OPERATION: DOWNFALL (The Invasion of Japan for Otaku Purposes [aka ODTIJOP])


Day 7: Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

We woke up late on Tuesday (well, 9AM is pretty late to rise when you're on a vacation and you've got so much shit to do), and proceeded to get ready for a day of just fucking around Tokyo on our own. No tours, no guides, just us and a map. We had a few ideas of what we wanted to see and do, but no real plan. Just as we were about to turn off the TV and walk out the door though, the most excellent show I've ever seen popped up on the screen: Ninjas doing science!

See, there was this blue ninja, and he had this ninja scroll that he was very proud of. Then along came this dick-filth red ninja and he totally stole that beautiful scroll, and then he hightailed it up this man-made metal cliff using a ladder to get up into a 4th story-high cave, about 40-feet above the ground. Red then destroyed the ladder, and the blue ninja had to use some beautiful fucking magnets on his hands and feet to climb up the steel wall to get his shit back. Well, after a few messed up attempts (where Mehve and I shouted out "Oh no! Come on, blue ninja, you can DO THIS!"), he got to the top, and then proceeded to spank red ninja's ass with some amazing blue ninjitsu. It was the greatest show ever. EVER... But then we had to go.

Ninjas. On Japanese TV. Rock on.

I should have recorded this show on video so that I could wake up to Ninjas doing Science every fucking day... Dammit...


The first thing we did that day was head on over to the Imperial Palace again, this time hoping that with all the time in the world we'd be able to see the fancy, proper grounds, and maybe the Emperor himself! Well, not really. We never thought that our day would actually become a Marx Brothers' farce of misunderstandings and convenient meetings that would culminate in our serving tea to the Empress of Japan while she was entertaining the winners of a Beat Takeshi look-alike contest in the center of the royal compound. In fact, Mehve and I found that we couldn't even reach the cool-looking gardened section of the Palace without being a part of an official (expensive) tour. So instead we hung out with some hobos (that literally littered the open park area), pet some royal guards' horses, and then just said "Meh," and pulled out our map to find the famous Diet Building: the absolute center of the government of modern Japan!

Uber Poke-Koi!

I think they feed the palace koi a bit more than they should. You remember that old children's book about not overfeeding your goldfish? Yeah, I don't think it was ever translated into Japanese.


Mel Brooks said it best.

I had this picture taken just as we saw 72 Japanese high school girl virgins marched up to the Imperial Palace's front gate in honor of "Emperor Scores Ass Day" (not an official translation, but the clearest I could give you)......... Nah! I'm just shitting you! There's no such thing as 72 high school virgins in all of Japan!


It was pretty much right around the corner from the Imperial Palace, but even though we were standing on the opposite street corner of the building that was labeled as the "Diet Building" on the map, neither Mehve nor I could see it. Where was that goddamn two-towered edifice that we'd seen in all those Tokyo-based anime in the past?!... That's when it hit Mehve.

"Hey, Rossman," he said. "You see that familiar-looking building over there?" He pointed at something I'd seem Godzilla and Gamera blow up numerous times in movies that was NOT made up of two towers, but instead a pyramid-like roof on a low-lying, official-looking pillared building.

"Yeeeeeeah?" I replied, knowing what he was about to point out.

"I do believe that we're not too bright and THAT'S the actual Diet Building. Hmmmmmm, though if that's the Diet, what the hell IS that two-towered piece of architecture that we're thinking of? Where the buildings are at an angle to each other, with a shared, squat building as the base?"

"Hmmmmmmmmm," was all I could come up with. That and "Balls. Oh, wait!... Shit, yeah, this is the building that blind chick in X/1999 was housed up in. This is the Diet Building..." I then looked around the whole skyline. "But shit if I know where that double tower building is."

There seemed to be quite a few people in uniform in the area (cops and military self defense force soldiers), either redirecting traffic or moving groups of pedestrians (lots of school kids on field trips) away from the locked-down National Diet Building; I figured all the politicians must have been there and the Diet was in session. At least that's what it looked like with all the dark sedans driving up and past the heavily guarded front gates. Pretty cool, but since we weren't invited — and it did not look like we could crash the party without some heavy arresting going on — we just marched on.

Diet Building

Never did find out why it was called "The Diet" in the first place. Not that I CARE to know (so nobody write me up trying to educate me), I'm just surprised that while I was there and while I had several tour guides in the city I never thought to ask. Probably just another case of the Japanese taking what they thought was a cool-sounding English word and just using it for something else entirely.


Next on our list of things we wanted to do that day was something I'd been dying to see ever since I first watched Escaflowne many years ago: I wanted to see a mountain of Shinto torii where a person can walk all the way up the holy steps underneath the red lacquered logs. I never really expected to run across something like this unless we visited a more rural town, but Mehve, after hearing my request and looking at a huge and extraordinarily detailed map of Tokyo, told me "I think that's doable," and that was the day he promised to prove to me that it was. So after our Diet break we started walking around that very area looking for a large Shinto shrine in the dead center of one of the largest and most crowded megalopolises in the world.

After getting lost a few times, we found a flustered cop (who was pulling security detail down some small, one-way alley for the Diet summit) and Mehve tried to ask him where the "Hie-jinja Shrine" was. Once again it came down to me and my specialty skill of (what Mehve claims is racist) Engrish to get the answer out of the confused man, but even then we had a hard time remembering all the hand gestures the guy was giving us as he was trying to tell us how many lefts and rights to make to get to the holy grounds. After another 20 minutes of backtracking, getting lost, then found again, and basically aimlessly wandering, we found Hie-jinja, and took the escalator to the top of the shrine (I'm not making that up).

Shrine in Tokyo

Then we found it... Kind of.


Escalator to the shrine

See! I wouldn't just make that kind of shit up! An escalator to a shrine in the middle of Tokyo. Kami-sama bless the Japanese!


Shrine in Tokyo

And here's just a picture of the shrine just to prove we were there. See, they even have the ropes and those folded paper things over the entrance! It's totally legit!


Escalator to the shrine

Here I am buying and tearing into a bottle of AQUARIUS like a fucking boss! I just find it hilarious that there are vending machines absolutely everywhere in this country. Even on Shrine property. Japan is kooky. Seriously, Christians could never get away with this shit after that shpiel in the Bible about Jesus throwing a hissy fit in the Temple and kicking all vendors out... Although, since machines don't have souls (yet) could they pimp stuff in church without anybody giving two shits? Hmmmmmm. I think I now have a million dollar idea.


We walked around, took some nice pictures of the place, and then found the tunnel of torii that I'd been looking for around the back of the place. First I had Mehve take an action shot of me running up the thing, but no matter how far down or up he took the picture it just wasn't very compelling. So then I had him go to the bottom and set the camera to rapid shutter speed, and then pretty much film me running down at full velocity.

Shrine in Tokyo

Here I am first running UP the stairs, seeing if that made a good action shot. Nope. So then I went for the full-on down-stream charge....



After I superglued my scalp back down, we found a train station and took it over to the Tsukiji Fish Market to go looking around what both Mehve and I expected to be a giant seafood "farmers' market" of sorts. Notice how I said "expected?" That's called "foreshadowing." Yes, we did find the Tsukiji Fish Market relatively easily, but no, it was not anything close to what we expected. I was hoping for something along the lines of the Seattle Fish Market, but instead got several giant open warehouses with tons of trucks and forklifts cruising around. Lots of "Do not enter!!!!" signs as well (that we casually Gaijin SMASHED our way through). Apparently after the famous auctions in the morning (as seen in the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi) all the excitement is done for the day.

We trolled the market for a while (almost getting run over by some giant trucks, and impaled on some forklifts), hoping to find something interesting to see (other than our deaths), but soon we just gave up and began trying to find some place to eat. That's when we found the really cool part of the market, in the form of the many rows of small sushi joints and food-prep-based shops nearby. There were at least 6 long alleyways full of tiny restaurants (seating between 2 and maybe a bit more than a dozen per place) just a little bit away from the giant, dirty warehouse labeled Tsukiji-proper, and they all smelled and looked delicious!

Judging the restaurants by the plastic food samples outside the places we looked at (and our rumbling stomachs at 1:30 in the afternoon with half of us eating nothing all day, and the other half eating only a small amount of junkfood in the early AM) we ended up picking a place (a very close-by place), and went in to see if they'd feed us. They not only fed us, but kept the taps flowing!... for a nominally large fee. But holy fucking dildos was it good!!! We ordered a la carte (colorful menus with Engrish and lots of pictures made it easy to keep picking raw fish pieces), and left very full. But then came the next problem: where to go next?

fish market in Tokyo

Anything fish-related or anything you could use in a kitchen could be found in those small shops just behind Tsukiji Market. I was pretty damn impressed... And kind of grossed out about a few things as well.


Fish market lunch in tokyo

This is where we ate. I don't remember its name or where precisely it lay within the many alleys behind the market, but if you go, tell them that the Rossman sent you!... Actually, it might do better to tell them that "The giant, white gaijin devil with the silly backpack who was always taking pictures, and his friend the non-Japanese speaking Asian guy" sent you.


The Rossman dot com



Tokyo & Shinagawa

Ghibli Museum

Ghibli Museum

Tokyo Tour

Tokyo Tour

Tokyo Tour





Shinjuku & Ebisu

Diet, Shrine, & Fish Market

Shibuya & Akiba


Fuji & Hakone




Kyoto & Nara

Kyoto & Nara

Kyoto & Nara