Morning Commute in Tokyo

Everyone has heard the stories about how crowded trains can get here in Tokyo, especially during rush hour. People cramming onto trains and employees pushing people into the trains. I wish I could say that this is an over exaggeration, but it simply is not. Here’s a photo of how crammed it can get on my train on my commute to work.

Chuo Line Rush Hour Commute

Where I am located I have the luxury of choosing between two different train lines. One line I can take into central Tokyo, while the other helps me get to work that is north of my location. I take two lines to get to work in the morning, which only takes about 30 minutes total, which is a bonus. The first line is relatively older and during rush hour there are still seats left for people to sit on. Once I transfer over to the Chuo Line, that’s where the cramming begins.

Once the train gets to me, it’s also full to capacity but there are still a couple hundred people at this stop that need to get one. While a few people get off the train, most stay on board. But some how, every morning, we all manage to squeeze onto the train. So much, that I do not have to hold onto any hand rails and I can easily read the article the person in front of me is reading on their smart phone (usually it’s Puzzle and Dragons).

There are a few times where people that have less than ideal hygiene beside me, which can make the train ride rather long, but for the most part everyone just wants to get to work without any fuss. Thankfully I only have to endure the sardine can of a train ride for two stops. Which is nice because I wouldn’t have much choice but to get off the train anyway, since the wave of people getting off there’s not much you can do but go with the flow.

I will admit, I have fallen asleep a couple times while standing up because it was so warm and oddly comfy.

Making Mochi

Mochi is the Japanese food that is traditionally eaten during New Years. It’s very sticky rice that is beaten into a paste in a wooden bowl with a mallet.

On my New Years trip with my friend Hiro to Nagoya, I got the chance to participate in making Mochi A family near the apartment we were staying at was having a family BBQ. They are friends of Hiro’s parents and they invited us over for some Mochi. Two guys were pounding the rice in a  wooden bowl while the bother would move the Mochi around each time the mallets were lifted out of the bowl. It was quite the rhythm they had going.

Once they were done, the mother turned to me and asked, in Japanese of course, if I would like to try and help make Mochi. I decided to give the family some comic relief by being the foreigner (that had no idea what he was doing) that would attempt at pounding the Mochi.

While it looked rather simple, it was a lot of hard work. By the end of it all I was sweating and my arms were incredibly sore. But the pay off was worth it, we shared the entire bowl of delicious Mochi. It was put into a soup and also used as a sweet dessert with cinnamon. It was an incredible experience that I soon won’t forget.

Making Mochi

Retro Gamers Paradise in Tokyo

Today’s photo of the day comes from one of the best places to purchase retro video games and their related merchandise in Tokyo. The place I’m talking about is Super Potato located in Akihabara, Tokyo’s largest electronics district.

Super Potato
Nothing screams “retro” gaming more than the iconic Super Mario.

Looking for Final Fantasy III or perhaps a Super Mario Pocket Watch? Or perhaps that incredibly-rare-snes-game-only-you-played. You will find it at Super Potato, on one of their several floors. Each floor contains different types of games from Atari to the original Nintendo. Walls are covered in advertisements for old games and other random related material.

First you will have to find the place, it’s a tad difficult if it’s your first time in Japan, so much so that a video was made how to find it.

It is difficult to explain this one of a kind store , you have to experience it yourself. If you grew up gaming, then make sure to add this to your list of places to visit when you are exploring the urban jungle that is Tokyo.

More photos can be found on Flickr and make sure to subscribe to my journey in Japan. Now, if you don’t mind, I have to go take out a loan so I can go buy a sealed copy of the original Bubble Bobble on the NES.

Christmas to the MAX in Japan

Christmas means many different things to everybody from family to commercialism, and everything in between. For myself, Christmas is about spending the holidays with my family and friends. Which is funny since I’m spending this Christmas in Japan, away from home.

Back home in Canada during the holiday season you see the standard fare for decorations on people’s homes and in all the stores. Here in Japan the stores are decorated to the MAX (you’ll see why I keep using that word in a minute here) for Christmas. There are Christmas trees, stockings, elves, Santa, and everything else you can think of to associate with the holiday. Even though Christmas is not holiday here the decorations are really something to see.

This brings me to the photo of the day. Taken outside of a PARCO department store in Shibuya, Tokyo. It really has nothing to do with Christmas, yet it does, all at the same time.

LOVE MAX XMAS

 

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Enjoying Starbucks in Tokyo

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter you know I share quite a few pictures. Especially since moving to Tokyo. While those are great for sharing photos in the moment, it’s difficult to put any deep explanation of the photo being shown. So, with that I’m going to give one and explain every last thing about it and why it’s significant to my daily life here in Tokyo (or wherever I may end up).

Enjoying Starbucks

 

I’m a huge Starbucks fan, and I will admit it’s a bit of a comfort when I’m feeling homesick. We all enjoy something that is familiar and take comfort in it. While I’m all for getting out of your comfort zone and experiencing new things, somedays having something (somewhat) familiar is welcomed.

Not that walking into Starbucks was easy at first, I had to learn how to properly order in Japanese. Although the names of most drinks are the same in English it’s more answering the questions the lovely baristas ask you:

  • Are you having it in or taking it out?
  • Do you already have a table? (Most Starbucks in Japan you need to have a table already if you want to stay in otherwise you wait for a table before ordering)
  • Did you want your [pastry name] heat?
  • Do you want a mug?

The first time I went into Starbucks on my own, I completely messed up and was unaware that I needed a table before I could order if I wanted to stay. The girl first told me in Japanese, but I was a bit flustered and didn’t quite understand her. She then switched to English and explained the entire process to me. I won’t lie, I did feel a bit stupid for not understanding her when she first told me in Japanese.

Now that I’m completely aware of how the system works I go into Starbucks now fully confident in my ability to order in Japanese and know to get a table if I want to stay in. So, now it’s a place of comfort just like it was back home in Canada.

Now, if only they would get the Eggnog Latte here, but I don’t see that happening. For now, the Crush Marron Pie Latte will have to do.

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