Posts Tagged ‘Gyoza’

It’s our last full day in Tokyo and in Japan as a whole. Jason and I woke up a bit late and started our day a bit later than I anticipated. Though at the time it felt very much worth it, we really couldn’t afford to waste any time…

… today was our shopping day.

We could have bought stuff while we were in the other cities we visited, but we didn’t want to cart a bunch of stuff with us all over Japan in our already oversized and heavy luggage. We did, however, bring a third piece of luggage to Japan that we purposely brought with us for our shopping trip (though during our travels we just shoved my suitcase in it so we would only drag around 2 pieces).

After we shower and get dressed, we walk over to the Ueno train station and hop on the train to Akihabara.

Akihabara is a district in the Chiyoda ward in Tokyo. Known as Electric Town, this district has a variety of businesses ranging from electronics, anime and manga stores, to sex shops and cosplay/maid cafes.

The first thing we do is go to a Sega Arcade and walk around to play some games. The arcade is on 6 different floor with a variety of games and a smoking area. Now, this might not seem too interesting but there is a huge difference between the arcades in North American vs the arcades that are in Japan. Here’s a trailer for a documentary about the Japanese arcade experience: http://www.100yenfilm.com/

After we spend about $15 and walk around the building, we leave to find some sex shops. One of the main reasons was due to this text message I received from a friend of mine before we left Edmonton.

It was an interesting requested that I wanted to fulfill. Also, ignore the fact that he's listed as "Switchblade Mike" in my contacts (it's a very long story).

It was an interesting requested that I wanted to fulfill. Also, ignore the fact that he’s listed as “Switchblade Mike” in my contacts (it’s a very long story).

I’ve been told that you haven’t seen a messed up sex shop until you go to Japan, and some of them are frightening and disgusting. Before we left for Japan, Jason tells me about this porn we should get Mike to regret his request (I will save the details of what this porn is, as it is literally terrifying) and I’m horrified but onboard. We were not entirely sure it would be legal to bring back (and it’s pretty obscure so we couldn’t find much information about it on the internet [well Jason couldn’t, I was too scared to look it up due to what it was]) but we decided to chance it and buy it for him anyway.

The first store that we hit up is called M’s, which call themselves a Pop Life Department store. It has 7 different floors and sells anything from blowup dolls, cosplay costumes, to a variety of sex toys.

We go to all 7 floors, but I noticed that there wasn’t really much there that was different than the sex stores back home (except for the blowup dolls that were kinda creepy, and a lot of Lolicon items). Jason tells me there is a particular store we need to go to in order to find Mike’s gift so we keep on shopping in Akihabara.

Noticing the time, we decided to stop for lunch. After walking around trying to decide on what we should eat, we decided to stop at McDonalds so I could try this.

"Ebi Filet-O" -- shrimp burger. It replaced the Filet O-Fish

“Ebi Filet-O” — shrimp burger. It replaced the Filet O-Fish that we have in North America.

It was… interesting, to say the least. Though I probably wouldn’t seek out eating another one in my lifetime, but if it was offered to me I necessarily wouldn’t deny it.

We started hitting up department stores to do our shopping. What I found kinda interesting (and somewhat annoying) is that a lot of the department stores broke everything down by brand; you go to this floor to buy Nike, this floor to buy Coach, that floor to buy Burberry. Though it was kinda nice, it was super annoying when you are just looking for a particular item by any company.

After going to a discount store to buy alcohol, beverages and snacks that we wanted to bring back to Edmonton, we return to our hotel to drop off the goods (4 bottles of sake, some plum wine, shochu, chu-hi, Royal Milk Tea, etc), quickly pick up some items in an Ueno department store, and take the train back to Akihabara to continue our shopping.

For the amount of time that we spent shopping, we sure didn’t buy too much. Shopping in Akihabara is a spectacle in itself and you can’t help to just window shop due to all the cool/cute/weird things you can find.

The last store that we go to is another sex shop. Jason tells me that this is the place we are buying Mike’s gift. Entering the store, it didn’t look any different than the other sex shops we went to. As you continue to go up the floors, the contents get more weird and disturbing.

There are 2 floors for DVDs; the first floor we were on was nothing out of the ordinary, so we walk up to the next floor to take a look around.

Contents on the second DVD floor were highly distressing for those who are faint of heart. I walked through the hardcore S&M section (hardcore to the sense it looked like it could have been associated to snuff), scat section, golden shower section, beastiality section and this DVD is nowhere to be found. Walking through another section, I look up and there it was…

… I immediately call Jason over to tell him that I found it while I’m walking out of the aisle, literally gagging ever so slightly in my mouth. I couldn’t handle looking at the DVD cover.

Jason asked if I still wanted to get it for Mike, but all I could think about is how I don’t want to be anywhere near that DVD and that I wanted to leave the store immediately. Yes, I realize that I knew what we were looking for before I found it, but there is a huge difference between knowing and being grossed out vs seeing it and being absolutely mortified. I tell Jason that I need to leave the store, and I wait outside while he buys Mike a gift that wasn’t the DVD.

The worst part of this shopping trip is that Jason tells me what I saw was the “tip of the iceberg” and that there were even more disturbing contents in that store that we purposely bypassed.

Thanks Akihabara porn shop, for ruining the very last of my innocence.

In complete shock, I silently ride the train back to Ueno with Jason so we can drop off our things at the hotel before we go out for dinner. We didn’t realize how late it was (~22:00h) so most of the restaurants were closing. We did find a place open til 03:00h that served ramen and gyozas. After eating a couple giant plates of $2 gyozas and eating a large bowl of ramen, we walk back to the hotel so we can rearrange our luggage and get ready for our trip back to Canada the next day.

Thing I Have Learned About Japan Thus Far
1. The sex stores here are weird and horrifying. If you remove my experience walking through that extreme fetish DVD section, it was actually kinda interesting to see the type of items that they sell and the cost difference (so much cheaper in Japan).

2. If they are selling gyoza for $2 and they are delicious, don’t second guess getting another plate; just get it, eat it, and get yet another plate. Repeat until absolutely full. It’s worth it.

3. Due to that mentality with food, I have gained weight traveling in Japan. Initially lost 5lbs in Osaka but somehow gained that back with an additional 5lbs in Tokyo. I blame the crazy awesome Japanese bakeries, the surprisingly good fried chicken at convenience stores, and just the overall awesome food in Japan.

4. I do really prefer Osaka to Tokyo. Maybe I haven’t spent enough time wandering Tokyo to fall in love with the place, but I feel there are way too many people there for my liking. That, and if I decide “Hey, I want Kobe Beef in Kobe”, it’s less than 30 minutes via Shinkansen from Osaka and about 3 hours via Shinkansen from Tokyo.

5. You don’t see any drunk Japanese business men, or homeless people until after 21:00h.

6. The homeless people here are very interesting; they don’t beg for food or money, and if they want to steal a cigarette butt from an ashtray they wait until there is no one smoking in the designated smoking area. They will also stop looting the ashtray when someone gets to the designated smoking area and wait until they leave to proceed.

7. Pick and choose what you are going to shop for in Japan. Most designer and named brand items are more expensive in Japan (re: clothing, accessories); however, we were able to pick up a camera tripod and new lens for our DSLR at a lesser rate.

8. I’m too fat to buy clothes in Japan; which is okay by me because I think anyone who’s not from Japan is too fat to buy clothes in Japan.

Next Blog Post: Coming Home

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