Side Notes

There were a few things that stood out during my trip and I wanted to touch up on those…

  • Vending Machines & Convenience Stores (Conbinis)
    When it comes to vending machines, you really can’t go two or three blocks without seeing one. And where there’s one, there’s two! Usually, the second one has hot drinks in there. You haven’t lived until you’ve had a hot lemonade drink! Sometimes, you might find a cigarette machine there too. As for conbinis, don’t be too surprised that you walk past a Family Mart, Lawson, and a 7-11 all on one or two blocks. If you need a snack, stop in! And yes, it’s real food here. In some locations, you can sit down and eat too.
  • Onsens, aka Hotsprings
    I did discuss this in my vacation blog, but I wanted to put that information here too. When you go to an onsen, you’re given a brochure that explains what to do and proper etiquette. Even with that, I was a little nervous going down there. Not enough anime watching prepares you. I darted my eyes around to take cues from other people, so I could figure out what to do. No one is staring at you or anything. All they want to do is enjoy the hot spring.
  • Don Quijote
    I was told of this store, but I had no idea… This store is like the unholy love child of Wal-Mart and Macy’s! Let me tell you… This is Japan’s answer to a discount store. Anything that you need from toiletries to souvenirs, to snacks, chargers, gaming accessories, and much much more, you will find here. The Akihabara location is open 24 hours and has five floors. BTW, bring your passport, because you can do tax-free shopping here. Now, on the top floor of these stores are the name brands section. I had gone up there to purchase a duffel bag for my stuff. And Good God… I saw Hugo Boss, Versace, Luis Vuitton, and other well-known names. I saw belts, purses, wallets, and everything in between, and this was all 100% official stuff! And it was still cheaper to buy it in Japan than it is in America!
  • Akihabara
    Now unless your primary goal of your trip is anime and gaming merch, save this place for last. that way it’s easier to pack your stuff before you go home, and it’s a quick jaunt to Donki if you need another bag! When shopping in Akihabara, keep track of the stuff you see and prices, so you can come back. Two items I bought I found cheaper at stores near my hotel, and if I had waited, I prolly would have saved about ¥1000. Most likely if you see what you want is cheap, you can come back to the same store and get it later. I mean, my friend Evan pointed out an Akane Tendo plush that was in Madarake for weeks, and now it has a new home. I can say that I canceled 2 Amazon preorders and removed several items from my otakumode wishlist.
  • Trains
    Riding the buses and trains in Japan is a total 180 if you’re a New Yorker. Riding the buses and trains out here is a different experience. First of all, the level of customer service and respect is leaps and bounds over what the MTA couple ever accomplish. Every bus and train stop has a specific code that I find very helpful when transferring trains, or getting to my destination. When riding the buses, you pay when you leave, and in some cases, you tap your card twice. But if you’re a big guy like me (6’1″, 280 lbs), the seats on the bus may be a tight fit. Now you know how people line up for the buses out in Queens? Same out here. Plus there’s tape / colored lines on the ground so you know where to stand. If you’ve done queue lines at cons, you already know. There are designated trains for women during certain times of the day. In some cases, there are labels on the train car that tell you, as well as pink fabric seats. Reading the maps reminds me a lot of the SEPTA/DC Metro, which I did find helpful. At every stop, there’s a sign and it tells you what the last station was and what the next station is. And there are audio cues to let you know when a train is arriving, has arrived, and when it’s leaving. Also unless notified, the seats will always face the direction the train is going. All of the announcements are in English, Japanese, Korean and sometimes Mandarin. When you look at the digital maps, they’re in Japanese, English, and Korean. It also shows the next stops and the time it takes to get to the next stop as well. The train lines are coded like they are for the subways back home. They’re coded like commuter rails. Also, the train cars remind me more of the SEPTA train cars… Plus the seats are fabric covered and the heat actually works.
  • Dotenburi
    It’s an entertainment/tourist area. It reminds me of the entertainment district from Demon Slayer. It’s like Times Square unhinged. You will see the most beautiful women there. You will find bars, clubs, late-night restaurants, and massage parlors. You will be propositioned as well. Now, I didn’t get over there until late because I was stuck trying to do laundry (3 washing machines in a hotel with over 400 rooms, more on that later). I originally had walked over there to hit up Donki for trinkets and it’s wild. This is one of the few times I wished I knew conversational Japanese (might have to change that). I spoke to a couple of Japanese girls because they said Merry Christmas to me. The conversations didn’t last long tho. There were also hip-hop bars there too. So many jiggas (Japanese niggas) out there. A lot of trash, I saw a dude just taking a piss in the corner, and a couple of homeless people, but don’t worry, they won’t bother you at all. Since it was Christmas, everyone was out in Santa dresses and Santa outfits. There were fellas out in full suits. It was hella mindblowing. And because it was so late, I didn’t get to walk around as much but take a look at the pictures and videos I took.
  • Hotels
    The hotels are smaller, so it’s best to travel light in between locations. It may be best to pack what you need to two hotels and send your luggage to the third location. One thing I did like is that there’s a slot for you to put your keycard when you go inside your room. That controls the power in the room. When you take your keycard, the power shuts off in 10 seconds. In the second hotel, I had this, the power stayed on at the desk where my laptop was charging, which is understandable.