On my recent trip, I fulfilled a long-held ambition by visiting Dobuita Street in Yokosuka, one of the primary locations in one of my favourite games ever, Shenmue.
It’s fairly out of the way for a day trip from Tokyo, but it’s only 20 minutes or so down the train line from Kamakura, which is a spectacular day out in its own right. Fortunately, we’d decided to go there, so I was able to abandon the group for an hour to pay a visit.
Found at the end of the conveniently named Yokosuka Line, Yokosuka is dominated by its harbour. It’s the home base for the US Navy in Japan and, as such, you don’t have to look very hard for sailors. Many were drunk, but they neither called me schoolboy or tried to serve me milk. I couldn’t see any forklift racing going on in the harbour, but there was a trio of Japanese submarines lined up in rather photogenic fashion.
Dobuita isn’t far from the station, requiring only a short walk through a pleasant naval-themed park and crossing a footbridge outside a mall that you can’t really miss. It starts around here if you find yourself making the same trip.
Appropriately enough, the weather did turn to rain that day – the only bad weather of the trip, really. But before rejoining the collective for dinner back in Kamakura, my usual reticence to pose was overcome for a quick look for sailors outside Tom’s hot dog stand bar.
It’s been 11 years since I last went to Japan, which seems particularly long given that I went twice in the space of a year back then.
I’m going back in less than a month, and this time will be particularly interesting. For one thing, I’m going with a much reduced interest in games, which was always one of the attractions before. I’ll check in at Akihabara once or twice, of course, and I might try to squeeze in a visit to Yokosuka, but this time I’m going to be travelling all over, from Osaka to Hiroshima, Hakone to Miyajima. Maiko performances and onsens rather than afternoons spent in Super Potato. I’ll be with friends, most of whom have never been before and couldn’t care less about whether my Dreamcast games have spine cards.
I doubt I’ll be doing anything resembling blogging beyond a few updates on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. But expect photography. Lots and lots of photography. I have two cameras, unlimited data, a lot of cloud storage and, by god, I know how to use them.
A couple of hours from now I’ll be on my way to India for a couple of weeks, my first foreign trip since I went to New York in 2009. I don’t think I’ll be going on a tour of the major locations from Temple of Doom or anything, but you never know. In any case, a trip like this is long overdue.
And it better be good, considering how many injections, visa applications and unexpected expenses I suffered for this jaunt.
I’m doing without my computer and phone, so my connectivity will depend on Internet cafes and my ability to remember my 30-character gibberish logins without 1Password, so don’t expect what updates I make to be particularly verbose. But I do plan to take a lot of photos and video, having finally replaced old faithful with another Lumix, and will post them here and on Twitter. I don’t often test WordPress’s gallery functionality, but when I do, I do it during altitude acclimatisation in the Himalayas.
It had been ages since I’ve been abroad, and despite the number of times I’ve visited the States I’d never been to New York, so it’s on that basis that I find myself in my current location: halfway around the world, in a midtown hotel room… on the Internet with my laptop. My excuse is that I’ve walked like 30 miles over the last few days, so get off my back.
The first day was spent understanding just how big Manhattan is, as I walked around the Central Park lake, over to Strawberry Fields, down to Times Square, over to the Empire State Building, all the way west and down Hudson River Park to Battery Park, then past the World Trade Center site and back up to my hotel on 57th Street. Anyone who knows the lay of the land will back me up when I say that it’s not an inconsiderable distance, and my poor legs will serve as evidence.
Since then I’ve been on the requisite games and DVDs Blu-ray shopping trip to the local Best Buys, taken in the American Museum of Natural History, and in a minute I’m going to weather the day’s bad… weather to visit the United Nations and the Guggenheim.
My big project, however, is my Ghostbusters geek quest, which has so far taken in 55 Central Park West – also known as the conduit for spiritual activity in New York – and the adjacent Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, which looks remarkably good for having been stepped on by Gozer the Destroyer.
Nobody steps on a church in my town, indeed. Coming next: the Ghostbusters headquarters and anything else I happen to stumble across. And the chances of some real-life Fallout 3 touring when I visit Washington DC on Wednesday are pretty good as well. I’m packing some Rad Away as we speak…