Exchange Student’s Guide to Tokyo, Days 6 & 7

Day 6 was pivotal; this was Akihabara.

Akihabara is an experience of it’s own right. It’s a large district in Tokyo known at the “electric town,” and it’s well known for being the hub of all things electronics, technology, video games, and anime.

Akihabara is truly a nerd’s heaven, as long as you have money in your wallet. Every few steps you hit a used games store that has games you didn’t even know still existed; original Game & Watch systems, in-the-box versions of Pokemon Green, rows and rows of NES and Famicom games that look like they’ve been barely touched. And you can buy them. I held in my hands an original Game Boy Color that I could’ve bought for 4000 yen (around $35 USD).

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Maybe since I knew that once I started I wouldn’t stop, I didn’t buy much in Akihabara. Jeremy had things to look for to buy with his friends, so I wandered in and out of shops while waiting for him, taking in the ambiance but not being allowed to take pictures (almost every store had signs against taking photos). However, there was one stop I made that I probably took too many pictures at.

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Everyone who goes to Tokyo has to stop at a cat cafe at least once. Especially a cat lover like me.

There was so many cats. I tried counting them, but I kept finding more once I had found a number; by the end of it, I’d concluded that there were around twenty in total.

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I paid for an hour. Once I got in, I bought a hot chocolate and wandered around. There were two floors, with lots of places to sit. But everytime I pet one, they seemed to run away. That’s when I decided to observe what others were doing, and I learned the secret; they sell treats at the counter for 100 yen ($1 USD). Buy them. 

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I sat on the floor and opened the little tupperware container and cats from all around came flocking towards me, climbing all over me. They all ate right out of my hand, and some even licked my hand if it smelled like the treats. I have no idea what they put in those things, but it did turn some of them into little mini assholes.

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Fighting over a stranger’s treats

On Day 7, we also only hit one area; Shibuya crossing, the Times Square of Tokyo and famous for the Scramble crossing that boasts itself to be the busiest crossing in the world. That I would believe.

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It rained for most of Day 7, but we still got to see the sights and wander in and out of shops (which seems to be most of what you do in Tokyo). Shibuya crossing is also famous for the statue of Hatchiko. Hatchiko was alive before WWII, when he would wait for his owner everyday at Shibuya Station. However, when his master never returned to the station after his death, Hatchiko still continued to visit the station and wait for over nine years. Hatchiko is immortalized in a statue right outside the station and is well known in Japanese culture as a symbol of respect and undying loyalty.

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He’s a good boy.

We ended the day with a hole-in-the-wall ramen place right near Shinjuku station; oh my god was this good.

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Pork gyoza and pork ramen made so perfectly I can’t even explain it. All for about $6 USD. Definitely my uniquely Japanese meal that can never be replicated anywhere else, and I couldn’t even finish it all.

Day 6 barely needs an explanation. But you’ll want to see those pictures.

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We got up early and took the first bus to Mt. Fuji, which left at 8:30 and got us there by 10. The first thing we did was run up to the observation deck and look at the mountain, which was quite a trek in my Adidas. The deck was accessible via cable car, but if you wanted to go to the very top, you had to climb uphill through the mud. The massive mud, by the way, since it had been snowing the previous day and had completely melted into a slippery slush. My shoes had no traction, so needless to say I fell right on my ass.

However, once we got done seeing the mountain, the rest of the day is a story. The area around the mountains can only be described as being kind of like Alex Bay or the 1000 Islands area. People live there, but there’s lots of touristy stuff to do, like museums, shops, restaurants, etc. I personally wanted to go to the art museum that housed art from all eras based around Mt. Fuji. The people I was going with weren’t very interested and wanted to hit up other things, so we decided to part ways and meet up later.

It took me a forty-five minutes to walk from the observation deck to the museum, which was on the other side of the lake. And once I got there, I realized I didn’t have any cash.

What you really need to know about Japan is that it is a very cash based country. Very few places take card, and ATM’s can be pretty hard to come by. The museum had an entrance fee, and I had no cash, and they didn’t take card. I asked her where I could find an ATM, but she didn’t speak much English, so all I could get out of her was that there was one at the bus station. Where I had just come from.

Not wanting to give up hope just yet, I wandered around the area I was in to see if maybe there was one she didn’t know about. I went in and out of shops and asked if they spoke English, until finally a waitress at a restaurant assured me that there was an ATM at a convenience store down the street.

Which there was. At this point I had been walking for almost two hours since we had parted ways. I was more relieved than anything to finally find an ATM… except it didn’t have an English setting. And only took Japanese cards.

So I walked back to the bus station. It took me an hour and a half to walk back. At this point, it was 3:30, and our bus was scheduled to leave at 5. So I didn’t bother going back anywhere else, got some hot chocolate, and sat.

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There is a bright side to this story. While most of the walking I did was on the side of the road and in the cold, there was always something looming overhead.

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