On the way to the Square Enix Character Goods Shop Showcase. It was a fairly long walk, about 20-30 minutes.

Glimpses of Tokyo: Shinjuku and Nakano

As you can see, the sky was rather overcast all throughout. It actually began raining by the time we reached Nakano Broadway, our next stop. Nakano Broadway is a 4-storey shopping mall dedicated to anime, gaming and idol merchandise. Definitely a must-see for fans. :) More on Nakano Broadway here. (more…)

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Square Enix: Character Goods Shop Showcase

I first heard about Square Enix during high school in 1999; they were still Squaresoft back then. I remember staring at the gorgeous advertisement for Final Fantasy VIII in one of the video game magazines R loved bringing to class – and falling in love with Squall Leonhart, hahaha. (I even remember the release date for FF8: 9/9/99.) I was FF8-baited into Square Enix: it was the first Final Fantasy I played (and finished) and subsequently became my favorite. The other FFs I got to play and finish were only FF7 and FF9 for the PlayStation console, and Dissidia and Dissidia Duodecim for the PSP. But even if I’m not a hardcore Final Fantasy gamer, R was (haha) and we definitely didn’t want to pass up a chance to visit The Square Enix in Shinjuku, Tokyo.

lalala

The entrance to the Character Goods Shop Showcase, not the actual Square Enix headquarters, wherever it is, haha

The Character Goods Shop Showcase was basically… yes, a showcase. It also doubled as a shop of various Square Enix Merchandise. (more…)

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Harajuku at night: Takeshita-dori

After indulging in my fangirl whims, R and I (together with my friend, L) hopped on the train to Harajuku. L said he hadn’t really been to Harajuku before, so we figured it was a good place to go to as any.

After getting off the train, we didn’t really know where to go, but this street full of people drew our attention, so we went along with everyone and walked inside. (more…)

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First glimpses of Tokyo

After having quite a whirlwind arrival in Tokyo the previous night (although it was the same day, really, considering the lateness of the hour), R and I crashed on our futons much later, spending several hours updating various social media platforms (haha) and touching base with our families because we didn’t have any contact with them when we were in Kyoto. It wasn’t until late afternoon when we finally emerged from our cave/hotel room for food. We were also going to meet L, who had agreed to come with us during our first venture into Tokyo. (more…)

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The start of our Tokyo misadventures (tl;dr)

…actually began in Kyoto, when I went to the JR information desk and asked to book two seats for a sleeper train to Tokyo.

I was told that all the sleeper trains going to Tokyo were fully booked.

So were all sleeper buses. It hadn’t even occurred to me to make reservations in advance, and even if it was clear that I should have, I couldn’t help but feel a bit miffed – how was it possible that that there were a lot of people from Kyoto traveling to Tokyo the same night? (Yes, this is a stupid question. No need to answer, haha.)

The man behind the desk, who was very helpful and patient despite the fact that my Japanese was bad and his Engish was nonexistent, suggested we ride on the shinkansen instead as that was also covered by our JR passes. In stilted Japanese, I explained to him that a bullet train is too fast and I wanted a slow transport because we’d have nowhere to stay in Tokyo as our hotel booking was for the next day. He looked down at his terminal and typed, presumably to look for possible openings, but looked up moments later and briskly shook his head.

I thanked him and left, going back to R so we could regroup (haha). We considered going back to Ryokan Harimaya, but somehow neither of us wanted to. I forgot R’s reason, but mine was we’d already said goodbye (as dramatic as that sounds). There was also the possibility of being turned away, so we thought we should stay at the train station instead, no matter what.

Eventually we were like, f*ck it, let’s just go to Tokyo. Bahala na si Batman! (more…)

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Hotel Review: Ryokan Harimaya

One of the items in our non-existent list of things-to-do-in-Japan which R and I wanted to experience was staying at a ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn. However, we knew that staying at one even for just a night could be costly, so we just ended up booking the cheapest one we could find in Kyoto at Agoda.com, which turned out to be Ryokan Harimaya.

There are different types of ryokan, apparently, and according to this website, Ryokan Harimaya seems to be the standard ryokan. It’s a two-storey house that was converted into an inn run by a family – at least, that’s what I understood from what the daughter of the family told me. They do not cook or serve any meals, but it seems like they’ll be happy to call delivery for you or at least point out where you can eat, haha (as related here when we wanted ramen). (more…)

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Last glimpses of Kyoto

Our last day in Kyoto was our busiest one. Randomly, one of the things I’ve always wondered/regretted about relying on my mobile phone’s camera was not having taken as much photos as I want. I suppose these shots were me trying to capture as much of the Kyoto I can see as possible before we will be leaving it. The more the day drew to a close, the more R and I kept saying that we wished we could stay longer. :( (more…)