Next in my series of visitors...my brother came to Japan! I have two older brothers. My oldest brother James came to visit me for a week and a half in late April. A coworker/friend of his, Mark, had visited Japan many times, so he came along too. That was good because he was able to help James book accommodation and he knew how to get around quite well. James arrived on Friday, so after school on Friday I trained in to Tokyo to meet him and Mark.
We stayed at a hotel in Asakusa that weekend. On Saturday we went to Tokyo Tower, which James really enjoyed. It was my first time going there too. I was really surprised that the line wasn't as long as I had been told, but we did get there only a little while after it opened. We actually walked there from our hotel, which was a really nice walk.
|Me and James, and a cat.|
|An entertaining sign we saw on our walk to the Sky Tree.|
|The Sky Tree, from a distance!|
|Breathtaking view from inside the Sky Tree.|
|James snapped this shot of me with Tokyo in the background. :)|
That night, we went to a restaurant in Roppongi called "Gonpachi". I've been to this restaurant three times now, and I definitely recommend it, although you will need to make a reservation. We didn't, so we had to eat at the bar, but that was still okay. The restaurant is famous for having inspired a scene in Quentin Tarantino's movie Kill Bill. I haven't seen the movie yet, but the people I've taken who have seen it usually recognise it and remember the scene. It's a great venue to taken photos in, and the food is also really delicious. I recommend their soba and alcoholic drinks. They have a good range of beers which the guys enjoyed trying, and I enjoyed umeshu (plum wine) and black sugar umeshu. The sashimi for me was a bit hit or miss. One time it was good, but another night I tried it they were apparently selling out, and we got stuff that had obviously been frozen and thawed out - and it wasn't thawed enough! This time we all ordered soba and tempura, and it was all very good.
|James and I with some locals in Harajuku.|
|Visiting the Hachiko statue in Shibuya.|
|He said it was pretty comfortable!|
I met James at Shinjuku station, and from there, we went to a place he'd been looking forward to going to for a long time...Fuji Q Highland!
|Just some of the roller coaster madness going on at Fuji Q.|
The first roller coaster we tried was the most heart-stopping. I totally shocked James, because I only seemed a little nervous in the line, and when we first got in the ride. That's because I didn't know what was coming! Once we were strapped in, we realised the horrifying truth - the roller coaster started off backwards! We slowly climbed the massive track, with no idea of what was coming up behind us. In the ride's defence, we did get a spectacular view of the town and the rest of the park whilst the roller coaster went slowly up. But I couldn't help it. I was getting more and more nervous, not knowing what was coming up. James couldn't help laughing (a little nervously, too!) as I rambled on about how scared I was. When suddenly - ! The roller coaster went down a drop, staying backwards. But the drop had been tiny! It wasn't scary at all.
"Oh." I said to James. After all the anxiety, I felt relieved, but a bit disappointed. "That wasn't so..."
And then I screamed non-stop for about the next two minutes. The roller coaster went down a HUGE drop, backwards, and then upside down and backwards! The roller coaster was able to rotate forwards and backwards, so at times we were facing the way we were going, then suddenly we would be flipped upside down or backwards again, all at breakneck speed. It was terrifying...and so much fun! I think we both just clung on for dear life, and, like I said, I screamed the whole time and possibly burst the other passenger's ear drums. I'm glad we did this roller coaster first - nothing seemed quite as scary after it. I don't know if I could ever summon up the nerve to do it again though, knowing now how crazy it is!
Like I said, we got to do all the other roller coasters, two of which I had done before. We also visited Thomas Town - a small part of the park dedicated to Thomas the Tank Engine, which James likes (it's very nostalgic). We took Thomas themed purikura (photobooth photos) there, and rode a tiny Thomas train. James got some souveneirs (there's a tank engine called James, so he got one of those of course) from the gift shop. Later on, we also rode a cute Hamtaro ride, a water ride, a tower of terror type ride, and many others. The four hour trip (for me, anyway) was definitely worth it, and we were able to make the most of the whole day. We got back to Utsunomiya very late that night!
|Thomas Town purikura!|
|James took this awesome panorama at the Tochigi SC game.|