What a great way to end the vacation….

The last part of the vacation didn’t exactly go as planned. The entire last week I was ill and although I did head out every day I mostly returned back to the hotel after a few hours because of headaches.

So the last week could have gone better, but I was still able to enjoy my time in Japan.

The last day before my departure I visited my niece in Shibuya again, where we had a great cycling trip to the park, visited Tokyo’s best 100 Yen shop and afterwards had dinner at a great Indian place.

The next day I had to get up really early to be on time for my flight, but luckely I managed that easily. Of course the flight was a bit crappy, still being sick and the rude French guy sitting in front of me didn’t help either.
But I managed to get to Schiphol safely, where my girlfriend was waiting for me 🙂

Unfortunately I was still ill for a few days after I got home, eventually I went back to work on Thursday seeing at that time I only still had to cough a lot 😉

There was a reasonable bright side to the last week on vacation: I got the days for the last week which I took off from work back because I was sick 🙂  (So now I can also take a few days off during Christmas, since I used up all my days 😛 )

So now there is only question left:
When will the next trip to Japan be?

It’s been a while…

Not that anything special happened though, I’ve mainly been very sick the past few days 😛

And while it still sucks I got sick, I’m actually a bit glad it happened while I’m in Tokyo.
I’m staying in Tokyo for a total of 10 nights and I did have some things on my to-do list, but I didn’t have a tight schedule like the pre-Tokyo part of the trip.

Luckily I do have some extra photo’s this time. The last few days I just had to get out for a bit everyday (mainly it resulted in me heading back to the hotel after a few hours 😉 )
So here are the highlights of the last few days!

I decided to walk to Tokyo Station from my hotel, which was probably about 20 minutes, but on my way there I passed this huge building which disguised itself as a nicer one.



After I passed it, I reached Tokyo Station!



It does look a bit familiar…..

I also visited the Tokyo Pokémon Center, because who wouldn’t?
When you leave the nearest station, you’ll notice the Tokyo Tower in the distance:


I’m not planning on visiting it in the coming days, since I already went there last time.
(Okay, last time I also visited the Tokyo Pokémon Center, but that’s different!)


Inside of the Pokémon Center!
There was a line, which I could luckily skip, since I wasn’t planning on pre-ordering the Japanese version of the latest release. From what I’ve read on the internet, at one point that day there were literally hundreds of people waiting outside the store.

I also visited the Yodobashi-Akiba, which is more like some sort of super store.


And lastly two more pictures of the main street of Akihabara!



Greetings from Tokyo Game Show 2014!

The last few days were mainly about games 😉
When I finally arrived In Tokyo I only strolled a bit through Akihabara, of course found/played a few Pop’n Music games and after dinner I went to get sleep.
I had to get up early since on the 18th the TGS would start!

Sybren managed to get me an “exihibtor” pass, which would give me access to all 4 TGS days (first two are business days, the last two are open for public)

That morning while I was on the train towards the conference center, I searched a bit on the Internet how I would get in.
They would need a photo ID, which was no problem, but it also stated I would need at least two business cards to prove I was with the company… Obviously I didn’t have those, so I was starting to wonder if I was going to rejected at the gate.

When I arrived Rutger was already waiting for me outside the conference center, holding an extra entry pass: It instantly gave me access to the whole conference without having to prove I was actually a developer at this time. Phew!

Yesterday I helped out a bit with the Reign of Bullets stand from developer Critical Bit. Please check it out if you have some spare time! http://www.reignofbullets.com

I also had to cover for half an hour for the guys of Two Tribes, who are the other Dutch developer present at the TGS.
Was a bit awkward when people came by and said “Wow, I really liked your first game”……” Well thank you, but you should really be playing Reign of Bullets! ”

So right now we are on the second day, yesterday it was kinda busy already, but we’ve found out what the visitor numbers of last year were.
On the first day there were around 25.000 people, the second day was a little bit less crowded with 21.000.
When it opens for public it will get massively crowded, probably around 100.000 more visitors!

At the moment I’m just looking around for the newest games, especially the ones where you get free goodies!
This morning I arrived before the press was let in, so I was the first at the Monster Hunter 4G line, which was also playable on the “New 3ds” (it’s a slightly upgraded version of the “old” 3ds, it has a second control stick)

But I won’t bore you with more silly game related stuff, but I do have several photo’s!

The Reign of Bullets stand!

Earth Defense force!

Huge crowd at the Playstation area

Yeah, you actually had to play the game by looking inside one of her breasts…

Monster Hunter 4g
From a distance the dragon looks quite awesome, but it’s actually just a large blown up balloon thing.

Takayama, Shirakawa-go and Hida beef!

So after traveling close to 5 hours, I finally arrived In Takayama.
It took me only 5 minutes to find my “Super Hotel”

They might have exaggerated a bit when they took that name, it wasn’t really super at all. There was this constant humming noise, and to my surprise the reviews I read online weren’t lying either: the rooms smelled a bit like cabbage…
Also the pillows were made of rocks so it seemed, perhaps for that old authentic 200.000 BC feel.

I arrived a bit late that day, so when I went to visit the well known “Old town” a lot was already closed. It still looked great though.
So I went to a restaurant to get me some dinner: Noodles with some hida meat.
(Hida meat is the Kobe beef of Takayama)
The meat itself was reasonable, bit too well done for my taste, and the noodles were okay.

For the next day I had reserved a spot for a tourbus that would take me to Shirakawa-go. (it was cheaper then taking the bus alone ;-))
But since I woke up a bit early I decided to visit Hida No Sato first, which is an open museum version of Shirakawa-go. Hopefully I’ll be able to upload some pictures later, I made most with my camera so I cannot upload them in the train.

I left Hide No Sato after about an hour, so I would be on time for the tourbus. Once I got at the place and the bus arrived, someone came out the bus and asked me “You must be Marcel-san!”.
Lucky for me I was indeed Marcel-san, so I was allowed to enter the bus.
So with around 18 people we went towards Shirakawa-go!

We firs went to an observatory spot which had a great view of the village :


After a few minutes we went back to the bus again and this time the next stop would be the village itself.

To enter the village you must first walk a pretty long suspension bridge, and after that it gets really quiet since almost not traffic is allowed in the town. (it’s part of Unesco World Heritage)
Took some great pictures there and drank some Shirakawa-go sake. (which can only be brewed at the Hachiman shrine)

After two hours we went back to Takayama and I again headed out to get me some grub!
This time I went to a smaller place and they had a Hida set menu, which contained miso, salad, tofu, rice, dessert and a Hida steak!

Although the whole set meal was pretty good, the Hida steak was absolutely amazing! It was extremely tender and baked rare this time.
Again, hopefully pictures later this day!

So today I’m again traveling most of the time, going from Takayama to Akihabara in Tokyo. This also takes about 5 hours…
At least I’m familiar with the hotel I’ll be staying at, which is a great one 🙂

Zombies, Stroopwafels and again deers!

Just minutes after my last post (at Osaka Universal Studios) there was a huge explosion in the park with lots of smoke.
It could only mean one thing: The zombie invasion was starting!

There were like 20 regular zombies walking around and even a few holding chainsaws. It was great fun to see people run away and loads of children were crying 😛


After a few minutes a Swat team arrived to capture the zombies, but after they were nearly done the chainsaw guy freed them all and it all started over.
So after seeing this happen like 3 times I decided to go back to Osaka.
The next day I headed out early to get to Himeji, since there is a huge Castle there. Unfortunately I couldn’t actually enter the castle because they were still busy renovating the place. It was still really cool to see the place.

After Himeji I made a short stop at Kobe.
Before I went to Japan I’ve read somewhere online that Kobe had a real Dutch Wafelhuis, and since I would be passing Kobe anyway it was a great place to take a break.

The owner wasn’t there, but luckily one of the guys working there was from Belgium (and he gave me an extra large ice cream because I was Dutch, yay!)


When I was back at the hotel, I noticed they took all the beer out of the vending machines. That night they had an open bar so I decided to join the two Japanese men and women sitting there.
They were really impressed with my Pebble Smart watch, I think they probably told me twenty times that it was “very naisu”
I talked with Kato-san, who was pretty good in English, for quite some time. (He also visited the Netherlands eight years back.)
After being stuffed with free beers, free sake and free snacks I decided to get some sleep.

The next morning I had check out again, I was going to Nara that day.
Nara wasnt that far, I think it only took around 40 minutes to get there.
Also in Nara there are a lot of deer walking around, but unlike Miyajima they were a bit more rude and mainly stayed in the parks.
Besides seeing lots of deer (again) I also visited the Nara National Museum, and the huge Todaji temple.
(it’s the largest wooden building in the work, and inside is the largest bronze Buddha Vairocana statue in the world )

That evening I met up with Sybren and Rutger again, and we went to a great restaurant. The menu was only available in Japanese, but it did have pictures so we just choose the biggest plate of meat, accompanied with several beers.


Afterwards we grabbed a drink at a different bar, but then it was time to get some rest.

So right now I’m in the train again, traveling towards Takayama. It’ll take around 5 hours to get there, but hopefully it’ll be worth it!

Saved by Spiderman, collected stardust, escaped Jaws, visited Jurassic Park and went to Hogwarts!

Today after breakfast I set out to visit Universal Studios Osaka.
I’m absolutely having a blast here!

I’ll try to sum up a bit what I did, but most rides really need to be experienced in person:
– Jaws. You take place in a boat, and the captain shows you around the place. Everything is all good, until you get a visit from Jaws! The captain starts panicking, gets his shotgun out and trees to kill him off. Sadly he isn’t the best gunman, so you spend several minutes being chased by the shark while the captain destroys everything but the shark itself. Although I didn’t understand much of the story being told, the effects and explosions were great.!
– Jurassic Park the ride. Another boat ride (sort of) , but this time through Jurassic Park. The Dino’s were a bit cheesy, probably made like 20 years ago. It was more thrilling than Jaws though, since here you actually ascended and descended with a huge splash. While in the waiting line being the first to go next, the operator pulled me aside and let someone else go first, afterwards he assigned me a special seat in the back. Little did I know this was the spot where you would get the wettest… Luckily the weather was great, so it was a welcome surprise.
– Spiderman the ride. Here a 3d Spiderman (glasses were needed) guides you through the city, but he didn’t do a good job locking up all the baddies, since there were still on the loose trying to get us.
It was a bit like a rollercoaster with lots of turning, rotating, crashing and what not. In the end the Spiderman saved the day again and we could leave the ride.
– Space Fantasy. Something about collecting stardust (which was done by mashing buttons on the cart) in carts which could also spin around. I had no idea what was going on, but the ride was awesome!
– Hollywood the ride. The main rollercoaster of Osaka Universal Studios. There are four trains, of which one goes backwards. Good thing I could ride the backwards one!

The great thing about these rides is they have three lines: normal, express and single.
The normal line is for couples and friends, express for when you’ve payed extra money and the single line if you don’t care who sits next to you. Getting on the single line will skip a lot of waiting time: instead of waiting 120 minutes (which was indicated for the normal line on Hollywood the ride) I had to wait for about 30!

An hour ago I went to the temporary Harry Potter section of the park.
You had to make a reservation to enter this part in advance, because it’s probably the busiest spot in the park.
I only snapped a few pictures there, the waiting time for the shops were absurd, and the two rides there (no single row here 🙁 ) had a waiting time of 180 minutes. Luckily I’m not a huge Harry Potter fan, so I had no problem skipping these.
(to be honest, the rollercoaster there looked a bit lame)


Now today Halloween also starts in the park.
in about 30 minutes there will be some kind of zombie outbreak, hopefully I’ll make it out alive…

Best bar in Osaka!

Yesterday evening I (finally) arrived in Osaka.
Since the previous dinner gave me a bit if a difficult time I chose a “safe” place to eat, the Coco curry house.
When I ordered a beer the guy at the counter kindly asked me, in his best English, if I still needed to drive.
Luckily I wasn’t so they gave me a beer, I needed that!
The meal itself was okay, didn’t expect too much from it since it wasn’t a real restaurant 😉

After I finished my meal I headed towards Nanba, where I found not one, not two, but three arcades! I spend quite some time there, but only a few minutes were spend on actually playing games. I was really fascinated by the mind of games available.

There were two guys holding plastic guns battling online with some kind of super girls with jet boots and bazooka’s. Eight guys were betting on digital jockeys who were participating a horse race. And another guy was playing some kind of coin dozer game in the setting of Monster Hunter.

When I encountered a Pop’n Music arcade cabinet I just had to spend some time at it, using my personal arcade card!
Since it was already getting late I decided to go back to the hotel, where the piccolo started laughing when I told him I went to the arcade…

The next morning I got some breakfast at the nearby supermarket, after which I went to Bentenchi station to meet up with Sybren and Rutger! When I finally found them (walked in the wrong way direction at first) we took the train towards Osakako, it’s where Osaka Aquarium is located.

After seeing a lot of fish, we went to the nearby mall to get some snacks, playes some “The Bishi Bashi” (Google it, awesome game), went into the world’s biggest ferris wheel (so they say) and headed towards Nanba.
In Nanba we wanted to go to the BBQ restaurant where Syb and I went in 2011. Unfortunately there were full and we’re booked until 20:00,so we went to our next spot (where we would go anyway) : TakoTako King.

The TakoTako King is a small bar with really cheerful bartenders.
Instead of ordering one meal, we decided to get lots of smaller dishes, mostly pork and octopus bases.
Note: baked/fried octopus is much, much better than raw!

So currently we are still in TakoTako King, having an amazing time.


Till next time!

Octopus, onsens and bunnies!

So yesterday I returned to my hotel, after descending from Mt. Misen so I was soaked with sweat. When I arrived I asked for my room key and suitcase, but apparently my suitcase was already in my room 🙂
I kindly thanked the guys at the reception, but they would let me go to my room just yet…

In The lobby there was a cup of iced tea and a wet towel, just for me!
So again I kindly thanked them, drank my tea and went to my room.

After a bit of recovering I went out to find myself some dinner. The hotel gave me a discount coupon for a nearby restaurant, and seeing I was still a bit exhausted I decided to eat something there.

When I arrived at the restaurant, the menu sadly stated that a creditcard could not be used when also using a coupon. The coupon gave a 5% discount (whoop-di-freakin-doo) so I discarded it.
Now the menu I ordered probably wasn’t the best decision I made this holiday: Fried oysters, raw octopus and some other raw fish (I had absolutely no idea what it was).
The oysters were okay, not my favorite thing in the world but decent. The hardest part were the two big chunks of octopus. They were really, really hard to chew, but luckily I had some Kirin to wash it away with. I can’t tell much about the other raw fish other than that it tasted a bit strange, but at least it was easier to chew.


After dinner (still tired) I went back to the hotel. Time to relax!
The hotel had a public onsen, and after carefully read the “manual” I had of the hotel (onsens come with a manual) I went for a nice relaxing bath.
Since it was still a bit early (I’m guessing 8pm) I had the complete onsen to myself! It felt absolutely amazing after such a climb!

After about half an hour I got out to get some beers, but and hour later I decided to go back to the onsen for some more relaxing.
This time I went full Japanese and went in the provided ‘yukata’!

The breakfast I had next morning was also great. After yesterday’s adventurous meal I decided to go for a western style breakfast. It was still pretty cool, they put some kind of fondue set on my table, and inside it was baconstrips and a raw egg on top, yummy!

After I checked out I was driven back to the ferry by the nice hotel chauffeur and it was time to get to ōkunoshima, also know as bunny island. It was a bit difficult to get there seeing that it’s not near any bug cities, but after a few hours I arrived on the island.

Aside from hundreds of bunnies and a few museums about the poison gas factories, there wasn’t that much to do. It was also a bit lame that they didn’t sell food for the rabbits on the island, maybe I went in the wrong season?

I spend a few hours on the island, and went back to get to Osaka this time.
To be honest it was not really worth it, seeing the amount of hassle and time it takes to get to and from ōkunoshima but an experience nevertheless. The train and ferries don’t connect that well(expect to wait an hour at the harbour) and when trying to get to Osaka it was a bit difficult with my luggage seeing I had 4 transfers and transfer times being between 2 and 4 minutes. It was a bit hard finding the correct platforms within those times, but luckily I (barely) made it!

Currently I’m underway to Osaka, where I’ll be staying until the 14th!

Getting to Mt. Misen

Yesterday I arrived in Hiroshima, it was great to see some familiar things again! But first I had to get to my hotel…

Last time in Japan Syb and I walked almost everywhere (easier and cheaper ;-)) but that took a hell of a lot of time. Since this time I had Internet, public transport was a lot easier to take, since I had accurate timetables.
I decided to take the bus to my hotel, it took a few minutes to find the right bus and after I got confirmation from the bus driver that I was indeed in the correct bus I headed to my hotel.

The location of the hotel was absolutely fantastic: Hiroshima Memorial Peace Park was 2 minutes walking (although I didn’t plan on visiting it since I did that last time) and the main shopping mall was maybe 5 minutes away.

When I headed towards the mall to get some dinner I passed an Arcade, so obviously I stopped there and played me some good ol’ Pop’n Music!
Afterwards I had some great beef cutlet and rice and headed back to the hotel to get some rest (of course on the way back I passed that same Arcade, so you can guess what happened)
When I finally was back at the hotel I planned my trip to my next stop (Miyajima) and went to bed.

This morning after breakfast I decide to visit the Hiroshima memorial Park anyway, since I still had 2 hours left before I had to check out.
When I was walking through the park and sat down to have a drink, I noticed there was a ferry in front of me that would take me right to Miyajima! (I planned on taking the train, but this was so much easier)

So an hour later I was on the ferry to Miyajima, stood on the deck when we sailed out, a Japanese guy kept reminding me I had to duck every time we went under a bridge, and after a few minutes the captain went full speed (you wouldn’t believe how fast those things go!)

Arriving at Miyajima, the first thing you will notice are deers, lots of deers. I mean, seriously, deers everywhere. Apparently they don’t give a rats as about humans, I think they see us as walking food providers.


After shoving several deers to the side I dropped my bagage of at the hotel and went to climb Mt Misen! Now there was this ropeway, so you would think that would save you a climb: wrong. Once you get the ropeway to (almost) the top, you still have some climbing to to. Believe me when I say it’s harder than it looks when it’s 30°C.

So now I’m here, resting at the top of Mt. Misen, sweating my ass off. But hey, I’ve got pictures!



TL,DR; arrived in Hiroshima, Arcade, eat, arcade, speeding ferry, deers, more deers, mountain climbing