Still discovering new places in Japan

During the last two weeks I’ve been traveling and discovering new places I’ve never been before here in Japan. I’ve been living in Tokyo more than ten years but I feel that I still don’t know anything about these islands and that’s probably what keeps me here. I like the feeling of wonder when I walk randomly and discover a hidden shrine in a forest or find an utterly beautiful garden in an area where there are apparently only ugly buildings (Yes, Japan is also ugly).

I always travel by train, it is so convenient! But this time I chose to challenge my comfort zone and drive a car. I thought I could reach almost anyplace in Japan by train, but I was wrong. Japan by car is really beautiful and I will repeat in the future.

During the next days I will write here about the places I discovered during this trip to Gifu and Fukui. These are two of my favorite pictures from the trip šŸ™‚




Hideo Kojima’s Magnum Opus Becomes a Pachinko Game in Japa

Legendary video game developer Hideo Kojima has lost his rights to Metal Gear when he severed ties with publisher Konami. And while the world isn’t expecting new Metal Gear content to show up anytime soon, this new Metal Gear-inspired pachinko game has appeared. In this article, let’s take a closer look at the new Metal Gear pachinko and how it pays homage to one of the best video game titles of all time.


First off, this isnā€™t the first time that Konami made a pachinko version of one of their successful titles. According to Japan Today, previous pachinko remakes by Konami include the horror game Silent Hill and action-adventure platformer Castlevania.

Itā€™s not surprising considering that creating a spin-off game from a popular title isnā€™t only inherent to video games. Motion picture films have always spawned numerous game titles. Another famous soldier, Rambo, has lots of games tied to his name including Rambo: The Video Game, which is still getting updates even after several years from its release date as shown by Game Spot. Several TV series have also inspired game developers such as the reality show X-Factor which has games like slots and Slingo that feature the title. Expanding outside a single premise is a path frequently taken in the entertainment industry.

That said, Polygon stated that Konami employed the Fox Engine which was used for Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain on the pachinko remake of MGS 3: Snake Eater. Suffice to say, the graphics have been upgraded to more crisp and smooth visuals.

The trailer showed that development, which played the memorable meeting scene of Naked Snake and The Boss. Other characters from the game will also appear, although itā€™s not definitely clear yet at this point how the actual gameplay will turn out to be.

When it comes to audio aspects, the music was taken from the iconic Metal Gear main theme. The original voice actors of the characters have also lent their voices once again to the game.

Games Radar added that there will also be mini-games inspired by significant chapters from the game. The fight with Ocelot will be included as well as Virtuous Missions featuring chibi versions of the characters.

Hereā€™s a video of the different parts and mechanics of the pachinko games:

Although Hideo Kojima is no longer with Konami, the company said that it still has plans for the franchise aside from the pachinko remake. Fans may be split between amused and annoyed, but one thingā€™s for sure: given that pachinko machines are big in Japan to the point that they have pachinko parlors, the Metal Gear series will still get the love and attention it deserves, at least in its home country.


Local rice shops

Rice is probably the most important food source for the Japanese. Rice is usually bought at supermarkets in bags of 5kg or 10kg. But even though the supermarkets competition is strong, there are still plenty of rice shops that have survived only selling rice. These specialised shops sometimes have more varieties of rice that can’t be found in supermarkets, being able to choose their preferred type of rice is very important for many Japanese people. One of the most common varieties here in Japan is koshihikari.

I love the look and feel of rice shops, this is a local rice shop I photographed here in Tokyo:


And this is a huge rice vending machine. It is able to serve bags of 10Kg!

10Kg rice packages in a supermerket


Best places to enjoy the Japanese autumn colours – kouyou (ē“…葉 恓恆悈恆)

Kouyou (ē“…葉 恓恆悈恆) could be translated as “the colours of the leafs in autumn”. During the months of October and November, the green forests turn yellow, orange an vermillion until winter arrives and snow covers Japanese mountains with a white. The ginkgoes bring the yellow, the momiji and kaede (Maple trees) add the rest of the tones to the Japanese autumn.


It is celebrated all around Japan, and many places become touristic attractions just because they are specially beautiful during the kouyou. This is a list of the best locations to enjoy kouyou by Nihon Kankou:

If you want to enjoy it without going far away from Tokyo I recommend Mount Takao and also the Rikugi-en gardens which are very easy to access from Komagome station near central Tokyo.










Recovering fallen objects from train tracks

I’ve always loved the silhouettes in this sign that can be seen in some train stations here in Tokyo. It is a train station employee using a long stick to help a girl recover her hat from the train track.


This is a video in which I capture the full process of fallen object recovery.

How about just using a pokĆ©ball? šŸ˜‰



Japanese sweet

Japanese sweets keep fascinating me. It is more about the wrapping, the colours and the shape than the flavour. Each unit feels special. I got this sweet from a colleague who travelled to Kaga.

Buying a present (Omiyage ćŠåœŸē”£) for the colleagues in your team at work when travelling is a very ingrained tradition in Japan. It doesn’t need to be something special, it is ok to just bring one cookie or sweet for each member. I have the feeling that the main purpose of this omiyage tradition is to help make small-talk in the office. The act of giving a cookie to each of the people working with you is an opportunity to talk about things unrelated to work.

Japanese sweets IMG_0525 IMG_0521


Japan popular brands map

I love this map that shows a map of Japan with the logos of many of its top brands at the location where the headquarters are. Notice how most of them cluster around Tokyo and Osaka, and car manufacturers are around Aichi. Nothing in Shikoku? I love discovering that Hudson (Takahashi Meijin) is in Hokkaido šŸ™‚



Second hand cameras in Japan

Years ago it was worthwhile to buy new cameras in Japan (It was generally cheaper). I don’t think that’s true anymore, for most new cameras the price difference (Japan – other countries) is almost nonexistent.

But when people travelling to Japan ask me, I tell them that if they are really into photography what is still worthwhile is to enjoy visiting secondhand camera shops. Many of them have disappeared but there are still plenty of secondhand and oldschool film camera shops that you can find in the most random places. This one in the pictures is a very local shop that Carlos and me found while walking around Asakusa. From outside it doesn’t feel like a camera shop, it blends with the soba restaurants and coffee places in the same street.


This the exact location of the shop in the pictures and these are other popular secondhand camera shops in Tokyo are Ozawa Camera, Fujiya Camera and Map Camera.


PokƩmon GO in Tokyo

Since almost two weeks ago I’ve been playing PokĆ©mon GO here in Japan. The first days it was pretty crazy to see all the people (Literally almost everyone) was playing the game while walking on the streets of Tokyo. It was surrealistic but also really fun to go to parks and join the crowds hunting for new PokĆ©mon. Last days I’m a little bit bored of it and I’ve also noticed that not so many people are playing it anymore.

I’ve found many rare PokĆ©mon at Shinjuku Gyoen, even on the streets around the park crowds can be seen from morning to late at night gathering near PokĆ©stops and Gyms. If you are into fighting at gyms, the best areas are nearby the main Yamanote Line stations.

Almost everyone looking at their smartphones.


Yo capturĆ© mi primer Pikachu tambiĆ©n en Shinjuku Gyoen pero en una zona apartada donde Ā”no habĆ­a nadie!

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This was my first Pikachu. I captured it at Shinjuku Gyoen, one of the places with more Pikachu in Tokyo.

And this was my first Bulbasaur

This is a park at Meguro late at night with people playing PokƩmon go

nagoyaThis is the Tsuruma park at Nagoya

This is a video I took at Shinjuku Gyoen park where you can appreciate the level at which everyone is focused on their PokĆ©mon hunting instead of the beauty of the nature around them šŸ™‚


Godzilla at Shinjuku

One of the biggest changes at the Kabukicho area in Shinjuku has been the demolition of Koma Gekijo, one of the most traditional theatre halls in Tokyo. It has been replaced by a huge tower building with a hotel and 4D cinema inside. The cool thing is that there is a huge Godzilla head on the side of the building. At night, at 19:00, the Godzilla eyes are illuminated and it throws smoke from his mouth.

This is the exact location of the Godzilla at Shinjuku.