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)!


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!


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.


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.

I bought the dried orange pieces (because they were delicious). They were grossly expensive at 1000 yen for about 25 pieces.
Mmm… carcasses!
Whatever is in that pot… you know it’s good.
Tuna head. The hook is still in his mouth.
I found salmon jerky. I didn’t know that existed. I bought some immediately. I ate some immediately.
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?
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. 


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. 

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.

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


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).


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. 


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!

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.


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


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. 

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