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100 Photos of Japan
2 August 2008


So there hasn't been much activity on here recently. That's because I've been in Japan, fulfilling dreams and getting as thoroughly lost as possible. Somehow I found my way back to the airport in time, with a whole lot of photos in store. It was closer to a thousand, but not all of those were very good, so here's Japan (although mostly Tokyo) in 100 photos. Everybody likes photos of Japan, right?!

While this shot looks quite futuristic, Akihabara itself actually has a very Chinese flea market feel to it.
Akihabara is very colourful. This building has people tubes.
There is something validating to a geek in seeing anime on a billboard.
Giant anime billboards! Code Geass, as well as Lucky Star parodying The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.
For the nerdy among you, melon bread appears quite frequently in anime, the most prominent being Shakugan no Shana, where it is Shana's favourite food.
Melon bread is indeed as delicious as it looks.
Taito Stations are sort of like Mc Donalds.  Nice to see that the arcades aren't dead yet.
SKILL TESTER PARADISE! There were all sorts of groovy games on the upper levels. Indeed, in Japan arcades span MULTIPLE STORIES.
That billboard sort of made me want to play Monster Hunter.  And who says that advertising doesn't work?
More Anime and game billboards. This mostly interested me as I was somehow affronted by another Galaxy Angel that had an entirely new cast.
Truly, Japan shines most at night.
I do adore how everything in Japan either lights up, animates, or plays music.
No, I did not ride that bus.  You probably get diabetes just from boarding.
Hello Kitty's presence is not so much subversive as it is comfortable in its total domination.
From the river cruise between Hinode Pier and Asakusa.
This bridge obviously figured the only way to stand out from all the other bridges was to be bright yellow.
On the trains, I get, but on a scenic ferry tour?
Sleeping in public seems to be a Japanese pasttime.
Some sort of building carrot?  Or is it supposed to be fire?
I still don't know what the deal with this building is. I would have liked to be at that design meeting.
Rather than chain stores, Japan is still very much overrun with mom-and-pop style shops.  It's a nice and interesting change.
Asakusa is a tourist trap. It is filled with kitschy Japanese souvenirs and overpriced restaurants. It is awesome.
The nice thing about Japanese temples, though, is that it is impossible to take bad photos of them.
The temple at Asakusa. The scale must be experienced to truly be believed.
That many roofs would make certain that absolutely no rain ever makes it in.
The pagoda inside the temple.
Somewhat more impressive when moving, admittedly.
Rows and rows of pinwheels. All glory to the Hypnotoad.
A great deal of the sightseeing that occured was based on going to a high place, seeing something cool, and then getting lost trying to walk there later.
The view from Tokyo Tower. Later I got lost and found that shoe-like building in the center. It was impressively large, to the point where it was actually impossible to get a good photo of it.
Interestingly, the building underneath Tokyo Tower is only five stories high, and about as tourist-trappy as you can get.
The creepy abandoned rooftop carnival underneath Tokyo Tower. What if you threw a fair and nobody showed?
There was a giant golden Helloy Kitty inside.  At this point, backing away slowly seemed like a good idea.
A Hello Kitty store. It had a good couple of hundred of Hello Kitty's 22,000 unique products.
It was originally painted orange and white because of safety regulations pertaining to communication Towers.
Exterior shot of Tokyo Tower, just before being ravaged by Godzilla and blown up AT THE SAME TIME.
Found while lost somewhere in Tamachi.
Does this not look like it would be more fun with giant beads on the ends?
You get there by monorail, further cementing my argument that monorails are AWESOME.
Very cool building on Odaiba, a giant artificial island filled with awesome.
Appropriately, it presided over 'Colour World', a selection of buildings that were more or less just dedicated to fun.
An epic and colourful ferris wheel. It's there permanently. I think it says something about a culture when they have enormous ferris wheels as a permanent feature of the landscape.
I do appreciate how they find solutions to these things, crazy though they may be.
In Japanese public toilets, the women's toilets contain a speaker where you can press a button that creates a flushing sound to cover the sound of going to the toilet. Apparently this was to save water, because women were previously just flushing continuously before.
Inside was a wonderland of merchandise.
My head pretty much exploded when I came across a SHONEN JUMP STORE. It was a limited-time affair to celebrate Shonen Jump's 40th Anniversary.
Shonen Jump is awesome.  It has produced all of my favourite series.
Shonen Jump covers. If you consider that it comes out weekly, this is only about FOUR YEARS worth of covers. That's a lot of art.
Other cool things happen there too, of course.
Zepp Tokyo! This is only awesome to Prince of Tennis fans, as this is where Tenimyu Dream Live 3rd was held. No such excitement that day, unfortunately.
Screw the Eygptians.
Tokyo Big Sight Convention Centre. I think this picture speaks for itself.
If anyone knows the reasoning behind the red bibs, please let me know.
Accidentally wound up in Ofuna, went for a walk, found a shrine and a graveyard. These were some of the many statues on the way.
Yeah, I get interested by a lot of weird, mundane things.  This is not even the most mundane of the photos taken.
Equipment for cleaning the graves. I think the fact that they leave these just lying around tells you a lot about how trusting the Japanese are as a whole with such things.
It looks like it is being restrained by wires, or possibly about to take off into space.
Shinjuku. This building is awesome.
They forgot to add the stickers, I guess.
I take it back. Check out this magnificent bastard.
It was nice to see it fully intact for a change.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Building, looking especially epic. Anime fans may recognise this being destroyed in X/1999 and Tsubasa Chronicles.
And then, the sky opened.
That's a last episode shot right there, that is.
Truly a vampire-friendly city.
Most of the night pictures didn't come out very well, but Tokyo only really comes alive in the afternoons and evenings. Most places don't open until 10 or 11, and close well into night. My kinda place!
Taken in Hatsudai.
I just liked this picture.
It is so charming it feels like it must be fake.
Street in Hatsudai. This is pretty reflective of many smaller commercial streets - lots of lamps, narrow road lacking in footpaths and enough powerlines to completely wrap a skyscraper.
Very popular meeting spot.
HACHIKO.
Truly, Shibuya is the place to go for the glitz and glamour of Japan that you see on TV.
Dogenzaka in Shibuya. Shibuya is so awesome that if it were personfied, I would marry it. Except that I would not be trendy enough.
There was some sort of event going on at the corner that nearly caused traffic accidents.
The 109 building. The ENTIRE BUILDING is women's clothing and accessories. ALL OF IT.
It was delicious.  The poor serving staff were bamboozled by the strange gaijin who somehow found their upper level hideaway.
'Lunch' from a parfait shop secreted away on a second floor. Everything of interest in Japan is hidden second floor or above.
And are appropriately expensive.  Wonder if they actually taste any different.
SQUARE WATERMELONS DO EXIST.
Another place quite concerned with fashion.  Shibuya is so trendy it hurts.
Oicity. Thanks to the World Ends With You, I know this more as Cadoi City.
Amusingly, located right next to a Disney store.
This building is just cool.
Tower Records.  It's a Global Thing.
Tower Records is a sort of paradise. There is an entire floor dedicated to soundtracks. An entire floor dedicated to indies and club music. The entire building is music. If you cannot find a CD here, it probably can't be found.
I like vending machines, but dislike smoking, so they produced mixed feelings.
Cigarette Vending machines were rather prevalent.
And son of Parco, and the Return of Parco.
Parco. Parco is actually split up into multiple buildings, so you have Parco 2 and Parco 3.
This picture was taken right at the end of the light, can you believe?
The famous Shibuya crosswalk. Every time the light changes, it becomes a sea of people.
Everything in Japan is automatic.
Some of the escalators would turn on automatically when you stepped on to them.
This place was super-hard to find.
SQUARE ENIX SHOWCASE. Cue head exploding.
It was actually quite small, but the merchandise was all rather exclusive and shiny (with prices to match).
Giant tonberry and cactuar greeting you at the door pretty much summarises the experience.
The picture is a tad blurry, but there are probably better shots on the internet anyway.
Yes, that is a life-sized Sephiroth in the floor.
Yay for cosplay display.
It almost seems a shame that no one will wear it.
Going clockwise, that is prawn chips, pudding 'purin', crackers, california roll-style sushi, and a delicious ham and cheese pastry.
Delicious bounty from the convenience store. All of this cost less than $8! And people say that Tokyo is expensive.
I've been spoilt by Mooloolaba's Aquarium, so this actually wasn't that impressive.
Went to the Aquarium. Imagine stepping on one of these.
The movie was pretty good, right up until the terrible deus ex machina moment that ruined everything.
Movie poster of GeGeGe no Kitaro: Thousand Year Curse. Based on a purportedly popular anime about a guy who fights with flying shoes and a magical jacket, whose father is an eyeball. I love Japanese film.
There was an enormous line.  The line was earned.
Harajuku! This picture is mostly noteworthy for the vending machine guy doing his magic. Oh, and also the delicious crepe store Angel Heart in the background which sold the most delicious crepes ever.
Yes, a lot of people really do dress like that in Japan.
I don't care about fashion at all, but Harajuku made me WANT to care.
It was actually sort of cool, once you get past the creepy stalker aspect of it.
In Harajuku there were a bunch of stores dedicated entirely to selling photos and posters of pop idols. I don't understand why you'd pay $5 for a picture you've already probably seen in magazines, but don't underestimate the 14-year-old girl demographic.
Delicious delicious crepes.
Display window food! It's something to appreciate in Japan. You always know exactly what you are getting.
From Togano Shrine.
A turtle! YES, THE TURTLE DESERVED A PHOTO. For all you know that turtle talks and has super powers.
Of course it deserved a place in the 100 photos.  Shut up.
The gates to the shrine. Now that is planning in design.
Something a bit hazardous about that.  What if you don't like the flavour it picks up?
Ice-cream skill testers!
I blasted a lot of money on skilltester.  But their prizes are actually worth winning, unlike most skill testers in Australia.
Clearly, people have become far too good at skill testers in Japan, so they had to level them up.
Looks very cool lit up at night.
Ikubukuro. This building makes me think of water tanks.
Yes indeed, that is an xXxholic billboard.
This is nerd paradise. Animate headquarters.
60 stories high.  I counted.
The Sunshine 60 building. Yet another popularly-destroyed landmark.
Well, except for that pink onion thing down in the bottom right.
Delicious delicious Obento.
And power lines stretching all the way to the top of a mountain.
Hakone. Hakone is known for its hotsprings. I was more interested in awesome dilapidated abandoned buildings.
Seriously, if anyone knows how to use this thing, please e-mail grandevina@lycos.com with information.  I NEED TO KNOW.
From a children's playground. It looks more like some sort of torture device.
There were candles inside.  I expect that they look very creepy at night.
Pay close attention to the poles. I can't decide if they're happy or horrified.
Honestly, Hakone was terribly, terribly beautiful.
This picture surpasses postcard status and moves into springwater ad territory.
It might look like he's on the shore, but he's actually crouching in the center of the river.
This picture speaks for itself.
Foreign supermarkets are fascinating and scary places.
Squid. In Summer, it's traditional to barbeque it.
The mind boggles.
This vending machine had kitkats in a jar, as well as ramen and oden in a can.
Located at the top of a heap of stairs.  Practice your stair-climbing before going to Japan.
A secluded little hillside shrine in Hakone.
It had a very cool basement, the sort which you expect to find Alucards in.
An incredibly awesome gutted and abandoned house near the hillside shrine. Seemed like the sort of place where monsters ought to have been lurking.
On a clear day, you're supposed to be able to see Mount Fuji from there, but no such joy that day.
Owakudani. 1000m above sea level.
In the ropeway, you're literally going through the clouds.
Owakudani is quite picturesque.
This is the egg cooking here.
Owakudani is famous for its volcanic hot springs. It smelt of eggs, possibly because of the sulphur, but also possibly because they cooked eggs in the hotsprings which are at about 80 degrees Celsius.
I bought a pack of six for 500 yen.
The famous black eggs cooked in the springs. Apparently eating one is supposed to give you seven years of longevity.
I finally found a drink too sweet for me to stomach in Ramune.
That's one way to keep Ramune cool.
Especially lake fountains.  WTF?
Inokashira Park. After living in a dustbowl with water restrictions for so long, fountains have come to fascinate me.
How many animes have featured this?  Just about every romantic comedy ever.
Indeed, these are romantic lake boat rides. Once again, art imitates life.
Interestingly, the Zelda triforce symbol was ALL OVER THE PLACE.  The Odawara family crest or something.
Odawara Castle.
The service is pretty hardcore, too - they check your tires and clean your windows and fill up the gas FOR YOU.  Also, in Japan, gas is equivalent to $1.80 a litre at the moment.  Ouch.
Service station. The gasoline comes from the roof.
This shot feels familiar somehow, yet I don't know how.
Ueno Park. It is a park, alright, but mostly made of concrete. Still very interesting and beautiful, though.
It is like a cross between a panda and a fox.
A red panda. WANT.
Picking over the remains of a tiger's meal.
Those vicious sparrows.
The poor polar bears weren't very fond of Summer, though.
The polar bears in Ueno Zoo.
Oh yes, there is water under there, believe it or not.
If you're going to have a lake of lilies, it better damn well be a big one.
Passed out at the waterbowl AGAIN.
This is a LOLcat waiting to happen.
I suddenly inexplicably wanted to watch Hikaru no Go again.
Rhino, or as the adorable little kid next to me kept yelling out 'Sai'!
No, seriously.
A shrine to the god of glasses.
All it will really take is an ace freshman with a golden arm and a magic spinning pitch.
Japanese baseball pratice. Baseball is popular enough over there to get its own word: 'yakyuu'. These guys, um, weren't very good. The pitches looked more like cricket pitches. But they were very positive! Lots of 'try hards' and 'nice catch's going around. Their playing might have been lacklustre, but their spirits were indominatable. They will surely go to the Nationals.
Desserts in Japan have reached artform status.
Another delicious crepe. Yes, there is chocolate cake in there.
At least the Japanese are excited about it.
Replica Speed Racer car! It continues to amaze me how the Wachoski Brothers took such a terrible show and made such an awesome movie.
This made about the fiftieth time my head exploded.
Unexpectedly, at the top of the Sunshine-60 building there was a Naruto exhibit. Apologies for the blurriness of the picture, I think the combination of sugar and excitement got to me.
Naruto is pretty huge in Japan.  It really does have a pretty awesome story once you sink your teeth into it, though.
The exhibit came with lots of eye-popping original artwork. You can't go wrong with ninjas.
But the variation in colour is a thing of beauty.  Coloured lights alone must be a multi-billion dollar industry in Japan.
Oh yeah, besides the Naruto exhibit there was a pretty amazing view from the top of the Sunshine 60 as well. Night pictures are hard to take, so here's the best one. It utterly fails at conveying the sheer size of Tokyo's sea of lights.
Oh yes, those are life size Street Fighter and Oh My Goddess statues.
Surprise goodbye visit to Akihabara! THE OFFICIAL KAIYODO STORE. The all caps is warranted. Kaiyodo is well known for making high-quality figurines.
That is also indeed a life-size Rei to the right.
Could not have 100 Japan Photos without including Evangelion somewhere. Yes, it's still huge over there, albeit mostly in Pachinko Parlours.

So that's 100 Photos of Japan. Overall conclusion: Japan is AWESOME.





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