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Thread: First time travelling to Japan (PIC HEAVY AND A LOT OF WORDS!!!)

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    First time travelling to Japan (PIC HEAVY AND A LOT OF WORDS!!!)

    GETTING TO JAPAN, DELAYS, SUPER AUTOBACS


    So I stopped being lazy and finally got around to starting my Japan tour diary as a few members were keen on the idea to see what I experienced on my trip back in February and to get ideas for their own trips. On the trip I took about 1600 photos. I obviously wont be posting every single pic but ill try my best to post all the cool interesting things ☺
    As I saw so much i will update in parts when I have time available. Hope you enjoy the read.

    Before we even left Sydney our trip wasn't looking too good as Tokyo was experiencing their worst snowstorm in 40 years. The city had snow absolutely dumped on them for the week before we were meant to arrive. Narita airport was actually closed up until the Friday morning!!! Safe to say I was a bit worried reading updates constantly that week However on Saturday February 15th my girlfriend and I flew out of Sydney on Singapore airlines headed for Japan. One 3 hour lay over in Singapore later and we had arrived in the land of the rising sun on the Sunday morning.



    Didn't even make it out of the airport before buying my first of many boss coffees



    One of the main reasons for going to Japan was to snowboard (my girlfriend and I are both avid snowboarders). The first 5 days of our trip was planned to be spent snowboarding in hakuba but first we had to get there. You'd think that these massive snowstorms would be great for us then right? WRONG!!! Although the snow had stopped the problems associated with the storms were still continuing. Many of the countries highways were covered in several meters of snow as were the train lines. Not the most ideal thing when you have to travel 3 hours across the country to reach the snow resorts of hakuba.

    We had originally organised to receive a coach transfer across to hakuba from the airport but upon arriving no service was waiting. We found a small group of Aussies who ended up being in the same predicament as us (we ended up becoming good friends with 3 of them and hung out the whole time we were in hakuba). An hour of rushing around trying to communicate with multiple people we somehow acquired a prepaid phone and were able to call our coach company. We were basically told "do we want the bad news or the bad news?"
    Our coach and driver had left the previous day to try and beat the storm that had left Tokyo and was now making it's way further across the country...he failed. He was stuck on a highway about halfway between Tokyo and hakuba in a couple meters of snow. Our next option was to catch the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Nagano then catch a bus from there to hakuba. Oh wait all train lines that way were snowed under as well. We were told lines were currently being cleared and our only option was to purchase a ticket for a morning service the next day and just hope for the best.
    We were stranded in Tokyo for the night. Cool! We contacted metropolitan marunouchi hotel (the hotel we were staying at later on when we returned to Tokyo) it just happens to be really close to Tokyo station. Luckily enough they had a few rooms available that night. We were all put on the top floor!

    Day view



    Night view



    Thank god for travel insurance right!

    Looking to make the most of our afternoon/night in Tokyo we agreed to meet up with our new friends later on that night and headed out to do some sight seeing and explore a little. Me being me our first place we had to visit was of course super autobacs Tokyo bay! Feeling a bit hungry though we stopped in shimbashi and found a cool tendon place. Prawn tempura, miso soup and warm tea. Beautiful I must add it was funny watching my girlfriend attempt to use chopsticks for the first time.



    With a rail network as vast as Tokyos itís a surprise we were able to navigate so easily. Definitely wasnít as hard as I thought it was going to be. Did get lost at one stage transferring from one line to another but did stumble across this cool temple/shrine in a back alley so I guess it was okay.



    Tokyo rail map



    Not much later we were getting off at our station across the road from super autobacs!!!! I was seriously like a little kid running off and taking pictures and telling my girlfriend to hurry up

    Crowded Japanese trains



    Already taking pictures from down the road haha



    We finally arrived!!!



    Couple of cars in the parking lot out the front. Slammed yaris. Man they love these things. Had aggressive fitting wheels, flares to compensate and brides as far as I could see. Probably more done to it too.



    Clean type x



    Eventually made it inside and had a look around. It's funny how we think of super autobacs as this crazy jdm parts store etc but really it's not too much different from our super heaps and our autobarns here in aus. They have their tool aisles, their care care aisles and their air freshener aisles but then they have that small back corner area which has all the parts we desire grouped into manufacturer aisles so everything is easy to find.

    Mugen parts grouped together in the Honda section



    Then there is the wheel section. Floor to roof hangers full of rims.
    Want a set of TE37? No worries we have them ready to go



    (Sneaky set of RE30s underneath)

    Or maybe you like CR KIWAMI? Not to worry we have those too!



    Orrrrr maybe you'd like a set of these crazy rims for your super kawaii ride hahaha



    There's also the upstairs seating section where all the bride and recaro seats are displayed but I didn't get any photos of this. It's a shame these aren't ADR approved though as it'd be cool to rock one of these for the kids.



    Inspecting the nardi and js racing steering wheels. I didn't end up buying any as a Mugen 3 wheel came up for sale on ozhonda



    I'd say super autobacs store is made up of 70% normal car products then 30% of the aftermarket parts we like. It's this aftermarket section that makes it so special though. Parts that we'd be waiting for weeks here in Australia are readily available on the shelf here.

    The haul from super autobacs that night



    After a good hour and a bit looking around and buying parts we finally escaped super autobacs (as my girlfriend describes it haha) but the car adventures didn't stop there Just down the road is another famous Japanese icon. Wangan freeway!





    Sadly no high powered cars drove by while I was standing watching


    Ill leave it at that for now but plenty more updates to come
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    LOVE IT.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stoogey View Post
    LOVE IT.

    More more more.
    Quote Originally Posted by ievaq8 View Post
    Nice...
    I was home sick today so another update is coming in a about an hour
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    Awesome thread keep the pics comin!
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    Quote Originally Posted by cardsy View Post
    Awesome thread keep the pics comin!
    5 minutes and youll have more
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    TOYOTA MEGA WEB, HISTORY GARAGE AND SURROUNDS

    Im at home sick so i thought id continue the update from yesterday. This is the second half our first night in Tokyo


    We left the Wangan Freeway crossing and walked on to palette town, which is a big shopping centre, but it is also where Toyota Mega Web and history garage is located. You can kind of see in the pic at the top of the stairs to the left is Mega Web and to the right is the shopping centre.



    We had a quick look around Toyota Mega Web. The place is really cool and has lots of different displays including Toyotas Hybrid Le-Mans car (TS030). Was very cool to be able to have an up close look at this car. There are multiple simulators which you can practice your driving skills and such as well.



    Next we went back to palette town and had a look around. It was a typical Japanese shopping centre. Assorted food places were located on the ground floor level. Whereas the upper two levels are filled with different shops ranging from clothes to arcade centres to many many dog accessory stores. One place i found particularly cool was up in the back corner of the place and had all the usual dog accessories within it. Up the front of the store though was a cabinet that had really cool looking food, cakes and sweets within it. Upon closer inspection it was actually gourmet dog food shaped to look like hamburgers, cakes and chocolate bars.

    Another cool aspect of the centre was the Food centre which had a digital roof which changed colour and had clouds moving etc. The shops here all had extravagant shop fronts and were composed to look like Italy.



    This fountain was the centrepiece of the Italian section



    Fountain ft. girlfriend



    Also found this beauty and of course had to take a kawaii style photo in front haha. Literally every single hello kitty item imaginable was within this store!



    Once you walk through the centre and get to the other side and are greeted with this sign and you know you are about to see some magnificent things!



    Unfortunately at this point my phone battery was running quite low so not many photos were taken but Toyota History Garage is an amazing place and a must see if you are a car enthusiast. The upper level has displays of many iconic and historic automobiles from around the world. Then thereís the lower level which is rich with racing history.
    F1 parts are scattered everywhere (you can even buy some if your pockets are deep enough!!!) Engines from GT and JTCC winning cars lie to the side of you. The place is surreal! Then there are thousands upon thousands of scale model cars everywhere. Ceiling to floor is lined with them!

    A few of the pics I took inside History garage

    Hakosuka!



    First generation Toyota Soarer



    Fiat 500 (so cute and little haha)



    Model cars/posters and other memorabilia floor to ceiling! Could spend hours alone looking at this stuff!



    With battery slowly draining from my phone there was one more thing I wanted to see and get a photo of before heading back to the hotel to meet up with our new friends for a fun night out in a new country.

    We made the short stroll to Odaiba where more shopping centres and hotels are located but that wasnít why we came here. From this area and the shopping promenade you are able to get amazing views of the Rainbow Bridge back across Tokyo Bay with the Mini statue of liberty in the foreground and the Tokyo Skytree in the background.

    Cool trees on the walk to Odaiba



    And here it is, the view I was talking about. No photos do place justice! Such a beautiful view. Literally as I took this picture my phone actually died so I wasnít even sure if I got the photo or not till we got back to the hotel the next morning at around 2am. A sigh of relief was released when I turned my phone on and it had saved



    My girlfriend and i just stayed here for a bit and stared at the view and took it all in. We decided it would be a good idea at this stage to walk back across the Rainbow Bridge to get back to the trains. We needed some snacks first so a quick visit to the local convenience store presented us with plain rice balls and pocky!



    im still yet to see mango/tropical flavour here in Australia

    Walking back across the Rainbow Bridge Promenade is amazing and you are presented with some amazing views but sadly no phone = no photos sorry guys!
    We reached the other side and caught the few trains back to our hotel, dropped off our stuff and met our friends to go out and enjoy a night in Tokyo.
    One of the guys we were with had met a friends friend or something and she had told him about a few cool bars and clubs so we hit them and had an amazing night. Again no photos as no phone but you know what its like.

    So that wraps up my first night in Japan. Next update will have us travel to Hakuba for 4 awesome days of snowboarding
    stay tuned!
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    TRAVELING TO HAKUBA

    So after a late/early finish to the night before with our new friends we all dragged ourselves out of bed and made the short stroll to Tokyo station to catch the 6.50am Shinkansen (bullet train) service to Nagano station.



    We still didn't know if we were actually going to go anywhere at this stage but luckily when we arrived at the station we found out no more snow had fallen and the lines had been cleared overnight So after grabbing some snack/breakfast for the trip (for me it was more boss coffee haha) we were we finally Hakuba bound!

    Before we left Australia we booked our JR rail passes (roughly $350 AUD a week) for unlimited use on the Shinkansen, JR local trains, JR buses and JR ferries. With this comes the extra bonus of reserved seating so you're always guaranteed a seat on the trains and not squished into the non reserved section. Over the space of the 2 weeks we easily used more than this amount so the passes were a great buy!

    Shinkansen tickets



    The Shinkansen leave Tokyo and run to Nagano station multiple times a day. The trip time varies on how many stations you stop at but it's roughly just under 2 hours. Through the first part of the journey the trains only operate at half speed through the suburban areas. The further you get from Tokyo the further apart the buildings become and multistory units becomes houses. Eventually as you move into the rural areas you're greeted with vast open spaces and the full speed of the Shinkansen.

    It was nice to just sit and stare out the window and watch the towns fly by. While still In the suburban areas I would occasionally catch glimpses of cars such as skylines (r32,r34,r35), soarers, toyota crowns, rx7s and the odd Porsche 911. At one stage you even pass a workshop by the train line which was full of beat up Nissan Silvia's.

    In Australia these cars would be parked in garages to hide it from the sun and rain and other elements. In Japan there's no such option and these cars were all parked outside covered in snow from the storms. Crazy! No photos sadly because as quick as they appear they are gone.

    When we reached the rural areas the full extent of the snow storms could be seen. Vast open areas just blanketed in white







    A little while later we came to a stop at Nagano station.



    Our journey to Hakuba wasn't over though. Our next part of the journey was to catch a bus from Nagano station to Hakuba (about 1 hour.) Seeing as we caught the first train out of Tokyo after the lines had been closed for 3 days there were A LOT of people at the station trying to catch buses. We were actually really lucky and got on the second bus. While waiting I got hungry and decided a boss coffee wasn't enough for breakfast. The only problem is once you leave Tokyo and head to smaller towns less English is used. I decided to yolo it and picked something off the shelf and it ended up being delicious!
    It was rice with pork (I think) wrapped around it and marinated in a beautiful sauce and sesame seeds.



    A photo of our new group (I'm on the left) that my girlfriend took while waiting for the bus.



    Eventually the bus arrived and we stowed all out suitcases and gear underneath and took our seats. It's roughly $10 to ride the bus from Nagano station to the main bus depo in Hakuba.

    Packed lines waiting for buses



    Nagano square



    The bus ride takes you through the mountains from Nagano to Hakuba and a lot of the roads were still closed due to the snow and only had one lane open. The bus ride itself is beautiful and you take in some pretty amazing scenery on the way up.



    River/dam system which is man made to take the water away when it becomes spring and all the snow begins to melt. Not too different from our snowy hydro system here in Australia. These vast water networks stretch the entire way up the mountain all the way into Hakuba.

    They love their toyota crowns in Japan. They were EVERYWHERE!



    As you get closer to Hakuba the Japanese alps begin to rise high into the clouds. It really is a beautiful place.



    Snow/ice sculpture of a seal at the Hakuba town entrance. These we everywhere throughout the town.



    Arriving at Hakuba bus depo not long after was a bit of relief. 24 hours late and a host of changed plans and delays but we we finally made it! We called our hotel and they sent a shuttle down to collect us. We booked the holiday through my friend who is a travel agent and said we wanted a nice place that had breakfast included. The place he organised for us to stay at was insane! We later found out that it's the number 1 hotel in hakuba and is 5 star prestige rated. I know why now!

    The hotel is called 'Tokyu Hotel' and I do recommend staying there if you get the chance. Everything was amazing. The staff, the room, the services but the best part though was that we were 250m from the main lift of happo one (one of Hakubas 7 ski resorts).



    It was around 10am when we finally arrived in Hakuba and both my girlfriend and I were itching to get on the snow and board. We both have our own gear but due to the fact we were traveling for another 10 days after the snow we decided to hire boards and I didn't take any of my clothing as I wanted an empty suitcase for car parts haha. We used spicy rentals located in the Wadano village and a 5 minute walk from our hotel. Again I recommend them if you ever go to Japan and need to hire gear. Their prices are really cheap and their service is great!

    You can see in this photo just how much snow falls in Japan. My girlfriend isn't short (she's about 175cm) and the snow is piled beside her. That's just in the village too. Not in the actual snow fields! Hakuba actually receives an average snowfall of 12m!



    Wadano village was actually the athletes village during the 1998 Olympics. It's basically been turned into all different hotels and accommodation now. There's restaurants and bars scattered throughout the village and its really nice.





    I'll leave it there and the next update will be all about the amazing snow Japan has to offer.
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    Loving the thread, keep it coming!
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    i got super lazy with this thread and not many people view it?
    maybe i should do another update?
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