Nippon Express – 80 Days in Tokyo

happenings and experiences during my stay at RICOH Software R&D, Tokyo

Busted! February 24, 2008

Had a superb weekend again. This time the focus was on event bars. BUT FIRST! What’s a good weekend without a rollercoaster ride, so before going out we headed across the street (!) to Tokyo Dome City and rode the Thunder Dolphin rollercoaster (yes, we have an amusement park right next to our office; actually it is more of an entertainment venue, not a real amusement park. You can also go there for food or shopping. And baseball of course.). The rollercoaster isn’t just a normal rollcoaster, it is actually built on top of the building complex. In fact, at one point during the ride you will go right through a hole in the roof (which is probably a good 80 meters from the ground). You can take the virtual ride by watching the clip below (which I didn’t shoot by the way, found it on youtube).

Afterwards a Japanese friend of ours took us to a place called “Lock Up” in Ikebukuro. It’s a bar/diner which is modelled after a dungeon and where you eat and drink inside a prison cell! The waitresses are all dressed up rather naughty and at the front door they will hand-cuff you and take you to your cell. Cocktails are served in glasses from chemistry supplies, which is a pretty cool idea. During your stay, all kinds of weird things happen, like once in a while the lights will turn off and the music gets very loud and dark and funny people dressed up in halloween costumes will run around and scare you off! It’s really cool.

Funny drinks in “Lock Up”Scary guy in “Lock Up”

On Saturday I went to a similar diner called Ninja Akasaka. It is also some kind of event restaurant/bar but here, everything is done in Ninja-style. This place is really cool. Like when you enter, a Ninja will guide you through the only dimly lit and very confusing interior to your room (I think this place even has trap doors). Compared to Lock Up, it is slightly more pricey, but the food is really excellent and after your meal, a Ninja magician will come to your room and do cool tricks. Here’s another video I found on youtube, you should watch it all to the way to the magician. We had another one, but they are both really good.

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Shinjuku – The First Night Out January 19, 2008

So this evening we went to experience the night life in Tokyo, or more precisely Shinjuku, one of the 23 special wards that make up the metropolis of Tokyo. To the unaware reader I should mention at this point that there is no such thing as a city called Tokyo. Tokyo is rather a gigantic merge of several autonomous districts (actually cities in their own right) called special wards which make up the metropolis people call Tokyo. This “core” of Tokyo already has a population of over 8 million people. If you count in all “suburbs” of the Tokyo prefecture (suburbs is really an understatement, they can be really large, too), you already count some 12 million inhabitants.

Anyway, we first went to visit the Tokyo City Hall where the headquarters of the Tokyo government is located. The building is 48 stories high and along with its neighboring buildings (which are just as impressive) houses over 13,000 government employees. We took the elevator to the 45th level in the North Tower to get some impressive view over Tokyo’s skyline at night (see pictures). You could also buy lots of, well, stuff there.

We left for Shinjuku station (according to Wikipedia and several traveler’s guides the busiest train station in the entire world) at 9pm to meet with a Japanese guy called Rene, whom Volker knew from Shinden, the town where he lives. Together we went to a very nice and cozy (but busy!) Irish Pub and had a couple of drinks — I can really recommend “China Blue”, a very tasty cocktail.

Unfortunately we had to leave at around 11pm already because for some reason the subway in Tokyo stops its service at around midnight, and considering the one hour ride you’ll always either have to leave early or stay until the next morning, which we were too tired to do today…

Well, next time maybe.

Visit the complete Shinjuku picture gallery.