Tag Archives: Mario Kart

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.

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BBP Halloween Bike Ride

Halloween is always one of those events that you want to go well but you never expect it will. What I mean is, you build it up in your head and hope it goes well, but rarely does it meet your expectations. This year, in preparation for potential disappointment, I found myself three things to do. That way, if one of them sucked, I’d have two others to fall back on.

HBR Fyler

The three things were: the Boston Bike Party Halloween Ride (pictured in poster form above), karaoke at Highland Kitchen, and the 2nd annual Halloween party at my friend’s apartment aka The Blood Coven. The initial plan I made for myself was to start the night off by doing the BBP, then biking over to Somerville to do some karaoke, and finally ending the night at the Coven. However, as Halloween approached and I got more realistic about things, I began to realize that this plan might not be possible.

So, I decided to go into the night without a specific plan. I figured I would definitely start with the BBP ride, as it’s still new to me and I wanted to meet up with people again. However, if I didn’t make it to HK, that’d be fine because it’s not like I’ve never done karaoke there before. And as to the Coven Party, if I made it there, great, if not, that too, it’s not like I hadn’t been to a party there before (and they’re all basically the same anyway).

After getting home from work I got changed into my street clothes and headed straight back into the city. I didn’t have a costume, partially because I didn’t have time for one and partially because it was too cold to wear one. I just went out in jeans, a hoodie, a beanie, and my denim vest. The first person I saw was the guy David I had met the last time who was once again wearing his home-made Daft Punk helmet. I chatted with him for a bit and then basically rode around in circles for a bit to keep warm and to admire people’s costumes as they came in.

Tron_DaftPunkSaw my homeboy David again, aka “Thomas Bangalter” as well as this girl (sorry, I forget your name) dressed as a “user” from TRON Legacy.

Some of the costumes that stuck out to me were Steve Zissou from The Life Aquatic who had built a frame around his bike to make it look like a submarine, Mrs. Frizzle from The Magic School Bus, Elliot with ET in the basket, Paul Revere with cardboard on his bike to make it look like a horse, The “T”; both the red and the blue line, TRON and Thomas Bangalter from Daft Punk (both pictured above). I know I’m forgetting some because there were a lot of creative people there.

However, one of the smarter ones I saw was a group. The group was Mario, Luigi, and Peach. This is pretty standard and typically I would find it unoriginal. However, this groups was specifically these three characters from Mario Kart. The way they differentiated themselves was by having three balloons tied to their backs to represent that they were in “Battle Mode.” On top of that, Luigi even had a set of three banana peels on his bike rack. It’s this attention to detail that separates the good costumes from the great ones. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a pictures of any of these, or very many pictures at all for that matter, because I’m stupid.

In my ridings around, I ran into one of the organizers who gave me a spoke card. I had gotten one at the last BBP but it fell out of my spokes. I was going to leave this one in my pocket but when the organizer (I forget his name) saw I wasn’t putting it on my bike, he took it from me and stuck it in my rear spoke. “I don’t want it to fall out like last time,” I told him. “You just gotta stick it in there real good,” he said. “In other words, don’t be a pussy?,” I asked. “Basically,” he said. He stood back admiring his handy work. “This looks real good on your bike.” He was right, the orange spoke card paired nicely with my black frame and to my pleasant surprise it stayed in my spoke the whole ride.

BBP_Halloween_SpokeCardBoston Bike Party -Halloween Bike Ride- spoke card.

Soon the ride was underway. Right away it had a distinctly different tone to the first ride. Not only was it colder, but there were noticeably more people there. The 700 or so of us made the group of 300 the last time seem intimate. Also, we encountered a lot more anger than we had before. What I mean is, I don’t really remember anyone beeping at us on the (my) first ride. This time however, there were a bunch of cars that were upset with us and a few who rolled down there windows to yell at us to get out of the way. I get that it’s probably frustrating to wait a few minutes for several hundred costumed cyclists to pass by before you can continue on your way, but it’s like, be patient, you know? Enjoy the parade.

I tried to move around in the crowd, not just stay towards the front or the back, but jumble around. I even stopped a couple times to take time-lapse videos of the group passing me by. There were definitely some rad moments of feeling like you’re part of something bigger than you. You kind of just tune out of everyday life and tune in to everyone around you; it’s a cool experience.

Along the way I met up with two guys with whom I felt instant kinship. Devon and Collin were both fellow (although I guess now I’m technically former) messengers. We just got along right away and had cool quick convo about messaging and biking in general. Devon told me that the next day (Saturday) there was set to be an AlleyCat Race* at 1pm and that I should join them. I told him it would depend on how much drinking I did. I said that I wanted to grab their numbers at the end but before you knew it we were separated and soon we were in Allston and it was over.

There were two options for the after-party, Wonderbar or The Brighton Music Hall. I saw the line for Wonderbar was super long so I made my over to BMH. There was a line there too and suddenly my brain was in a weird palce. I don’t know how to explain it, whether I was disappointed it was already over, or that I hadn’t gotten anyone’s number, but I just wasn’t in the mood to hang around and try and find people. After a few minutes of inner conflict, I decided -since the night was still young- to head over to HK.

Still have yet to “plug” Hi Wheel Scene. Still haven’t pitched the idea for a naked bike ride. Still didn’t take as much time to grab photos and to really enjoy the moment while I was in it. However, this was only my second one, there will be many more opportunities to do all of the aforementioned things.

It was a cold lonesome ride through the darkness, but eventually I made my way to the promised land. After saying hi to Sparkie and Brian, I spotted Tyler and Shannon and sat and chilled with them. They were eating but told me that once they were done, they were gonna head over to the Coven. I told them I’d biked and that I’d put a song in, so I wanted to at least sing before heading over and that if they wanted to leave without me to go for it. As timing would have it, I was called up to sing right as Tyler was finishing up at the bar. I pumped the crowd up with “It’s Tricky,” before doing a fashionable Irish exit.

I flew over to the Coven and to my surprise, got there before Tyler and Shannon despite leaving at the exact same time. I don’t know if it was the cold (as motivation) or that it was just significantly shorter than I remembered it being (and certainly much short than my other two previous rides that night) but it felt like it got there in no time. However, upon my arrival I was bummed to see that there was no one there. I mean of course there were people there, but it wasn’t the rage-er it was last year.

The funny thing is, I was sort of not surprised. It’s weird to say, but Halloween felt very unimportant this year. I was looking forward to what I wanted to do, but sort of knew it was gonna be lame. It was as if everyone felt the same way I did and was just going through the motions because they had to. I chilled and sat and talked and danced but it was all sort of half-hearted.

By around 1-1:30, Tyler suggested we go to another party at Brendan’s friends house. As I was mid-decision making, Christian asked me if I wanted a ride. (It wouldn’t be till the end of the night that I would realize I should have left with him, but more on that later). Not wanting to be the “blitz” I typically am, I decided to stick around and see where the night took me.

Me, Collin (a different one from the one I mentioned before) and Matt were down. But, because nothing happens fast with that crew, it wasn’t until about 45 minutes later that we actually left for the other place. Upon our arrival it was instantly apparent we had gone from lame to equally lame. Basically just a bunch of people none of us knew standing around in a tiny living room drunkenly grinding on each other. The few people I spoke to were super weird and after about a half hour of bullshit, we went back to the Coven.

We danced a bit more and soon after we arrived, Sparkie, Brian, Brian’s girlfriend, Brandon (door-man at HK), and Brice (manager or something at HK) randomly showed up. We chatted with them for a bit until they too realized the party was super dead. I got hungry and to my pleasant surprise was rewarded with Collin’s leftover burrito from Chipotle. Apparently him and Matt had gone earlier in the night right before they closed and were given super huge burritos. So big, that Collin couldn’t finish his and thus I reaped the benefits.

Soon however, Brendon came out of his room and told us to keep it down and that he wanted us to leave soon. I was all ready to go and so was Matt, but then Collin had to get into the huge roundabout conversation with Abby’s stupid friend about the Boston hardcore scene versus the Texas hardcore scene and their perceived differences. I’m not sure what time it started but all I know is that it didn’t end until about 5:40am. At one point I semi-conciously nodded off on Abby’s lap.

Finally we said our goodbyes and made our way out to leave, but not before me taking Brendon’s Blu-ray copy of Her. I thought I was out of the woods when suddenly Collin realized, right as we were about the pull away from the curb, that he’d left his boom-box in the house. He promptly retrieved it and finally we were on our way. Matt dropped off Collin at his casa before ending my night by dropping me off at my house. It was 6am and I had nothing to show for it. No hickey, no girl, just my bike and my sleep deprived sober brain. It had been a nearly twelve hour excursion from when I left my house to when I got back to it.

So now you know why I should have left with Christian… because nothing fucking happened. Even with three plans I didn’t have a fun Halloween; I just sat around for several hours. Hours I could have used on sleep. By the same token, it’s not like I had shit to do on Saturday, so I could -and did- sleep in… till 2:20pm. I was disappointed to miss the AlleyCat Race but the weather was shitty anyway, so I probably wouldn’t have gone even if I had gotten to bed at a reasonable hour. Besides it’s like my friend once said, “Time spent being unproductive with friends is better than time being spent unproductive alone,” …or something along those lines.

 

*For those who don’t know, an AlleyCat Race is part of the bike messenger culture. Messengers meet up at a designated location and are given a manifest with a certain number of “delivery” locations on it. These locations are checkpoints at which you have to get your manifest signed. The first biker to get his or her run completed first, having hit all the checkpoints, is the winner.

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