Japon / Tokyo
(If you're not interested in my general speech about Japan and
want to reach the photos or reviews straight away, here are the links:
-Views from the plane between Paris and Milano, 29/04/2005
-My review of Pierrot concert at Shibuya Koukaido, on 2005/04/30
-My photos at Yoyogi parc, on 2005/05/01
-My photos of Ueno, on 02/05/2005 (part II)
-My review of Pierrot concert at Saitama Arena on 2005/05/03 (A variant Bud)
-My review of Pierrot concert at Saitama Arena on 2005/05/04 (A deformed Bud)
-My photos of Hibiya parc, on 2005/05/05 (part II)
-My photos of Imperial Palace, on 2005/05/05 (part II)
-My photos of a fountain in front of Imperial Palace, actually only of a place where you may have a pleasant rest, on 2005/05/05 too)
On this nice 29th April, 2005, I'm preparing to go to Japan
(...taking a train at 7a.m., flight around 10a.m., a change at Milano, and
11 hours of flight between Milano and Tokyo!), meaning I'm about to make an
old dream come true, oh joy. But why did I choose this moment to go, after
such a long time? Well, because my dear Pierrot have had the delicious
idea of organising two long concerts in the middle of my second holiday week
+ if I left before April 30th, I paid 600 euros for my plane, while the normal
cost is 800 euros = this is what I call synchronisation! Although,
in the end, my body seemed to disagree with me goind to Japan: the day before,
when I went at my mother's (I do live in Paris, but going to the airport in
the north of Paris, meaning a -big- airport, is quicker from my mother's than
from my home... shouldn't try to understand!), my back was awfully painfull:
I couldn't even stand while I was walking, I walked kind of like an old woman
would... So I spent the whole day doing exercises for my back (I usually have
problems with my back: a doctor already told me what I should do when it happens),
prayed a lot that it doesn't prevent me from going to Japan... and I finally
managed to go to the airport, being most careful on the way, and when I sat
down in the waiting-room then plane... where I could see how much these planes
seats cure back-aches, it's wonderful! I only hoped it was the same on bigger
planes, as we had to use a so famous 747 between Milano and Tokyo!
(Nothing special on the way to Milano, except that, as I often, I took a few photos from the plane...)
A few words about the airport in Milano: I usually have great fun admiring how airport actually look like high-class supermarkets, 95% of the shops being for women... But here was exactly the opposite: all are high-class shops... but 95% of them are for men! We're in Italy after all, what were you thinking, a woman doesn't go anywhere without her husband anyway, and a man, most perfect being of all creation, has to be a minimum (/maximum) classy! Even ads on the walls are very: "I man, you woman, you prove how great I am but don't even emagine you can be more"... aaaah really, Italians!
My back really hurt again when I entered the plain to Tokyo, but their
seats proved their magical skills once again, and although it wasn't completely
cured when we reached Tokyo it was faaaaar better! Long flights are said
to be awfully noisy so I was wondering if I could sleep on the way or anything,
but finally no everything was perfect I slep weeeeell, the few times I went
to the back of the flight (toilets power) it seemed it was a bit more noisy
there, but in the middle, where I was, it was perfectly fine. Still, if
you ever have to travel for such a long time in a time, think of having
a lipstick or such with you, because the climatisation makes the air awfully
(Little detail: Italians being who they are, we were 1h30 late when we left: they opened the gates 30mns late, then we waited for 4 or 5 persons whose luggages had already been registered and were on board: we couldn't leave without them... and they needed 1h30 to find the way between the registry-gates and the boarding-gates... and the very last persons were in the first class, of course! Aaaahlalala, Italians...)
We arrive in Tokyo... and I'm on my little cloud. Being who I am I can't help noticing the weird colors of the trees/plants around the airport as we land: pollution consequences? Can't know. I have a giant smile anyway, I'm finally ggoing to spend a few days far from everything, from everyone, destroy my feets, visit, try to keep my back alive, have fun to sum up!
Little problem still: We're of course 1h late when we arrive in Tokyo, meaning I hope I won't be late as I had planned to meet Rita at my hotel 2 hours after the initial landing time (...time to go through customs, reach the hotel, blah blah). So I try to walk as quickly as I can, as I don't know the airport (would be stupid if I missed the good way out because I wanted to be too quick!); I go to a policeman as I don't know how to use these slot-machines... er no, tickets distributors, sorry! (lovely policemen throughout Tokyo by the way, you nearly make them shy when you ask them an information! I love them! I know that the story becomes quite different when you're brought to the police station for something serious, but as people you go to in the street, they're really kind!). And let's go to Tokyo itself, giving a quick look at the surburbs as the subway is outside (and not through endless corridors like in Paris).
I finally arrive 1 hour late compared to the time I had planned to arrive
at my hotel, and 15 mns late compared to the time we and Rita had planned
to meet... I also have good fun on the (short) way between the station and
my hotel: it's a weird mix between an over-urbanised town (houses everywhere
you can look to) and a small village in sunny countrysides (all houses are
small, lots of small roads that cross and inter-cross in every way,...).
There were public works on the way too so I was glad I traced a plan between
the station and the hotel, and not only remembered the images that were
on their website.
And I suddenly hear a "Cecile?"... as I doubt that a lot of people have this firstname in Japan I think it could be Rita, turn back and... indeed, Rita! Who was late too, but we finally managed to arrive exactly in the same second! So we go to my hotel, where I leave my luggages, and we go to... the fan-club only Pierrot concert, which I (and Rita) had heard about a few days before I left France: Although Rita is a fan-club member she couldn't get me any ticket (she had heard of it too late: it was already sold-out!), but she could get me one through the ticket-shop any gaijin intending to attend a few concerts in Japan knows about: Yahoo Japan auctions site! But the fan-club decided to be very irritating, very very irritating: she tells me that, even though I do have the ticket, I may not be able to access to the concert... I had a sudden need of (fan-club staff) murder at this very second, but I kept very calm... we had to find a solution after all, or at least try to, and you can't think when you're upset! If you want to know how all of this ended, just follow the link!
Funny moment when we were in Harajuku, in a visual-kei shop: I love when
the shop-keeper tells me something like "hontou kawai desu ne"
(meaning something like: "oooh you're really cute"): the poor
girl didn't raise her eyes up her counter before talking... and she will
be more careful with Rita, who was just after me: she only said something
simple like "hello"... aaaah habits!
(The time we spent in Harajuku was quite funny by the way... although I shouldn't go back there too often, it would be bad for my bank-account! And some people here in France say that I dress like someone original... my my, what would they say if we had places where I could buy such things in France! (not the goth-loli style, don't worry, just... a mix of everything there, gaaaaah!))
After a little time in my bed but a lot of time finalising things on my computer, I finally leave my hotel around midday/1p.m., and go straight to the subway station to Shibuya, thinking that maybe I could try to go the event where La'Cryma Christi will play, or the one where D'espairs Ray, Sid and a few others will play.
When I arrive at the subway station next to these venues, I experiment my very first local specificity of my journey in Tokyo: human traffic-jams. I knew about, and regularly see, police-men in the middle of a cross-road who organise the circulation (for cars), making each "line" go after the other... Well here they do the same, but for human beings! Quite funny to experience... Although I really doubt it could be effective in anyway in France: everyone would try faster than the person before him, making the way even slower for people behind + it would a kind of war: "first arrived wins! walk or die!" (...or kind of); in Japan, on the contrary, everyone quietly follows the person before him, not trying to make them walk more quickly (because they perfectly know it's useless), and so on and so on... I can't say I would like to experience it again everyday, but it was funny, especially when everyone around you keeps a most calm and happy mood: no stress guy, no stress!
Thanks to the little walk we had the day before and my magical map, I arrive around the place where all three concerts are supposed to happen (three venues for three concerts, all organised at the same time but for a same event); I don't know if I'll be able to get tickets or not, but who never tries never gets anything in life... Except that I immediatly face a group of "hormoned groupies", who wonder if they will manage to go over the emotion of faciiiing their favouriiiiiite musiciaaaaaan (not even band), the pressure is so high that they feel like they have to yell ultrasonic waves, it will leave their tension out, ooooooh yeeeaaah!!!! (pronounce: yiiiiiiiiiiiih!!!!) And I feel like I'd prefer not to go to these concerts if my final conclusion has to be something like "spent most of the concert trying to fight with mass-murder needs...", as I couldn't enjoy the bands performances so much because of the groupies!
So dear map here I find you again, it looks like there's a parc that deserves
an eye not so far, so here I cross the bridge over the giant street, and
head to Yoyogi parc!
Then I have a short walk to Shibuya, walking down a street where we went
the day before so that I don't feel like I really know nothing of the place
around, and pass by some of the venues, in order to see the "context"
of these concerts (yeah I know it's stupid, but I often like going around
concert venues, in general, and see the mood they inspire). After a short
walk in Shibuya (Shibuya's big and it's getting late!) I decide to go back
to the front of Shibuya Koukaido, because I know that there are a lot of
places where I'll be able to sit there, with a little luck I will even be
able to lean my back against some bushes, and also for a little part of
curiousity: will I be able to find the way back? After a few hesitations
(I was sure I had walked too far... while no, it was just a little more
up the street!) I'm facing the small way to the entrance of the venue, feel
like I could bless these beloved bushes, and time to enjoy the atmosphere
of the place a little and to read a little more... the night is coming!
so I end a few lines, and go back to the subway station then to my hotel
(around which are a lot of restaurants that only ask to have me as a guest!)
(By the way: don't worry if you don't ever read a line about a good restaurant I could have tried on midday: I was never hungry on mydday, but really not hungry at all, so most of the time (that if when I ate anything at all) I bought an orange juice from one of the "slot-machines" nearby (there are everywhere in Japan, it's most usefull...), and it was quite enough for me! But it's normal in th end: my poor stomach already hardly handles one meal at a restaurant every two or even three days, and I already made it stand one a day (diner) + a -good/big- breakfast: it didn't ask for more... or even so much!)
A few more exercices for my back when I arrive, then just before I go to sleep, I lay in my bed veeeeery carefully, and Morpheus comes to me!
A ffew more exercices as soon as I wake up in th morning, then just before leaving, and as my wonderful hotel is only one or two subway stations far from Ueno, I logically run there to spend the whole day in Ueno: it museums, parcs... Ueno! I already bet I probably won't have time to see all of it, and indeed I will only be able to see, what... half of it? But it's ok, the only important thing is that I had a -great- time there, and with a little luck I'll be able to go back there someday!
On the way back (...which I'm glad I find without too much problems: I just spent hours going there and around, just because I wanted to see different points of view and such... yeah yeah, I really like having a walk / contemplating!), I notice a quite basic shop, but that sells a tea-service that would be perfect for my mother, she's been asking me to find one for her for months after all, and in Paris they're either too "mastoc" or highly(/insanely) expensive: I prefer waiting before deciding to buy any gift for anyone, but I keep the place somewhere in mind! And it's most easy to find + really close to the station: should be fine even if I have to go back there!
(I had first thought that maybe I could go to a concert of a small band at Roppongi in the evening, using the occasion to have a little walk in Roppongi... but I finally prefer to give my back some rest, and I begin to feel rather tired anyway!)
I run to the carpet as soon as I arrive... not to smoke it don't worry,
but my so loved exercises (I feel faaaar better, but wouldn't really like
to be "blocked" during/after Pierrot concert, the day after!).
I spend a very long time to write down the mini-listing I had planned to
give Pierrot members, as I stupidly forgot the printed version in
France (...stupid me sometimes...) (this listing wasn't big at all, something
like 35-40 persons I believe I remember, but for something I completely
improvised and set within 2 weeks I think it's far from bad!), I make little
packs for everything 'yeah yeah I had brought "presents paper"
and everything from France! I -love- packing presents, can't help it!),
and finally allow myself... 3h of sleep? 4h max... and with a weird feeling
while I go to sleep, because I can't thinking of the concert on Friday and
go: "but I didn't become an ultra-fan of -tha-, did I?!? This concert
was a mistake, please someone tell me that... I mean I'm sure it was trusting
the videos I watched, but a video is only a video! We'll see, let's trust
them... but still... zzzzzzzzzZZZZzzzZZZZZzzzzz..."
(...and, of course, no use to say I had some exercise right before I go to sleep!)
...But this short night finally is quite enough: my "biological clock"
being what it is, while I need a lot of sleep when I'm home, nights over
5h are nearly too much for me when I'm not home + my exams period was about
to begin, meaning sleepless nights studying, and my "biological rhythm"
always changes a little before according to that! So I leave to the subway
station with my biggest smile on, no luck there's a problem with the subway
on this day (...fortunately, I had some (/a lot of) time space!), so I have
to improvise a secondary way to Shintoshin station... (and admire Japanese
people calmness once again: while people in Paris would have got anry after
even 1mn, everyone here patiently waited for the circulation to be back
to normal... aaaaah I like such people!) I prefer asking someone to confirm
my way at the station where I had planned to change, would be sad if I changed
or the bad train after all, then I ask again within the train (the way to
Shintoshin Station was a little long, and I had stupidly forgotten to remember
the name of the stations I would have to go through: I was beginning to
get a little nervous! But finally no everything was fine and perfect!)
...And I arrive in front of Saitama Arena, with a smile up to my ears, it's most easy to find from the station anyway: there are indications everywhere, it's very close, and even if it was far it's so big you can't miss it! Therefore: time for Pierrot's A variant Bud concert!
I go back to the subway station with an even bigger smile than when I arrived,
getting a flyer on my way, of... Bis I believe? given by a guy who probably
was most into visual-kei anyway: a good psychopath face, kind, but psychopath!
And the good thing when I arrive at my hotel is that I don't really need
to do any exercise for my back: Pierrot concerts are kind of aerobics
giant sessions: as I was able to my arms in the air during the concert this
time (contrary to the fan-club only concert), it did me a lot of good!
But, before I go to bed, I have fun cutting a "brioche vendéenne" into 5 pieces (a "brioche" is a kind of viennoiserie, but big + in "Vendée" (a part of France), they do special ones: far bigger than normal ones, far cheaper... and 1000 times better! and "normal" "brioches" already are quite good! I looooooooooooooooooove "brioches vendéennes"! especially as the ones sold next to my appartment in Paris come from a bakery famous in "Vendée" for cooking some of the best if not -the- best "brioches" of all "Vendée"! And there's a good reason for that, trust me!), I pack each piece into two different types of "films", then each into "presents paper", then place all of the pieces in the plastic bag where it was at first, in the original order... yeah yeah I have fun! And after all of this fun, it's time for sleep!
Third and last concert of Pierrot, but with Rita this time, meaning with someone I know: with someone I'll be able to have fun with!
Going back to Earth when I'm back at the hotel proves to be really difficult. But I have to sleep in the end, I only have one day left to enjoy Tokyo after all...
After my usual exercises for my back, I go to the subway station, heading
to Ginza this time... at least that's what I planned. I also intend to spend
some time at Imperial Palace if I have time, but I doubt I will, it closes
its doors quite early after all. But, when I go out of the station at Ginza,
I go the wrong way, and find myself facing the parc of Hibiya,
meaning I'm on the side of Imperial Palace, not Ginza! Conclusion: too bad
for Ginza and good old-fashioned tourism rules: let's go to what is said
to be the most occidental parc in Tokyo, trusting the few guide-books I
(The walk to Hibiya was quite pleasant: I purposely went through small streets where houses, most of which were really small, were made of wood and such; I also heard a few "kirei!/kawai!" on my way, or at least went through people who made giant smiles when they saw me, a couple once even pointed me to their child while saying the nearly traditionnal "kirei!" with big smiles on their faces again... well, I didn't feel like I looked especially good or was dressed in an exceptionnal way, but if I can make people happy even for one second the pleasure's mine everyone!)
While I'm about to enter the Imperial Palace, which is one street and a
few meters far from Hibiya, I notice that I have no film left for my camera...
and that I stupidely forgot my extra-film at my hotel! But the Imperial
Palace isn't really said to be one of the most awful places in Tokyo: I
would really be stupid if I entered but couldn't take any photo... My map
tells me that Tokyo Station is... far but "at a distance I can accept
at this time of the day", and I know it's a kind of giant supermarket:
well, why not trying, it will be a new walk for the day, and a tourist is
made for walks! I reach the station after 30-45mns (I wasn't walking really
quicly...), look for the entrance of the giant supermarket (this damn giant
station has several entrances!), and as these places kind of always follow
the same logic anywhere in the world I follow my instinct... and quickly
find a place where they find films! Time to go back to the Imperial Palace
I "lost" about 2h all in all, but it's fine, I could walk by some
"machines" where I could by my daily orange juice (not hungry
at all, but I need some energy, or the end of the day will be difficult!),
and a tourist isn't made to do everything most quickly, damn it!
And so, I finally reach the Imperial Palace...
As the Palace closes its doors rather early (I believe they want to leave
some time for the Impress to walk into the parc, and of course far from
any "normal" being, the Imperial family being what it is (...unfortunately
for her would I say...); although this is only an old rememory of something
I had heard faaaar before I even think of this trip to Japan!) ), I go back
to Ueno because I finally didn't find anything better for my mother than
the tea service near the subway station, and... time to go back! And sleep
my very last night in Tokyo, snirfl...
(...and I veeeeery consciously do my exercises for my back this evening: even if I do feel far (far) better, I don't want to be "blocked" in the plane on the way back!)
Time to go back... I wouldn't have mind staying a little more! But well,
even if I had stayed there for 2 weeks finally, I would have regretted not
to stay a third week, so well... There's a time for holiday and a time for
People of my hotel proved me a very last time how kind they are: I agree the subway station wasn't very far anyway, but one of them took the time to come with me, to the subway "quay" (and not only the entrance of the station!), waited for the good subway to arrive to make sure I wouldn't take the bad one, and so on and so on...: really kind people! They also offered me a towel of the hotel, packed and so on... but I stupidly forgot it when I bought my ticket to the airport: I put it down in order to take my wallet which was in my bag... and forgot to take the towel back... yeah I'm stupid sometimes! But well, not so important, and if you allow me to summarise a little:
1) for an hotel in Tokyo, it wasn't expensive at all (about 50 euros a night)
2) very very well situated (5mns far from Ueno, 15-20 far from Shibuya, right on Yamanote line and on the line between Tokyo and Narita airport)
3) they were most kind... and even though their English was approximative, it was enough for understanding each other, and if needed we tried to do something with my Japanese-of-beginner.
= If I ever go back to Tokyo, I will most probably go back to that hotel! (unless I have to do something that is on the other side of Tokyo... but even then I may go back there! Oh and if you're planning to go to Tokyo and would like the address of a good hotel don't hesitate to ask me their address: giving them new clients would be a pleasure!)
Oh and while I'm talking of the line between Tokyo itself and Narita: Should you ever go to Japan, you really should use the "local line" to go to Tokyo, it isn't far slower than the... "express line"? normal line anyway, it may be 10-15mns longer, while you need at least 1h to reach Tokyo anyway: the "local line" goes through really nice countrysides, while the "express line" (?) goes through far more usual places.
I get a little scared at the airport as I can't find my passport while I'm at the registry-gate, they even called the security it was great... one more minute and I bet I would have had to follow them! (...and trusting the reputation of Japanese authorities, I definitely knew this wasn't a good/pleasant perspective!), but fortunately, after 10mns of looking everywhere, I finally decide to open my luggage, as from the beginning I kept on thinking: "no, I won't have placed it in there while I was looking for that other thing one minute ago, I know I do most stupid things sometimes, but still... not that stupid...": and yes I did! And finally everything ended well and with big smiles, wheeeeeew........
I went back to Europe and France "by steps" in the plane(s):
First with the confirmation that it's defintely Japan I'm leaving from:
the plane leaves 20-30mns... early, everyone is already in the plane after
all, so why waiting: this is Asia you see, not Italia, ahem! On the plane
to Milano, all stewards were Italians: those who were about of my age never
looked at me in the eyes when they talked to me, even less smiled to me,
and actually spoke as little as possible ("Italian or Japanese"
for the meal, and such), I or others could have gave any other attitude
a bad interpretation after all! But all stewards who were obviously older
than me talked to me with a smile and everything, but no conversation could
be ambiguous here because of this difference in age: no problem... Aaaaah
(Oh and funny to see that, while the plane to Japan was -full-, the plane to Italy was half-empty!)
At the airport in Milano 2-3 persons once again notice me ("spats"-effect or I had something on my face in the end?!?), then time to go to the plane to Paris (...which leaves on time, we have always been a kind of mix between latins/Italians and anglo-saxons (meaning "anglo" + "saxons": western Germans included!), as our geographic situations shows!), where I see that I'm really a few minutes far from France now: A French woman got upset because her seat was too small, a steward fixes it within 2mns, but she keeps on upseting, half-joking while saying things like: "you could have done it before still, how did you want me to sit on this? try to sit there yourself, you'll see! (...)": only 2mns were needed to fix it, and now it is fixed, so why do you keep on complaining, damn it!!! But well, that's France, we can't help it... it's only that, after one week where everyone is caaaaaaaaaalm, such an attitude feels strange... But the way back to France itself was nice anyway: I spoke with an Italian (...who was obviously older than me, needless to say) all the way long, mixing French, English, German and Italian this time: long live Europe! (Italians have their bad sides, like anyone, but they're also very warm/friendly people!)
Once we arrive at the airport we see that at least French customs don't fear an invasion or anything illegal from Asia or Italie: there was -no one- from customs to check anything, controls in Italia had been a minimum (only bags under x rays and people under these weird doors, usual thing to sum up): I could have brought something not so legal from Japan it wouldn't have been a problem at all... (while, in Japan, they -do- check! meaning open your luggage!) I feared about the things I had bought in Japan and "splitted" them into my different bags (French customs like applying custom taxes over things French people bought in foreign (not Europeans) countries...), but finally no it was no need... and it proves that, at night, Frenchcustoms keep open house/country!
But subways to go back to Paris can be a problem: As I helped two Italians (yeah yeah again) who couldn't get a ticket from the ditributors (they used a card with no "puce" (don't know the English, sorry): in France, these cards work at shops, but not with distributors!), I miss the last subway... We finally take a taxi to go inside Paris, dividing the price into two, but it still costs 25 euros to go back home... + wanting to place my luggage on his "truck", M. Italian twists the "hanse" of my luggage! Aaaaaah Italians and their carelessness!
All in all, you'll have understood that this trip was more than pleasant, my "step by step" come back to Europe made me laugh in the end, and if I could summarise this trip I would only say: I WANT TO GO BAAAAAAAACKK!!!!
(if you want to give me some feeback, please write to spolochon1 @ caramail.com)