Killing time in Takadanobaba

These pictures were taken a while before I actually went to Kansai but I didn’t have the time to put ’em up until now. I was meeting a friend in Takadanobaba but I had some time to kill before he arrived so I decided to check out the area- I don’t know Takadanobaba very well. It’s actually a pretty awesome area and I definitely recommend visiting if you find yourself in Tokyo!

The shrine

I found a shrine which contained a special area to one side. I saw some people walking through the entrance and I decided to ask an old couple if there was any significance to this special part of the shrine. The husband told me that actually this area is only open 2 days each year and I was lucky enough to have just visited when it was open! According to the husband the shrine was built during the Edo period and this special area contains an area where people going to climb mount Fuji pray for a safe journey. They had some old photographs from the Meiji period hung on the wall to one side and within the area there were also sacred stones and other artifacts placed there. Unfortunately I didn’t get the name of the shrine (couldn’t read the kanji at the entrance) but it’s a pretty cool place to visit!

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Waseda University

I eventually got to the campus of Waseda University. You probably know already but Waseda Uni is one of Japan’s most prestigious universities. My university has an exchange program with them but I don’t think it’s the university for me. I’ve pretty much decided on Doshisha University :). Anyway, the campus is pretty damn nice. It’s a great place to take a walk!

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Really neat map which was made by members of the university's Manga Society...

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These last 3 pictures were just taken on the streets of Takadanobaba…

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Dancing at a Japanese festival

Woah sorry for the delay guys, I’m super busy these days! Here’s a video that I took from a festival which I just discovered whilst I was taking a walk one summer night in Tokyo. I have no idea what the name of the dance is but if anyone out there does, please do let me know! You can see the high quality version of this video on my youtube page: Japanese festival video

Ah, those were the days! Keio University!

If you’d like to reminisce about your joyful days at university whilst taking a leisurely stroll then I suggest visiting the Keio University campus in Mita. The campus has a very ‘western’ feel to it but I guess that should come as no surprise as it was actually originally established as a school for Western Studies in Tokyo. The university is one of the most prestigious in Japan and alumni include possibly Japan’s most famous Prime Minister, Junichiro Koizumi. Funnily enough Koizumi majored in Economics, which was the degree I dropped out of 😛 I’m sure I’ll have a MUCH better time studying Japanese at university hehe….

Chilling out in Shinjuku Park

Shinjuku is easily one of the busiest areas of Tokyo – not only is it one of the biggest entertainment districts here but it is also an important place for many big businesses and is a vital transport hub for people travelling around and out of Tokyo. But there is actually a place where you can relax and enjoy tranquil scenery when you want to escape from the manic pace of life in Shinjuku. That place is Shinjuku Gyoen (Shinjuku Park) and it’s one of the best places where you can chill out here in Tokyo (I prefer it over Hibiya Park and Ueno Park). The park is split up into different areas, including traditional Japanese style garden and French style, and it also has 2 traditional tea houses. When I went it was the cherry blossom season, however Shinjuku Gyoen itself is not very famous for cherry blossom. The park does however boast many seasonal flowers and it’s actually recommended to visit during each season to see a different side of nature each time.

Ginza – shopping capital for Tokyo’s rich and famous

Ginza is a posh shopping district famous for it’s abundance of fashion stores, most of which represent some of the world’s leading brands (think Gucci, Prada and Armani!). Whilst there are a lot of fashion stores in Ginza, there are other things to do also. Ginza is home to many chic cafes selling some of Japan’s finest pastries and cakes. To be honest though most of the money you spend towards your coffee and cake will probably be paying for real estate considering Ginza is one of the most expensive areas in all of Japan! Japan’s leading department stores such as Mitsukoshi can also be found here if you still need to satisfy you hunger for fashion! For a bit of a change I really recommend visiting the Sony Building- over here you can check out all the latest gadgets and gizmos that the electronics giant has to offer as well as buy some of them in their duty free store. Located in the east of Ginza is the famous Kabuki-za theatre where, you can see some of the most expensive but also the best Kabuki in Tokyo. The Marunouchi area (home to the iconic Tokyo Station) is just a short walk away from Ginza, and there you can find even more fashion stores (they even have a Harrods!). Anyway, whilst I’m not into fashion (to be honest, even if I was, I wouldn’t be able to afford most of it!) I really enjoy taking a walk in Ginza and around the Marunouchi area- it’s a great way to spend a lazy afternoon on a nice sunny day.

Adam and Joe check out life in Tokyo!!

Adam and Joe are a very talented, but unfortunately not so-famous, comedy duo from England. Back in 2003, whilst I was still in school dreaming about one day visiting this awesome metropolis known as Tokyo, Adam and Joe managed to get their own BBC show about the culture and life in this vibrant city, cunningly titled ‘Adam and Joe Go Tokyo!’ They had their own studio here in Japan and in each episode they would interview eccentric individuals who had managed to gain celebrity status (Sakana-kun, the Oyaji dancers and Dandy ‘GETS!’ Sakano to name but a few) as well as having a famous Japanese band playing in-studio at the end of each show. Unfortunately the series only lasted for one season, which is a genuine shame because Adam and Joe did a brilliant job of providing a thoroughly humorous insight into life in Japan.
Below I’ve included some of my favourite clips, if you like ’em be sure to check out Youtube for more Adam and Joe Go Tokyo awesomeness! (You can find the whole series there 😉 )

Throughout the series the guys were trying to become famous in Japan and one of the most memorable things they tried was forming a band called ‘Gaijin Invasion!’ Here is a clip of them busking in Kichijoji:

In this clip Adam spends a night out in Shimbashi and ‘investigates’ drinking culture rather effectively… by interviewing a bunch of seriously shit-faced salary-men on the streets!

In this last clip the guys try to work one night in a famous host bar, with the help of one of the most famous hosts in Tokyo!