2016-10-25 Koto

We had a late lunch in Koto and walked around the shops at DiverCity Tokyo Plaza. The Gundam statue was really neat and convincing. I was impressed by the meticulous detail added to make it look lifelike.

Later, by chance, I noticed Rainbow Road was fully visible from this side of town. After trying some shots with the 50mm and 24mm, we headed back home to pack and get ready for tomorrow’s flight.

I’m starting to like the 50mm much more….

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2016-10-24 Minato

We headed back to Shibuya for lunch and some shopping. Afterwards, we made our way towards Minato. To me, the view from Tokyo Tower was reminiscent of Toronto.

Atop the tower we found a gentleman reading a notepad and transmitting something via portable HAM radio. I obviously couldn’t make out what he was saying, but I certainly paid attention to his tone. My brother and I joked that he was a spy. Almost immediately after this statement, he hid his radio, took one or two random pictures and left. We saw him again downstairs, but he was walking as fast as possible. Busted?

My best shots of Rainbow Bridge were from Tokyo Tower. I was unable to find a good place to position myself at street level. I believe the onramp is where people go; next time….

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2016-10-23 Chiyoda, Akihabara, & Shibuya

We started the day by walking through the East Gardens. Direct visibility to the palace was impossible without a tour. Instead, we enjoyed the moat and castles within.

Akihabara was a combination of anime, video games, and swap meet. Locals of all ages buying manga, dolls, playing cards; surreal. We ran into a scam artist, posing as a Buddhist monk, looking for donations. He handed me a good luck charm, log book, and a pen to write my donation amount. Naturally, everyone before me had donated 10000+ yen. I looked at him in the eye and said “rei” (zero in Japanese). He got mad and showed me some change as if to say any money was fine. He grabbed his log book, the good luck charm he handed me, and stormed off to the next pair of tourists. It was awesome.

We finished off the night in Shibuya. We experienced the famous crossing and had a few drinks. We tried going into “Gas Panic,” but it was an off night. Instead, we headed to “British Pub.” We met an American DJ on vacation that has been living in Bangkok for a few years, and a writer to a video game blog that has relocated to Japan. Both gave us really good insight into various towns.

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2016-10-22 Tokyo

On our way north, we stopped at the Yokohama Aquarium at Sea Paradise. It was overcast, but we still got a chance to see dolphins, sharks, and polar bears! It was nice to finally see kids and families. So far, I had only seen 4 kids in all of Japan. I figured there weren’t any….

We walked the surrounding park and beach. There were random songs being played in park speakers, most of which were Michael Jackson’s Thriller. It wasn’t until much later that we realized Japan turns Halloween into a month long thing. Even the pizza joints get into it.

By the time we made it to Tokyo Station, the Imperial Palace was closed for the evening. We walked around downtown and soaked it all in.

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2016-10-21 Yokohama

We started the morning by going to a local Seiyu store to stock up on supplies. The flow of the store was eerily familiar. During checkout, I observed the cashier’s name tag. The layout appeared to say “Hello, I am _____. – from location.” Doesn’t Walmart have these tags?

I turned back to see the Saison card advertisements had a tiny “Walmart” logo at the bottom. Seiyu, a Walmart company!

We went to the Nissan Gallery and the Yokohama Art Museum. The car gallery had the current lineup with an affordable GT nicely priced at around 11,800,000 Yen (about 118K USD). The Art Museum had a few Piccaso’s and Magritte’s on display to compliment the Japanese artists. The running theme was abstract art, distortion, and juxtaposition; my kind of gallery.

The nearby park had a bridge in the distance, but I did not have my tripod for a picture. There were fish jumping out of the water mocking my decisions.

On the way back home I snapped a picture at the intersection by my sister’s house. There’s something about it that is enjoyable to me.

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2016-10-20 Yokosuka

I somehow managed to feel confident and terrified at the same time. On one hand, I’ve done this several times before. The frustrations, mistakes, and issues would be nothing new. On the other, the flight was starting to take a toll on the body, and I wanted to get some sleep.

We fumbled our way through customs and headed to the train station. This is where my brain stalled. Of all things, I couldn’t figure out which train to board for my ticket. I missed all context cues, and we jumped into car 10; the red one going to Tokyo.

Leading up to the trip, my algorithm was to head to Tokyo via Narita Express and take the Keikyu Line south. My sister suggested we take the JR line to Shinagawa and transfer. Narita Express also goes to Shinagawa, what’s the difference?

Non-reserved seat passengers have to yield their seats to reserved seat passengers. Everywhere we sat, we were in the wrong seat. Later, a gentleman from California pointed out we were in the wrong train, car, and seats (again!). The inner Chilean kicked in. I figured i’d stay on this train, get off at the next stop (Tokyo), and nobody would know. That’s when ticket police showed up. After fumbling some words, we paid the difference to stay on this train to Shinagawa. We had to move to the poor people section up front, however.

The KeiKyu Line is very much like any other train or metro in the world. Simple map with left to right directions and highlighted stations to transfer to other lines. We got off at Maborikaigan and walked. The natural instinct is to start crossing when the cross-traffic light is red. Since they drive on the left, you’re going to get hit. I need to stop that habit….

By the time we got home, the phone was under 10% battery. We found my sister’s hidden floor spaghetti closet and drank some terrible tasting tea from a vending machine.

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2016-10-18 Waimanalo & Sandy Beach

I headed eastbound to check out the beaches and get some lunch. I ended up at Waimanalo beach for a few hours and ate at Ono Steak and Shrimp Shack. The food was delicious, and they had the industrial sized Sriracha bottles. Great success.

Traffic through the H3 was really bad afterwards. I opted to take the scenic drive instead and stopped at Sandy beach. I get the impression that the east side has significantly less tourists.

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2016-10-17 Kaena Point Trail

I had to cancel my original hike due to strong rain. Instead, I kept driving to the northwest point of the island. The area itself has a bird sanctuary with seals. I hardly saw either.

The more interesting part of the trail is being able to see the north and west coasts at the same time. The surf and vegetation are drastically different and make for good contrast.

As I walked back, I reasoned the bird sanctuary is really a mountain full of bird crap. The thought process continued:

“Bugs eat poop.
Animals eat bugs.
I eat animals.
So I eat poop.”

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2016-10-15 Koko Crater Trail

I wasn’t sure how early was too early. By seven in the morning, the parking lot was almost full. I quickly geared up and started the steep hike.

The steps themselves are the remains of railroad ties from the WWII era Air Force tram. Erosion has certainly taken a toll here. I try to always wear boots for hikes like these, but I saw plenty of people wearing running shoes.

I saw a woman carrying two babies on her way down, and I spoke with a gentleman that was doing this after successful heart surgery. The hike itself isn’t hard, it’s just very steep steps in the open air. My largest concern was losing my footing between the ties.

When I reached the top, it started to rain quite a bit. I hid in a pill box until it died down. There were geckos making a weird noises inside. I was as confused as they were. Later, I noticed a large quantity of birds flying in the distance. These things looked gigantic; clearly pterodactyls.

The hike down was much harder due to slippery conditions and slope. How do you do this carrying two babies?

After a rest, I went to see the Rebels beat the Rainbow Warriors at Aloha Stadium.

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