Things that I have been doing, and the longest title for a blog post that may or may not also be about Japan (it totally is)

Hello once again you strange, wonderful and perhaps terrifying people. I trust that you are all well and enjoying the current disaster that is the state of our world. (except Japan which I love like a tiny animated ball of fluff that’s always smiling and telling excellent jokes and can do no wrong).

As this is kind of a Japan / travel blog I’ll talk a little about some travel and Japan things too. So Shizuoka, or Silent Hill if you go by the kanji, is the prefecture I currently call home. While I have explored to a reasonable extent all the cities within this prefecture there is one thing about Japan which makes it rather hard to grow tired of, and that is that they seem to hide everything up in the sky. Well, obviously not the literal sky but in tall buildings that in the UK would be nothing more than office blocks. This means that for a dirty immigrant like me (correction, expat) it’s very easy to forget to look up and find these hidden gems. I should add here that this goes double for big cities like Tokyo and it wasn’t until my recent return that I realized just how many shops I had missed when I first arrived. And it’s not just shops, but bars and restaurants lurk in nearly every possible space within these cities. You can even find super rare places to eat where you can dine with a native Japanese family, as long as you don’t mind them shouting at you in Japanese while you eat and generally having to help yourself to food. Two thumbs up though, would recommend.

Recently, tucked away in a reasonably public corner of Shizuoka city (okay so in this case I just walked past it a few times and didn’t really pay any attention to what it was) we discovered a honest real ale bar. Even better, it’s only 1200 yen for a pint which is like ¬£8.50… Yea, maybe don’t convert the prices. Compared to regular beer at 800 yen a pint, the extra 400 is completely worth it because the beer is great and they have ten on tap, including an 8% one called Jubilation. It’s also the first place I’ve found cider in Japan, again good cider, which also makes me very happy. If you happen to be in the area you can find more about them here

In addition to all this beer drinking we had a day jaunt back to Tokyo, this time to enjoy the trains. Not in a strange nerd kind of way though (because we all know that having unusual hobbies makes you strange and an easy target for people to gauge their visualized self worth, but I digress) but because there is a yearly event called Tokyo Metro Mysteries . As the name kind of suggests you get to solve mysteries around the different train stations and nearby areas in Tokyo. The puzzles are fun, and solvable for both Japanese and English speakers and require a nice range of puzzle solving skills and processes. You also get to see some interesting places in Tokyo that you might not have gone to on a normal tour of the city, which is a nice plus.

That’s all from me this time, hopefully see you all again soon assuming a certain orange racist hasn’t blown up the world by then.

London Day 3

Surprise, I’ve been here the whole time and just used Google earth for all the photos…

Okay, maybe not. So day 3 of Tokyo has been another successful day of using the trains (so far at least) and I have managed to get myself to the central station, which appropriately has signs outside saying Tokyo Station City, because it is freaking huge. This place puts London Victoria to shame (and you don’t have to pay for the toilets, and they are still cleaner here). There is an entire shopping center beneath the whole thing with more restaurants here than I’ve seen in my entire last two days of walking around.

After an exciting trip to a shopping mall which was part book shop, part dining hall and part opticians (I’m not too sure why, but hey) where I made a grand purchase of one whole envelope before heading back to the relative serenity of Akihabara. In fact the station is so huge that on my return I managed to find a whole other section of shops I missed the first time around, including a little pokemon place. I would genuinely not be surprised if they had an issue with tourists having panic attacks in that station as the options on how to get entirely lost and surrounded by people on both sides are many and easy to fall into. However being the super adaptable person that I am (and not having to ask someone this time) I once again managed to use the train for a whole two stops without getting lost (yay, go me!) I found myself tempted to see what the Japanese version of a British pub was like, remembering that I had passed one near the station yesterday called the Hub.

 It’s actually probably the best version of a British pub I’ve seen outside of Britain (the beer and spirit selection was actually pretty close to a couple of locals back home with a few Japanese extras) the food options were a little more Japanese based, with octopus pizza and squid ink being the first item you turn to on the menu. The drink options are good though, with various cocktail and happyhour options on the drinks menu and the staff, as always, were very friendly. Of course being the radical that I am I opted for the Japanese beer, Kirin, which is a reasonable draft larger and had a very British side of shrimp to go with it. Okay, maybe I missed the point of going to a British themed pub, but hey I had fun anyway. 

I shall be returning to my room soon as we will be attempting to record our first ever edition of the podcast with me in a different country to everyone else, so that’s going to be a bit different.

Things that I have enjoyed discovering today;

The literal translation of ice cream appears to be soft custard.

There is something proudly advertising itself as ‘style free beer’ which either means it’s just a regular beer or alcohol free. Not sure which yet.

Culture shock of the day;

Seriously there are so many people in Tokyo central and I didn’t even go during peek hours. It’s worth a look but you really do need to brace yourselves if you are not a big fan of overly crowded places. Good for the experience though.