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Tamashii No Tokyo Part 2 - out to the burbs.

What the hell was I thinking, scheduling this trip the day after I got in? I guess it wouldn't have been so tiring had I not had the flight from hell that I did.

I got up around 6am, to the sound of my alarm from my cell phone. I had set up international calling on my phone, so it wasn't useless, but I didn't have all the features I was used to. In the daylight I was able to survey the room and my surroundings.

The room is small, but serviceable. My window overlooks the intersection below, and it's a bit overcast.


I put on the TV and listen to Japanese local news as I gather my stuff and get dressed. The shower is hot, and strong enough to to the job, although the shower head is a bit low.

Yes, there is a mythical Japanese toilet with Bidet in here.

Shortly after 7 I am out on my adventure.

I walk outside, and I notice that the front steps of the hotel is covered with flowers, a detail I had missed in my late night exhaustion.


Today the plan is to go visit a company that I have dealt with for many years, both as a customer, and as an advertising partner. They have a warehouse 90 minutes out of the city in a place called Sano. Sano is somewhat of a destination due to their outlet malls.

I walk down to the train station and this is the first time I really take in my surroundings. The area is pretty nice.

Looking at JR Ochanomizu Station from Hijiri Bashi Bridge

Ochanomizu is filled with medical schools and universities, and the street near the station is full of bars, restaurants and shops. The plan is to get breakfast at the McDonald's near there, but although I can see the sign, I can't find the restaurant.

Plaza outside of Ochanomizu Station

So onto the Train I go. From there I go to Tokyo Station, which is under massive construction, and I have to find my way to the buses. Thankfully the signs are still intact and in English, so I find them easily.

The buses are all lined up in a row. waiting to take passengers to their destinations all over the countryside. These buses are run by JR, so if you have a suica or passmo card, they should work fine.

Alas, but I am early, and my particular bus is not here for a while. So I am off in search of coffee...

The only thing I found near the exit is a place called Doutour, its a big chain in Japan.

Doutour Coffee Shop

You can see the location here in street view (yeah, just because I could).

The thing is, I couldn't just get an iced coffee. They had all this weird crap. I ended up being adventurous and got an ided vanilla soy latte, which wasnt bad, and some kind of pastry. Want to know what else was there for breakfast? HOT DOGS. More on that later.

On my way back to the train I spied this sign:

Hanataro DVD & video Relaxation Club

DVD and VIDEO Relaxation Club? 60 minutes for 1,000 yen? I wonder what kind of relaxation they are talking about....

Hanataro DVD & video Relaxation Club

eeew I think its a wank room.

Moving on..

On the way back to the station I saw an old man tending to a garden planted on one of the traffic islands between major streets.

Small garden in the middle of Tokyo

From then on I got on the bus. The bus was half full of middle aged women, presumably on board to go shopping at Sano. The bus ride is quiet, too quiet. Nobody said a word. How Japanese.

City fades to suburban sprawl and finally I see countryside. We get off of an on-ramp and aside from the Japanese lettering, we could be in any New England suburb. The Sano Premium Outlets pays host to such high end brands as GAP, Nike, Diesel and Brooks Brothers.

I get off at the Sano New City Bus Station and I know now my next task is to get a cab from here to the warehouse.

From here, if you haven't already, you can read about my trip to HobbyLink Japan

During the day they took me out to lunch at a Tonkatsu place, and we talked about all kinds of things, me a bit delirious, when a revelation hits me. This is real Japan. This is the equivalent of going out to lunch at Chili's. The streets look a lot like my streets, with gas stations, convenience stores, and fast food joints. Im sure that doesn't sound that exciting, but where I have only been in Tokyo, it was a big deal.

I spent all day at HLJ, had a great time, but now I had to trek back. But now, I had a huge box with hundreds of dollars worth of toys in it that I had to take back on a bus and two trains.

I get back to the station via cab, get my tickets, and then step outside to wait for the bus. It is here that I spy some great engrish on the back of one of the buses:

Powertard Brake Retarder

By the time I get back to Tokyo, I am sore, jet-lagged, and near delirious. The station looks beautiful at night.


That's Akihabara lit up there at night. Everything is so beautiful.

Ochanomizu at Night


I make my way back to the hotel, too tired to do anything else. I hit a cobini on the way and get soda and snacks, but otherwise, I am done. Another big day tomorrow...

Ochanomizu Izakaya

Posted 4 May, 2009 - 12:46 by JoshB