Leong TourIt’s finally time for me to get around to documenting the past few weeks. A big highlight was the unusually high number of visitors. It seems like everyone and their mother decided to come visit right around the same time. Actually Blanchard’s mom did come to Japan, but they were in Kyoto. But at least the “everyone and their mother” line kind of works. But I digress. Luckily, I had a lot of free time to hang out with people, show them around, go to sightseeing-type places, and all that stuff. I got to play tour guide and went to more places in Tokyo than I think I have the rest of the year combined.

First group of visitors was Nick “NR7000” Roberts and his so-called Sidekick. They came up from Ono to Tokyo for a few days during the last week of March, and I met up with them on the 26th. We had planned on meeting up in Akihabara, after which I thought we’d be going around to other places in Tokyo. We ended up spending the entire day there though, which gave us an in-depth look into the strangest and creepiest part of Tokyo.

Most of the day involved us going around to arcades, shops, etc. There wasn’t really anything that I wanted to pick up, but Nick was able to do some shopping and also found those giant foam Hulk Hands that came out about 6 years ago. He was wearing those all around the karaoke booth at night. Sidekick was looking for a mousepad or a poster and some other stuff for some weird jerk-off anime that I don’t know about, and I don’t think he found it. Either way, one highlight (if you can call it that) of the day was the maid cafes, which Sidekick had never been to, and of which Nick and I had only been to once, last year during Golden Week. While in principal I am not interested in these places, in some small part it was interesting. However, we went to more than one maid cafe, which is more than you ever need to go.

Nick at the Maid Cafe メイド喫茶The first one we went to was called a ツンデレカフェ (Tsundere Cafe), which is a kind of special maid cafe where the waitresses are supposed to act like your little sister but also be all pissy and mad at you and stuff. Due partially to the fact that we were foreigners and they probably didn’t want to confuse us, there was very little difference between this cafe and a regular cafe. There was one time when Nick tried to call the waitress over and it took a few tries (she was only 3 feet away). This could have been her being pissy, or maybe she was just a bad waitress. Or deaf. Also they spoke very casually, rather than the usual formal Japanese that all people in the service industry have to use for fear of being speared in the temple with a katana. Overall I was not impressed, and being there was just uncomfortable. The place of course had creepy dudes by themselves, and there were two guys who were hanging out eating a 4000 yen giant waffle sundae. Yeah. There was another maid cafe where Nick totally got into the weird maids (see right), mostly the super fat one (not pictured) who could kind of speak English. I don’t think I need to go to anymore maid cafes the rest of my life.

I put up some other pics from this day here, and there is also a quality YouTube video of Nick and his Sidekick doing some anime dance and being creepily synchronized for this being the “first time” they did said dance. I’m pretty sure they’ve done it before.

The following Sunday we had a Hanami Party at Chiba Castle, which was sweet before it started raining about 2 hours in. We ended up going to this American-style bar on the west side of Parco afterwards, which was pretty cool and is apparently open 24 hours. That night, Steve arrived in Japan and we went to Kim-chan for dinner before he headed to his hotel in Asakusa. The next day we met up in Tokyo with Macie, who was also visiting Japan. So yeah, the first stop with Steve and Macie was Akihabara, making it the second time for me to go to Geek Land in less than a week. That’s embarrassing. But with them, we did more arcades and hit up Super Potato, not doing much shopping. We didn’t really stay there that long. Macie was going to Kyoto that night, so after I took her to Tokyo to get on the Shinkansen, I met back up with Steve and we explored more of the city. We hit up Shimbashi, Ginza, etc on that side of town.

In Ginza we went to this amazing sushi place called 乾山 (Kenzan), which was the ritziest eating experience I’ve had in a while. From the moment we stepped into the door, we had a bunch of waitresses in kimono taking our coats, bags, etc as we got seated at the counter with our own personal sushi chef. Everything was absolutely fresh and made to order, including the anago, which was also grilled and cut to order. Of course great service and great food comes with a price. I didn’t know the damage until we actually asked for the final bill, which was scary since I noticed early on that there were no prices anywhere, and we were getting the otoshi and dessert without saying a word. Also they gave us a new shibori (wet towel) with almost every course. So yeah, the head waitress lady came over with the price written in pencil on a piece of paper and I almost gasped. It was indeed a pricey meal, but the best sushi I’ve ever had and a good experience. Can’t say Steve didn’t get a fancy Japanese meal that night!

The rest of the week was a balance between me going to job interviews, working, and meeting up with Steve in Tokyo. We went to the Ghibli Museum, Ueno Park for sakura, etc. Blanchard’s dad was also in town, so I went out with those guys one night. Seriously, everyone decided to come to Japan at once. There are some other pictures here. Part 2 of this big wrap up is coming soon, with the first Y’s of 2008, Penis Festival, and Namja Town.