The End

We have finally arrived to the conclusion of my Japan vlogs, and it seems bitter-sweet. I’ve been working on these vlogs and this blog for nearly 6 years and there are just so many things I wish I could have expressed or mentioned but couldn’t find room. All vlogs are between 5-35 minutes but I had nearly 1 hour+ of footage for each episode. Editing is a skill that requires sacrifice and I have certainly developed painful truth over the years. Even though film making is my occupation, these vlogs have always been a fun project to remind me how story telling doesn’t need to be perfect or calculated. It just needs to have structure and good pacing.

I’ve learned so much about myself from creating this series. It’s a strange thing watching yourself for hours and hours. You go through different stages of acceptance and criticism. First, you hate the sound of your voice or how you fidget with your hair, then you develop insecurities about how you look, then you learn to accept just how nerdy you are. The analysis really takes you to a place where you get to know yourself and how you want to present yourself to the world. I appreciate that I’m able to grow from these experiences and how they will forever be apart of the online world.

Lastly I want to thank Kaz and Joe for being such great friends and travel partners. Without them I know that I would have had a very different experience, and not for the better. I think I’ll make a little highlight video but that’s only going to go on my YouTube page so if you want to keep up with future uploads be sure to subscribe.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5NXt4FnUwaYO3JX3qeGD7g

Onto the next adventure. Uganda + Kenya, my editing skills are coming for you!

-K

Last Piece of the Puzzle

There is a stereotype that I love about Japan; it is the world leader in tech. Cameras, video games, computers, you name it and Japan prides itself on being the first to push the limits on what’s going to be next. I absolutely adore technology, maybe it’s because I’m from Gen Y but technology is in my blood. So where do you go in Tokyo to find this magical land of technology? You go to the Akihabara  district.

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Tower in Shinjuku

Akihabara is all about tech. Everything you can think of that requires computer chips, LED lights and “nerdom” factoids is found in this part of Tokyo. The sheer number of store dedicated to tech was astounding and somewhat overwhelming. Back home you have shops like Best Buy and Memory Express which are the only retailers for tech (there are a few others but not on a large platform.) and they are self-contained units. Whereas in Akihabara you could spend days jumping from shop to shop. One of the biggest stores we went into was the Yodobashi store which is essentially 8 floors of tech, music, movies and gear. If I wasn’t on such a tight budget I think I would have spent several hundreds of dollars in that store. Lucky for me my suitcase was another barrier in preventing me from spending an absurd amount of cash.

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Going into the Shibuya Underground

 

After we were done in Akihabara we traversed the Tokyo metro to find our way back into Shinjuku. This is where we filmed the 3rd and final piece to Kaz’s short film. Joe was the talent, Kaz was Dp, and I directed. What I loved about this part of the film was that I got to showcase the atmosphere of Tokyo. Honestly guerilla shooting is nerve-racking you never know who’s going to tell you to stop filming, which was the case on our very first shot. A security guard for one of the office towers we were shooting beside caught us on their property and Kaz was able to talk with him and explain our circumstances. After a brief discussion the guard advised us to just move locations (about 20 meters away) and we shouldn’t have a problem. From that point forward we made sure to quickly and discretely setup our shots.

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Shibuya Crossing | 2011

Our last stop of the day was in Shibuya to see the district crossing (yes another Lost in Translation spot.) It was an interesting place. Lots of people, and a lot going on. Besides our tech purchases the 3 of us aren’t huge shoppers so we only spent 30 minutes in the area to grab photos and experience the energy.

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Joe in Shibuya Streets

Overall this day was the tech experience I wanted. Got to see what Tokyo had to offer and it was amazing. Every time I think about new technologies being released I know that the people of Tokyo are some of the first to ge their hands on it. As a Canadian nerd, I’m jealous!

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Alternate Angle of Shibuya Crossing

-KB

Nabe is the best!

Some days are actual roller coasters. It all starts at the top of a sky scraper, then you plummet down to reality where time flows as it wishes and the clouds look so much further away. Your feet meet the ground and your bank account suddenly has limits and your ability to forget about the common problems comes rushing back like the Japanese humidity. It’s an inevitable reality for someone who was just out of school and traveling on a budget. However even today as someone who has been working for 6 years, I look back on the Park Hyatt experience as unique and burnt into my memory. The elevator rides, the sound of fine dinning, the smell of the pool, and most definitely the view. All these memories are complied into a single entity. A single feeling. A gift to myself.

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Final look out of Park Hyatt Building

Not everything in a “commoners” life is bland or insignificant though, it really just depends on how you manage your perspective and the company you keep.  The family that welcomed us to Tokyo the first time round had yet again offered to shelter us for 2 additional nights. I was beyond myself when they welcomed us back and how much they were willing to go out of their way to take care of us. I’d imagine it would be a hard sell to take in 3 relative strangers into ones home and offer them such hospitality. At the core of their structure I could tell kindness as a key element. It was evident by the way I could hear them speak to one another through the walls and how they interacted from afar. Yes people tend to put the best versions of themselves forward in the presence of visitors but sometimes you just know.

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Park Hyatt Tokyo – Upper Floor Lobby

I am so thankful to them.

-KB

Park Hyatt Hotel

We’ve now arrived to the day of luxury where Joe, Kaz and I finally make our way to the Park Hyatt Tokyo hotel. I think it’s important to point out that there’s a specific reason as to why we all decided to spend a night at one of the more prestigious and expensive hotels in Tokyo. It had a lot to do with the film Lost in Translation and a little to do with experiencing something extravagant. IMG_2914

Lost in Translation has been a film that’s been held close to my heart for quite a few years and honestly back in 2011  it was something I was obsessed with. The only person who appreciates that film more than I would be Joe, so it was certain we’d stay one night in the hotel they shot the majority of the film. IMG_2931

The hotel itself is grandiose in all aspects. It’s atop a large skyscraper in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo and has all the amenities that you can think of as a luxury hotel. Everything from the main lobby, to the open concept corridors, the array of restaurants, and the roof top pool that Bill Murray swam in.

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Our room was a corner unit on the 51st floor and was relatively big compared to most Japanese hotels. We had two double beds and they offered us a third pull in bed (we thought it was gonna be a cot but were very surprised.)

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Once we settled in we found ourselves just obsessed with the view from our room. Our plan was to spend as much time as possible in the hotel so we ventured out (briefly) to a local ‘konbini’ to grab some snacks then scurried back to our room.

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We took a ridiculous amount of photos and videos, ate our snacks, and just relaxed. It was such unique experience to take in. I was hanging out with two of my closest friends in a rather eloquent room that stands static a couple hundred meters above Tokyo. The atmosphere was perfect.

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As the day passed we found some ways to spend time in the room. Lots of reading, some anime watching, and mostly losing yourself in the fantastic view. The more I think about it we basically paid to have our own personal observation deck for 24 hours that had comfy chairs and a high-tech washroom.

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Once the sun started to set we made our way down to the “casual” dinning option at the hotel were we indulged in a rather pricy (by our standards) but delicious dinner. Again atmosphere was great, conversation enticing, and taking note of the other patrons around us. We were by far the most random 3 people in the restaurant as more and more business types rolled in with their co-workers and such. IMG_2980

After dinner we quickly changed into our Yukata and found our way to the pool. This was perhaps the most exciting part for me. I was a competitive swimmer for over 13 years and to be able to swim in a pool high above ground was really fun. After a decent swim we made our way to the Peak bar which was yet another location where Lost in Translation had some significant scenes. We ordered a few drinks, took some time to watch all the skyscrapers pulse with their rooftop lights, and listened to some live music.

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Eventually we all made it back to the room, took some more photos and finally went to bed. It was a day that still sticks with me and reminds me that if you have the opportunity and are privileged enough to spend a few bucks on yourself, do it.

 

-KB

  • Bonus photo for fans of Lost in Translation

kjk