So, I couldn't sleep last night and it wasn't due to jetlag. After my ordeal to finally find the hotel, Kayo showed me around. The Andon Ryokan is a very traditionally Japanese room - one must remove their shoes before entering their own room, tatami mats on the floor, thin futon to sleep on, yet it is very modern as well - cable internet acces in every room (alas, not wifi), TV and DVD player in room as weel and all of the plumbing is Gaijin standard, that is not just some hole in the floor. There's a jacuzzi on the 4th floor and I think laundry is available.
Once daylight broke, and thekitchen opened, I decided to start to get ready for the day. I eventually exited my room and was greeted by a very enthusiastic Kayo - it was as though the late night checking me in hadn't phased her. She asked me what I wanted for breakfast, point towards the picture menu. I opted for the $3 omelette with toast and black tea option. I was served 2 daintily constructed omelettes from a single egg. 4 triangles of HUGE toast and black tea in a little glass. I ate it all, including a second cup of tea minus 1 triangle of toast.
With a full belly, I set out to find Akihabara and hopefully an arcade with some Street Fighter IV machines. Now, I had some help here. I asked Kayo how to get to Akihabara, and my friend Tadd asked his Japanese wife Naomi where arcades could be found. Naomi was kind enough to locate an arcade in Akihabara called Club Sega. She also found me a map, but I had since found maps in Japan to be less than helpful as often times they do not show all the streets on the map. Or in the case of the 7-11 map, no streets at all! I figured I could hunt for the arcade on my own.
I got to Akihabara Station with no problems. It's a straight shot from Minowa Station, the closest station to my hotel. I exited the station and sought out the awesomeness I was promised. Upon exiting, I was assaulted by seer plainess. There was nothing extraordinary about what I saw. No maid cafes. No ellectronic stores and certainly no arcades. I hoofed it around untl I happened upon the train station again. Using it as areference point, I started in the opposite direction as my first attempt. This proved to be the way.
I found the "cool part" of Akihabara. I wandered into a few toy stores - of both the creepy adult variety and the more traditional action figure/giant robot type. A few blocks more and I found my goal; Club Sega.
I entered and looked at each of the 6 floors in search of some Street Fighter IV machines. Found a slew of them on the 3rd floor. I changed a bill into coins and siddled up to a machine. There was a young man already sitting down at a machine, so I sat next to him. He said something in Japanese and I replied “English?” He then said “Challenge!”
So I dropped my yen in the slot and fired the game up. I picked Abel, one of the new characters and he picked El Fuerte, another new character. I quickly skimmed the moves chart for Abel and the fight began. The only move I could remember was an over the top flip kick – fireball + kick. I mixed it up with some simple strikes and beat him 2 – 0. He then Picked Crimson Viper, another new Character, and again, he lost . Finally, he picked Ryu, the old stand by. I thought I might have trouble with him now, since he probably knew all of Ryu’s moves from SFII. Well, it didn't matter, he won 1 round, but I still won 2 out of the 3. While we were playing another person stood behind us. As soon I finished Ryu, the other guy said something in Japanese. The first player stood up and let the new guy take his place.
The new guy picks Zangief and i beat him 2 - 0. By this time, I'm getting bored with Abel. Now I'm not trying to use that as a crutch for what happens next, but I really wanted to try someone else out. Remember, I've only put 100 Yen in the machine once. I kept winning, but had to keep using Abel. The other guy picks Sagat and destroys me. I lose 0 - 2. So I finally get to pick someone else. I chose Ryu and defeat Sagat 2 - 1. Both players say something in Japanese to me. It seems like not only did I win the game, I won their respect. Except when I asked to take their pictures, they both emphatically said no.
Mission Accomplished - I proved to 2 japanese arcade goers that us Americans can still hang with the Street Fightin'!
After playing some more SFIV single player, I decided to leave the arcade and do some shopping. I was running low on Yen, so I hit up a bank and asked the nice teller where to buy cool clothes. I told her I was looking for a Uniqlo store in particular. If you're not aware, Uniqlo is a Japanese clothing chain, akin to The Gap. Relatively inexpensive, but high quality wares. I especially like them for their graphic t-shirts. They have countless designs, many manga or anime inspired. The teller explains I should ride the train to Ueno station. Since I already knew how to get there, I left the bank and headed for the train station.
After bombing around the Ueno Area, I found that it's a hip little quirky neighborhood. It's old meets new like nowhere else I've seen yet. Old store fronts selling bolts of fabric, or ceramics or even mundane groceries like just tofu or seaweed are juxtaposed next to high end fashion and high tech gadget shops. Very interesting part of Tokyo.
Anyways, I shopped. Bought some clothes. Came back to the hotel.
One thing of interest, I knew Ueno station was only 2 stops away from Minowa, so I decided to walk from Ueno to the hotel. I strongly believe there's no better way to get a feel for a city than walking it. Unfortunately for me, the stops are fairly far apart. Not sure how far in miles of kilometers, but it took me the better part of an hour to hoof the 2 stop distance.
So I know a little more about the area between Ueno and the Andon Ryokan, but man-alive, I am sore now. I went out again after a little rest in the confines of my Air Conditioned room, but I'll save that for another post.