Japan Trip Liveblog 2016 (Part 3)

Day 5: Rest Day

I’m not one of those travelers who has to see and do everything every day. I’m perfectly content to take a day to rest and relax, because I travel to enjoy it, not to check off items on a bucket list. That’s what I did on day five, except for one scrumptious exception.

A couple of hostel friends and I went to a place called Sushi Nova. It was the best sushi I’ve ever had (I’m in Japan, so anything less would be disappointing)!

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Day 6: Fish Market Connoisseur and High Roller Gambler

To begin the day, I once again wanted to eat a non-adventurous breakfast, so I went to Denny’s. Hey, don’t judge! The side it comes with is still Japanese food, not to mention the green tea!

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It was finally time to get to the fish market, which I had somehow not done in my first five days. I hopped on the subway, which was packed like a can of sardines; sardines are easily found in Japan.

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Fish Market Fun!

Unfortunately, until Jan 16, the Tsukiji Market isn’t having the tuna auction, where the massive fish-beasts are auctioned off for steep prices. I would have liked to have seen that. The the market itself is pretty interesting even without the action. It’s full of fish, more fish, one additional fish, and a few other things. Here are some fish market highlights.

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I bought the dried orange pieces (because they were delicious). They were grossly expensive at 1000 yen for about 25 pieces.

Mmm… carcasses!

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Whatever is in that pot… you know it’s good.

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Tuna head. The hook is still in his mouth.

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I found salmon jerky. I didn’t know that existed. I bought some immediately. I ate some immediately.

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I ran into a recurring problem. Before it was paper, and now it was the remnants of my salmon jerky… WHERE ARE YOUR TRASHCANS, JAPAN?

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Nice view, isn’t it? I threw my salmon jerky into the river.

Kabuki Theater

I walked around and came across a magnificent building, a theater! I bought a ticket to the show that was just starting. 

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The show was in Japanese. It featured very brightly clothed actors and humorously (to me) high-pitched voices. I didn’t understand a word, but the pamphlet explained the plot. 

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I spent most of the time trying to figure out which one was the “magical fox.” I’m not kidding. It may have been the guy who did a fighting dance with some soldiers. I would have taken pictures had they not been prohibited.

After the show, I ate at a unique place. You ordered at the machine below and gave them your ticket. A very nice Japanese man stopped by and helped me. I must have looked confused, because I didn’t ask for help, he just offered. If you ever have the opportunity to help someone, do it. It meant a lot to me that he was so courteous and socially aware.

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I sneakily took a photo of this man about to order.

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Only 530 yen! Steal of a deal (for real).

Pachinko Master

I stumbled upon what looked like an arcade. It wasn’t. It was Pachinko, a Japanese gambling game that somehow combines slot machines, pinball, and guys with massive swords. The employees were very nice to help me understand how it worked.

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It took me a while to understand this interesting game, but once I got it, I felt kind of bad at the result. These nice people told me how to play their game, and I cleaned house. Here’s a shot of my ascent. At the time it was 6800 yen, but it got as high as 17000 yen because of my 9x combo! I almost beat the boss to extend my streak (he had one bar of health left).

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The final result?

I began with a mere 1,000 yen, and I won more than 14,000 yen! 

Of course, it’s illegal to gamble for money here, so they have the most hilarious loophole. Rather than being stuck with a giant panda bear stuffed animal for my hard work, I have the option of getting a “special prize.”

I did a bit of research while I was there, so I knew what to expect with the special prize, but they confused me because they said I had 219 balls to spend. That was enough to buy me two chocolate bars. And I was really disappointed. 

“Great, I dominated this game for 2 hours, turned 1,000 balls into 15,000+, and I get two chocolate bars for it?” 

~ My thought at the time

Luckily, I had misunderstood what they meant. They were saying I had an EXTRA 219 balls to spend on a prize there after my “special prize.” After I was given my chocolate bars, she handed me a stack of cool-looking gold chips. 

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The second part of the loophole is that you must redeem your chips at another establishment. She walked me to the exit and pointed to a small sign across the street that said TEC. I made my way across and found a single person in a little place, that I can best describe looking like a cross between a tollbooth, a picture booth, and a confessional.

She slid out a tray, I put my gold chips in it, she pulled the tray to her side, and placed 14,000 yen in the tray before sliding it back over to me. I had really done it. I turned about $10 into about $140 by gambling in Japan. Needless to say, I was pretty chipper about the whole experience!

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Yeah, that’s right. I play pachinko for a living.

On my way back to the hostel, I saw these coy guys relaxing next to a restaurant.

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And I overpaid for a salmon onion pizza. It was guilt-free because I had just made $130 playing a crazy game.

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And now it’s 8:33. I’m pretty tired, but I’m considering going to Electric Town (aka Akihabara). 

Talking With Travelers

To cap off a great day, I ended up sitting in the hostel common area and talking. There were 6-12 people in the group as people arrived and left; we laughed, shared stories, and discussed the mating habits of coral (we had a marine biologist at the table). When it was over, we had talked for about five hours until 2 AM. It was one of those moments that reminded me why I travel. 

About the Author

I'm lazy, but you can call me Stephen. When you're as lazy as I am, you need superior strategies to live well. My strategies are so effective that I'm productive every single day. As the world tries to figure out how to always stay motivated, I create strategies that don't require it.