Going to Japan again… this month!

I’ve not really done the promised writing about places I went to on my previous trip (or the two before that…), but I’m off again, on the 13th of May! Here’s the planned list of things to do:


Flying, first to Munich, and then to Haneda! Not on an A380 though 🙁 While in Germany I want to get an issue of “Wendy”, a horse-themed girl’s adventure comic, which apparently is at least partly made in Britain (even though it’s in German). And also an issue of Der Landser, if I can find one. I think it’s been cancelled now, though.


I think this might be Frankfurt, I’ll know when I get there again XD.



Ueno park.

Arrive at Haneda! My first hotel is near Ueno park, so I’ll need to ride the full length of the Tokyo monorail, to connect to the Yamanote line (which goes in a big circle through many of the main districts of Tokyo). After dropping off my luggage, I want to visit:

Korea Book Center – this is a shop run by the Chongryon, who are the descendants of slaves from Korea bought to Japan, who have decided to align themselves with North Korea (though, curiously, aren’t in a hurry to go back there. A lot of thier children are becoming naturalised Japanese citizens instead). Anyway I hope there will be some North Korean comics! Oddly, the name of the shop is written コリアブックセンター, which is actually “English”, written with Japanese letters XD.

Senso-Ji – I go here every time I go to Japan. Except this time I only want to go to a nearby shop and get another cool watch. I got one on my last trip but lost it in Kyoto. It was yellow and had the digital numbers “fading into the distance” a bit like an epic film title XD


Senso-Ji gateway

Sky Tree – Last time I went, I intended to go here on the first day, but was too tired and dirty. I might still be this time, too. But I’ll go up anyway (also, there may be public showers in Haneda airport XD). Also there’s an old book shop near the base of it, and it will be a nice walk there from Senso-Ji (you can hardly miss it).


Sky Tree


Jinbocho – The famous book shop district. Last time I went I only went to the ground floor shops (mainly). But actually in Japanese cities, the tall narrow buildings often have a different business on each floor, so I’ll go to the lifts and check out others. The guy who runs the Comics 212 recommends a place in a 9-storey building that does loads of secondhand mangae, and curry!


Ikebukuro – This place is great, it’s like a mini-Tokyo inside Tokyo XD. Of course, I’ll be going for the “Akihabara” bit, which is full of Yaoi. There’s a place called Otome Road with several multi-floor shops full of BL and Yaoi. I call it “Yaoi Lane” XD. Also Sunshine 60 and the surrounding streets ain’t bad.


Yaoi lane.


Gundam Front – This is where the full-size Gundam RX-79 is, on Odaiba. I meant to go here on my previous Japan trip too, but ended up pointlessley wandering around the Sumida River area instead -_-

Hikawa Maru – A preserved ship in Yokohama, which was once a liner, then became a hospital ship during the war, and helped repatriate Japanese soldiers and people from China and Korea after the war.


Over there XD

Yokohama Landmark Tower – Just a quick visit, the views are wonderful, but I’ve not been up it during the day (if it is still light when I’m done at Hikawa Maru, anyway XD

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Kawasaki – Blah blah, waiting for…

MUCC at Club Citta – MUCC! A cool Japanese rock band, playing at Club Citta, where I once went to see Heathen, Kreator, Exodus and Testament. Not really listened to them all that much, but what I heard sounded cool. Also B’z aren’t playing when I’m there XD.



Katsudi Matsumoto Museum – This is a small museum (it’s actually attached to his old family home, and his children or grandchildren run it) dedicated to a pre-war manga artist, who created the first (well, apparently second, but the first one had really crude artwork) “sophisticated” manga, with “film-like” “camera angles”. It was called “The Mysterious Clover” and was about a sort of zorro-like woman saving peasants from greedy nobles. It first came out in 1934, as a 16-page free gift in Shojo no Tomo (“The Girl’s Friend” – unrelated to our own tabloid-sized story paper XD). Only 3 years later, our own Puck bought about a similar revolution in British comics, called The Golden Arrow. Shame we didn’t keep the same momentum Japan did.

Eisei Bunko Museum – A museum dedicated to the art collection of Hosokawa family, who were an old Japanese noble family that started to collect art in the 14th century, though apparently didn’t tell anybody until after WW2 XD. Now parts of the collection are displayed in a museum, while the rest is in the care of a university. For hundreds of years, the family just collected and collected – so the collection is still not properly catalogued! XD

Kabuki-Cho rock bars / Ni-cho – Might want to try and pull a floppy-haired, black-eyed piece in Shinjuku Ni-chome, but there’s no bars there that play proper music. So I’ll probably go to Kabuki-cho (if you google map “Shinjuku 2-chome”, you actually get Kabuki-cho XD), where there is bars that play proper music. And go into one and request a load of Macc Lads.


Kabuki-cho entrance. My ex-girlfriend took me there, I had no idea what it was XD.


Yasukuni Shrine – The shrine to dead Japanese soldiers from 1868 – 1945. Already seen the museum, I’ll be going for the market that will supposedly be on there today (though some websites say different), and to buy more CD’s of 30’s and 40’s Japanese music in the museum shop.


Saitama Manga Museum – Bit of a trek, this one. I originally planned to go to the nearest station to it, which involved a 90-odd minute journey on one of the Tobu lines, after taking other local trains back across Tokyo. Then I decided to go to the JR station which is alightly further away, but lots of express trains with hardly any stops go there XD. Anyway, the museum hosts an exhibition about Rakuten Kitazawa, who was the first person to use the word “manga” to refer to cartoons and comic strips. He was also involved with Tokyo Puck, a “home grown” cartoon / humour / news magazine, oddly written in Japanese, Chinese and English!

Shinjuku in general – Cat Cafe!!! And maybe a stroll around Ni-chome by day, looking for “art shops” rather than bars.




JR Pass – Claim my JR pass, for free JR travel across the country!

Anything missed on another day OR Sakura Museum – I’m bound to get lost / be slow, so I’ll save this day to do anything I missed out on on the previous days. Or if I did manage to do everything, I’ll go out to the town of Sakura in Chiba, and visit the Museum of Japanese History out there. I tried to find it once before buuut… got lost. I went totally the wrong way out of the station XD.


A road I shouldn’t have been looking at XD.



Some Shikoku

Go to Kochi – Time to visit my JET friend, who is working in Kochi, which is in the southern part of Shikoku. I’ll take the bullet train from Tokyo to Okayama, then transfer to the Nanpu, which is an “express” that goes through some incredible scenery (it’s like Wales but the mountains are higher and the rivers bluer). But it has to go at about 40mph for most of the way, because there’s lots of blind corners and a boulder or tree might have fallen on the line. Last time I did this journey (in reverse) it took about 10 hours -.-, but I’ve planned a bit better this time, it might only take 7 XD.


Some Kochi

Showa Book Shop – Every destination I’ve Google mapped, has been followed up by a search in same the area for 古本屋, or “old book shop”. Well actually 古本店 is “old book shop”, 古本屋 is more like “old book room”, but is apparently the more common term. Anyway, this shop is between Kochi station and where my friend lives, so I might as well stop off on the walk XD.


Ryoma Museum – I tried to find this last time I went to Kochi, and confidently set out to walk to it, until I got to some tunnels and felt confused. Actually I needed to go through the tunnels, and then I’d still only be about a third of the way there! But this time I’ve Google mapped it! And also there’s a tourist bus that goes there from Kochi station.

Kochi Tram System – After the museum I’ll walk to the furthest terminal of the Kochi tram system (well, only the north-south line anwyay, the east-west one is super long), and ride it all the way back to Kochi station again. It ought to be a brisk trot, and I might also go up a ‘mountain’ (which the tunnels go through) and see if I can spot any small shrines or things up there.


Kochi trams.

Old books – Oh, and that “brisk trot” passes several old book shops, as does the east-west tram line, if I have time to change XD.


More Kochi book shopping – More old book shops in Kochi, this time from the areas around the main station.

Nanpu + Shinkansen to Kyoto – Back on the Nanpu, and through to Okyama, where I’ll get the bullet train to Kyoto.


Kyoto cool book shops – I google mapped some bookshops near Kyoto station, one of them lets you go inside, and they have several boxes of EXACTLY WHAT I’M LOOKING FOR. Well, they did, when the pictures were taken. I went on thier website and (with automatic translations) saw that they have issues of some things from 1908 for only ¥3000, which is what I paid in Tokyo for a book from 1976 which is a reprint of something from 1936 XD.


Kinkaku-Ji – The famous golden temple, which dates back to the 1950’s… well okay, the original one was hundreds of years old, but a maniac burned it down. Anyway, last time I went there I got right up to the entrance, but it started to rain so I went back to the city centre (on a very slow, stupid, tram-train thingy with loads of stops really close together, you could jog quicker!). By the time I got there it was sunny again -.- . Oh well, this time I’ll actually go in!


The way in to Kinkaku-Ji

Manga Museum -Yep, have to go here again! Mainly to see if they have any more British comics (IE, any more than one mention of Pip, Squeak and Wilfred from the Daily Mirror), and to find out the title of a manga about Zero pilots I saw in there once. If I haven’t already found copies of it in my bookshop wanderings.



Kiyomizudera – We had this on a calendar at work ages ago, in 2012 or maybe even 2011, so it’s about time I went! It’s “right over the other side of the city”, only Kyoto is not really that big, east-west speaking, so I should be able to walk there from my hotel.

Souvenir shopping? – There’s bound to be shops selling “really Japanesesy things” near Kiyomizudera.

“Kyoto Jinbocho”  at Shiyakushomae subway station – A bunch of old book shops clustered vaguely around this subway station. Might be worth a look, if I have any money left.

Costume Museum – If I have any time left, there’s a museum of old Japanese clothes and models of court scenes right near my hotel. Dum de dum.


Back to Tokyo – Should only take 2.5 – 3 hours on the bullet train. Then Yamanote round to my hotel.

Akihabara? Shinjuku? etc – Akihabara because it’s gotta be done once, or maybe rock bars in Shinjuku again, depends on time and tiredness.


Nakano Broadway – this is like the “backup Akihabara”, and all indoors! Anyway, it’s also got a big buy-back counter. I’m bound to have bought a ton of otaku material I don’t need, so I’ll sell off things to lower my case weight here, and just keep the best (read: oldest and most jingoistic and/or pornographic) stuff!

Ikebukuro – Last day in Japan, possibly ever. So it’s gotta be spent in Ikebukuro! Just wander about.


Back Home – Fly out of Haneda to Munich, them from Munich to home.




Dentist – eek. Should have booked this for the day before the holiday, the time would have flown by, then!

Back to work – With lots of omiyage. And the best old book I found, to show to the adorable woman who likes old books XD.


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