Karaoke, Pachinko and Arcades

IMG_5537.1We started out the last whole day in Tokyo by browsing Takeshi Doori in Harajuku again. After I’d checked the items on my list from Lotta we strolled around and got back to the hostel quite early in order to do some packing.

The main idea for the packing was to fill one bag good enough to protect my precious liquor and consider the other one to be lost or smashed. The plan was to meet Megumi and her friend Haruna at Takashimaya Times Square just outside the ‘Tsukiji Tama Sushi’ at 18.40 but we were running a bit late so we called (like an hour before we should be there) and said that we would be 20 minutes late.

We arrived more or less on the new time only to find that Megumi and Haruna had been waiting in line to get a table and it was our turn just when we got there. Nice timing, for us at least. Megumi had presents for us and we hadn’t thought of to bring her any which felt kind of bad but at least we managed to steal the check for the Sushi restaurant this time. The Sushi was really nice, although Megumi said it would be better at another place in the same chain.

After that it was time do practice some Karaoke. So we got a small room with a TV, a karaoke machine and a bottle of Shochu. Ulf and I argued that we would need the help of Shochu in order to start singing since we normally don’t do this. The girls were now on alert and quickly paid for both Ulf and me to our dismay. I’m not sure whether guys should pay for girls or not in Japan, I guess we should look it up till next time. That is unless we would want to show how equal we are in Sweden by splitting all costs 😉

We were taking turns with the mic and I started out really really bad-IMG_5538.1 I thought Mrs Robinsson was a song I knew quite well but apparently the score-system on the Karaoke machine and I disagreed. They had really a diversity of songs and the girls were entitled to hear me and Ulf sing songs from groups such as KLF, Pantera, Slipknot, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Depeche Mode among others.

It was much more fun than I’ve expected and I maybe will buy some karaoke-game for my PS2 when I get back to Sweden. Even though many songs were on the lists, when played they didn’t quite sound as the originals. I can assure you that singing ‘The Perfect drug’ to what more sounds like a midi-file than the song isn’t as easy as you might think. I think the following were the best performed songs by each participant;

Megumi: Green Day – Basket Case
Ulf: Ace of Base – All that she wants
Viktor: Slipknot – Surfacing
Haruna: The theme song of Neon Evangilion Genesis.

After the karaoke we tried some Pachinko (extremely addictive game in Japan and the only legal one where you can make money) for a very short time. We had been there less than five minutes when a guy told us the place was closing and we needed to change our metallic balls (part of the game and also serves at a currency) for toys. After some arguments between Megumi and the management at the place we got our money back and we decided to spend them at a regular gaming/arcade hall.

It seems like in Japan very much is about music, the unmistakable ‘game-music’, theme songs from anime, the traffic lights, cleaning machines and about everything else you can think of. In a regular supermarket IMG_5559.1I guess you can count up to perhaps 3-5 tunes if you listen carefully at any given spot. So of course the games focus a lot on music/sound as well. We tried some games where you played drums or the guitar and quickly realized that the girls were far superior. It should be noted that in comparison to what seemed to be the standard clientele the girls were mere rookies. If you have seen really really skilled people playing games involving dance mats you get the idea.

Time was running and we all to soon had to say goodbye to the girls and catch our train back to the hostel. It wasn’t without some reluctance we were leaving the Yamamote line and saying goodbye to the never sleeping Tokyo, for this time.

Final stages of shopping and Tokyo Tower

_MG_5484As the journey back to Sweden draws closer and the terrorists at Heathrow won’t allow us to bring what we want onboard, we decided to take our chances and buy stuff here to check in. So a Shochu store was the first planned stop for the day. Megumi had mailed us and made plans for visiting a famous sushi restaurant and karaoke for thursday so this was more or less our last real chance.

As usual when Shochu is involved, things tend to go out of hand. This time we didn’t even need to drink the Shochu. Ulf said that ‘I might shop a shirt but except from that I’m not going to buy anything more’. So we thought that we might not need to withdraw any more money from my account. Then we bumped into a liquor store which sold assorted famous spirits. Ulf convinced me that Lagavulin distillers edition from 1987 was the best whiskey he ever had tried. Which left me not much of a choice.

After that we needed more cash, the friendly ATM which still seems to love me happily gave it to us. Then we went to Daimaru, a large department store at Tokyo Station (among other places). The visit included two trips to the tax return office, me using my credit card to buy Ulf a DKNY jacket (really nice, I didn’t dare to try it on), us buying tableware, a shirt for Ulf and so on. To sum it up Ulf now has the record for most spent cash in one day although I’m still on top when it comes to total amount spent.

We ate some sushi at a mid-level restaurant and it was nice but not that much better than in sweden. I guess we will see tomorrow if Japan is teh shit or not when it comes to sushi. After taking the metro home like two bag ladies we thought we should give Tokyo Tower a try since the Osaka version was really nice.

After getting there we realize that the upper observatory is closed, but we decide to check out the main observatory at least. This is measly 150m up of the 333m the building streches (Eiffel tower is 320m) and the view was nice but glass panes separated us from the night. In addition to these panes there where lights here and there creating nice reflexes, which more or less made any really nice photo impossible. We managed to catch a few views though but were more or less done when the building closed thirty minutes after our arrival. Umeda Sky Building was nicer although it was cool to see Tokyo skyline as well.

Ikeburo and Ebisu

IMG_5454.1Today it was time to buy a few of those things we had seen but not bought. So we started out with going to Akihabara and after that headed to Ikeburo to browse the Seibu store a bit. This is a complex which is big, I guess you could spend the larger part of a day browsing that single building and still not have seen most of it.

Both me and Ulf did some shopping but it was not to the same extent as the Roppongi Hills visit. It was quite calm and I finished reading ‘End of Faith’ by Sam Harris. Quite interesting book even though I don’t agree with him on all points. Recommended reading. I met up with Aki in Ebisu and he gave me three copies of his latest CD and one copy of an older one that would sound more like what he played at Womb. Really nice, he wouldn’t accept any money but I promised I would invite him to my place if he ever visited Sweden.

The picture on the top of the page was shot from our ‘traditional downtown Tokyo neighbor hood’ (quoted from the web page of our hostel) right outside our hostel. It is interesting that you can see girls wearing real short dresses while walking alone here. This is without any signs of fear despite the run-down feeling the homeless people in combination with the piles of garbage create.

We discussed the number of police cars we had seen in Japan so far and concluded that it would stop at three if we counted the two parked ones. The one driving was in Hiroshima and it chased a gang of bikers but except from that I would say that a regular day in Gothenburg has more signs of violence. Tomorrow we will perhaps keep up our shopping or hang out with Megumi. I guess going home will be a nice change for my economy since it’s getting a bit strained now.