Tag Archives: RWB

2017 Top Five

When I look back on the year that was 2017, I think that all in all, it was very good to me. I did a lot of cool things, went to a bunch of cool shows, and met a lot of cool people. Here is a list of my top five accomplishments from this year.

Side Note: here’s a link to Catching Up, a post I created in June to show how much I’d done by that time alone!

1) Japan – I finally went on vacation to Japan, a place I’ve wanted to visit for a very long time. While there I was able to check off a lot of things from my to do list. I got to: fly on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, see a whale shark, visit Liberty Walk, visit Nagashima Spa Land and ride Steel Dragon 2000 (a coaster I’ve wanted to ride for 17 years!), ride the Shinkansen (bullet train), see Mt Fuji, visit RWB (Porsche), go to Tokyo Disney Sea, ride go karts on the streets of Tokyo, and see The 5.6.7.8’s in concert.

2) Got a “promotion” – I put promotion in quotes because though I did get a raise with my new job, in terms of level of importance, I am not much, if any, higher from the bottom than I was before. That said, it is a new position and it makes me feel like I have the potential to go places within the company. Additionally, I like it’s better than the role I was in before, so that’s a plus.

3) Moved to Brooklyn – this is the third year in a row that moving has been listed amongst my accomplishments. Unlike the last time I moved to NY, where it was more haphazard, this time the move was due to my new job which required a relocation to the East Coast headquarters. The nice thing is, because I’d lived here before, I was comfortable finding a place to live, getting around, and exploring the city.

4) Met a bunch of people – I got to meet several of my hero’s or people I admire/look up to. While at Liberty Walk I met Kato San (the man who started it) and at RWB I met Nakai San (the man who started it). This was a pipe dream that I did not expect to come true. I also got to meet Josh and Eli from Smoking Popes and I got to meet Matt Gourley and Paul F. Tompkins at the Superego show. I also got to meet my new co-workers who have become very good friends.

5) Explored New York (and beyond) – since moving here, I’ve been to a bunch of shows including: Dave Chappelle, Just Between Us LIVE, Smoking Popes, Eleanor Friedberger, Superego, Angel Olsen, LCD Soundsystem and a few underground shows sprinkled in between.

I did a bunch of cool things like going to Bike Expo New York, did a lot of karaoke at The Alligator Lounge, went dancing at Home Sweet Home, went to Smorgasburg, went to the Mermaid Parade, went pool hopping at the FiDi Hilton, went to Coney Island and rode the Thunderbolt and the Cyclone, went to Six Flags Great Adventure, went on a 30+ mile bike ride with my buddy Jordan, took a day-cation to Philadelphia, played movie trivia at Videology, found “MIB headquarters,” went to Bike Kill, went to Fat Cats to play pool with my co-workers, went to Jingle Hells pop up bar, not to mention all the other bars, clubs and restaurants I either went to or have scoped out for future visits, went to several house parties and probably a few other things I’m forgetting.

I visited a bunch of museums including The Met, The MoMA, The Museum of Natural History, The Museum of the City of New York, The Queens Museum, The Brooklyn Museum and The Cloisters. I also checked out public art such as Descension by Anish Kapor and Photoville. Additionally, I went to the Louis Vuitton exhibit Volez Voguez Voyagez.

I’ve gone to and or ingested (in one way or another) a bunch of movies this year, namely: Alien Covenant, It Comes At Night, Spiderman Homecoming, Dunkirk, Passengers, The Founder,  My Neighbor Totoro, Nocturnal Animals, The Incredible Jessica James, Wonder Woman, The Big Sick, Mother!, Blade Runner 2049, Baby Driver, Jim and Andy and the Great Beyond, Lady Bird, Man on the Moon, Get Out, Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Voyeur.

Lastly, I attended the 91st Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I finally attended this parade with my sister, something that has been on my bucket list for a long time because the watching on TV of which has been a part of my family’s Thanksgiving tradition for as long as I can remember. My sister and I would wake up on Thanksgiving morning, in a similar way as we would for Christmas, run downstairs and put on the TV to watch the parade. We always said that one year we’d see it live and now we can finally say we did.

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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

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Japan – Day 10: Tokyo – Day 4

Monday – April 17, 2017

Unlike yesterday which started out great and ended up only mediocre, today started out crappy and ended up great. I started my day by leaving the room before Pete in order to get to Ginza early enough to scope things out before he got there. Also because he was taking too long to get ready and I didn’t want to wait for him.

My first goal was to get breakfast at the Monocle Cafe. However, upon my arrival at Ginza station, despite doing Google map research, I was having a tough time finding the place. Eventually I busted out my phone and tried to find it on Apple Maps. It appeared it was inside of a building, rather than having a street-side location like I expected.

I went into the building and did a bit of snooping but could find nothing. Eventually I asked a security guard for help and he took the time to walk me to the cafe. I was pissed because I had literally just come from there and had missed it and because I wasn’t set to open until 11am! Who does that?

I called off Peter and told him that I was going straight to our first stop, the Tokyo Skytree, and to just meet me there. This was a bummer not only because I wanted to eat there and cross it off my list, but also because my plan was to find it fast, just to know where it was, then go to the Kit-Kat store and grab some Japan only Kit-Kat flavors to bring back to the states.

Tokyo Skytree

So, after this first failure of the day I made my way to the Tokyo Skytree. For those of you who don’t know the Tokyo Skytree is the second tallest structure in the world., second only to the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Additionally, since construction was completed in 2014, this thing is only three years old, who knew!

IMG_6271Tokyo Skytree; the second tallest structure in the world

I exited the station, turned around and boom, there it was. The tower is disorientingly tall. You just can not get over how big it is, especially the closer you get. In any case, being that I hadn’t grabbed food at the cafe, I stopped into the Tully’s Coffee that was right there and grabbed a bite. Shortly after, Pete joined me and once we were both finished, we headed to the tower.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was not a “Disney World length line,” to get in. Which is what the internet had promised. Haha internet, turns out you don’t know everything. We actually got our tickets super quickly and got right on an elevator. The elevator too, despite having to take you up to 1,150 ft, is surprisingly quick doing the job in what felt like maybe 30 seconds.

Once at the top (technically there is a bit higher you can go but you had to pay more money so I was like ‘eff that) I walked around and checked out the views. After about 10 minutes I was bored. The thing about observation towers that I will never learn, is that they are all the same. Pete wanted to look around some more and he actually did take advantage of the higher observation deck.

However, at around 12:20 we called it quits and started to make our way to our next destination.

Rauh-Welt Begriff

I won’t bore you with the details of our train ride, however, I will just say that involved taking three trains and, including the walk from the final station, the total travel time was about an hour.

FullSizeRender 3Panorama of Rauh-Welt Begriff garage

We arrived at RWB a little after 14:00. When we got there it felt very surreal. I was finally at this place I’d read about on so many blogs and seen featured in countless Instagram pictures and YouTube videos.

Pete and I approached with caution. We started taking pictures of some of the cars outside the garage and as we approached, we noticed that the garage door was open. We peeked in and, at the back, I could make out a shadowy figure with poofy hair. Could it be? We said hello and the man waved us in. Low and behold it was none other than Akira Nakai AKA Nakai-san himself.

IMG_6311RWB 964 911

This man is a legend amongst car enthusiasts. Particularly Porsche fans and tuners as he is famous for making wide body kits for ’90s era 911s. I could not believe I was meeting him. He was just a regular dude, chill as he always in his videos. I fully did not expect him to be there and so I was bummed I hadn’t gone through with buying him a 6-pack of Stella Artois, his favorite beer.

Nakai was busy packaging some body kits that were bound for Canada but he was super accommodating. He let us see everything and take pictures of whatever we wanted. Whether you love or hate what he does with 911s, you have to respect a man who has been able to make a living out of doing what he loves.

IMG_6289This Mint Green one was my favorite

I zipped around the shop snapping pictures of everything inside and outside while Pete chatted his ear off. Nakai popped in a signature cigarette and was very respectful despite the fact that he seemed to be only half listening to everything Pete was saying. I then asked about buying a t-shirt. He told me they were 3,000 Yen and so I found a design I liked and pulled out my wallet.

I then bothered him for a picture, which he obliged and then, basically was on my way. Pete hung back to take it all in, take more pictures and to continue to talk his ear off. I just do not have the attention span for that. Also, being that it was going to take over an hour to get back to the apartment to drop this stuff off, and that I still wanted to do more with my day and didn’t want to get back super late, I dipped.

Roppongi

I got back to the Air BnB around 16:30 (the train ride back was a lot smoother for whatever reason) and checked my itinerary to see what else I could accomplish. I found two things that weren’t too far away from the apartment nor from each other and after making a game-plan, headed back out.

IMG_6328Tokyo Tower as seen from Roppongi Hills

The first stop on my list was Roppongi Hills, a shopping district with a bunch of cool stores. However, I specifically wanted to visit their Tsutaya Tokyo Roppongi book store. While making my way through the Roppongi Hills complex, I grabbed my first glimpse of the Tokyo Tower. I grabbed a shot then continued on my way.

When I got to Tsutaya, I did a bit of a walk around before asking for the item I had come to purchase. As I expected they would, they had it, Terada Mokei. I had first heard about this Japanese paper craft through the website Tested dot com.

I knew however that I had to buy some if I could while in Japan. Though they were a bit expensive, actually much more than I expected them to be, they would make great gifts. After finishing my purchase, I made my way to my last stop of the day.

Gonpachi Nishi-Azabu

Just a few blocks down the main drag from the Roppongi Hills complex is a restaurant called Gonpachi Nishi-Azabu. This place was the inspiration for the “House of Blue Leaves” from Kill Bill Vol. 1. Upon entering, you immediately get the same vibe. It feels exactly like the set built for the movie.

IMG_6336Overview of the layout

In the entrance there are photographs of celebrities that have visited the restaurant and once inside there is a little Kill Bill plaque inside a case. Despite not having a reservation I was seated almost right away. I had arrived at 18:15 so the dinner rush hadn’t really started yet.

I was seated at the “bar” right in front of where they cook all the food. Everything on the menu looked great and, despite the fact that the restaurant was somewhat upscale, the prices (as I’ve found has been the case with most things in this country) were very fair. I ordered a beer and two appetizers for my meal; the personal pizza and the pork belly.

IMG_6340The seat with the red jacket on the back is mine

After I placed my order, I walked to the upper level of the restaurant to get a few pictures of the layout. Because of the theming, it felt a little like the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney. Shortly after I sat back down, my food came.

Though the portions were relatively small, they were incredibly delicious. I tried to take my time and enjoy them, rather than just scarf them down. After I was done, my waitress brought me a cup of tea. I ordered dessert and it too was fantastic. I couldn’t place the flavor of the ice cream, but whatever it was, it was good.

IMG_6346My dessert

Being that I had spent my allotment of cash for the day (between breakfast, putting money on my Pasmo, buying the t-shirt and the paper crafts) I put the meal on my credit card. I was completely full and very satisfied. Not only with my meal, but with my day. This was the first day in Tokyo that I felt I got a lot done and it felt good.

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