Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Day 3 Tokyo Japan - Seedy Shinjuku, Placenta Drink, 8-Bit Cafe, 16Shots

*Delayed blog, posted on Tuesday night Japan time.

Monday - I had no idea what Shinjuku was all about until Keito mentioned that Shinjuku was the entertainment district (as if everything in Tokyo wasn't entertaining enough), specifically for the Salarymen, (and salarywomen), adults seeking company, and tourists looking to ahem, 'experience' what the locals are providing.

All I knew about Shinjuku was that the 8-Bit Cafe, and 16Shots Otaku spots, were somewhere in the area, as well as several Vinyl toy urban art shops I wanted to see.

I had written down the addresses on my iPhone, but we had no leads on where to start. So we stopped by a police mini-station outside of the Shinjuku east exit of the station to ask for directions.

Pointed in the right direction, we proceeded to make our way through the brightly lit streets of Shinjuku. Toys, and videogame themed bars, were the priority in Shinjuku. FewMany was on my list of places to hit up, so we headed on over after getting directions. This Toy store had a pretty varied selection of toys, that were more geared towards the cute stuff, Sanrio-esque toys, and not high-end anime figurines. We also needed directions to the 8-Bit Cafe, and 16 Shots, and other other toy stores too and thanks to the dude at FewMany, he helped us out and printed out some google maps for us.

Lots of walking called for some energy, so we stopped by a Pharmacy to get an energy drink I've been meaning to try. The Placenta drink... For all genders, not for the weak stomachs, this promises to give a healthy boost in energy with Pig Placenta. The Pharmasist (Salesmen) was very helpful in describing it's affects, which included better alertness, and overall better health. The small bottle retailed for 10bucks!

On a completely unrelated side note... We were kicked out of a sex shop. You see I have some friends back home who wanted me to bring them back some adult gifts, so I've been looking into possibly doing just that. In Shinjuku I had an opportunity to browse a store, which was owned by an elderly woman. She welcomed us in, and showed us some of the items, speaking no english. Luckily Keito was translating. The lady all of a sudden said that if we buy an item for a minimum of 3,00 Yen, she'd through in a special gift... we were curious. As we looked for a cheap item to buy, the lady suddenly became inpatient, and started pushing us towards the door all the while speaking gibberish Japanese, literally. We found ourselves on the doorstep, stunned by what just happened, we walked away trying to figure out what the fuck we did wrong. Wierd.

Sorry no pictures of the rest of the cafe. The best way to describe 8-Bit Cafe is that it feels like your dream bedroom growing up, packed with toys, and classic videogames. I have to go back here before I leave to buy a t-shirt.

We ordered up lots of drinks, and mixed in the Placenta drink, which alone tastes very salty, and kinda gross. I also did some sketching in sketchbook that guests typically doodle in during their visit, and played some NES and SNES games, like Mother 2, Mario Kart, Mario Paint, Street Fight II, Final Fight II, and more. I really wanted to test the knowledge of the people at 8-Bit Cafe, so I asked them if they had the Super Scope 6, since they seemed to have everything else, even the Virtual Boy... surprisingly he didn't know what the Super Scope 6 was... WTF? Another observation about this place is that many of the older games didn't work, or take a while to work. Blowing on cartridges is a must.

16Shots, friends of the folks at the 8-Bit Cafe is more like a bar, and not a bedroom. It's pretty tiny, and a bit of a walk from 8-Bit. There was an arcade machine that guests use as a table, and a TV setup with a mess of game consoles, and controller wires. I popped in Mario Kart. The 'button press' hit-counter was also being passed around, and we all tested our skills to see if we could compete with Takahashi Meijin - Master Higgins' 16Shots a second.

The biggest surprise at the 16Shots was the owner, and his excellent library of videogame music, at his finger tips. From Shenmue, Jet Set Radio, to REZ, and even Portal, I was fucking stunned. We were all happily surprised. No other bar, would ever play those songs back to back, that alone is reason to go to 16shots just to see how extensive his music collection is. Even a specific stage in Virtua Fighter 2 (Shun Di remix), the DJ knew and played. Awesome. Best DJ in Tokyo.

When I asked him what type of people come to 16Shots, he said mostly employees of game companies like SEGA, and KONAMI. I also asked him what the Japanese think of the XBOX 360, and he said that many are growing a liking to the XBLA, it's game distribution, and content, though of course, the PS3 remains most popular.

Also at 16Shots was an artist who has done work for Konami, and Bandai, check out his amazing stuff!

Sleepy, drunk, and tired, heading back to Shibuya was somewhat tough, when I kept falling in and out of sleep. Damn bright lights... solution... shades.

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