We’re back in Tokyo for the rest of the trip

We checked into the Grand Pacific Le Daiba hotel about an hour ago. We’ll be spending the rest of our trip in Tokyo (four nights). Tomorrow, the Toyota Mark X must be dropped off at the rent-a-car location. The car will be missed for sure as it was an invaluable tool to see Japan throughout. Most people are only able to see 1 or 2 cities at a time when they are in Japan. We managed to go through 7 cities in 11 days: Narita, Tokyo, Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Naruto, Osaka and Fuji. At the same time, we witnessed some beautiful scenery while coasting on Japan’s gorgeous highways. Of course, we couldn’t cover everything there was to do in each city, but we have a better feeling and understanding of Japan than most people get to experience.

For the rest of the trip, we’ll be getting around Tokyo by subway and sneak in a taxi or two when possible. Some of the events and attractions we’d like to see are Top Secret, Nismo Museum, Harujuku Girls, a great sushi restaurant and finally, see if there are any shisha/hookah places in Japan!

Fuji International Speedway in Japan

It was just our luck that we got to witness some intense Ferrari action in Japan. Hinjew found out about the Fuji Speedway being open thanks to the Ferrari California he saw on display while driving to Tokyo on the airport limo bus. While researching to see who the California belongs to, he saw an ad of the Fuji track being open May 29th. Without hesitation, we all agreed to visit the Fuji Speedway even though the weather was garbage.

The sounds coming from these engines were incredible, and the views we had were great. Check out the pictures! The fire you see in the wheels are the brakes getting super hot.

The Mount Fuji Driving Experience

After about 500 kilometers of driving and getting lost because our car GPS didn’t know where we were, we ended up on a mountain that was a joy to drive on. This mountain was Mount Fuji, and the team at Japanigans believe that this is where drifters have their fun. It was pitch black while going up the mountain to our hotel, and we weren’t too sure where we were. This didn’t matter as the drive up was an incredible experience.

After about an hour of going up the hill and coming close to an accident with another car, we arrived at Hotel Daihakone. We were dead tired from driving 500 kilometers from Osaka, but it was well worth it. We’re at some spiffy golf resort right now with a huge room that overlooks the courses.

Today, we have several ideas: play golf, check out the race track, spas & hot springs or drive around on the mountain again. We’ll let you all know what we end up doing!

The Umeda Sky Building in Osaka

Hinjew and I (Fallout) visited the Umeda Sky Building in Osaka today for some great panoramic views and shots of the city. After going up 140 meters and paying 700 Yen, we got to see some great views of Osaka. The observatory deck is called “The Floating Garden”. Check out the pictures below.

Osaka Aquarium and Hard Rock Cafe Osaka

We decided to hit up the Osaka Aquarium to take pictures of sea creatures. The team at Japanigans spent about an hour and a half taking some high quality video and pictures of some of the world’s most beautiful animals. Just take a look at the pictures to get an idea of what we witnessed.

For dinner, we saw the Hard Rock Cafe Osaka right across our hotel, so we couldn’t resist it. Afterwards, we walked around the Universal City mall and came across two Harajuku girls who Fallout had to take a picture with them. Harajuku girls love having their pictures taken, so asking them for one wasn’t too difficult to accomplish as they were more than willing.

That night, we all slept relatively early as we wanted to check out more of Osaka the next day. We also had a big day of driving to Mount Fuji, so concentration and energy were required. Thundergod came down with a cold too, so he needed to rest as well. In any case, the adventure continues.

Universal Studios Japan in Osaka

Naruto was a fun little stay, but did not offer that much in terms of sightseeing. We didn’t get to see any whirlpools today unfortunately, but did catch some great scenic shots off a bridge. Naruto, from what we can tell, is a resort mainly for the locals during summer times. Our hotel was packed with the elderly enjoying the spas and pool.

We’re now on our way to Osaka, and staying at Hotel Universal Port, which is an official hotel for Universal Studios Japan. There’s a good chance we may visit the studios tomorrow if time permits.

Taking a break in Naruto, Japan

Six Kilometer BridgeAfter leaving Hiroshima, our next destination was Naruto, Japan, a somewhat small village known for its resorts, spas and whirlpools under the bridge. We finally managed to figure out how the GPS unit works (it’s 100% Japanese) so we didn’t get lost getting here. The hotel we’re staying at for one night is the Renaissance Naruto Resort (part of Marriott). One thing that made this ride very pleasant was the six (6) kilometer bridge that we took to cross over to the islands where Naruto is. The views we witnessed off the bridge were stunning to say the least.

Naruto Japan BridgeDriving around Naruto was extremely joyful, as the roads were very well kept, and there were a lot of twists and turns getting around. It gave this very quant feeling that all three of us enjoyed. We found a really nice spot to take pictures of a beautiful bridge that was void from the public. Supposedly, there are whirlpools that form under this bridge every six hours, but we haven’t managed to observe any yet. We’re going to be taking a boat ride tomorrow and hope to catch a glimpse of one.

Dinner was quite a unique experience for all of us (maybe less-so for Fallout). What was being served at the hotel restaurant was 100% authentic Japanese cuisine. There were plenty of raw fish, eels and other uncommon North American food to go around. This made Hinjew and Thundergod a bit squeamish, as they do not enjoy raw foods very much. Of course, while having dinner, we had a few looks from the locals as to how we were handling ourselves. It was that, or they haven’t seen any non-Asians in their lifetime, which brings me to another topic I cannot avoid: the Japanese love watching foreigners. Either they are intrigued by us, intimidated or hate us, we’ll never know. What we can tell you is this: each time we ate around the locals, we got looks… plenty of looks. Dirty or not, they enjoy watching us.

Once dinner was over, a slap in the face was delivered when the bill was handed over to us. The dinner was a buffet for three people with two domestic beers. With the taxes and service fees added, the bill came up to 15,000 Yen, or about 180$ CAD. There was nothing special about this buffet, and the food (while tasty) was nothing to brag about. Yes, we did have a unique Japanese cuisine experience, but the numbers just don’t add up. Regardless, we know Japan is pricey, but there are limits too we’d like to think.

Hiroshima Castle, Memorial Park and Shopping District

The Hiroshima A-Bomb DomeWe visited the Hiroshima Memorial Park, the A-Bomb Dome, the Hiroshima Castle and the shopping district today. Hiroshima, of course, is known for the atomic bomb drop. The A-Bomb Dome is where the bomb was detonated overhead. As you can see, it is still standing because it went through two preservation projects. Also, since the bomb was detonated on top of it, it wasn’t destroyed directly by the blast of the nuclear explosion, but by the fires caused by it.

Ice CreamThe Hiroshima Castle was a nice visit too. While the majority of the castle was destroyed by the atomic bomb, a few buildings still remained (after heavy restoration processes). At the end of the tour, Thundergod came across an amazing treat that is indescribable. Think of it as ice cream enwrapped in a cone, but the whole thing is rectangular. It tasted really good too, and there was no ice cream mess (e.g. leaks while eating through the cone). Just check the picture out to get an understanding of what we’re talking about.

I (Fallout) had a a drink called Pocari Sweat, which sounds pretty gross, but it’s really not that bad. It’s basically a type of energy drink that replenishes electrolytes and other cool things that I dont know about. It tastes fairly sweet and reminds me of some light Gatorade taste. Every vending machine out there seems to carry it.

Lunch at Hiroshima

For lunch, we decided to try out a random Japanese restaurant. We wish we had written down what we had ordered, because we can’t remember. However, we do have pictures for you all to get an idea of what we ate. The food was overall delicious, except Thundergod wasn’t too keen on his bowl.

Once we finished lunch, there was a little bar right across the restaurant. We decided to have a beer before leaving Hiroshima and off to Naruto.

Haneda to Fukuoka Airport in a Skymark Boeing 737

The Japanese Police Love Us

Toyota Mark XAfter picking up our car from Toyota Rent-A-Car, we decided to grab a bite to eat before driving to Hiroshima. Our car had a built-in GPS navigation unit, so finding a place was relatively easy. Out of all the restaurants displayed on the screen, we chose one unique location: McDonalds. Yes, we had a craving for some greasy American food.

At the time of the order, we each picked what we wanted to eat by pointing to a visual menu on the conter. Thundergod and Hinjew had a double quarter pounder while Fallout had a Big Mac. The lady at the counter then said something along the lines of “seto” or “syeto” while just looking at us. Puzzled, we all looked at each other, hoping one of us would understand what the women meant. She kept mentioning it, “seto? seto? see-ye-to?”.

Read the rest of this entry »