Tag Archives: MariCar

Japan Top 10

1. MariCar

This was by far the most fun I had the entire trip

2. Nagashima Spa Land

I was able to fulfill a 17-year old dream of riding Steel Dragon 2000, plus the day was a lot of fun

3. Tokyo DisneySea

You kinda can’t beat Disney Parks

4. Tsutaya Daikanyama T-site

I could have spent an entire day their looking at books

5. Anata No Warehouse

The theming was great and the games were fun

6. Liberty Walk and RWB

Tied at #6 because of how similar the experience was, I was so grateful to meet Kato-san and Nakai-san

7. Gonpachi Nishi Azabu

Not only was it cool to be in a location that inspired a scene from Kill Bill, this was also my most memorable and probably best meal of the entire trip

8. The 5.6.7.8’s

I got to fulfill a long time goal of not only seeing this band, but seeing them in Japan

9. Kaiyukan Osaka Aquarium

Whale Shark, nuff said

10. Miraikan

The Art of Disney: The Magic of Animation exhibit brought me to tears

Leave a comment

Filed under Travel/Adventure

Japan – Day 13: Tokyo – Day 7

Thursday – April 20, 2017

We had booked our MariCar tour for today at 11. Knowing we wanted to get breakfast before hand, the initial game-plan was to get to Akihabara by 10. But, as is the case most days here, things never go according to plan. We ended up leaving late and not getting to MariCar until 10:50. Cutting it a bit close if you ask me.

We then paid for our “tour”, signed the waiver, got on our costumes -Pete was Mario, Dan wore a Yoshi hat and I didn’t bother- and headed out with four other rando’s to the go karts.

MariCar

For those who don’t know, MariCar is a company that takes people on 1, 2, or 3 hour tours of Tokyo while driving in formation on go karts. It is supposed to be like the video game Mario Kart and so they have costumes you can put on to dress like the characters.

IMG_8630Pete, myself and Dan (back) driving through Tokyo in go karts

After a super brief tutorial we selected our karts and started the tour. We chose the 2 hour tour which took us over the Rainbow Bridge, to Odiaba (where we stopped for a bit for a photo op), back over the Rainbow bridge, past the Tokyo tower, through Roppongi and then back to the store.

It would be impossible for me to account for all of the things that went on during the drive becuase the two hours flew by and it was all a blur. I will say that driving across the Rainbow Bridge at 70-80kph was definitely the coolest and scariest part.

MariCarThe on-ramp to the Rainbow Bridge felt like Toad’s Turnpike from Mario Kart 64

Also being amongst downtown traffic, you realize just how small and vulnerable you are. Plus because it is an open air vehicle and you are so low to the ground, 40mph feels like 100mph. The only complaint I have is because you are sitting so low, exhaust fumes go directly into your face. Thus, I’m pretty sure I now have the black lung.

Oh well, totally worth it. This may have been the most fun thing we did the entire trip. We all loved it and it was worth every Yen (it cost 6,000 Yen or ~$55.00).

Hanayashiki Amusement Park

After finishing MariCar we grabbed a bite to eat at Mister Donut, a chain we had been seeing but had yet to stop into. Pete and Dan grabbed a quick bite where as I was going to be eating in. Since we all had different plans, they wanted to spend MORE time in Akihabara (I literally don’t know how that is possible) we once again split up.

IMG_6722Hanayashiki Amusement Park

After finishing my breakfast I headed to Hanayashiki Amusement Park, the oldest amusement park in Japan. There, I was on a mission to ride their roller coaster. It is tiny and barely worthy of note. However, if I’m not mistaken, it is the same roller coaster feature in the film Enter the Void.

Being the movie and roller coaster and movie nerd that I am, I had to ride it. After getting off at the nearby subway station, walking the short distance to the amusement park and figuring out after minor confusion how to get in, I paid the 1000 Yen entry fee.

Once inside I had to buy five tickets (at 100 Yen a piece) in order to ride the roller coaster. I literally rode it, filmed the entire thing, got off, took a few pics of the park and left. One more thing to check off the list.

Snoopy Museum

Next I made my way to the Snoopy Museum which, despite the fact that their hours are 10:00 – 20:00 seven days a week*, was closed when I got there. For whatever reason I am having shit luck with museums on this vacation.

IMG_6723Snoopy Museum

However, to be honest, because I knew I had other things to do with my day, I didn’t really mind. In the distance I could see the Tokyo Tower and since I had yet to get a close look at it, I decided to start making my way there.

*I should know, I’m the reason their hours are posted on Google. I checked the website, submitted them to Google Maps and they were approved by Google. I even have the emails to prove it.

Reiyuka Shakaden

However, along the way I got side tracked by a familiar site. Down some side street, off the main road I was using to head to the Tokyo Tower, I caught a glimpse of a temple I had put on my list to check out. Thus, I made my way over to it.

IMG_6729Reiyuka Shakaden

The Reiyuka Shakaden is a Buddhist temple/community space that is open to everyone from 6 to 17:00. I arrived a little after 16:00 and thus decided to head in. Apart from a police security guard and a few janitors, there was no one out side the place.

I slowly made my way up the ominous stairs and, at the top, pulled on one of the giant doors. It opened and I entered like the fellowship of the ring entering the doors of Durin. When I stepped inside there was no one there either.

I was in a lobby and so I made my way through a second set of doors into the main hall. I was floored by what I saw there. The hall was massive and beautiful. Again it was filled with no one but me and the 204 empty benches. It was absolutely silent.

I walked as lightly as I could trying not to disturb the silence. After walking to the front of the rows of benches I made my way back to the back and took a seat in the last row. I closed my eyes and reflected on the trip the far and the trip (what little left there was) to come.

After a few minutes of peace, I exited the main hall and then walked around the rest of the facility before heading to the Tokyo Tower. I was a truly excellent experience.

By the way, before stopping at the temple, I knew I was near the Hard Rock Cafe so I made a little side trip to grab a pic of the temple before heading on my way.

Tokyo Tower

The Tokyo Tower was a short walk from the temple. To be honest, I really just wanted to see it up close and get a few unobstructed pictures of it. I had read that the top observation section was closed which, to be honest was fine with me. After doing the Skytree I was basically done with observation towers, simply because they are all the same.

IMG_6764Tokyo Tower

I did however pop into the gift shop which was multiple levels and filled with restaurants as well. I found a bench and plotted my route to the nearest subway which would take me to Ikebukero. I then left and walked to said subway station.

Ikebukero

I made it to Ikebukero a little before 18:00. I had three main goals here. The first was to find Tokyu Hands because it is a store featured in Durarara, an anime I enjoy. The second was to find more locations from Durarara and the third was to go to the Kit Kat store as Kit Kat is known for having Japan only flavors.

After a bit of walking around aimlessly, I made my way to Tokyu Hands. This muilti-level department store has literally everything. Each floor is a different “topic” and it is stacked wall to wall with a little something to everyone.

IMG_6768Tokyu Hands

I gravitated to the stationary section where I found a beautiful little Field Notes sized notebook. Despite not needing it, I decided to buy it. Made by a Japanese company called Delfonics, what drew me to the notebook was they livery.

There were several colors to choose from but this one was yellow with deep blue typography on it. In addition the logo and the typeface that had been chosen -Helvetica- reminded me of the airline Lufthansa. To top it of there were some words and phrases on the front that were in German so it just added to the the feel of Lufthansa.

IMG_6771Kit Kat Chocolatory

After getting the notebook I made my way to stop number two, the Kit Kat Chocolatory. Despite what appeared to be straight forward directions on Google maps, I was having a tough time figuring out where to go. Eventually, after a bunch of walking around and digging a bit deeper I found the Kit Kat place.

Rather than being a store, it was more of a kiosk. Slightly disappointed, I grabbed a variety pack to bring back as a shareable souvenir.

Though I wanted to try and find sights from DRR, I had done no prior research on the matter and my feet were simply too tired. Thus I decided to head back to the room to rest for a bit and do a some blogging.

Brewdog Roppongi

Once Pete was back, we headed out to Roppongi to try Brewdog Roppongia bar I had found on Google maps while researching the trip. After a few stupid subway screw ups we made it to the bar. I had no idea how Westernized it would be. When we enter we were greeted in perfect English by a young woman whom we later found out was American.

IMG_6772Brewdog Roppongi

Most of the patrons were caucasian and spoke english. All of the waiters, though not all Amercian spoke English. The bar was rad and felt like it had been transplanted from Central Square in Cambridge or from Williamsburg in Brooklyn.

The music was great too. They played Do I Want to Know by Arctic Monkeys, followed by either I Don’t Know What To Do With Myself or I Can Tell That We Are Gonna Be Friends (I forget which) by The White Stripes, followed by Supermassive Black Hole by Muse.

I ordered a Chili IPA, and a kabab. Pete got a burger, typical, and a curry chicken app which we split. The food was great and we ended up finishing up around 23:30. I headed back to the room afterwards because I was so tired from the day. Pete wanted to stay out longer, so he did.

Leave a comment

Filed under Travel/Adventure

Japan – Day 9: Tokyo – Day 3

Sunday – April 16, 2017

After a late night last night we all slept in thus giving us a late start to the day. We didn’t end up leaving the room until after 10am. We skipped breakfast and took the train straight to Tokyo Dome City.

Tokyo Dome City

Once there, we grabbed breakfast at a bakery. We ate outside in the shade and then grabbed tickets for Thunder Dolphin (the roller coaster). Luckily you can buy individual ride tickets and it was only ~$10. They were running two trains and because it wasn’t very busy, we only had a 10 minute wait.

IMG_6199Panorama of Thunder Dolphin

Because LaQua (the name of the amusement park; part of the Tokyo Dome City complex) is in such a confined space, Thunder Dolphin has to make due with what space it does have. Both the lift hill and drop are steep and the ride is relatively compact, but, despite that, it packs a punch.

What I loved is that you never get the chance to ride a roller coaster in the middle of a city. It’s a great way of not only getting a ride/entertainment, it’s also a way of getting a 360 view of the city.

The ride ended up being great, we all loved it and were kicking ourselves for not getting a five ride pass so we could ride it five times in a row.

IMG_6207The Tokyo Dome; pretty self explanatory I guess

We then made our way over to the Tokyo Dome (literally next door) which, apparently had a baseball game going on. After getting a few pics, we made our way to the train station. Ignoring my directions, we ended up going to a station that was a bit further than the one I was taking us to. Whatever. We took the train three stops (instead of just two) and ended up in Akihabara.

Btw, while walking around Tokyo Dome City after having ridden Thunder Dolphin, we totally came across a small Muji store. Super dope.

Akihabara

I don’t remember how this got on the itinerary. It must have been either Dan or Pete’s suggestion. Either way, Akihabara is the anime district/electronics/video game district of Tokyo. Imagine if everything you think about Tokyo were located in one place, this would be it.

That said, it was immediately apparent that this was not my scene. Dan and Pete on the other hand were loving it. Being that I was going nuts staying in the manga and card shops with them, I told them I wanted to walk around and we decided to meet back at the JR station in an hour (14:00).

IMG_6212This is a general overview of what Akihabara looks like

I spent my hour popping in and out of arcades, exploring the different levels but not actually playing any of the games. I also sat and posted my Instagram for the day. Additionally, I used the change machine to get smaller denominations of Yen as I keep getting screwed by big bills.

When I went back to meet up with the boys, I fully expected them to be ready to move on to the next thing seeing that I had walked the entire area. To my surprise, they said they had only just finished the building we had started in!

IMG_6216One of many SEGA arcades

I decided that this was my que to split. I grabbed my things from Dan’s backpack and took the JR two stops to Iidabashi Station. I then walked about 10 minutes to the Yushukan War Museum.

Yushukan War Museum

Not gonna lie the main reason I wanted to go was to see the Zero (airplane) they have on display. As you enter, it is literally the first thing you see in the lobby. I admired it and took some pictures before buying my ticket and entering the main part of the museum.

IMG_6235One of two Zero’s on display at the museum

I sort of perused at a steady pace. I couldn’t really take it all in because only a few of the plaques were English. Eventually however, I made it to the room with the vehicles. There they had a tank, a boat, miniatures of battleships, a mini-submarine and another Zero.

I ended up spending an hour and a half there. As I was walking out through the lobby, Pete Facetime Audio called me. I told him I was done at the museum and was heading back to Akihabara. We decided to all meet at MariCar.

MariCar

For those who don’t know, MariCar is a company that allows you to rent a go kart and, if you want, dress up as a character from Mario Kart while driving around on the streets/taking a tour of Tokyo.

IMG_6240In the lobby of MariCar – Akihabara

I arrived first, despite being the furthest away, and found out that they were all booked up for the day. When the others arrived, we agreed to reserve an 11am slot on Thursday. I was a little bummed that we weren’t gonna do it today, but I was glad that we at least put it officially on the itinerary.

Food

After booking our tour, we grabbed a bite to eat. Pete went to Carl’s Jr. and Dan and I ended up at Mos Burger. Once we were done eating, I wanted to go to the Park Hayett Hotel to make up for my not going last night. Pete realized there was some car meet near by, so once again, we split up.

Park Hayett Hotel

Dan and I took the train to Shinjuku Station. I had done my homework this time and wasn’t going to make a mistake with regard to directions again. Unfortunately, despit all that, that is exactly what I did. We walked for about 10 minutes in the wrong direction before I realized my mistake. I was so bummed and angry.

IMG_6252The entrance to the hotel

We then backtracked to the station and started over again. As we got to the station, I realized my mistake, we had come out the wrong exit. I had figured out how to walk to the hotel from one specific exit and, despite following the signs to what I thought was the right exit, we had somehow screwed it up. Whatever.

We then walked 15 minutes to the hotel which normally would not have been bad. However, when you’re tired and have had a long day and are pissed off, 15 minutes seems like forever. On top of that, when we got there we realized that the hotel is part of a much larger building complex.

This meant navigating the complex in order to find the entrance to the hotel. Once in the lobby of the hotel, we had to figure how to get to the New York Bar. This meant taking two elevators, one to the 41st floor and then a second elevator to the 52nd floor.

When we arrived at the New York Bar we were told we couldn’t be let in because Dan was wearing shorts. He insisted I go but I simply took a peek before heading back down to 41. Clearly I am not meant to have a drink there.

IMG_6248My “mocktail” and Dan’s whiskey at the Peak Bar

Instead however, we grabbed a drink at The Peak Lounge, the more casual but still upscale bar on the 41st floor with great views of the city. This actually ended up working out well because rather than just getting a beer, I was able to get a “mocktail”. Dan ordered a Japanese whiskey and though the drinks took forever, they were delicious.

I told Dan I’d grab the tab as I had dragged him on this somewhat fruitless endeavor and because he had had to deal with my shitty attitude.

Shibuya Crossing

After our drinks we made our way to Shibuya Crossing where we met up with Pete and took some pics and vid of the famous crosswalk. After a little bit of that we walked around the area for a bit before taking to the train back to the apartment.

Leave a comment

Filed under Travel/Adventure