It was so hot, it was impossible to head outside during the day, so we decided to chill in the house and rest a bit until the sun goes down.
Wifi problems: how to connect to the world, if wifi doesn’t work?
Although our Airbnb host offered internet that could also be used outside (which is very common in Japan), the internet was so slow that it wasn’t worth the trouble to carry it along. She tried to rectify the problem*, but it was a dead end. So in the end, we had to order our own device to connect to the internet.
* Erhan’s Note: Apparently it was a data cap issue of sorts. It should have resetted earlier but did’t or some other obscure reason. Remaining online while traveling across Japan is a challenge on its own. Thanks to the internet there are many guides out there on how to do it, and if I remember correctly there are many mobile internet sales booths right out of the airport arrivals gate.
Until the device showed up, we used the Starbucks and other cafe’s free wifi connections.
GION MATSURI CONTINUES… YOI YOIYAMA
This was the 2nd day of the festival. Before coming to Japan, after my thorough research I found out that the crowd starts to disappear after 9pm. As a photographer, the crowd is not always a bad thing if you wish to catch the true sense of the Matsuri.
So around 5pm we headed out the house, and started to walk to the streets where there are floats we didn’t catch the previous night.
Sun was going down, the light was pretty good and the crowd was getting to the streets in that hour. A photographer’s dream hour: golden hour!
SUCH A CROWD
I don’t know the exact number of the people who attended the festival that year, but boy, it was crowded!
But don’t worry, because Japanese know how to deal with this crowd, they are really prepared for the festival. There are many police officers guiding everyone with their lightsabers to right and left. Everyone -even the tourists- obey the rules (because it’s JAPAN).
MATSURI FOOD DAY 2
Today we knew how to move around and hit the food stalls immediately! And we were not alone with the same thing in mind, everybody was eating something delicious along the way to the floats.
After fully resting, we were ready to get back up there and enjoy the night in Akihabara.
Akihabara in the night
Around 6 pm, we went back to Akihabara streets for more exploration.
The work hours were over and everywhere we looked there were Japanese salary men and women wearing a white shirt and black trousers and skirts. They were dressed as if they were the same person all over. Also some engaged in an interesting behavior: a few of them would stand around in a circle and each would bow to one another before going their own ways. I later learned this is often the case when the group of salarymen go out with colleagues (drinking and eating) and then when it is time to go home they say their goodbyes in this manner, especially in the presence of more senior colleagues.
Erhan’s Note: Travelling to other cities (especially Kyoto) we learned people often derided and ridiculed Tokyo way of living where salarymen style of career life is most visible. It was often told us that nobody wanted to live that life, like a robot, no offense.
The Hook for the Maid Cafe
There were some girls dressed as maids to attract customers to the famous Maid Cafes. We already watched some videos about these cafes before leaving for Japan, so we weren’t too interested in these, but believe me, many tourists were attracted to these girls and entering the cafes. I know there is nothing fishy going in there but then again as a woman, I’m not sure that I’m too happy seeing these girls having to work like this, but that is my personal opinion of course.
The maid realized we were taking her photo and did a cross sign with her arms indicating she would rather not be pictured so we decided not to put the photo here.
I’m sure that you have already heard Super Mario by Nintendo. And most of you may heard or seen in Instagram, the tourist driving around Tokyo routes with the Mario go Kart cars. By chance, we run into to their garage while walking from the hotel to the Akihabara station. It was fun to see this scene. Along the trip, we saw the karts around Tokyo many times, especially in Shibuya.
Go up for the cafes
Yes you heard it right, we weren’t used to go up for entering to a cafe but in Japan,many good cafes are situated in upper floors of an ordinary building, you just have to look up.
While walking in Akihabara, we saw many neon boards, again showing some anime advertisement and so.
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Since we skipped lunch outside, we earned the right to choose a good place to eat. Now, the research I did before coming to Japan had worked its magic and we went to one of our starred places: Kikanbo Ramen https://kikanbo.co.jp/. There were 5 people in the queue waiting, it was pretty quick because there was a machine outside where you choose the ingredients you want in your ramen and your drink and pay on the spot to receive a ticket. Once you enter you give the ticket to the counter and voila! The ramen you wished you had while watching all these anime is in front of you! The store’s ramen style was from Hokkaido and they had a dark theme going in the shop, which immerses you immediately, and the drums play a war tune in the background which went tamtı tamtıtı, exciting your appetite while waiting. Some monstrous creature sculptures watch over you from their spots on the wall. We loved the atmosphere, and once we tasted the ramen, OMG! So delicious and extra spicy. First ramen (and one of the best throughout the journey) .
Erhan slurping his ramen like a PRO!
a macro view to my ramen choice (the napkin in the video is very useful because the ramen was very hot, believe me you need one)
Eventually we were overwhelmed by the experiences of the day and went back to the hotel early. You could see from our timeline again, details of our walk.
We didn’t sleep much again in the night, still adjusting to Japanese time?
We are Mine and Erhan, a couple who spent 2 months in Japan from July to September 2018. We wished to tell our story sooner but life happened and we had to postpone it. Still, today we are writing this blog since late is better than never, and there are still good memories and stories to pull from our adventure.
This blog is all about our experience in JAPAN.
I like to start telling our journey by introducing myself and my husband Erhan. If you don’t care about it, please go to the next post (bookings) or jump right into our adventure (Day 1, Tokyo) because the story might take a bit long.
First of all, even though it is a couple’s journey, I (Mine) will tell the story and Erhan will make some extra notes for you.
Erhan’s note: Mine’s name means mountaintop in Japanese. My name means nothing whatsoever and is quite difficult to japanify.
I (Mine) studied Chemistry in University, I even earned a Masters degree in Science. After graduation, I realized that I wasn’t into laboratory stuff so I found a job in the patent industry, became a Turkish patent agent and passed the exams for being a European Patent Attorney except the last one. I worked for 11 years as a patent attorney. I was happy about it except all the exam fuss but was it my dream job? I was always interested in photography, I started to make money and got a DSLR but didn’t make time to learn it too much until 2013. I was traveling for business and for leisure so I started to take photos more and more and it became a passion to me. Around 2017 I realized what was my dream job: being a photographer!
Japan was always a country that I wanted to explore, especially in terms of photography and I came to realize working full time, this wasn’t an option. I didn’t want to go there for a week or two only to leave with a brief experience much like the package deals tourists get. Together with some other factors this strengthened my resolve. So, I decided to quit my job and pursue my dreams.
Erhan studied Computer Science in the USA, then went to the Netherlands for Masters but ended up starting his own company with his brother there: Gray Lake Studios (http://graylakestudios.com/). He is an indie game developer and they have an app for TTRPG’s http://prodnd.blogspot.com/. We were lucky since he is able to work remotely. He is an amateur photographer too. You can say that he was always enthusiastic about Japan by looking at his collection of Manga and his Youtube history of Begin Japanology of Peter Barakan ( btw, if you haven’t watched them, I highly recommend it, it is informative and really really relaxing!).
We were high school friends who spent many years without each other after graduation but always kept in touch. We got married after dating for 6 months at the age 35 🙂 It’s a long story which may become a post in future.
Japan was a dream to both of us, so after quitting my job, we started to make our big plan.
All the photos in this blog are taken either by me or by Erhan. Erhan’s speciality is architectural photos, while I’m into street photography. We both used during the trip Fuji X-H1 as the camera, and as phones me an Iphone 8plus and Erhan a Samsung 8.