Wednesday, 27 November 2013

The Happiest Place On Earth

Before I came to Japan I didn't know there was a Disneyland in Tokyo. I never really thought to come here. One, I considered it a place really for kids (or for the weird J types obsessed with everything Disney). Two, I wanted to come here for a reason - a "special occasion" of sorts. It has been on my to do list recently. Well that occasion happened to be my birthday. It was given to me as a present so.. here we go!

The key to maximising your time is the fast pass. I researched a little what I wanted to do, and it was decided "Pooh's Honey Hunt" would be worthy of the first pass.

The line of "Haunted Mansion" wasn't too long so we went through there. One thing that kind of bothered me throughout the day is the lack of English on the rides. I know I'm in Japan but it would be nice to have maybe a headset to translate?

We waited in line for "Big Thunder Mountain" Nice. After that we got our fast pass for "Splash Mountain" and went to try out the Pooh ride.

Most people make a big deal of the trackless cars. They are pretty cool. As with most of the rides, it was too dark and speedy to take photos. The animatronics looks very new and modern, easily the best in the park. It's clear why this is one of the favourite rides here.

We went back towards the castle and had a popcorn break. I bought the curry flavour. It tastes great. It wasn't the last time I tried it. Later we had chocolate which tasted pretty good too.

Back to "Splash Mountain". We were in the front seat so unfortunately I got pretty wet. I noticed most of the attractions feature animatronics leading to a surprising climax.

"Beaver Brothers Explorer Canoes" was a bit of hard work especially considering the mother and son in front of me decided to take extended breaks OFTEN. Ga! Lots of ducks around.

Next was "Pirates of the Caribbean". Although we didn't use a fast pass the line was not too long and moved quickly. I guess since it's an older ride people aren't as excited for it anymore. Still enjoyable enough.

It's hard to navigate around parades. I had to take the LONG way around to get to Captain EO. Along the way I managed to take some great photos. I bet when these happy people go home they are chain smoking and swearing. Parade people can't be happy like this ALL the time.

So, Captain EO.. This seems REALLY out of place and dated. The years have not been kind. I hated the pre-show video. It made the time feel even longer to go in (and there wasn't even a line!) I love the 80's and Michael Jackson's music but I don't see this attraction lasting too long.

In sharp contrast I LOVED Mickey's PhilharMagic. The 3D was infinitely better as well as the "special effects". Good thing too that Donald Duck is the main character and I can't understand him half the time in English so the story was quite understandable too. The songs were real nice too. We watched it twice. It was THAT good.

Before we saw this show we went on "Star Tours" and "StarJets". We strolled through Toontown riding "Gadget's Go Coaster" for a laugh.

Space Mountain had one of the biggest lines. For sheer thrill this was probably the best ride for me. Maybe too scary for young kids. This would suit Disney Sea quite well.

By now we were both quite tired. Peter Pan's Flight was "ok". I had stupid fun "racing" a mother and daughter on the Grand Circuit Raceway. Then we went on Dumbo's "Flying Elephants",  "Castle Carousel" merry-go-round, and the Teacups "Alice's Tea Party" to be completists.

Finally to end the day we did the "Jungle Cruise" just before closing. Here again the jokes were completely lost on me being in Japanese.

We were here from virtually opening time till close, so it IS possible to do Disneyland in a day. This really is a place to take the kids, or maybe a date. You have to do it because it's DISNEYLAND. Right?

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Tsukiji Fish Market

Tsukiji is one of those places that I was always meaning to get to but never got around to it.

Probably the early morning wake up had something to do with it. If you want to see the tuna auction you have to be there at 5am. There is no pre-registration so first come, first served.  Unfortunately the time we finally got there all the places were gone.

The rest of the market doesn't open proper till 9am so what the **** are you supposed to do until then? *!&! Go and eat a sushi breakfast, that's what!

There was already a line building in front of Sushi Dai. Easily recognisable by the green curtains (and the queue). As the day progressed the line would only get bigger and bigger.  I'm not into sushi that has tentacles or anything of that sort. No problem! The selection they gave me was all kinds of "normal" fish.

The basic set is 2,500 yen. Quite pricey but well worth it. This was the BEST sushi I have ever tasted. Each piece felt like it was melting in my mouth, so fresh and delicious!

While I was bummed (and really, really tired) that I missed the tuna auctions, I really enjoyed checking out the rest of the market once nine rolled around.

To call it a tourist attraction feels wrong. I felt that I, actually "we" didn't belong there. I always felt like I was in the way of one of the workers. The electric cars zoom by silently with no warning or apologies. Certainly not a place to bring kids. That's for sure.

Even in this uncomfortable air, I'm glad that we can have access to this place. The fish is so fresh that there is no smell like you get in a supermarket fish section. Watching and taking photos as they worked, cutting and preparing the fish for sale was really fascinating.

If you have the chance (and can get up early enough) this place is highly recommended. Just bring some good waterproof shoes and your manoeuvring skills.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

And Justice For All

I woke up early so I rode to some shops beforehand. I had plenty of time, or so I thought.

Police do routine inspections for riders to check for stolen bikes. On every bike is a serial number on a yellow sticker. All bikes have to be registered as an anti-theft measure, and you're supposed to carry the registration proof to prove it's yours. I had the registration paper but my problem was it was under another name.

I'd bought the bike secondhand and didn't bother to change the name. Usually I hand the police the paper and they let me on my way. You might get the older cop that would just love to bust some ass. Unfortunately today was my turn.

What usually takes a few minutes turned into two hours of interrogation. Half an hour on the street, and the rest of the time at the police station. A free ride in a police car!

I explained I had to be at work. The officer (actually there was more than one because obviously this was serious! ) said "long time". That can't be good. Treated like a criminal, I was body and bag searched to help pass the time.

I was refused to call work to say I'd be a "little" late. The officer didn't believe I couldn't speak Japanese (Yeah I know, my bad), and seemed not to believe my story. The previous owner was back in his home country so it was hard to prove it wasn't stolen. Finally they decided to let me go with token apologies but it shook me up. A HUGE chunk of deja vu from this time.

This just reaffirms my feelings that a foreigner will never be treated with the deserved respect of a local.   Sure I could've changed the name on the rego, but who steals a bike with the registration papers? Was the bike reported stolen? No.

Today's event was heavy-handed and unnecessary. I'd like to go home with good memories. This has put a very sour taste in my feelings for this country.   Thinking of coming to Japan? Think twice.