Sunday, 24 July 2016

BLOG -- My Trip to Japan V.2 -- ADVENTURE PART 3 (Akihabara, Shibuya, Ikebukuro, Shinjuku)

So this entry will cover the places I already visited back when I went to Japan a couple years ago. Due to that, I won't say much about these places since my thoughts are still the same. You can read more about these places in the links below.

Japan Trip 2014: Akihabara & Ikebukuro
Japan Trip 2014: Shibuya & Shinjuku



OVERALL THOUGHTS: It is still the same nerd spot. Unfortunately for me, I had already hit my declaration limit when I visited Akihabara, so I didn't roam around too much. I mean -- why find things that you may want but ultimately can't buy?? Lol.

On my first day at Akihabara, I chatted a bit with another traveler at the Eorzea Cafe (the cafe will be covered in a future blog) and we ended up hanging out that day around Akihabara. I showed him Kotobukiya and Mandarake Complex. We also checked out Book-Off to help him find a PS3 game (one of the Tales of games that was only released for the PS3 in Japan -- I used my Katakana reading skills, whee). Hahaha, it was very random, but not bad. Maybe I was feeling lonely that day. As of this writing, the person is on my PSN, though we haven't contacted each other since.


Kotobukiya (RE-VISIT)

This is still the same. Lots of cool nerdy stuff to buy. I couldn't stay in this store for very long, lol. It would tempt me too much.

Mandarake Complex (RE-VISIT)

This is also still the same. But this time... I got to spend my hours browsing the music section. Unfortunately, with two years passing since my last visit, the CD singles section was overflowing -- to the point where many CD singles (in bad shape) were taped together and were being sold for 100 yen. And I... bought some of them, lol. I just couldn't pass up the chance to get possibly good music for so cheap. I am a sucker for CD singles -- especially if they come with a karaoke / instrumental track.

Various Game Stations (RE-VISIT)

So when you're in Akihabara and you can't buy too many things, checking out the various game stations are the next best thing. Then you just have to think about how much luggage space you have. I really wanted to get the kitty in the cakebox in the pic above! 

Yeah! I got one!!!


I actually went to various Book-Offs while in Japan this time. It is a shop that carries used media (CDs, DVDs, books, video games, etc) at decent prices. They also carry used consoles and handhelds, which were very tempting if I had the luggage space. Whenever I saw a Book-Off, I went in and browsed their CD section. Just... gotta... check out all the video game music, lol. I highly recommend this place!


A standee advertising Akiba's Trip 2.

Advertisements for Dissidia Final Fantasy.

A Dragon Quest-themed Lawson store. It made Dragon Quest 
sounds when you stepped in and if you used the Loppi machine inside.



OVERALL THOUGHTS: So I went to Shibuya for two things: Sushi no Midori and karaoke! Lol. I've been to both of these places before, but I just had to go back. Sushi no Midori will be covered in a future blog.


Karaoke-kan (RE-VISIT)

It's been two years and my legs still remember how to get to this place. Now... there are tons of karaoke places in Japan. I go to this specific one because... well... it was my first karaoke place in Japan... and based off the guide I use, it has a really decent rate when it opens. 

Last time, I devoted an entire blog just for my karaokings in Japan, but this time I didn't sing very well. I guess I am out of practice, lol... However, I still really enjoyed myself and was happy to sing songs I normally wouldn't be able to sing at the karaoke places in Toronto. And I'll just say -- karaoking for three hours in Japan just isn't enough! Lol.

My rate for the room. I also had to buy a drink, but it was still worth it. 
My total cost (room rate + drink) for three hours was 1048 yen.

Me singing "Let Me Be" from Glay. I mess up a little, but... well... it was my first time singing the song karaoke. I like some of my vocal quality here. This song is in Japanese
Just like with all my other karaoke videos, 
the screen is black so click "Play" and do something else, lol.



OVERALL THOUGHTS: If I had a chance, I would have spent more time here. The weather just wasn't in my favour. It is still the same as last time -- the nerd place for girls.


Animate (RE-VISIT)

This is still the same, carrying tons of nerdy goods, though more towards the female audience. I went there mainly to check out the floor carrying video games, soundtracks, and movies. I would have loved to visit the Cardcaptor x Animate Cafe, but I was reading that I would have to input a Japanese address just to reserve, so I didn't try. It looks like it is still running until early October, so check it out if you are in Japan anytime between now and then!


I checked out this Book-Off while it was raining outside. I found a couple things.

An advertisement for a Neko Atsume-themed cafe at Namco Namjatown. 
I was planning on checking it out, but... with the rain and me wearing very few layers... 
I ended up going back to the hotel. As of this writing, the 
Neko Atsume-themed cafe is over. :(

Another pic of the advertisement.

And another. Namco Namjatown eludes me again! Lol


DAYS SPENT: 1.5 + almost everyday after 5 PM

OVERALL THOUGHTS: Ahh, my home base, yet again. I really did enjoy the area last time and I like that it is located around the middle of many other places I wanted to check out. Often when I got back to the hotel, I'd drop off my stuff and wander out to Shinjuku, often to get dinner.

The first few times, my legs didn't remember how to get to Shinjuku from the hotel so I had to back-track a few times. Once I ended up just at the entrance of Kabukicho (red light district). I knew something was up the moment I found myself several feet away from a building with a huge pic of a stylish hot guy. An actual hot guy in dress clothes was sitting at the building's front steps, watching me as I was looking at that picture. All that ran through my mind was, This... is not... right... I... need... to move... away... I think if I started walking toward the building, the guy would have sprung into "action". 

I didn't check out many new things here, but it was nice just to wander around.


Shinjuku Post Office

So... even though I did my best not to go over the declaration limit of 800 CAD, I did (darn you Book-Off!!! Lol -- still love ya, though <3)... and I had to do something about it! Here are a couple not-the-best solutions to lowering your declaration limit if you plan to declare honestly (if anybody has any other solutions please let me know!):

1. If you were planning to bring back food, eat it. I know, this isn't the best suggestion, but not many options are available if you don't want to leave anything else behind.

2. Mail out the excess as gifts (to a certain extent). This is an option after weighing that it would cost less to ship out the excess than it would be to pay tax on the whole thing. 

I was carrying some things I was planning to mail out anyway so I figured, Let's do it now. Then I will also get to learn about the processes of mailing out a package from Japan. Win-win! Lol. I also did end up eating a bunch of foods I was planning to bring back home. 

Before going with the mailing route, it is best to look up how high a package could be valued before the recipient would pay customs (for example, as of this writing, to mail something to the US and avoid customs, the package value cannot exceed 100 USD; for Canada, it's 60 CAD). 

It is also best to look up what is really acceptable in terms of mailing packages out. Mailing to yourself could count as part of your declaration limit as mailing to yourself wouldn't be a gift. For the US, people traveling together and mailing packages to each other would also not count as gifts. 

Okay, so when all of that is done, get your items ready and go to the post office!

I'm not sure if all post offices are the same, but Shinjuku Post Office was really nice. There were stations for putting boxes together and writing out the mailing slips. There was also a large waiting area. It kinda felt like a crafting centre, lol. I also felt very lost, being my first time at the post office. Thankfully, there were some English signs around. I also set aside a whole day just so I could feel lost... but still do it! Okay, now I'll step you through the process:

1. Buy shipping boxes. You can skip this step if you bought your boxes elsewhere. If you need to buy shipping boxes, find the counter that sells them. For me it was to the far left. Then in front of that counter, press a machine to get a numbered ticket and wait to be served. When your number flashes on the screen, go to the counter and buy your boxes. They will come folded.

2. Put your boxes together + Writing in mailing slips. Go to one of the crafting stations and put your crafting skills to work! A couple stations should have packing tape, but bring some just in case. 

For writing in mailing slips, EMS seems to be the most cost efficient and timely shipping method so take those slips. Even when I thought airmail would be more cost-effective for one package, it turned out that EMS was actually cheaper. 

One thing that is stressed when writing in mailing slips is to be accurate when listing the items and the netweight (best guess is okay as the package will be weighed at the end). When sending food items (not sure if this applies to all countries), it needs to be listed as "[insert food item] (Non-commercial)". When sending cup noodles, it needs to be listed as "Instant noodles (Non-commercial)". In the return address, I put down the hotel's address.

Writing the mailing slips took me the longest time as I was trying to make sure it wouldn't cause any raised eyebrows. I didn't want to risk the possibility of it getting sent back and I wouldn't be around to receive it. It was also my first time sending out a package from outside of Canada -- I was really scared of messing up.

3. Mail out your packages. At this point, I can't recall if local mailing and international mailing was separated into their own counter areas. If they are, though, get a numbered ticket for the international mailing area and just wait till your number flashes on the screen. Pay the shipping and you are done! Wheee! 

I spent about three hours at the post office, lol... but I did it! Yayyyyy!


Yes!!! I got you!!! No more taunting me from the other side.

I don't know what is happening here, but it looks like 
that old-looking house is getting demolished :(

A mailbox in Japan. The left slot is for letters and postcards. 
The right slot is for other things. I dropped my pocket WiFi into the right slot.

A shot of beers being sold in plain sight in a supermarket. I think this 
really shows a difference of culture and values.

I took this pic to remind me how to find the Capcom Bar, so I 
won't end up wandering through Kabukicho (red light district) 
like what happened a couple years.
The Capcom Bar is down that street, on the left side.

That's it for Part 3. Thanks for reading! Next I'll be covering the new areas I hit... for nerdy reasons, lol. x3

If you have any questions or comments about any of these places I visited, feel free to say something in the comments box! :)

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