Category Archives: Travel

Japan 2005: The TGS Aftermath

I’m back from TGS which was fun. I’ll post some decent impressions of stuff I saw and played later, but in the meantime here’s a rundown of the day.

As for the rest of the day, I woke up at around 5am and couldn’t sleep so after grabbing this photo out the window I jumped on Skype and made some calls home. When everyone else was up we headed on over to the Makuhari Messe for TGS (about an hour by train) and on the way got talking to a Japanese guy who lives in New York but was back in Japan for business. He helped point us in the right direction when we couldn’t read the kanji on the signs. Before we headed into the show we got some traditional Japanese food for breakfast (thick noodles with various seafood and vegetable things – £5 in yen can get you a hell of a lot of decent food if you eat traditional). I failed miserably at chopsticks but got there eventually.

After a good few hours around TGS we headed back and dropped into Akihabara briefly on the way back. I picked up both Katamari Damacy games (£15 for the first one and around £25 for the second) and the Katamari Damacy soundtrack, as well as a couple more of those PSP screen protectors. Jan picked up a white PSP for himself and Eynon managed to find four more Famicom Game Boy Micros. After that we were so tired from so much walking that we just got a taxi back to the hotel (five minutes’ walk at most) and that’s where you find me now.

Tomorrow has nothing planned but we’re probably going to look at a nearby shrine and the Imperial Palace.

Japan 2005: Live From Tokyo

Well, I’m here. I’ve been in Tokyo for about twelve hours and it’s an incredible place.

The flights were surprisingly good considering the great deal we got on them, even if it did seem unbearably long at times (40 minutes from London to Paris, 45 minutes going through security again in France with some arseholes for security people, and then almost 11 hours from Paris to Tokyo). In-flight entertainment wasn’t great but I watched Sin City on my laptop and slept a couple of hours, and I got the seat next to the emergency exit so I had about two metres of leg room the whole way.

It was about two hours on the coach from the airport which wasn’t too bad since we got to see a lot of the city. After a quick pit stop at the hotel we went straight to Akihabara to do some of our essential shopping – I came away with two white PSPs (launched today), two copies of Winning Eleven 9 on PSP (also out today, complete with insanely long load times), Lumines, Rez on PS2 (for the irresistible price of ¥500, or about £2.50), and a PSP screen protector. I would have bought more but I didn’t want to blow my proverbial load on the first day and we’ll be heading back after TGS when the crowds of spoddy Americans have left.

The Game Boy Micro came out a couple of days ago and has a seriously impressive screen, and the Famicom versions have sold out everywhere. Eynon managed to hunt down four for the shop but they’re going to be hard to come by. Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children is rare on UMD at the moment and absolutely impossible to find on DVD (even in £250 limited edition form) because it looks to have been wildly popular. I was on the lookout for iPod nanos and they were sold out everywhere too, although I tried a demo unit and was really impressed with how tiny it was. Tomorrow we’re heading to the Tokyo Game Show so hopefully I’ll have some interesting photos and stories (not to mention freebies) from there.

The weather here isn’t actually especially hot (around 23 degrees today, I think) but it’s very humid and feels far hotter. It’s supposed to be pushing 30 in the next few days so I’m not really looking forward to that. The Japanese people are also great – most don’t speak much, if any, English but between my bad Japanese and their bad English we can usually find enough common ground to make ourselves understood. They always go out of their way to help you out, especially if you make the effort to try to speak Japanese. One thing that really summed up how different the culture is was when we saw a whole group of schoolchildren who must have been well under ten, all walking home and catching the train by themselves. You just wouldn’t see it in the west.