Paladin in the Land of the Rising Sun

Discussion in 'The Green Room' started by Paladin, May 16, 2018.

  1. NAHTMMM

    NAHTMMM busy busy

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    Have you been watching the local TV or listening to the radio?
  2. Paladin

    Paladin Gunner Joe

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    Not at all.
  3. Paladin

    Paladin Gunner Joe

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    Day-tripped to Nara this morning...

    First up, seeing and feeding the deer in Nara Deer Park, which was an absolutely splendid time.

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    This buck (his horns have been lopped) was super-agressive and kept hitting me with his head to get me to feed him.

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    Yep, this close.

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    Another wonderful memory.

    And the Todaji Temple did not disappoint. It is the largest timber structure in the world, and its bronze Buddha is the world's biggest.

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    Now, off to the Imperial Palace, then (hopefully) to Nishiki Market and dinner in Gion.

    Tonight, solidify my plans for tomorrow's big event.
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  4. Paladin

    Paladin Gunner Joe

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    I'm in a restaurant that has a TV going...I just saw a commercial with Scarlett Johansson! Also, there's some silly ass shit on Japanese TV. I'm sitting here in a teppanaki place watching Japan's Funniest Home Videos and am laughing my ass off

    The saki is helping.
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  5. Paladin

    Paladin Gunner Joe

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    Second half of today kicked off with the Imperial Palace. In a word: massive. It takes 20 minutes to walk from one end of this complex to the other.

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    From there, it was off to Nishiki Market. This is a covered pedestrian zone encompassing several square blocks and chocked full of every little shop you can imagine.

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    From there it was off to dinner...
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  6. Paladin

    Paladin Gunner Joe

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    Tonight I had one of those dinners I'll fondly remember years from now...

    This place is seems like a little hole-in-the-wall teppanaki place...

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    Hideki-san working the grill...

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    ...and slicing up some wagyu beef...

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    ...which I enjoyed with gyoza.

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    Okonomiyaki! Check another food goal off the list. Delicious, BTW.

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    I might have imbibed slightly during this meal...

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    ...and finished off with black sesame ice cream. Weird, but good.

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    A wonderful experience. Thank you, Hideki-san and Naoko-chan.

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  7. Zor Prime

    Zor Prime .

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    A few questions. Apologies if you already answered these earlier up thread.

    If one wanted to really experience all Japan has to offer (as it seems you are doing) how many days should one plan to spend there?

    Also, how much money (in dollars) should one bring with them to get the best experience?

    Did you plan out all these locations beforehand or are you discovering these new places to visit as you go along? Or are you using a guide book/tour guide?

    Will the lack of knowledge in Japanese cause huge problems? Say if English was our only and primary language.

    Props for the excellent thread and pictures, I’m highly motivated to do some traveling myself after seeing these photos!
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  8. Paladin

    Paladin Gunner Joe

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    To get really good coverage, I think one could do a week, with the time split between Tokyo and Kyoto.

    Of course, even my 2 week itinerary--which is pretty intense--is only going to scratch the surface.
    For "best," the sky's the limit.

    For "really good," I'd say:
    Plane ticket: $1000
    Hotel: $150/night
    Daily expenses (food, metro, sights): $50-75
    Maybe plan an extra $200 for a couple of really good meals out
    And train tickets/rail pass for travelling around: $300 Max.

    If you're young enough, you can do he youth hostel thing and save a lot of money, albeit for a no-frills kinda trip.
    Most everything was planned out well in advance (though today has a major deviation I didn't know about before yesterday).

    Google "Must Do Experiences in Japan" or "Japan Itinerary" and start from there. I wanted to hit all the highlights, so I give priority to things that appear on multiple lists.

    I also watched a lot of YouTube videos to determine my goals.
    Has not been a problem. Most Japanese in the hospitality/tourism/travel areas have enough English to get you through.
    Thanks! I'd highly recommend it.
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  9. Paladin

    Paladin Gunner Joe

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    I find myself in the strangest places!

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    My big deviation was amazing. 11/10. More pics when I'm on Wi-Fi, but the above is a clue.
  10. Paladin

    Paladin Gunner Joe

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    So, I was planning to go to Kobe anyway, and it occurred to me: the biggest, longest suspension bridge in the world--the Akashi-Kaikyo--is there. Why not see it? Or go across it? So I googled it and...it turns out there's a tour. A tour that takes you under the roadway...and up to the top of one of the towers.

    So, yeah.

    The Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge...

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    The anchorage...

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    The structure under the roadway...

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    Walkways over the water...

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    Our guide, inside the tower...

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    Only about 700 feet down to the roadway...

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    Yours truly, suppressing a massive amount of height anxiety...

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    Another big highlight on a trip that's had a lot of them. This really was an amazing day.
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  11. Paladin

    Paladin Gunner Joe

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    A panorama from the top...

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  12. Paladin

    Paladin Gunner Joe

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    My adventure at the bridge yesterday almost made me write off Himeji Castle. I was going to do it after the bridge, but time and the weather were working pretty strongly against me.

    I checked Hijemi weather this morning and it looked like the rain would let up by the afternoon. So, I checked out of my hotel in Kyoto, dropped my bags in a locker in Osaka, and headed out to Himeji.

    Oh, boy, am I glad I did. Not only did the rain let up, but the sun came out and Himeji Castle is just gorgeous...

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    After Himeji, I jetted back to Osaka. Alas, Osaka got short-changed a bit. The only thing I was able to catch was the Aquarium; however, it's world class.

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    I have a terrific additional Aquarium photo on my camera that I'll share when I can

    Right now, I'm on the Shinkansen headed for Hiroshima.
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  13. Paladin

    Paladin Gunner Joe

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    I rolled into Hiroshima pretty late and, since I hadn't eaten since breakfast, I went looking for food. Found this place, which seems like a restaurant/bar transplanted right out of Red State America. Place smells like hickory BBQ when you walk in the door.

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    Getting some wings and a burger. We'll see how it goes.
  14. Paladin

    Paladin Gunner Joe

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    Okay, the wings were not all that similar to Buffalo wings despite being (1) wings, (2) spicy, and (3) having a reddish sauce over a lightly fried exterior. So, no points for authenticity. But...they were pretty good. And pretty hot!

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    The burger--a double-cheese--was a reasonable facsimile. The meat was of...unusual...consistency. Tasted fine, but had a texture like very soft meatloaf. Sorta reminded me of the Impossible (meatless) burger I had at The Counter a few months back.

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    This experience reminded me of my first trip to Europe in '99. I had "nachos" at a "Mexican" restaurant in the Netherlands. It sorta looked like nachos, but different ingredients had been used and, though it wasn't terrible to eat, it bore little resemblance to the dish we're all familiar with. It's like the cook was an alien who had only seen nachos through a telescope. :lol:
  15. Ten Lubak

    Ten Lubak Salty Dog

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    Great pics @Paladin , looks like an incredible time :techman:
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  16. Paladin

    Paladin Gunner Joe

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    Walking along the river bank on the way to the A-Bomb Dome...

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    The A-Bomb Dome. This building was almost directly under the bomb when it exploded (the bomb exploded at an altitude of 1900 feet to maximize damage). The strong vertical forces collapsed the floors and ceiling, but the (relatively) light side loads weren't enough to knock the building over. Everyone inside (along with almost everyone within a few hundred meters in all directions) was killed instantly.

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    The building has been restored several times, most recently to add seismic reinforcement.

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    This photo was taken at the hypocenter (the point on the surface directly below the bomb's point of detonation).

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    This photo (taken today by me) is from the same spot and in the same direction as the previous one.

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    This was taken on the iconic T-shaped Aioi Bridge, which was the aiming point for the bomb (though it detonated a few hundred feet southeast of here). This bridge was built to replace the original which, incredibly, survived the bombing well enough to last into the 1960s.

    As devastating as August 6th, 1945 was to the city, Hiroshima is today a beautiful and thriving city, and an eloquent voice for world peace.

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    This is fairly amazing: this building was almost as close to the blast as the dome..

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    ...and the building is still in use today (having had major repairs, of course). Everyone inside was killed, except one person in the basement, who miraculously survived.

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    The Peace Bell. I rang it.

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    Walking through Peace Park...

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    (continued)
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  17. Paladin

    Paladin Gunner Joe

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    This was touching: Children's Peace Monument. While I was there, a group of Japanese grade school children gathered there and sang a song.

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    The Cenotaph...

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    Memorial Hall for Atom Bomb Victims (this panoramic makes the hall seem a little bigger than it is).

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    Peace Memorial Museum...

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    ...interactive exhibits...

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    ...animated overview of the bombing...

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    ...guide explaining the Dome's not collapsing...

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    ...glass bottles fused together...

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    ...clothing worn by a child who died from injuries...

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    ...and a watch that stopped at the instant of the blast.

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  18. oldfella1962

    oldfella1962 light & lethal

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    awesome pics! And that watch in the bomb museum? If that was a Timex it would still be ticking! ;) You older folks might get that reference. That bamboo forest looks AWESOME! I can't imagine bamboo that big. :unuts: And that largest suspension bridge was making me queasy just looking at the pics. :shock:
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  19. Paladin

    Paladin Gunner Joe

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    Took a trip out to Miyajima (a nearby island)...

    The boat leaves from Peace Park...

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    ...on the ride out of Hiroshima...

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    ...yours truly on the boat...

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    ...the dock at Miyajima...

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    ...fireboat docked at Miyajima...

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    ...lots of deer roaming around. Gotta watch them, they'll eat anything. One of them ate my map!

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    Covered pedestrian market. Had a terrific mojito from one of the shops...

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    ...and had lunch at the Miyajima Brewery. Pretty nice view, a good beer, and some delicious clam chowder (with oysters!).

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    The iconic O-Torii Gate. Alas, I didn't catch it at high tide, when it appears to be floating.

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    Today's a pretty lazy day. I got breakfast and am just hanging in my room, but will venture out shortly.
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  20. Paladin

    Paladin Gunner Joe

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    Like I said, a kinda lazy day today. Really only did two things: walked over to and around Hiroshima Castle and went out to dinner.

    Hiroshima Castle...

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    ..entrance...

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    ...a watch tower with signal drum...

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    ...former Imperial Military headquarters, destroyed in the atomic bombing...

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    ...nice looking castle, but this one's very new. The original 16th Century one sorta got...nuked. Actually, no "sorta" about it...

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    ...this photo shows the castle grounds post-Little Boy. The castle is the pile of rubble at the lower right corner of the island. (BTW, I walked the distance from the hypocenter to the castle; it's almost 1km. This illustrates the incredible destructive power of even a small nuke.)

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    A locomotive I saw while wondering. Significance: unknown (no English signs).

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    Had a few drinks at a bar a few blocks from the hotel. Had fun speaking to the bartender. Though neither of us understood each others' language, we communicated quite well with smart phones and hand gestures.

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    Dinner tonight: wagyu beef at one of Hiroshima's highest rated steakhouses. My most expensive meal of the trip by far. Wanted 300g of beef but was having trouble deciding between sirloin and tenderloin. The owner suggested a solution worthy of Solomon: 150g of each. Sold!

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    And so so worth it. This is the tenderest beef I've ever had, and absolutely delicious. For the record: I think I like the tenderloin better.

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    Sigh. Only two full days (and maybe a morning) left on this trip. Off to Hakone in the morning.
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  21. Paladin

    Paladin Gunner Joe

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    I failed to appreciate just how far south I'd come. I thought Hiroshima to Hakone might be a couple of hours. Nope. Try 4 hours on the shinkansen, with a half hour stopover in Osaka.

    I had to be on the way to the station at 7:30am if I wanted to have any useful daylight in Hakone.

    I got off the shinkansen in Odawara before 1pm, but, even though Hakone's not that far away, it takes some effort to get there: 15-20 minutes on a local train, then a 30 minute taxi ride (because I didn't want to wait 30 minutes for a slow-ass bus).

    Me, on the road to Hakone, above Odawara...

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    Made it here around 2pm, got checked in--nice place!--

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    --and headed down to the docks at Lake Ashi to complete two objectives: sail the lake on the pirate ship sightseeing cruise, and get a view of Mount Fuji.

    Accomplished the former, but failed the latter. The pirate ship cruise was nice, though sunny with a good view of Fuji would've been stellar.

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    I don't think the resemblance between me and the pirate captain went unnoticed...

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    Fuji's covered in clouds. I did get a fairly impressive view of it on the train ride in--there's no mistaking it when you see it--but did not get anything like a decent picture.

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    I'll see what I can do tomorrow morning, though the weather forecast isn't promising.

    Walked around Hakone a little bit. Seems like a nice lakeside resort town (reminds me a bit of Interlaken in Switzerland), only with a big shrine.

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    Had some yummy chicken curry udon, still no luck finding soba...

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    Tonight: ONSEN!

    Tomorrow's my last full day in Japan. Kinda ready to go home, but still feeling sad it's going to end.

    Tomorrow's agenda:
    1. (Maybe) Early Hakone sightseeing
    2. (Maybe) Giant Buddha visit at Kamakura
    3. Tokyo Marathon Finale (plus I'm staying at the hotel from Lost in Translation!)
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  22. Paladin

    Paladin Gunner Joe

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    Hotel restaurant had soba.

    Achievement unlocked.
  23. Paladin

    Paladin Gunner Joe

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    I think I found my new look...

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    So, my life goal of bathing with several naked Japanese men has been accomplished!
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  24. Paladin

    Paladin Gunner Joe

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    Rolling out of Hakone. Weather here makes staying until later in the day untenable.

    Gonna skip Kamakura, too. Figure I'll settle in to the Park Hyatt and spend the day in Shinjuku.

    Along those lines, I have reservations to do the most ridiculous thing in Tokyo. Everyone says it's weird and touristy, but everyone enjoys it.
  25. Paladin

    Paladin Gunner Joe

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    Everywhere I've stayed in Japan has been nice, but the Park Hyatt is NICE.

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    The room itself might be an attraction. I've already made use of the over-sized tub in the bathroom (and will do so again tomorrow) and the view!

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  26. El Chup

    El Chup Fuck Trump Git

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    ^Reminds me of the Grand Hyatt above Grand Central Station. Even the rooms are similar.
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  27. Paladin

    Paladin Gunner Joe

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    Tokyo: an addendum

    So, my last full day in Japan was spent on Tokyo.

    Since I'm in Shinjuku, I took in the very kitschy, very weird Robot Restaurant...

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    I have to say: it was pretty awesome. Very Japanese and very touristy at the same team. Lots of costumes, lasers, giant mechatronics creatures and robots...it was a hoot.

    This one's for @Shirogayne ...

    Sincw it was nearby, I did a rerun of Shibuya. You know what? It's a much more amazing experience at night, with all the buildings lit up, and a couple of thousand people on hand! :techman:

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    Here's the nighttime view from my room...

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  28. Paladin

    Paladin Gunner Joe

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    I'll still have a little time tomorrow to lounge around the hotel, but the sightseeing phase of my vacation is at an end.

    I'm sitting in the New York Bar at the top of the Park Hyatt, listening to a jazz quartet (echoes of Lost in Translation). The quartet just wrapped their set with a lovely jazz cover of Cyndi Lauper's True Colors.

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    One more Moscow Mule and I shall retire to my room. Tomorrow, I go home
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  29. Forbin

    Forbin Do you feel fluffy, punk?

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    It's been fun! :)
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  30. Paladin

    Paladin Gunner Joe

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    Although I'd had some extremely good cuts of Wagyu beef here, I didn't actually get Kobe beef.

    Fortunately, the New York Grill at the Park Hyatt has me covered.

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    Verdict? Delicious and incredibly tender, has a texture that doesn't feel like meat. Also, incredibly expensive, but this is a one-time deal and I had to try it.

    ALL OBJECTIVES COMPLETE

    I catch the shuttle to the airport in an hour.
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