The Ron Kane Files

Writing About Music

Monday, June 16, 2008

Visiting Japan

6-16-08 Visiting Japan

I have visited Japan quite a few times now. I first really went in 1994 – but I had been on Japanese soil in the late 80’s, on my way to Singapore. I was encouraged to go to Japan by my friend Ken Heaton. He had visited Japan, when he was in the US Coast Guard. He loved it there. After visiting, I could see why!

I took my GF to Japan at the end of 1998; I think it was my 4th visit and her first visit. We stayed in a ryokan in Ikebukuro. It was over the Christmas holiday – I remember eating salty ramen on Christmas day near Ikebukuro station.

The last time we went to Japan together was last summer – we stayed at the Tokyo Hilton in Nishi-Shinjuku. It was great. I loved waking up early and walking around the neighborhood. I also loved that (if it was raining) you could walk from the hotel to Shinjuku station via tunnels!

Using Google Maps, I had planned a walk from Nishi-Shinjuku to Nakano Broadway Plaza – it was successful! I remember one of the turns we had to make seemed like it was on a tiny street. But we did it! I’d love to plan a longer walk – this was about the distance of three JR train stations (heading west from Shinjuku). Could we walk from Nishi-Shinjuku to Kichijoji? It’s kind of a distance – but on the map, looks like a nearly straight shot!

Visiting Tokyo – so much to see and do – you invariably have to leave some of your old favorite places out, in order to accommodate all the new stuff! We didn’t go to Akihabara at all this time! But we did make it to the “Tokyo Toy Show” at ‘Big Site’ – it was a ton of fun. Very colorful!

It was such a good time – the US dollar was at US$1 = 124 JPY. It was like everything was “on sale”. Recently, it’s been more like US$1 = 103 JPY – so it’s not much of a bargain now. My big fascination last trip was little paper album cover CD’s (known as “kami sleeve CD’s”) – exact reproductions of the original LP package, as close as is possible in miniature.

I’d love to go back to Japan – but I think I already calculated that the next time I will be able to afford some out-of-the-country travel – and have a decent amount of time off from work – will be Christmas 2009. And probably, I’ll end up somewhere where the US dollar still has some legs – Kuala Lumpur, perhaps? I recently got a new digital camera – and I’m dying to go someplace where there is a lot of colorful flora and fauna!

So, sorry this hasn’t strictly been a music blog today – I guess I’ve been thinking about Japan a lot lately. I love Japan. It’s my favorite place on Earth, so far. There are many more places that I’d like to see before I die – I wish I spoke more languages than I do.

I’ll try to have some music rambling back on this blog tomorrow. Thanks for reading!

Photo is Dorothy at Namjatown in Ikebukuro - near Gyoza Stadium


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