Hello loyal Film Strippers! (Ha! I kinda like that.) I am back from Japan and hoping to be better than ever. Though not just yet due to the fact that I’m trying to get on a better sleep schedule. Going to the other side of the world will do that to you.

Before getting into a little recap of my trip, I wanted to send out a big thanks to my wife’s friends, and now my friends, Chris and Gizelle who hosted us for our entire 10-day trip. I don’t know how we would’ve gotten along without some American locals showing us all the ropes. I also want to thank the people of Japan for being such a nice culture to help me feel welcome in a foreign land. I’d recommend anyone and everyone take a trip to Japan just to experience the generosity and overall friendliness of this great land. And finally I want to thank my wife for not only putting up with me, but for being such a great traveling companion. Yes, I think this marriage is going to work out quite nicely.

Now on to the trip!

We flew Continental on a direct flight to Tokyo. I was fully prepared for a 13 hour flight with 3 books, my sketchbook, 6 or 7 magazines, a copy of Usagi Yojimbo #123, and a how to draw book. Additionally, I had loaded up the iPhone with music and movies. Then comes the flight.

For those of you who haven’t taken a international Continental flight to Tokyo before, like me, each seat has it’s own individual TV in the back of the headrest in front of you. I’ve experienced this before on Jet Blue, but this wasn’t just a dozen or so On-Demand movies and maybe 30 TV shows, this was a full on entertainment Smörgåsbord.

We had our choice of around 150 movies including about 25 new releases. I took full advantage of these. There were also a number of TV show options, music selections, and even video games with a controller. I had never experienced this many options on a flight. Needless to say, I didn’t utilize any of the entertainment that I brought.

On the flight over, I watched 5 movies. Up in the Air, Sherlock Holmes, Shutter Island, The Book of Eli, and Lost in Translation. The first four I hadn’t seen before, and then I had to catch up on Lost in Translation before arriving in Japan. Plus, with the price of these plane tickets, I was going to be sure I got my money’s worth, if possible, and not sleep the whole trip.

I’m realizing that this trip recap is going to get pretty long, so I’ll try to hit the high points.

We arrived in Tokyo and immediately went to Tokyo Disney for two days. Me being a movie buff, a huge Disney and Pixar fan, and a cartoonist, this was a must for me. We actually spent our time at the Disney Sea theme park which was aimed at an older audience with rides like Indiana Jones and 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, and alcohol sales at the restaurants. This was a really fun experience, and I learned that 1) the lines are incredibly long, and I’m glad I had my iPhone so we could watch Up while we waited, and 2) Japanese people love Disney, and they love trinkets and accessories. EVERYONE had some sort of dangly trinket on their cell phones, and you couldn’t find a souvenir t-shirt anywhere. It was all accessories, trinkets, and candy.

After Disney, we went to Atsugi to meet up with our friends at the US Naval base and to experience the local flair. It was fun to go to a mall, a real Ramen restaurant (sidenote, I have still never had cheap ramen that we have in America), an authentic Sushi bar, and it was awesome to get a tour of the USS George Washington aircraft carrier.

We then went to Tokyo for two days and experienced as much as we could. We ate at the restaurant that inspired the set of the Crazy 88 fight in Kill Bill, we went to the electronics and video game district, saw the Godzilla statue, and ate at the Hotel where Lost in Translation was filmed.

From Tokyo, we went on a bullet train to Kyoto where we got to experience old-world Japan visiting Shrines, the Shogun’s Castle, the Golden Pavilion, and the Imperial Palace.

After that, it was back to Atsugi, and then to Tokyo, and back to America, where I watched a few more movies on the plane, including finally finishing The Godfather: Part II.

Overall, it was a great experience. People keep asking me what my favorite part was. I understand that this is a standard question to ask someone back from vacation, but it has kind of bothered me because I didn’t have a favorite part. It was all really fun and a great experience.

Growing up in America, we really don’t get exposed to what Japan is like, so I didn’t really know what to expect. Japan is not full of Samurai showdowns or anime super fights. It’s not all crazy game shows and weird cuisine. Heck, it’s not even what is presented in Lost in Translation because you need to have a ton of money to stay in that hotel and do Tokyo like they did Tokyo.

It’s just a wonderful place that’s hard to describe unless you’ve been there, and I’m glad I went.