So well, one of the first thing I did when I came back to France was buying the collector pack of Flags of our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima, and last night I asked my mum to watch it with me (because she hasn't seen it yet) and she was all "put it in French" and I was "THERE'S NO WAY I'M WATCHING NINO DUBBED IN FRENCH!!!!" (and I hate dub anyway). So we watched it in Japanese all was well, but I couldn't resist the curiosity to hear Nino dubbed.... ZOMFGWTFBBQ§§!!11!§§11!!!!
ADFMLKJASDLKJFMLASJDF Nino is already young enough looking so if you give him the voice of a 15 years old it's not going to help!!!!! >A<
At least, this pwns my world XDDDDD
Anyway, I've finally received my package from Japan (10kg extra that I had to send from Narita airport (long story, please verify when you go to Japan, how many kgs you're allowed for your way back because the guy from Aeroflot told us bullshit when we leaved, he said it was 30kg each, so we did in this range, but it was 25kg! So we had to run like mad between the check in and the post office (which is in the airport but not next to it ok! >< ) to send 10kg to France wouhou!!!!) so I've finally finished redecorating my room YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!! (remember that before Japan, it was already like this)
Nearly complete Arashi discography yaaaaaaaay (HMV was happy to see me XDDDDDD)
Oh btw, I've found the Happiness single on the 4th, the day before its release (and the day before I leaved, that's why I went to check), I knew you could find new releases a day earlier in Tokyo and it's totally true, so if it happens to you when you're there, know that you can buy it earlier. Also if you go to an Arashi concert, there's a stand where they are selling all of Arashi discography (they were also selling some DVDs and of course there was BokuImo when I went to my concert because it had been released two days ago) Anyway if you want to buy CDs, try Book Off first, it will be wayyyyyyy cheaper and there are possibilities that you will find limited stuff.
And that is why
Oh and w00t, new scanner yaaaaaaaaaay!!!!
Oh and there's also....
me: Muuuuuum ^___^
me: I've brought you something back from Japaaaaaan ^___^
mummy: Thank you honey, what is it? ^^
me: ... ^___^
mummy: ... ^^;
me: THIS ^___^
mummy: ... ^^;;
me: Now your car looks sexy, be happy! ^_______________^
The thing is she was really happy because she needed one XDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD
So enough of my stupid life and moving on to the most interesting part:
So I though it might be helpful to say what it has costed me and all to make this trip to Japan, because more than one year ago, I though Japan was like... unreachable, but it's not, and it's absolutely totally worth all the hard work you can put in it. Also a lot of people will tell you that Japan is expensive. Yes it's expensive as Paris can be expensive, depends on what you're willing to do, and how wisely you're spending your money (you can say I've bought too many stuff but that's why I went there, and I stayed in the range of money I brought with me. Of course if I had decided to travel everywhere around Japan, I would have bought wayyyyyyyyyyy more less, it all depends on what you want to do, but save money ok XD), like eveywhere in the world. When I went to Japan, I brought with me exactly 393000Y (which is around 2000€), plane ticket not included, and were to be include in it the hotel, the transport and the food for 17 days. Hopefully I had to pay the hotel first thing, so I didn't have to worry about it for the rest of my stay. And I stayed exactly in the money I had, (the day I left Tokyo for Narita, I had eactly 1000Y left for the train and 140Y for a bottle of water, that was all XDDDDD). I only used my credit card once at HMV (which is one of the rare places in Japan where you can pay with a credit card) and it was just for a DVD, and the second time was at Nartia airport, for the post office to send my stuff to France. You can go for less (Jennifer only brought 300000Y and she was OK at the end, she just bought less), so just save money depending on what you want to do, AND CHECK WHAT YOU HAVE LEFT EVERYDAY!!!! That's why I mainly bought at the end of my stay, so I didn't have to worry about the things left to do.
I flew with Aeroflot, which is a Russian company, because it was the cheapeast. Don't order your ticket through their official website because it won't be the cheapest you can find. I got my tickets through Go Voyages (OK this will concern only French people because it's all in French), but I found it only by typing "Cheap plane ticket Japan" in Google and you will find all those sites advertisings which proposes discount tickets. So after searching through all of them for the best prices, I've found my tickets (Paris>Narita>Paris) for only 760€ (which is like nearly half the regular price), all taxes and insurance included. When you've found the ticket you want, if your days of leaving are a little free, check if you can find a cheapest ticket if you leave a day earlier or later (that's what I did, I've found mine 100€ chepeast if I leaved Japan a day later XD NO PROBLEM!!!!). Of course you'll have your tickets way cheaper if you're traveling when it's not the hollidays, and if you're buying your ticket really earlier (I bought mine like, 2 months before leaving, because I still didn't know for which concert I would go because of Johnny's stupid ticket system =_= ).
As for the company itself, it was quite good, except the food =_= (yurk! But you're not going to Japan for the plane's food ne XD ) We flew from Moscow to Narita in a Boeing 767 so it was quite a good plane. You will most likely stop for one or two hours at Moscow too (depends from where you're leaving... if you're leaving from America... most likely you won't stop at Moscow XDDDD ). Oh by the way, if you're willing to buy duty free stuff, don't buy them at Paris or Narita, buy them at Moscow, they're nearly 30% cheaper! (but don't start buying too much stuff at the airport because you will be buying too much stuff already in Japan XDDDD)
I decided that for this first travel to Japan I will be staying only in Tokyo, so we stayed in the same hotel the whole time. If you're going to do several cities, well you'll have to search an hotel in those ones. As for me, I stayed at House Ikebukuro, which was really nice because it was traditionnal rooms (geez, I just loved my futon *0* ), Jennifer and me took a regular Japanese room for two persons, which was 6000Y (so it was 3000Y (~22€) for one person, which was perfect for our budget XD), with AC (VITAL!!!!!) TV (YAY LIVE ARASHI!), hair dryier, closet and alarm clock. We had to use a common bathroom and toilets but seriously it didn't matter because they were big and individual (really the shower was enormous @_x And with no crappy shampoo and stuff, it was Shiseido shampoo!), so it just felt like the bathroom was in another room that's all, you're not mixed with all the other residents or anything like that XDDD The toilets are you know... modern Japanese toilets with lots of buttons XDDD (I cracked up laughing the first time I used them, and I didn't knew how to stop them XDDDD (just press the big orange button XD)). There are also two computers, with illimited and free internet access. There's a big fridge upstairs and downstairs if you want to keep your food there, also there's a big kitchen if you want to eat there. So all in all we were quite happy with this hotel except that as we took the cheapest room, we had a curfew at midnight. You won't have one if you take the annex suite with your own shower and toilet, but it's 8000Y for two person (it's still cheap, but as we stayed there for 17 days, we took the cheapest we could). Anyway as the train in Tokyo stops at midnight, it kinda didn't matter, except that we couldn't go around our own disctrict (Ikebukuro) at night (well you can, but you'll have to wait until 6:00AM for the hotel to open again XD ).
The other thing is that the maintainer of the hotel (Mrs. Chen) is kinda cold at first sight, but she's really nice really, it's just that she's strict, but she speaks English which might be a nice stuff if you can't speak Japanese (she also speaks Chinese as she's Chinese herself).
Also Ikebukuro was kinda a good location. Don't start wanting to sleep in Harajuku or Shibuya, it won't be the same price and it's stupid, we were only 13 minutes away from Harajuku on the Yamanote Line, and the train station was only 5 minutes away from the hotel.
You can find even more cheaper hotel mainly in Ueno, for around 1500Y, but I've read it's really not the same standard (and Ueno is like 50 minutes away from Harajuku).
As I said above, you can keep food at the hotel (it will be mainly for eating at nght because you will most likely be outside at midday). If you're low on money, you can survive with the combini sandwiches (between 100Y and 200Y), which are REAAAAAAAAAAAAALLY good (geez, I miss teriyaki sandwiches T0T), or even more you can buy ramen at a 100Y shop (which are like EVERYWHERE!). Be careful, you will spend a lot of money on bottle of water (especially if you go on summer!) at all those drink selling machines. A bottle of water will cost you between 120Y and 150Y. I suggest, for your budget, if you're going out all day, to buy a big one at the combini (like, 1 liter) and to keep it (have a big bag ne XD) and refill it at the hotel. Because seriously, it's so hot and humid, that you will be drinking like 1 liter of water every hour =_= And most likely, if you're going to Japan in summer, you're not going to eat very much, because it's too hot and humid to eat! (I've lost 6kg all in all in 17 days (NOT THAT I MIND, REALLY XDDDDD))
Anyway, cheap food is easy to find in Japan, and it's usually the best XD
If you're going to travel around Japan, don't forget to make a Japan Rail Pass before leaving your country (for French people, you can order it for example on Destination Japon. I didn't ordered mine on the internet because I was going to be on Paris for two days before leaving, so I went directly to the agency and they made it, it took only 10 minutes).
As I was staying mainly in Tokyo, the line I took the most was the Yamanote Line, I took the local subway lines only to go to Asakusa, Akasaka and the Yashio Complex. At first I found the Japanese subway system really messy, because there's so much private lines and there are signboards everywheeeeeere, and the stations are so big that I felt lost. But you will understand it really fast. As we were using mainly the Yamanote Line, we only had to find the big green JR signs and follow it, then take a ticket (the machines all have an option to display all in English so don't panick! Anyway, after 3 trys, you will let it in Japanese XD All in all, you just tell the machine "I want to pay this price" and that's all. To know this price, you just have to watch the big map above those machines. OK it's all in Japanese, normally there will be one in romanji nearby, it represents all the JR system so it goes outside of Tokyo but the Yamanote Line is easily noticeable because it's the big green circle in the middle). Then you head for your train, just check that you're in the right direction (towards Shinjuku and Shibuya (West and South) or towards Ueno and Tokyo (North and East)). Anyway don't panick there because at the end of your first day, you will know all the stations on the Yamanote Line as lots of informations will be given to you (the traffic, are displayed in the train, above the doors on a little screen, and a lady will say in Japanese and English what is the next station and on which side the doors will open (geez, I miss this lady T0T ).
About the prices, a ticket from Ikebukuro (our hotel) to Harajuku (where we headed the most XD) was 160Y. On the Yamanote Line, the prices can vary between 130Y and 250Y, but I don't remember well. If you have a JR Pass at the time you're in Tokyo, it will be free as it's a JR Line.
You can also decide to make a Suica card, but it's not really the best thing to do in my opinion. It will only give you access to illimited travel between only two stations of your choice, but if you want to go further you'll have to pay an extra fee. It's really only of if you're working or studying in Tokyo.
If you still feel uneasy, just take the cheapest ticket price and when you arrive at the station you want, go to a machine to adjust the price of your ticket, or go directly to the policeman near the exit and he will make you pay the adjustment price.
I also used this site when I planned some stuff, but seriously, YOU WON'T NEED IT! The stations and lines are always changing! The thing you need to know is the station where you want to go. I remember when I wanted to go to A-Nation, this site told me to take a semi limited express line, to change at one station and to take another line. There was no semi limited express and I could go directly to the station taking a local line.
Same thing for Aiba's mum restaurant, we knew the line, we checked "is the station we want actually on this line?", and that was all. And if you're lost, just ask (if you're not at ease with Japanese, just write it on a piece of paper). I've brought 3 Japan guides with me and didn't used one for my whole stay!
Do I have to learn Japanese?
That's the question ne ^^ Well of course not, you won't need it, how are all those tourists doing ne? But seriously, I recommend a little basis of Japanese at least, it will be easier and especially funnier. I've started learning Japanese on my own back in December 2006, just because of Arashi because I wanted to understand their TV Shows, at that time, I only knew just basic words like "Arigatou", "Itadakimasu" and the such, because of too much anime watching, but for example I didn't have a clue about the use of "desu" XDDDD Yes that was my Japanese level at the time. But by the time I went to Arashi concert, I nearly understood everything of the MC. Yeah, you want to learn Japanese if you're going to an Arashi concert because you want to enjoy the MC ne! Don't think I'm saying "I'm fluent in only 8 months" @_x, it's just that I understand globally, one word here and one verb there, and I can make out the sense of what I am told (like Nino in "Blond sensei"). And you will progress way more in Japanese while staying 3 weeks in Japan, than at home for 8 months XDDDD
Anyway it's not necessary, but not all Japanese people understand English, anyway you can make yourself understand with lots of waving around, drawings and such XDDD
But yeah, I've spend all my time talking only in Japanese, if I didn't know a word, I just tried to say it in English the Japanese way (katakana pronounciation) and it worked most of the time. Anyway it was easier for me to understand what I was told than speaking myself (because I'm more used to hear Japanese than speaking it, I need to work on that, that's one of the many reasons I was happy I met Akira-kun because I could really talk
So yeah, the basics will help you and most of all, I recommend that you at least learn the kana. Of course in the train stations, it's also written in English, but the shops on the streets etc are not all written in English. Even in the restaurants, the menu are not always written in English. Besides, if you go to small snacks or fast food, it will be written in Katakana (used for foreign words) so you will understand what's written. It's the same for finding a Karaoke, the light signs are all in katakana. Of course you can still ask and you will find it anyway, it's just easier and funnier to find it all by yourself, you'll feel more at ease. All in all it took me 1 month to learn all my kana (well it took me only one day to know them, but a month to be at ease, I kept reading and reading to train myself (reading Arashi karaoke is a lot of fun XD), and writting Arashi songs from romanji to kana.
And besides, YOU WON'T BE ABLE TO DO JAPANESE KARAOKE IF YOU DON'T KNOW YOUR KANA (you will only be able to sing English songs, or... yeah, except if you know all Arashi songs by heart)!!! SO GO AND LEARN THEM! It's easy! (because at karaoke, all the kanji have furigana, which I was really glad to discover XD)
You all know the problem with Arashi concerts. Know that if you're desperate and you haven't find someone at the fanclub, if you don't want or are scared to buy on Yahoo Auction, or for whatever other reason, you can still find a ticket once you're in Tokyo.
All you need to do is go to Takeshita Street in Harajuku, where all the idol shops are. Not all of them are selling concert tickets, but some are. The one where I bought my A-Nation ticket was near the middle of the street, if I remember well, there was a shop at the bottom with just clothes, and the idol shop was upstairs, but you can't miss it because right above the shop downstairs are three TV screens playing Johnnys videos (with the sound... but well there is sound and music everywhere in Tokyo so... XD). On the 21st when I went there, I saw an Arashi ticket for the 22nd for 23000Y. On the 27th, I saw an Arashi ticket for the 29th for 150000Y @_x It all depends on the date of the concert and its popularity (everybody wanted to go to the Hamamatsu concert), the seat with this ticket, and how many days before the concert you've bought it (the closer you get from the concert, the cheaper it will get). I recommend that you go to this shop knowing which concert in which city you want to attend, that you printed a map of the concert room so you know the configuration of the room (the block letters and such) so you know for which seat you're buying the ticket. Anyway you won't have so much choice, I only saw one ticket each time.
Exemple of Idol shops entrances
I also saw one shop like this in Shibuya, while I headed for HMV (you can't miss HMV XDDDD so you'll pass in front of it, it's near a McDonald's (but there are McD at every street corner so... XD)), and I saw one Arashi ticket there too (it was around 30000Y).
You can still always buy your ticket at one of those stalkers in front of the concert room (they're OBVIOUS, and they're kinda scary XD This felt super weird because it's forbidden, but they were right under the nose of the staff... I seriously don't understand). And I know this year they said they were going to check if you were in the FC and such (there was a sign right at the bottom of the stairs heading to the stands entry in Hamamatsu Arena) but nobody checked (and we were 4 French girls absolutely not Asian looking, so we were afraid it might look more suspicious and they will ask us, but they didn't at all, same thing happened to nyanchan when I saw her in Hamamatsu when she went to the first concert (I went to the second) she entered without being asked or anything).
The Harajuku Johnny's Shop
I highly recommend that you go there one day you decided to spend all your time in Harajuku. You can choose to go there in the early morning, but as we were tired Jennifer and me, we arrived in Harajuku at 10:00PM. Two days before we located the JE Shop and the place 30m farer where you have to queue (because you can't enter the JE Shop like this). So you arrive at this place where you have to queue, you will saw a lot of girls queuing anyway so you can't miss it, it's a smoking area actually (and it's called the "Harajuku Champs-Elysées" XDDDD). And a JE guy or girl will ask you if you're here to queue for the shop and will give you a ticket with an hour to come back (for us it was 1:30PM XD so we went to Takeshita Street (as always) and then eat somewhere (Choco Cro, which is right in front of the waiting area, if you go upstairs you'll have a nice view on all those people waiting XD))
The last picture is the actual JE Shop (yeah, it's small)
Actually I discovered later (when I watched Pikanchi on the plane back to France, I really paid attention to the Harajuku part as I know it nearly like my pocket now XDDDD) that where you wait for the JE Shop is where you see Bon and Chu fighting the second time they went to Harajuku XD~
You wait right behind Takuma.... certainly Arashi fangirls behind??? XDDD (just thinking that Arashi acted right at the place where there is the most concentration of Arashi fangirls everyday makes me laugh very much!)
So don't be fooled if you don't see many girls queuing, they're just the ones lining for this half hour!
DON'T THROW YOUR TICKET! You'll need it to queue again at the time you've been given. And don't fool yourself, they won't let you queue 5 minutes before the said hour on your paper nononononono. Then you show your paper (because the girls with the 1:00PM paper are still queuing in front of you) and start queuing. We waited there for 40 minutes. BRING A BOTTLE OF WATER! AND PUT ON CONFORTABLE SHOES! Then the JE guy/girl (who is always communicating with the shop with a talkie-walkie), who made you line by rows of four people, will come, scream to you all the JE Shop rules and bring you to the shop.
You first go downstairs, where there are already people queuing
There are two of them, first one is for the pictures from #001 to #800 and the second is for #801 to whatever it ends. On top of those papers, you have the name of all the JE bands, so you check the one you want for this paper (so if you want Arashi, KAT-TUN and V6 pictures, you have to take a paper for each band). Then you just write how many pictures you want for whichever picture number. When I went there, the first pictures were for Kanjani 8, then KAT-TUN, SMAP and Arashi was the very last, so I had to wait the end of the queue to write them down (I queued FOREVER in front of the KAT-TUN wall =_= And only 5 minutes in front of the Arashi one T0T). Then a JE guy/girl will come and take youtwo by two upstairs. All in all I queued like 20~30 minutes downstairs.
Upstairs... it's where are the "official" goods, meaning for Arashi, only that:
The book-like thing is to classify your FC magazines (I didn't know when I bought it I just took the biggest XD But it became really useful as I have so many of them), there are smaller just for pictures. Other bands like Tackey and Tsubasa had concert towels on sale, as well as posters (displayed on the ceiling XD), there were also more stuff for V6 too. But seriously you won't find much, it's just for official pics. There are also on sale the current concert goods (not all of them, just the uchiwas and the penlights.... but for Arashi there was only Jun uchiwa left XD). Then there are more pictures of the bands that weren't downstairs (V6, NewS, Jr. etc...) and then... you start queuing again for the cashier, I think we queued for 40~50 minutes (I told you to bring a bottle of water and confortable shoes ne!!! And I hope for you you won't do too much shopping before like we did because we had to carry all our shopping bags XD We were so tired @_x). Then at the cashier, you give your paper(s) for the pictures, if you want an uchiwa or a penlight you ask for it here, and you give what you've taken in the shop (the tiny uchiwa and such), then you pay *sob*, the cashier will give you in a bag the stuff you can take away immediately (what I took in picture above) and will give you your ticket to wait outside the shop, the time for her to find all your pictures. Then she will come outside and call your number (don't worry if you don't understand Japanese, if you're gaijin looking she will definitely remember you (like all the girls in the shop who will be staring at you like you're from another planet and you somehow got lost and ended in the JE Shop XD) and wave at you because she's not stupid and will understand that you don't speak Japanese), and you will
Jennifer and I checked the time... and all in all, from the moment we started queuing until the time we went out of the shop, we spend 2 hours and 40 minutes. Maybe if you're going really early it will be quicker inside the shop, but you're going to wait and queue anyway so just go whenever you want.
Hummm... I think that's all, if anybody has any question, I will be happy to answer them.
I will post soon enough again now that I have a scanner, I have tons of stuff to share \ooooooo/