Thursday, 8 May 2014

The Wordiest and Most Biased Guide to Tokyo Ever (Part 2 of 2)

See here for part 1 of this ridiculous guide or my general guide to useful things to know in Japan.

The west side is shopping heaven.  There are some great cultural and tourist-friendly sights as well, but the shopping, oh, the shopping.  Most of the districts that I'll cover are pretty much in a straight line running from Ikebukuro in the north, down through Shibuya in the south.  Both JR Yamanote line and the brown Metro Fukutoshin line run right through this sequence of metropolitan madness.  

The order goes:
Shinjuku (JR)/Shinjuku-Sanchome (Metro)
Harajuku (JR)/Meiji-Jingu Mae (Metro)

Lastly, Nakano Broadway, the hidden geek wonderland of resale stores, is located just west of the string between Ikebukuro and Shinjuku.

Topics Covered: Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, Harajuku, Shibuya, Nakano

That was all in one morning (though admittedly, it was from New Years Day sales).  No regrets.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

The Wordiest and Most Biased Guide to Tokyo Ever (Part 1 of 2)

If your interests are all about shopping, you can feel free to skip to part 2 which covers several shopping hubs; Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, Harajuku, Shibuya and Nakano.

Tokyo is the size of a small province in some western countries, except instead of one major "downtown" region, the whole city has many city centers, each one with a different focus from Ginza's high end designer shops to Roppongi's business district to the dense population of anime stores and maid cafes in Akihabara.  There are many districts that are widely covered in generic tour guides to make sure that every tourist knows about the red Tokyo Tower and the Imperial Palace in the center of Tokyo (where Japan's Emperor resides).  My guide will cover those that I am most familiar with which happens to be a convenient Venn diagram of shopping, food and fandom...

Topics Covered: Local transit in Tokyo, Group communications, Shipping shit home, Asakusa, Ueno, Akihabara and Odaiba area reviews.

Monday, 24 March 2014

A tourist's guide to Tokyo: Written for tourists by a tourist

A tourist guide written by a tourist for my awesome, nerdy friends.  I'm not an expert of Japanese living, just a fan who can't seem to get enough of it.

Topics Covered: Language requirements, accommodations and Hostel/Hotel reviews, Tokyo transit,  shopping!, how to buy food/goods and some store types worth noting.

An intro to how I travel (and thus, what you can expect to see here).

I live for swag and food.  I love Japan for just this reason.  There is swag and food EVERYWHERE.  Although some people like to live the high life when they travel and visit stores of internationally renown brands, I prefer the busiest areas possible.  I love the hustle and bustle that only big city crowds can offer and in Tokyo, different parts of town offer up different crowd with different atmospheres.

Area guide and summary is also done to give you some insight into the parts of town that I spend my trips in.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

A different kind of Lucky Pack post

Pre-New Years Lucky Pack/Fukubukuro Report

Lucky packs are a must for the thrifty/stingy/budget lolita shopper.  Since this post is a little different than my other posts and there are already so many good sources of descriptions for what LPs are, I'll keep the description to the bare basics.  If you are already familiar with what these are, please feel free to skip right to the bottom to see the report itself.

Fukubukuro (福袋) are often known as "lucky packs" in English.  These are essentially discounted grab bags.  In Japan, the new years traditions include clearing out old clutter for a fresh start.  Similar to spring cleaning in the west, this tradition is not only present in the home, but vastly shared in businesses as well.  Many retail shops will bundle up old merchandise and overstock in mystery grab bags and sell them at a significant discount.  Stores ranging from convenience stores to drug stores to high end fashion stores will partake in this practice, and over the years, these lucky packs have become so popular that many variations have come into existence including lucky packs that contain items which are produced solely for these packs (usually done by stores/brands that are confident that their packs will sell out) and lucky pack vouchers that can be exchanged for your choice of products (often used for food).

In the lolita world, lucky packs usually come in one of two forms, dead-stock lucky packs and specially made lucky packs.  Dead-stock lucky packs will contain items from the brand that were previous sold as regular stock whereas specially made lucky packs contain items which were produced for the sole purpose of being sold in lucky packs.  In both of these cases, the contents may be announced in advance or may be a complete mystery.  The value they contain will usually be 3-5 folds of the tag price of the lucky pack.  Some brands will promote their packs with phrases like "10 500yen lucky packs: contains over 35 000yen in items".  In the case of specially made for lucky pack contents, you have to take this with a grain of salt since the items were never sold at retail prices, so the tag price of each item do not have an original retail price to reflect.

Stemming from a New Year tradition, lucky packs usually go on sale at the beginning of January with the New Year; however, as my friends and I discovered, some stores may put a batch up for sale early without any prior notice.  Below you will find my casual report of our discovery of this anomaly as I finally achieved my ultimate lolita/shopaholic vacation this year, a lucky pack shopping trip!  I think it's now shifted from ultimate goal to annual addiction.