War Metal War!

On August 23rd, we were brought to the Lima airport by Marcos, who waited with us until he couldn’t stay anymore. It was nice to see a familiar face before our long flight to Tokyo!! Thanks for all, Marcos!!!! Our first flight left at 2AM with the Chilean company LAN, which had movies we could choose from, food in porcelain, real utensils as well as free booze! The flight took around 9 hours. Unfortunately, the second flight from San Francisco on United Airlines was total economy; it had no leg space, no movies, nothing, for 11 ½ hours. They fed us, of course, but it wasn’t super luxurious or anything like the other one, haha. The plane itself was super huge though, I think they call it a Boeing 747.

Inside our plane to Tokyo

We arrived in Tokyo 24 hours later, on August 25th, 2PM local time. We pretty much skipped half a day, but slept a big majority of the time in the plane so we arrived in mint condition. But now, we had to figure out the local trains and subway to get to our hostel. Check out the nightmare we had to face:

Tokyo subway station map. We actually got a bit lost but found our way back in no time. We eventually figured it out - it is easier than it looks!

The first time we wanted to do was get a nice hot bowl of noodle soup, which we did! I got some beef soba with a half-cooked egg, and François got some cold soba noodles with tempura stuff:

My bowl of soup

François’ food

Although everything was salty as hell, the food was to die for! It had so much flavor and everything! I had high expectations for my first true Japanese meal and was very much satisfied.

In the late evening, I went to a Sento (public bath house with spring water). That experience was quite strange at first because as you know, you have to be completely naked and freshly washed/dried in order to bathe! I went with another girl from our hostel who knew the bath house etiquette. I got used to it after a while (although a lot of people were staring – I was the only white person in the place) and it ended up being really cool! Inside there were three baths – one really hot, one really cold and another hot one with Jacuzzi style water massages. I left with really beautiful skin because of all the minerals of the water! Sorry, no pictures for that one hahaha!

Anyway, our hostel was located in Asakusa, a Tokyo neighborhood famous for its traditional “Edo” (old name for Tokyo) style streets and temples. Walking around there was like being in a samurai movie; the restaurant and shop signs are written in calligraphy and everything looks so ancient! We were right next to a very famous temple called “Sensoji temple”. It is apparently the oldest in Japan, dating from the year 628.

Kaminarimon gate with a huge lantern

Main temple (doors closed)

Impressive 5 story pagoda

Charms to be bought for luck or other wishes

Myself in front of the Kaminarimon gate

People writing wishes on charms

Funny racoon dog gods, which had their own temple dedicated to them (they are the gods of entertainment)

The temple dedicated to the racoon dogs. The “swastika”is a Buddhist symbol and represents dharma or balance. It can mean love and mercy or strength and intelligence.

The Asakusa neighbourhood also featured the Asahi brewery, which is shaped like a beer glass with foam. Beside it is a weird sperm-like golden thingie.

Famous Asakusa landscape

On Saturday, there was a fireworks festival in Asakusa that attracts annually around one million people to the area. Excitement was in the air – and we walked around to see what’s going on!

Sensoji temple with gates opened and tons of Japanese tourists and festival goers

Incense burning for purification

Another very pointy looking temple

The local food specialty is the rice cake, cooked in front of you to be as fresh as possible.

A man flipping hot rice cakes

The result

And there was a bunch of other food sellers on site

Man cooking fish with hot stones

Two women in yukata (informal kimono), walking around the temple area

Yasuyuki (ABIGAIL/BARBATOS/TIGER JUNKIES) came to meet us to start some record hunting. We took a photo in front of the temple gate:

Myself and Yasuyuki! Arghhh!!!

First shop we went to was Record Boy. Located in the district of Suginami, it was really hard to find due to being completely hidden and without an outside sign (it costs too much apparently). On top of that, there was a summer festival going on in the area, which limited our access to streets.

Some ladies with kimonos and tacos on their head, taking part in the festival

We finally found the shop, and it turned out to be absolutely killer as expected! had a very good variety of GOOD metal and punk CD’s and LP’s from all over the world, as well as some patches and shirts. I bought tons of Japanese metal re-issues there. Their “rare” vinyl section was more than tempting, with unbelievably killer albums but I knew I had to keep my money for other things.

Myself and Satoru (the record shop owner) with the Record Boy sign

The inside of Record Boy

The punk wall

Some classic BM items

After this, we went to Nat records/WAREHOUSE – which are located in Shinjuku. They are two stores that are joined together, and cater different musical genres. Nat records is more metal/punk and Warehouse is psychedelic, proto-metal and everything else… so the two really complete each other.

Inside Nat records. You see here some new and used punk and metal vinyls.

The excellent re-issue of PAUL CHAIN’s Detaching from Satan

Our very own album! Killer!

After this, we went on to the Shinjuku branch of Disc Union. They are a chain of record stores scattered all around Tokyo. This particular one had 3 floors; one floor with used metal CD’s and vinyls, another with new metal CD’s and vinyls, and the last floor sells punk/crust/hardcore stuff.

Walking around in Shinjuku. This is what my idea of Tokyo was!!

The sign of Disc Union

The used metal section of Shinjuku Disc Union. It was fucking intense man, it took me an hour just to go through one fourth of the floor! Unfortunately, all I wanted to buy was way over my budget.

A classic 80’s Japanese metal compilation vinyl. I wish I could have bought it, but it was at 100$!

Some used CD’s... all originals of course!

Check out the size of this Diamond Head section!!!!

VENOM/EXODUS/SLAYER combat tour tape, probably the most legendary of all metal VHS! Sold for 120$...

The “new” metal floor

They even had a WINO section!

Honestly, in Japan, if you are looking for an album, you will find it – but you will need to pay the price if it is rare (that’s the down side of it!). I never saw such a variety in my life!! Apparently, Osaka record shops are even crazier… so I guess my wallet will suffer very much in the next few weeks haha

We visited the streets of Shinjuku with Yasuyuki; he brought us to the famous red-light district. I thought it was going to be super dirty and chaotic, but it was really orderly – like most Japanese things are!

Kabukicho street. You see here signs for restaurants, porn shops, bars with half naked girls dressed in army suits, karaokes, love hotels and “snacks” (bars ran by the yakuza, with escorts costs an arm and a leg!)

We were hungry as hell after our long day of record hunting! We went to eat ramen, and tested all their varieties:

RAMEN NEVER DIES!!!!!!!!

Miso ramen

Yasuyuki loudly slurping the noodles (that’s how you do it in Japan – the louder the better!)

Soya ramen

They included some yummy fresh tofu with the soup

After this, we went to Tokyo’s only metal bar, “Godz”. We stayed there for one beer only, as they played shit music (at least we requested some Angel Witch and Candlemass!) and the beer was way too expensive (8$ a beer for like 300ml). Screw that! So we bought a last one in the department store and drank it in the metro on our way back. Did I mention that it was totally legal to drink in the streets, subway AND stores there?

Tokyo subway party

When we came back home to Asakusa, the fireworks were finished so people were going back home. The subway exit was absolutely crowded but the policemen took care of discipline and everything went very nicely.

People making out on the bridge on our way back home

Some kids lighting fire crackers in a back street

The next day, François and myself went to visit the Yanaka Cemetery in Ueno, the Onshi park and its temples. Seriously, there are temples everywhere we walk, but these ones were located near a pond, so we wanted to check them out.

François with some gate thingies, doing a typical Japanese pose

Some lotus flowers growing in the pond

A dog with sunglasses!!!!!! Sunglasses!!!

A Buddha with a bib. I really don’t know why he’s wearing that!

A really cute tiny temple

Some really ancient stone lanterns

A temple on the way to the cemetery

The cemetery was located in a large garden, with tons of loud crickets and beautiful green trees. Unfortunately, it was also filled with mosquitos so I got eaten alive. I must have gotten 15 bites, which grew each to a diameter of 4 inches (I got an allergic reaction – my body doesn’t know these moquitos yet so it reacts strongly!). In any case, it was kind of worth it to see the cool Japanese tombs and hang out with ghosts:

A tomb with some beautiful evil-looking calligraphy

More Japanese tombs. Don’t they look really different from the ones we are used to?

Some tombs affected by the earthquake

Some gigantic stone with cool calligraphy. Look at the characters on top – they look like alien writing or something

We then came back home, had supper, then met my friend Mirai (SIGH/CUTTHROAT) for a little drinking session at a traditional Japanese bar (Isakaya):

VOÏVOD worship with Mirai!

The Isakaya

That evening was really fun – you could order beers from a computer screen and the host would bring them directly to your table. Also, did I mention that Japanese beer was amazing? They served Kirin the whole evening, and it was such a feast!

Oh yeah, on the way back home, we noticed a beer vending machine on the street! How cool is that?

Asahi beer vending machine!

Our final day in Tokyo started at 5:30 in the morning. We wanted to visit its famous Tsukiji market – biggest and busiest wholesale fish/seafood market in the world, moving 700,000 metric tons of fish per year!!! Unfortunately we weren’t free to walk around too much or to buy fish directly from the sellers, but that wasn’t our goal anyway… we wanted to try the world’s freshest tuna sushi, at a famous shop called Daiwa Sushi! The Tuna is fished at 3AM – 50km from Tokyo’s shore, brought here at 5PM, then the best Tuna fishes are auctioned around 6:20 and we are able to eat it at 7AM. So, that’s what we did!

Market workers, bringing boxes of fish around

Daiwa sushi, located in the Tsukiji market

Our table at the sushi bar

The sushi chefs

We ordered two medium-fat tuna nigiri sushis each (the best and most prized parts of the tuna). “Chutoro yottsu nigiri kudasai!” With our fingers, we took them and flipped them upside down in our mouth, so the fish touches the tongue.

Our breakfast sushis

The fish was really tasty, and melted in the mouth like butter. By far the best tuna sushi I’ve ever had in the past!!! Unfortunately, two wasn’t enough to really have the full experience (I would have loved to eat a lot of it to really explore the taste!) but we stopped at two each. It’s a really good thing that we did, because the bill turned out to be 40$!!!!! We didn’t see the menu, and we knew it was going to be pricey, but not that pricey! We are always trying to save money, eating 2$ lunches and all, and here we are – eating two bites each for 20 times the price. Haha. Ahh well, it was still a very exciting experience.

So we explored the area a bit… there were merchants everywhere selling sushi preparation material, seafood, veggies, tea and other stuff.

Okra veggies. These ones were placed so perfectly!

Sushi knives

Fish byproducts, cooled down with dry ice!

Sea creatures (the crabs on the left were alive)

Dried squid

Japanese style meat. These cuts come from the south.

More meat. Look at that awesome texture!

For lunch, we had to be cheap-asses again (especially after the wallet disaster of this morning!) so we feasted on convenient store snacks:

Some kind of triangular gigantic sushi with cooked fish in the middle. Really yummy. I think they are called “onigiri”

Two cheap mochi-type desserts. The outside is sticky rice, and the inside is sweet bean paste. The green one is tea-flavored.

When you bite into it! They were so good!!!!!!!!

After lunch, I had a nap in the park, Japanese style. Going to bed at midnight after a night of drinking and waking up at 5:30 for two days in a row is hard – especially that I’m still recovering from the 14-hour time difference with Lima!

Park nap

We wanted to visit the Imperial palace, but unfortunately it was closed to public on that day… but at least we could still see the famous main gate stone bridge. It was really beautiful, total postcard scenery!

Nijubashi bridge

Myself in front of the bridge

In the afternoon, we met up again with Yasuyuki, and went to another part of Tokyo called Shibuya. I think they have the biggest metro station in Japan! The area outside of it was like New York’s time square, but much more Japanese:

Shibuya!

We went to our last Tokyo record shop, the Disc Union Shibuya branch. It’s hard to believe, but it was actually better than the other one in Shinjuku!!! What made it so great is that they had 50% sales and cheaper prices. I bought quite a few sweet rare LP’s and a Japanese metal comp from the 80’s (on CD). They had of course alot of collector’s items, like this Heavy Metal Super Star ABIGAIL “Live in Osaka” boxset:

Yasuyuki posing with the weird lingerie boxset

Some CD’s inside the store

Vinyl scores in Tokyo

CD scores

While walking around, we saw a very strange thing… a gigantic truck advertising phone sex!

If it wasn’t for Yasu, we wouldn’t have known what all this was about haha

We then visited Meiji Jingu, a shrine in Shibuya, which featured a nice long walk in the forest (!!!). It was hot as hell so we decided to bring some beers with us again… hahaha

Yummy Asahi beer cans!

François and myself in front of a wooden gate

Some sake barrels at the entrance of the temple hahaha

We bought a wooden plate (plate for making wishes, and hung on the temple grounds) and made our own special wish:

Asking buddha for more beer!!! Haha

Yasuyuki with myself, again!

Afterwards, we walked to Harajuku, which is a shopping neighbourhood for young Japanese people

Famous street of Harajuku

Funny sign on a store... what does it mean?? Haha

We then had to part with Yasuyuki to go meet up some friends so we took the subway, and experienced a real Japanese rush hour!!

It still wasn’t enough to receive the “white glove” treatment (staff stuffing people into the train cars)

We met with Yukino, Yuno, Kanae and her fiancé. I met Yukino and Kanae about 10 years ago in Canada when I was doing volunteering one summer, and we kept in touch since. We went to another Isakaya, and had one hell of a gigantic feast!!! We had edamame, sashimi, teppenyaki, fried cheese, cheese balls with salmon eggs, bibimbap, curry with cheese, fried gyoza and a nice salad. Unfortunately, my camera ran out of battery power so I couldn’t take photos at all of this extremely amazing gastronomic event. NOOOO!!!!! But Yukino and Kanae lent me their iphone so I could still take a few photos:

Yukino, Kanae and her fiancé. Check out the table - we had so much good food arghhhh

After the supper, we went to one of those “purikura” machines, which is like a photo sticker booth. A really popular totally Japanese thing that has been going on for more than 10 years:

This one purikura machine made our eyes look bigger than usual! This photo is already a classic hahahaha

Overall, our stay in Tokyo was really short, but it was so filled up that we feel like we stayed here for a good two weeks haha. We really loved that city, but it was one hell of a challenge to be careful with money. We discovered a few tricks (buying food at 100 yen shops, walking instead of taking the metro, buying beers in the convenience stores), which we will now use in the rest of Japan… hehe

We are in Kyoto now, and then going to Mie and Osaka. More news in a week!

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8 responses to “War Metal War!

  • Véro

    Haha, le signe avec le crabe qui pince une main, Nick dit que c’est juste un avertissement de faire attention à la porte… probablement une porte automatique et les gens s’y coincent les doigts des fois? Haha je sais pas trop. 🙂

    La dernière photo avec vos visages en style chibi est vraiment super creepy! Hahahaha!

  • iron_angel_steve

    Maudit Annick tu es tellement chanceuse de voir ces magasins de vinyls la 😦 si tu vois un Courage (gold and ivory), Gibraltar (I’m the ones), Heartlyne (starlight) ou chose du genre envois-moi un email tout de suite si tu as paypal lol!

    PS : Est-ce vrai cette rumeur concernant les toilettes Japonaise lol!

  • Satanic Slaughter

    Wow those pics are great !!! I’ve been wanting to go to japan and this post made me excited to go one day. the record shops, food and the culture as a whole is amazing. I hope you post more pics and stories about your adventure in Japan on your next post!!! great great blog.

    • intothevoid

      Hey man! The record shops are definitely the craziest I’ve seen in my lifespan of record shopping. You need to go one day, it’s just unbelievable.. but bring a lot of money! You’ll find EVERYTHING!

  • Matt Green

    i love the way your t-shirts (venom and voivod) match up with your japanese hosts! accidental or by design? and the whole post was really interesting and looks like a lot of fun, as usual!

    • intothevoid

      Haha Matt, those were totally accidental! As you’ve probably noticed, I only have three different shirts… it was a really funny coincidence! Anyway, glad you like the post! More great stuff is coming up haha, our Seoul (South Korean) leg is proving to be quite an adventure… Cheers mate!

  • Jimmy

    It has been amazing following the Into The Void travel journal! Hope all has gone well on the China leg of the journey. Looking forward to reading the next installment.
    Inspired by you both, I’m off to Japan myself next month, first time and all to see GENOCIDE nippon play live in Tokyo!

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