Japan Log #1 – Traiiiiiiins (*)

by Grungi

(*) To be said like “braiiiiiins”. Reason apparent in a moment.

Ah, Japan… So glad to be back for another 3-weeks stay! It’s only been two days, but they were already packed with things to remember, so here’s a quick update, live from Fukuoka.

Flight was uneventful, but was rather comfortable due to the seat next to me having no one in it. That meant a lot of room for my legs, which is nice. The weather was very cloudy all the way through, until we came over Japan, where the sky was clear and offered us a gorgeous view of Japan from above.

Picture snuck during the descend towards Nagoya when the flight attendants weren’t looking…

After landing, I had to go and meet my girlfriend at Nagoya, following the long flight with the first of many train journeys in the three weeks to come…

On the way to Nagoya station.

At Nagoya, we then both took the Shinkansen to Tokyo, another two hours ride. But that one had a little something in store from us. Thanks to the clear weather, we got a great look at one of Japan’s most iconic landmarks.


Fuji-san, almost like on a postcard.

After arriving at Tokyo, we switched to a Yamanote line train and made a beeline to our hotel in Ueno. We only took a moment to drop our stuff there before rushing in the other direction.

Yamanote again, then, at Shibuya, transfer to a local train, to finally get where we wanted to go : Shimokitazawa.

It’s not a secret that Shimokitazawa is my favourite part of Tokyo. A reason for that is that it is where I saw already quite a few live gigs that left a big impression on me. And that day was the day of the 5th annual “Shimokita Roundup”, a festival where around 70 bands are split between 10 different live house in the neighborhood. I only knew one (FoZZtone) beforehand, but some YouToubing had pointed out a couple more that we were eager to check out. For exemple aquarifa :

Or, on the softer side, Predawn :

 All in all, a fantastic evening, topped off by a ramen from my favourite ramen restaurant ever. Then, after a quick walk through Shibuya, it was time to get some rest. Unfortunately, as cameras were forbidden during the festival in Shimokitazawa, no pictures…

And even worse, seems like I do not have the permission to post my girlfriend’s impersonation of Sadako from Ringu, which would have made the title of this post have sense. Dramatic.

But anyway, next day was train day again, as we went far south to Fukuoka. The nice thing is that, for parts of the long trip (6 hours), the train had power sockets! So, yay, programming!

Some gamedev in the Shinkansen.

The sky was beautiful as we approached our destination.

Now approaching Fukuoka.

For the evening we had something special planned : an evening out with a group of friends. It had been quite a long time without seeing most of them (2 years for some!), so I was very excited. And the evening was a blast. They had reserved a room in a restaurant with some kind of high-tech ordering service : you had to scan the dishes you wanted on the menu with some kind of electronic pen, which transmitted your order to the kitchen. We ate so much good stuff!

And afterwards, we went for a traditional “purikura” to commemorate the evening. It was really awesome to see them all again, and it was with a heavy heart that we said goodbye to them, then to Rumiko, the one that organised the evening and who walked with us all the way to our hotel. Both Joan and I really wish to see them again as soon as possible!

And so, now for the third day, we are going to visit the Fukudai university (where Pascale stayed for a year), walk around in Tenjin and probably eat a tasty (and huge) meal at the Yamatoya restaurant, either that or a ramen from Ramen Station near the shopping mall of Canal City. Decisions, decisions…

Our merry group in Tenjin after tasty food and noisy arcade. Thanks for the memories!