and is given instructions in Japanese which is then translated to: He want you to turn and look in camera. Okay? ).July 11th: Tokyo
We arrive in Japan at around 9am local time (which is around 1am back home).
The flight was the longest I've been on, but it went fast. Everything was on schedule and I even managed to watch a movie on that tiny screen.
We walk from the plane to immigration. I'm standing in the line, waiting to get to the immigration officer and it feels very unreal to be here.
Also, as soon as you get off the plane you notice the different climate compared to home. It's humid!
After getting through immigration and getting the luggage, we walk outside where we get the hotel shuttle to our hotel.
The first thing I noticed is that people are very polite here. The driver, the people at the hotel. I'm not used to this kind of service. You want to tip them, but tipping isn't the custom in this country.
We check in. and log in. Broadband in hotel rooms rule!
Our room has a nice view of the Tokyo bay, even though it's a grey day.
AdZ starts pushing the buttons on the washlet (Japanese toilet with a heated seat and shower....). Pretty soon the bathroom floor is wet.
In the afternoon, we walk to the nearest train station. We even manage to buy train cards even though the girl at the ticket office doesn't really speak English.
Take an express train to Tokyo (that will cost you extra, now we know) and then change for the Yamanote line to Shinjuku. Tokyo station is huge. To walk from the Keiyo line platforms to the subway/train took us a while.
So, we get to Shinkuju. Our goal is to find the Metropolitan Goverment Building where you can go up to the 45th floor for free.
I thought it'd be a good way to get an idea of just how big this place is.
After lunch and more walking around in Shinjuku, we took the train to Shibuya. Shibuya is full of shops and a huge video screens advertising stuff. It's kinda like Times Square, only Japanese.
It was around 6PM and I started to feel the effects of not sleeping on the flight over.
Head for the train and one hour later we're at the hotel.
Instead of just passing out at 8PM and waking up in the middle of the night, I decided to go for a walk. Ended up at a 7-11 since I figured I'd buy some water.
The girls working there were practicing their English as I was paying."Hello, how are you?"
"Where are you from?"
I said "Finland" and one of them told me she had written Santa Claus (in Finland) a letter. She had even gotten a reply!
Then at around 11PM, I just gave up and passed out.July 12th: Tokyo
Woke up really early and didn't feel tired at all. Weird.
After checking e-mails etc. (as I said, broadband at hotel rooms rule!), it was time to find some breakfast. We walked to a nearby mall where we found a sandwich shop or cafe. Not sure what exactly it was supposed to be. It was kinda funny trying to pick a sandwich based on how it looked and guessing what it was.
Came back to the hotel to get my camera and headed for the train station.
After a while we were back in Tokyo and headed out to find the Imperial Palace. First we had to find the right exit out of the station, and when we did we didn't really know where we were supposed to go.
An American guy working in Japan happened to pass and gave us directions.
After a couple of minutes on foot we arrived at the Imperial Palace gardens.
Most of the time it was raining. At least it wasn't crowded.
A subway ride later, we were in Shinjuku again. Managed to find a pretty cool record store called Disk Union during our walking.
Did more walking around and had lunch in a noodle shop. Ordering was easy, look at the menu with pictures and tell the guy what number you want. I got 12 which was noodles with some onions, seaweed and pork.
After our late lunch, we headed for Harajuku. There we did the same thing we seem to do every day, walk around and look. Being tourists basically.
Harajuku has a lot of small clothing stores with funny names. Sort of like Camden Town in London, only cleaner and trendier.
Then we had the brilliant idea that we should have something cool to drink after all that walking in the hot humid weather. We found a little bar and ordered our drinks. Apparently Corona spoken with an English accent sounds like Coca Cola.... Fosters said in with a Finnish accent on the other hand is still a Fosters.
Before leaving Harajuku, it was time for yet another coffee!
We've learned that ordering cappuccino is better than trying to order a black coffee. I got my cappuccino and AdZ got a iced black coffee. At least it wasn't a Coke this time.
The day was starting to become evening, so we went back to Shinjuku for drinks before heading back to our hotel.July 13th: Tokyo
Started the day with breakfast at a coffee place and from there we went to a supermarket. It doesn't take much to get a small town geek like me excited. A Japanese supermarket with an arcade is more than enough.
AdZ beat me in that drum game where you're supposed to drum along to the song and keep the beat (no pun intended).
After that we headed to Tokyo, Shibuya to be exact. Visited HMV and walked around. Saw a place called Ghetto Family Dining. Didn't visit it though.
We also went into this six storey place filled with junk. Everything from shampoo to bikes. Total chaos!
As it was getting closer to evening, we took the train to Akihabara to see the place where the geeks hangout.
Lots of electronics stores and stores selling Manga stuff. Must be heaven if you're into that. Personally I have no idea what it's all about.
It was becoming evening so we thought it'd be nice to have some dinner. A walk around the area resulted in us sitting at Curry Kitchen.
You buy a meal ticket in a machine, give it to the person at the counter and after a while your meal arrives. For those who care: Japanese curry and rice isn't as spicy as Indian curry.
The food made us thirsty, so we decided to go check out Ginza. First we thought about going to Roppongi, but Ginza was closer.
We found a bar, which isn't always easy because they're not all on the first floor facing the street. We ordered drinks and sat there for a while before heading out to find another place.
The funny thing is, we found an Irish themed place where they were waiting for the Japan vs United Arab Emirates football game to start.
They had like two kinds of beer: A Japanese kind and Guinness.
The place eventually became packed which meant there was about ten people in there.... One of the regulars was a Canadian guy who's lived in Japan for ages. So there we are in Japan on a hot July day talking about... Ice hockey!
Made it back to the hotel without falling asleep on the train.July 14th: Chiba
Met Hiromi and her husband at the hotel before the show. They were actually staying at the same hotel as we were.
Then walked in the rain to the venue which was across the street.
Made it to the venue as the doors were opened.
As the doors opened, security didn't allow the fans to run to get to the barricade. Instead, they were first led down to the floor from the entrance, then as they were escorted onto the floor, they startd walking towards the front. Those who tries to run, were slowed down by security standing in between them and the front rows. I'd never seen that before.
Show time and those fans were really into it.
I was doing updates until my phone died. Must be the fact that it was on in the subway where there's no network...
Everybody thought the show was over until Ron and Axl came back. Ron did his solo and then Axl joined him on Don't Cry.
Met up with sukeberon and Hiromi after the show. I also got to use sukeberon's phone to e-mail confirmation that yes Axl did sing Don't Cry with Bumblefoot after Paradise City.
Since we're in Japan, the show ended but it was still kinda early so we went and had dinner. Had some sake before the dinner.
Typical Japanese food, which was nice as I hadn't had the chance to try much of the food. NICE!
That was followed by drinks. A few of them....July 15th: Chiba
Walking back to the hotel in the morning we can see a blue sky for the first time.
We were told the typhoon would take the rain with it.
Get some sleep and then head to Pronto in th afternoon where we were supposed to meet some people from the board. I had some coffee and waited, but we didn't see anybody.
The second show in Chiba was at least as great as the first if not even better. The crowd was simply amazing. Again.
After the show, we once again had a few drinks and got back to our hotel at 8AM. We both actually fell asleep on the train and missed our stop.