Shinagawa & AquaStadium

A quick train ride to Shinagawa station and upon leaving the station I was handed a pack of tissues by a man outside the station. These packs serve 2 purposes; firstly they offer a means to advertise a club or bar in the area. Secondly as I came to discover later on, the squat toilets in the station don't come with toilet paper and you often have to buy it from a vending machine outside the cubicle. In hindsight it's a very practical way of advertising something and you're more inclined to hold onto this than the paper flyers we have here in the UK, which often end up littering the street.

Across the road from the station was this lovely lit building that gave me a quick opportunity to test my reading skills. The first four characters on the top sign read ka, ra, o and ke and so this was quite obviously a Karaoke bar. Land is very much at a premium in the built up mess that is Tokyo and so you tend to find that shops and stores stacked on top of each other. This is a big difference in the UK where we're used to everything being on a single level, or if it is more its the same store. It was quite odd to have to look at streets vertically as well as horizontally. Karaoke bars are often housed in quite thin buildings and the singing rooms are atop each other looking over the road.

Next to the Karaoke bar was this large car show room that I think housed Mistubishi cars. Mitsubishi is Japanese for "three leaves" (mitsu = "three" and bishi = "leaf") hence the logo. We were in Shinagawa not to visit a showroom but to visit the Prince Shinagawa hotel that stood behind it and it's Aquapark complex.

This hotel opened a few years ago and to attract visitors to it they built a water park (as in aquarium, dolphin shows etc) and another enclosure that housed a few thrill rides. Earlier in the year they opened a launch coaster called Galaxy Express 999, which was going to be our first coaster of the trip.

The ride is based around the work of renowned animator Matsumoto and tells of a boy's quest to travel to the Immortal Planet and replace his human body with a robot one so he can seek revenge for something that happened in his past. The only way to get there is on the space train Galaxy Express 999, perfect backstory to a coaster ride. In the West Matsumoto is best known for the video to Daft Punk's "One More Time" track.

The ride is an indoor launched coaster with a loop that catches you off guard. It's also quite a short ride and is over pretty quick. You spend more time in the two preshows than you do on the ride, which is always a bit anticlimatic.

A quick walk around the other attractions and the theming on them was immaculate. Here is their pirate ship. Odd that it was indoors, even more odd that one side of it was in close proximity of a fake rock wall that doubled as theming and something to add to the thrill of the ride.

Even the carousel was really well themed fitting in with the venue's sea theming. Clever lighting gave the impression of being underwater as the ride ran. Starting to feel the jet lag a bit the decision was made to head back.

This is Shinagawa station with it's massive video screen overlooking the main junction. Wing is the name of the complex that houses the station and a bunch of stores.


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