Posts tagged McDonald's
I took my first trip to Japan in March of 2012 and did my best to blog about everything I saw there. From this geek’s point of view, it was an amazing adventure filled some non-stop stories (most of which I now tell during conventions at the “Wasabi Anime Goes to Japan” panel.) The problem, though, was that I never got to finish all of my posts and stories because life – as it tends to do – got in the way. In retrospect, it looks like I actually left off right before setting foot into the Tokyo DisneySEA theme park.
Let’s face it: 2012 was a REALLY busy year.
So here we are in April of 2013 and I’m picking up the pen (er, keyboard) and trying to get back to telling a number of tales that my five readers (six if you include my dog) have missed out on. Instead of trying to complete last year’s Japan visit’s posts, I’m opting to start fresh with the trip I took just a few weeks ago with my wife. I cover a lot of similar ground and (this time) I was less rushed to get places.
My new qualifier, though, is FIVE PHOTOS. Once a blog post has five photos in it, I’m stopping and starting another one. This should help the pacing a little more even and also allow me to tell about the trip using the photos I posted on Flickr so I can remember things (almost) in order.
So let’s start with Monday, March 25th. After meeting some friends for dinner in Studio City the night before, Shannon and I headed to Los Angeles International Airport to board our flight (via Malaysia Airlines) to Narita Airport in Japan. Look how happy we look:
Shannon is smiling because she really doesn’t grasp (yet) the hell of sitting in the same seat for TWELVE HOURS. That’s right, folks – a trip to Japan from Los Angeles (non-stop) takes about twelve hours.
Overall, though, the flight was there was actually pretty nice. Malaysia Airlines likes to feed you… A LOT. Every couple of hours we were eating snacks, meals, more snacks, etc. The regular intake of food helped break up the time.
As we passed into night on the flight, we were able to continue killing time by watching TVs (which are on all of the flight’s seats.)
I also had my MacBook Air and Samsung Galaxy TAB which (combined) has a pretty decent amount of battery power. (One of the negative things about the Malaysia Airlines flight compared to the All Nippon Airlines flight I took the year before was the obvious lack of charging stations at the seats.)
SIDE NOTE: Right before the flight, I had bought Final Fantasy III for the tablet. TOTALLY WORTH THE MONEY and I’m still playing it.
So after twelve long hours, we got off the plane and found our way around NRT. My first stop was to the SoftBank desk to pick up a SIM card for my unlocked/international iPhone. I paid for a local number and unlimited Internet on the phone and it was the single best investment I made on the trip. Seriously, if you ever go outside the United States and that country has local cell phone with Internet rental service available, SPEND THE MONEY. Worth every yen I spent. (You’ll see how as these posts progress.)
With luggage in hand and iPhone active, we caught the train to our hotel. We stayed at the APA Hotel Tokyo-Shiomi-Ekimae which was about an hour away and walking distance from the station when we arrived. Upon getting there, our first order of business was FOOD. In keeping with (what has become) my Japanese tradition, we hit a local McDonalds to make the culinary transition a little easier.
This time, though, I decided to live on the proverbial edge and got a fried shrimp patty sandwich. Yup. Fried shrimp. Check it out:
I tasted happiness.
We grabbed some Japanese snacks from
the local Family Mart (my wife corrected me on this; we actually had a Lawson attached to the hotel; not a Family Mart.) the local Lawson to go along with the food and headed to the room relax. I liked the hotel, but it was VERY Japanese. (I’ve already written ad nauseum regarding the magical Japanese toilets here: www.tomcroom.com/archives/8728) By “VERY Japanese” I mean “the size of my walk in closet at home.” At various points during the trip, I would take time to look up information on my laptap that I had set up on the room’s desk and I would often realize that I was sitting on my bed and not the desk chair reaching the keyboard comfortably. It was small – but cozy.
Before trying to go to sleep, Shannon and I flipped on the television for Japanese entertainment goodness. I was happy to find that there was an On Demand service IN ENGLISH! This led me to (of course!) check to see what sort of porn a Japanese hotel had to offer (strictly for research purposes, of course) and we found this screen:
Yup, we were in Japan. SCHOOL GIRLS and IDOL porn.
We opted to just go to sleep at that point since the next day was going slated to be incredibly busy. More to come…
Things have been busy, but I’m picking up where I left off on my post back on April 9th.
When we were last reading about my zany adventures in Japan, I had just left the Imperial Palace with Rob and Jason and the three of us were on our way to check out the world famous intersection at Shibuya Station.
When we got there, the bustle of people lived up to the place’s reputation. See?
Still not buying it? Maybe this will help: I took a video of us walking through the crowd when the lights changed and the pedestrians all crossed the road:
Crazy, right? I know what you’re thinking; you’re thinking, “Tom, why do you use the phrase ‘mass of humanity’ so much when narrating?”
Great question! I was tired, less than articulate, and (honestly) it’s a really good descriptive phrase when talking about the mass of humanity that the population of…
Dammit. I did it again.
We walked around the town for a bit stopping in various shops. I took a photo of this in a movie store because it seemed funny to me (and because I really, really like those movies:)
Every once and a while we’d see some super cute Japanese girls in fashionable outfits. My wife asked me to try and get photos (she LOVES Japanese fashion) when I was near Harajuku. The problem was, though, that I didn’t want to be “that creepy American guy” with the camera. (We have enough of those at American anime conventions already; you know who they are.)
Solution? Rob would volunteer to act like he was posing for a photo. Notice him to the right of this shot:
As we continued down the street, we hard a lot of chanting and noise and walked towards it expecting a parade or something. It turns out that we stumbled upon a nuclear protest in Shibuya. People were walking through the street (a LOT of people) protesting with signs and chanting.
We ran into the crowd again later that day when we made it to Harajuku. Before making it to the world famous fashion district, though, we saw some interesting things. Things like a McDonald’s and (what I assume to be) a member of the Japanese version of ZZ Top:
COLORS. The city around the Shibuya are is just a blast of advertisements, signs, and architecture:
Holy crap. A PHONE BOOTH!
Remember in my earlier post when I mentioned I saw an El Camino in Japan? I was telling the truth. See?
No, this isn’t photoshopped. It’s a REAL Tower Records store still open.
Speaking of “towers,” we passed this shop along the way:
The closer we got to Harajuku, the more crowded it got. The most interesting thing about this photo is the fact that you can see not just one, but two (TWO!) Caucasians in the crowd. While this sounds like sarcasm, it’s not. Seeing other non-Japanese people in Japan was a rare sight.
I took this photo to illustrate a point. In Japan, it is considered impolite to walk and eat at the same time (unlike America where everyone in the city is gulping a cup of coffee or chewing down a hot dog.) Thus, the Japanese will stop and eat before continuing going somewhere:
Spelling “softened” in Engrish since 1977…
And then we finally arrived at the street made mainstream at Target shopper friendly thanks to Gwen Stefani:
While there are some interesting adventures, Day 2 in Japan was mostly a work day. We got up in the morning and (after a late start) caught the train to head out to Tokyo Big Sight for the Tokyo Anime Fair.
Tokyo is a city of trains and monorails. While there are cars here, they are few and far between based on the lack of space in the city. Everyone EVERYWHERE takes the train.
Once we got to the event, we began having conversations with various companies and attending private events. One such event was a 3:00 PM business tea party where I learned something very very important: Being “Tom Croom” works in Japan.
(For my close friends reading this: Japan is not Las Vegas.)
Allow me to explain. Up until that tea party, I had been operating in a very reserved (read: Japanese) fashion in order to avoid being perceived as the “loud American.” I wore a suit to give a professional presentation and avoided being… well… me. During the party I got introduced to someone from the States who was also at the party. Out of sheer thrill, I went into “dude, what’s up” mode in order to properly convey the essence of my home state of Florida. After a minute of being pseudo-me (in a suit but in Converse All-Stars and talking like “me” again) a number of Japanese business men started walking into the conversation to present business cards wanting to talk to me.
A moment about the business card thing: it’s all true. 100% of it. I must have collected over forty cards doing formal introductions throughout the course of the weekend.
ANYWAY, it seems that my style of personality works because I was acknowledging the correct elements of respect: following custom, wearing a suit, bowing, etc. The cultural part (being reserved) is what they are used to here, but the idea of the “American personality” seems as interesting to them as the uniquely Japanese vocal patterns (especially in women) fascinates me. They like the larger than life American personality… as long as it is respectful.
Which I am (it would appear.)
Thus the rest of the trip I have been more of myself (with various local traditional adjustments) and it has worked out well.
My next test of acting like “me” again was at the Takara booth where I took this photo:
I spoke to the men running it and they both were thrilled that I was a big Transformers fan from America. I explained the voices of the characters they had on display (one of them recognized the name “The Rock” when I mentioned it as Dwayne Johnson; he was thrilled to translate the info to the other guy.) Needless to say, I was offered two business cards and they have requested I email photos of my “legendary” Optimus Prime collection in the office back at the States.
I walked around some more and saw the usual Japanese stuff. You know. Hot anime girls on cars:
After hoofing it for a bit, we opted to grab some food. Looking for something quick and easy, I walked the line of booths set up (just like any convention center) and grabbed what looked like “meat on a stick” for Marc and I.
It looked safe enough, but the consistency was a little strange. It tasted like good grilled beef… but kind of spongy. I noted this oddness to the Anime Expo team sitting with me and Rob quickly pointed out the answer:
“You’re eating tongue.”
Had he not told me, I could have finished. Sure, it seemed a little “off” but I was fine with it. It was just meat. Knowing it was tongue, though, destroyed by ability to finish (and Marc’s, too.)
THUS, I went back and bought this:
‘Cause you can never go wrong with FRIED CHICKEN in any country!
We left the convention center after meetings and opted to meet for dinner at a place complex (mall) called Aqua City. Inside there, we saw a couple of cool things.
First: they had an arcade dedicated to claw style “catch the prize” sort of games. Lots of anime statues and similar items as prizes. The coolest thing was a variation on skeeball from America. Instead of rolling balls up a row to get points, you get bombarded with small balls that you put into the mouth of a talking ramen cup. I have video (that will be posted later.) For now, here’s a photo:
As we walked around the mall, I got further insight into Japanese everyday life and culture. Anime and Sentai are a big deal. They go through as much trouble promoting these things in Japan as we do our Hollywood movies. Check out the awesome Ultraman display we found in the mall promoting an upcoming show:
After a long day of work and walking, we headed back for rest. I passed the McDonalds outside my hotel and saw the latest addition to the “Big America” line of foods they are promoting.
I don’t know about you, but I have NEVER had a cherry milkshake in America.
That’s all for now. :)
It’s 1:30 AM Thursday night/Friday morning as I write this. Today (Day 1) was SOOOO busy, but I’m trying to wrap up one last Day 0 story before starting that.
I’ll write about Day 1 in the morning which (for most of you) is the evening.
Yeah. Me too.
So here’s the rest of Day 0 (the travel day:)
We landed in Japan safe and sound. It really is a strange alien world that – scratch that. It’s more like an alternate dimension. Things are the same but it is different in so many ways. Some things awesome. Some things less than awesome.
I immediately wanted to start taking photos of everything. Then I thought to myself, “No, they’ll all look at the American tourist with his camera.”
Then I thought, “Wait a minute. Japanese tourists ALWAYS have cameras and take pictures of EVERYTHING in Florida.”
Then I thought, “Fuck it.”
And I took this photo.
JAPANESE VENDING MACHINE!
We got our luggage and headed towards Tokyo… VIA BULLET TRAIN! It was pretty cool. I didn’t see much since it was night time, so there are no real photos to show.
We finally got to the hotel (The Shinigawa Prince Hotel) and checked into our room. By “room” I mean “closet.” Here’s a photo:
I am in the room with Jason from AX Live. While it’s easy to make constant jokes about two large America guys sharing a tiny hotel room in Japan, I don’t stoop to cheap humor. I prefer potty humor.
Speaking of which:
That’s right, kids. It’s one of those famous Japanese toilets. Let’s have a closer look…
I took a poop right before typing this. When I was finished, I pressed the light blue button and a stream of warm water shot directly into my asshole and cleaned it up. Seriously. There is a spray gun in the crapper that shoots your butt and cleans it.
I felt so clean afterwards. No kidding. I think I want one of these at home.
I have only had to poop once since getting here. For my gay friends out there: if I enjoy the stream of water shooting at my ass to clean it, does it make me a little gay? If so, let’s not tell Shannon.
I prefer to think that I just like a really clean butt hole.
ANYWAY… you’ll notice that Google and The Internet are mentioned in the title. Here’s two ways it saved us already.
- Marc (from Anime Expo) is staying at a hotel down the street. It is easy to find my hotel from his (I am across from Shinagawa Station.) Mine to his, though, seemed more confusing… ESPECIALLY since I tried to walk there. At night. In a country halfway around the globe from my home within hours of getting there. But. BUT! But I have Internet running on my phone and I had Marc text me the hotel’s address. I clicked it in to Google Maps and asked for walking directions. It did so – in English – and I watched myself as a little blue arrow on the screen as I walked closer and closer. Piece of cake.
- Marc and I went to a little shop down the street to try and grab some food. We had heard that many places are still cash only. When we walked into the small shop, Marc had put “do you accept credit cards” into Google Translate and made the app ask the question. We looked just like a cell phone commercial. It was awesome. It was technology at it’s finest. We were ecstatic. WE WERE NERDS.
The place didn’t accept credit cards and Marc wasn’t up to walking, so I headed back to my hotel which (luck would have it) is right next to a McDonalds.
A McDonalds that ALSO didn’t accept credit cards. I still had enough Yen, though, for some Chicken McNuggets. Had I had more, I would have bought this:
‘Cause nothing – NOTHING – says Beverly Hills like egg and guacamole.
That’s all I have for now. Tomorrow I will tell tales of Tokyo Tower and a very friendly Pikachu.
called “How often does WasabiGirl check her LiveJournal and when will she noticed what I picked up on my way home today?”
Clock’s at 2:41 PM at my house kids… so let’s see
[NOTE: This post originally had a photo of a McDonald's Happy Meal toy from Disney/Pixar's Finding Nemo. The photo is no longer available]