Ah, the Yamanote line.
A major artery for Tokyo, running in a loop through most of the hot-spots people hear about:
Harajuku, Shibuya, Shinjuku, etc…
As much a necessity for tourists as it is for the locals, like these sleepy fellas.
On this particular day in November it came time for me to renew my legal right to stay in Japan as my 1 year introductory work visa was rapidly coming to completion.
This was a bitter-sweet moment for me, to be sure; it was enthralling to be granted legal permission to reside in a country I had always hoped to spend time in, and the prospect of a shiny new visa in my passport was lovely, but the idea of spending another 2 full years abroad was still a bit daunting.
Initially, I had expected to get a single-year contract, as my predecessors had.
I got a 2 year contract to start, and after 6 months of having lived in Japan the company pressed me to renew, extending my contract through to two and a half years instead of my initial goal of a single solitary year... Womp womp.
As a child I would become miserably homesick after spending even a few short weeks away from Vegas, even in the safety of my loving grandparent's home, could I really handle another two full years away from all my friends and family?
In the end I did, but it wasn't always easy.
Anyhow, this fateful day saw me travel to Shinagawa to renew my passport and after a lovel lunch & afternoon coffee I wandered to Ikebukuro to explore the area. In a small jazz bar I happened to make conversation with a friendly duo who were working for the same studio that produced one of my favorite anime, Trigun!
You never know who you'll run into!
Some of my coworkers happened to be in the area during my previous visit, and had recommended this small burger cafe to me. After waiting in the long lines of the immigration bureau, a burger & a brew were much needed sustenance.
In the shopping mall attached to Shinagawa station I found this small business that was made to look like a subway car bursting through the busy mall! 怖いよー！
There was a lovely restaurant that offered live jazz in the evenings in that station complex as well. I stopped by in the afternoon, prior to the show, and enjoyed a fancy dessert with a nice cup of coffee.
You may not immediately think of coffee when thinking of Japan; after all, the green tea is wonderful and their signature hot brew (unless you count hot sake as the #1). Don't let your preconceptions fool you, the coffee scene is alive and well in Japan! While not every single coffee will be the best cup of your life (ahem, I'm looking at you, instant coffee packs!), there are more than enough restaurants and kissatten (Japanese coffee shops) offering beautiful brews.
Leaving Shinagawa, off to Ikebukuro!
Uaa…the Yamanote line gets so busy after school!
Welcome to Ikebukuro!
Lovely statue once you exit the station.
Karaoke party tower!
Club Goo, men's relaxation club…
I couldn't make this up if I tried.
Obviously, I couldn't go in because I lack the proper plumbing, but those fellas looked interested!
A very blue bar.
And then there was this!
Thanks for reading!