August 18th 2007

We got up early because we needed to switch hotels from the Homeikan Ryokan to a capsule hotel we found in Ueno because we called the capsule hotel in Akihabara and it was full for the night. We called ahead to the one in Ueno just to make sure that they had an opening for the night which they did. While packing I discovered something extremely disturbing… I no did not have my traveler’s cheques where I had thought I had packed them. Luckily I plan for the worst to happen and I had a back up plan, I called the number to receive the refund for the amount of traveler’s cheques I had purchased. I was told that I could pick them up at a Western Union center (of which there only seems to be one in Tokyo :-T ).

We checked out of Homeikan and made our way to Ueno to drop our bags off at the capsule hotel because we had to get to the pick-up for the Exiting Ninja Tour by Sunrise Tours at 1:40pm. Finding specific places in Japan is extremely hard, especially if they aren’t very large. We spent the better part of an hour trying to find the capsule hotel, quickly put our bags in our rooms and made it to the pick-up point with only moments to spare.

Leaving from Hamamatsucho Bus Station our first stop on the tour was to Odaiba where we had 40 minutes free time. Because all three of us frequent the internets we knew that inside the SEGA Joypolis, for a limited time, there is an arcade game called Initial D where they rigged an LCD screen to the front of the car and you drive the actual car. We headed strait over there taking a quick stop to see the miniature Statue of Liberty on the way.

The story that was told to us by the tour guide is that America built a miniature Statue of Liberty for France as a thank you gesture for them building the real one in NYC. Odaiba is a new city that was built a little while after Colonel Perry opened up Japan. It was built because the Japanese didn’t want America to come back into their harbors so they built many canons to shoot at the Americans should they choose to come back. Shortly after they found out that they did not have the range or the power that the American canons had and quickly welcomed the Americans back into their country ^_^.

After WWII Odaiba still did not have very much on it, so they had a “France day” where they invited artists and architects to the city. France brought along the miniature Statue of Liberty and let Japan keep it for one year. At the end of the year it was supposed to go back to France. However, the younger Japanese loved it so much (it had become a popular spot to take pictures and had even developed a legend that if you take a picture in front of the minature Statue of Liberty you will find love soon after) that they created a petition to the Japanese government to keep the statue. The Japanese government couldn’t keep the statue but they did come to a compromise, they had architects build another miniature Statue of Liberty so that Japan could have one of its own.

We took a few pictures in front of the statue just in case the legend was true then we headed over to the SEGA Joypolis. We spent all our time at the Initial D game, like the Hibiya Matsuri, I will let the pictures and videos describe our experiences there.

After our free time was up in Odaiba we headed back to the bus and ventured forth into Shinjuku to Kabuki-cho where the Ninja demonstration and entertainment would take place at Ninja Yashiki (literally translated to Ninja House but they had English signs saying “Ninja in New York” around the restaurant). The show was very good and Ryan became an official ninja, with a scroll and everything. We recorded the whole bit so watch the video and look at the pictures, they can describe what happened much better than I can with words. We had all you could drink beer and other alcoholic beverages, as well as juice and water of course. It was very entertaining and if you are in Tokyo I highly recommend the Exiting Ninja Tour.

From Shinjuku we took the JR Yamanote line to Akihabara where we walked around the electric city until our feet could take it no more. We went into the Radio Kaikan building where there are several floors of models of anime and monga as well as electronics galore. I bought a microphone on the second floor to record the podcast but, as I found out later that night, I didn’t have the AC adapter for the mixer so it didn’t help in the end. We took a good deal of photos inside the building which you can view on the flickr.

We then went back to the capsule hotel in Ueno, much easier to find after we knew where it was now. We were on the fourth floor, whereas the showers, and the laundry were located at the basement. We washed up and called it a night. The capsules were actually larger than you think and you could kneel inside without much trouble. It was worth the 3100 yen for the experience.

Last night we stayed in a ryokan that didn’t have internet so I wasn’t able to upload anything we have many pictures and videos that need to be uploaded but don’t have a connection where we can do said uploading. I’ll be writing subsequent entries on the shinkansen then uploading them to the site when we can get  to a net cafe or something, until then!