Visiting Iron Heart Tokyo – Denim and Flannel

I finally decided to make the trek to the IRON HEART store in Tokyo. If you live in central Tokyo the Iron Heart store location is still far. The nearest train station is Hachioji on the Chuo line. After you arrive at Hachioji station it’s recommended to take a bus, because it’s still a 55 minute walk from the station!!! You can also take a cab.

You can occasionally find Iron Heart products in other shops in Tokyo, for example at the famous Hinoya Honten in Ueno, but they do not have the variety of selection and I’ve personally never seen Iron Heart shirts there.

Iron Heart is famous for their tough denim, and they’re over the top heavy flannel shirts known as ultra heavy flannel.

Iron Heart, like many Japanese denim and high-quality clothing brands, has some loyal followers. For a good read of why people love Iron Heart stuff check out this Reddit thread

Once you get to Hachioji station follow the signs to the bus stops at the North Exit. As of writing. You want to get bus No.1 or 2 which will head in the direction of Utsukidai 宇都木台. As always, check your maps app.

Iron Heart jeans will be in good supply when you get to the store. Shirts however have limited quantities due to production schedules and their popularity. For example, I went in February, and they said that the light blue ultra heavy flannel was sold out in medium all over Japan. The next seasonal ultra heavy flannel will be produced in September or October. I asked about all of their flannels, and all of the mediums were sold out.

There is one young man working at the Tokyo shop who speaks excellent English. He explained that they get many customers from the U.S. military bases in Japan, as well as from UK, Germany, and surprisingly Malaysia and Indonesia. Malaysia and Indonesia are countries with hot climates… but apparently die hard fans still want to wear Iron Heart’s heavy duty clothing. Respect.

The shop has two simple changing rooms where you can try things on. 

After you are done shopping if you don’t want to figure out the bus back to the station the shop can call you a taxi. The return trip to Hachioji station will cost about 2000 yen.

Thankfully, once you have been to the shop and tried some things on you can confidently use their online ordering system!

Be ready in September… might be fun. 


Visit Japan! Catch Beans! Setsubun

If you happen to be in Japan in early February you should be able to catch a Mame-maki event at a local shrine. Early February is when Setsubun 節分 occurs, and the main event is mamemaki.

At home, usually the father of the house will throw a paper demon (oni) mask over their face, stand in the entryway to the home (genkan), and growl as the rest of the family members throw beans at them while shouting, “oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!” 鬼は外!福は内!

If you can get to an event at a shrine you may be able to participate in something like this…

This particular event happened a Nogi Shrine 乃木神社 in 2024. You can bet they will do it most every year baring something like… COVID.

They are tossing bags of soy beans, like this. In 2024, at this specific shrine event, some of the bags had a number attached to them. You could then bring that number to a booth at the shrine and exchange it for a fancy prize. The prizes were everything from boxes of bottle green tea, to sake, to bags of Japanese snacks.

Beans! Specifically daizu beans. Soy beans.

If you’re in Japan in early Feb, seek out a shrine during setsubun! Might be fun!

Hokkawa Onsen in Izu

Thee days so much information is available on the internet it almost seems silly write an in-depth review of a location… but here’s a onsen in Izu called Hokkawa 北川 that I recommend.

Hokkawa Onsen location on Google Maps

It’s right on the ocean and super basic.

Here’s some tips:

  • Leave your valuables in your car or hotel because there are no lockers.
  • If you don’t have a towel, you can buy the usual long thin Japanese onsen towel for 200 yen from the ticket salesman.
  • The baths for men and women are split (only recently it seems). The men’s side has two baths, one hotter than the other. The women’s side only has one bath.
  • There is no toilet. Take care of it first.
  • It’s a super basic wooden shelter with some plastic baskets for your clothes and a shoe rack. Just get naked and get in the water. That’s it.

if you’re in Izu and looking for a great unique onsen experience, check it out! Might be fun.

Japanese Lesson from Radiant Historia

I finally started properly playing Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology on my 3DS. It’s fully voiced which is always a huge bonus in a game that you’re trying to learn language from.

I didn’t know this phrase, 差し当たり。 it means, for the time being…


He says…


For the time being… think of it as a good luck charm…

Cool phrase. Can’t wait to try this expression out and see what kind of reaction I get. Not sure if it’s commonly used, or some weird flowery language that only shines in literature and video games.

Give it a shot, might be fun!

Visit Taketomi island from Ishigaki, Okinawa

Taketomi is a picturesque island that is frequented by international and domestic tourists to Okinawa.

Once you are in Ishigaki your can decide to take a trip to Taketomi the morning of no problem. No need to plan especially far in advance.

If you wake up in the morning and decide you want to go, pack your bag with some extra water, pack a good hat and some sunglasses and head to Ishigaki Port. the trip is less than 20 minutes by ferry. The ferry times at time of posting are in the image below.

If you want to get into the water at Kondoi Beach pack a swimsuit and towel. Note, my family did not bring a swimsuit and we did not regret it, but we are old and were traveling with young children. The beach was just too hot to bear (30C!) and sunbathing isn’t our thing. The water was beautiful though and we did wade in. There were lots of younger people swimming and enjoying the water in their swimsuits and bikinis. Do bring a change of clothes, the locals do not want to see people in swimsuits walking around town.

As soon as you arrive on the island you will see signs for bicycle rental shops. You need one.

The bicycle rental thing is sort of advertised as a nice fun thing to do on Taketomi, but actually it is absolutely necessary. I guess you could walk the island, or some how taxi… but to be honest I don’t think the taxi option is even practical or possible.

Get a bicycle.

Most shops have a few bicycles that are kid sized, and a few that have back or front seats to carry a toddler.

One of the much advertised things to do on Taketomi is to take a ride on a wagon pulled by a water buffalo. We didn’t do this and didn’t regret it, but it’s near seeing them in the village.

There are several places to eat in Taketomi. Google Maps will serve you well. We happened to go to a place and were surprised to learn the 70+ owners were originally from Osaka, having moved to Taketomi about 20 years ago. Like us, they complains about the heat!

If you visit Ishigaki you’ll want to visit one of the other islands, and Taketomi is the closest, but most touristy. It’s still fun, check it out!

Buffalo cart in Taketomi
Kondoi Beach

How To Upgrade your Playstation 5 Storage

There are many guides showing how to upgrade your PS5 storage. Here’s another one to help folks find the answers they need even faster!

The PlayStation 5 has one (1) internal slot for an additional solid-state drive (SSD) that you can use to upgrade your storage capacity. You’ll need to take off the PS5 case, open the slot cover, insert your SSD, close everything up, and then boot up your PS5 and format the card. You’ll then be able to use the card to store some of your PS5 data.

It’s actually not that difficult, but like all tech things that involve opening up a $500 dollar gadget, it can be intimidating at first.

Here’s what you need to do.

Get an SSD that works with the PS5

  1. Purchase an M.2 SSD, it should have specs similar to below.:
  • Interface: PCIe Gen4 x4 M.2 NVMe SSD
  • Capacity: 250 GB to 4 TB
  • Size: 22 mm width (25 mm wide drives are not supported), up to 11.25 mm height (with a heatsink). Be sure it comes wit heatsink!

If all that sounds, complicated, don’t worry because most manufacturers will specially say whether their product can be used with the PS5 right on the website.

Here’s what I got. Two terrabytes of powerrrrrrr.

Shut it down! Get a screw driver!

Before you do anything, completely shut down your PS5 and unplug all the cables. Remove the stand if you are using that. Move the PS5 and the SSD to a clean well lit spot where you can get to work. You will need a Phillips screwdriver.

Take off the cover

Strangely this may be the hardest part. You do not need any tools to take the cover off. You need to take of the or “bottom” cover to access the SSD slot. Since the PS5 can be set vertically or horizontally this can be confusing. The disc drive should be pointed away from you and on the left side, and the PS logo should be on the underside of the unit. If it is oriented that way, you’re i the right positoin to take off the cover and access the SSD slot.

To get the cover off, you need to push slide and pull up simultaneously. Watch a few videos. When you finally get it off it will come off way easier than you expected. I was having trouble. Took a break, and my elementary school kid literally got the cover off while I was watching a video. It’s all about the direction and angle, not the force.

Open the SSD slot

Locate the SSD slot, which is located on the bottom of the console. Remove the SSD slot cover by unscrewing the single screw that holds it in place.

You can see that the screw has been removed in the above photo.

Remove the SSD slot cover

There is one more small screw that will be revealed once you remove the SDD slot cover. You can remove this screw, and use it in a future step to screw down your SSD.

Insert the SSD

Insert the SSD into the slot at an angle and gently push it in until it clicks into place.

Use the screw you removed in the previous step to screw down the SSD.

Now put it back together!

Now just do everything inreverse.

Replace the SSD slot cover and screw it back in.

Reattach the console cover.

Plug in all the cables, and power it up.

When your PS5 boots up boots it should immediately recognize that the SDD is installed and prompt you to format it. Do this.

Confirm that the storage is available

Turn on the console and go to Settings > Storage > Installation Location to see the status of your storage set up, and also to move things around.

Video Time!

Now, fi you want to see a video, and an even better explanation than this, try this video!

Here is the YouTube video that I used to figure this out. Enjoy!

Check out the Giant Gundam in Tokyo Odaiba Diver City

The Gundam statue in Odaiba, Tokyo, was first built in 2009 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Gundam anime series. The original statue was 18 meters tall and stood in Odaiba’s Shiokaze Park for a limited time before being taken down.

Since then, the statue has been replaced with newer versions several times, with the most recent iteration, the RX-0 Unicorn Gundam, being unveiled in 2017. The Unicorn Gundam statue stands at 19.7 meters tall and features a more advanced design with moving parts and special lighting effects. Check it out in DiverCity Tokyo Plaza.

RX-0 Unicorn Gundam! People for scale.

The lighting effects and moving parts are, well not the most impressive thing ever, but it’s still pretty cool and crowds will wait around for it. If you’re there, you have no reason to skip it, so stick around.

If you like what you see you can visit a hobby shop, or big box electronics store like Bic Camera to shop for a plastic Gundam model to take home as a souvenir. You should be able to find the same RX-0 Gundam that you see here in Odaiba.

What? You’ve never heard of Gundam?

Even though it’s 40 years old, every anime fan should know about Gundam. Gundam is significant as a robot anime for several reasons:

  1. It introduced the concept of realistic mecha: Before Gundam, mecha in anime were typically portrayed as fantastical, larger-than-life robots. Gundam introduced the concept of mecha as realistic military machines, with an emphasis on their engineering and design.
  2. Gundam explored mature themes: Gundam was one of the first mecha anime to explore mature themes such as war, politics, and the human cost of conflict.
  3. Many anime, manga, and video games draw their inspiration from Gundam.
  4. Gundam spawned a successful franchise: Gundam is not just a single anime series, but a franchise that includes multiple anime, manga, video games, and other media.

There are a few other giant robot statues in Japan as well.

Tetsujin 28-go (Gigantor) is in Kobe Wakamatsu Park. The statue is 18 meters tall and was erected in 2009 to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Kobe city.

EVA-01 Test Type in Hakone. It’s located in the Hakone area near Mount Fuji, and is a replica of the EVA-01 Test Type from the anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion. It’s 15.8 meters tall.

There may be more, but that’s all I’m tracking at the moment.

If you’re in Tokyo and want to see a giant robot… Odaiba is the place to go!

Nakameguro Cherry Blossom Promenade along Meguro River

Cherry blossom season!

We tried the Tokyo Nakameguro Cherry Blossom Promenade (Nakameguro Sakura Tsutsumi) on a Japanese holiday morning that fell in middle of the week. Crowds weren’t that bad, but, we also arrived toke army in the season. Read on for more!

This is the route to get to the cherry blossom area from Nakameguro Station. It’s about a 10 minute walk from the station.

We came about a week too early so the Sakura were not in full bloom. ZANNEN, but that’s fine. You have to miss the timing a few times to fully appreciate the blossoms.

The Nakameguro Cherry Blossom Promenade is famous for its picturesque cherry blossom trees that line the Meguro River. During the cherry blossom season in Japan, which usually takes place in late March to early April (global warming has entered the chat!), the trees along the promenade bloom in beautiful shades of pink and white.

Once you’re done with the Meguro River area you can wander around Nakameguro. It’s known for its trendy cafes, boutiques, and restaurants, making it a popular destination for both locals and tourists year-round.

Meguro River

If you’re in Japan during cherry blossom season be sure to stop by Nakameguro! Might be fun!

Asakusa and Sensouji Temple – Already on Your Japan Bucket List

If you visit Tokyo you’ll probably end up putting Asakusa and Sensouji Temple on your must do list.

Sensouji 浅草寺 is the oldest temple in Tokyo, and it is believed to have been built in the year 628 making it more than 1,300 years old. However, the current structure is not the original. Sensouji has been destroyed and rebuilt several times over the centuries. The temple complex as it stands today was largely rebuilt in the 1950s and 1960s after being damaged during World War II.

When you visit your senses will be stimulated by the hustle and bustle of tourists and shopkeepers as the crowd slowly moves down the main strip towards the temple. When you get closer you’ll smell burning incense and see the smoke, and you’ll notice many Japanese paying to get their fortunes (mikuji みくじ) from the temple shop. It really is an exciting and unforgettable scene.

Sensouji remains an important spiritual and cultural center and is estimated to receive around 30 million visitors annually. When local Japanese friends from Osaka came to visit in Tokyo, Asakusa was one of the places that we visited. It’s popular with Japanese tourists and foreign tourists alike.

Today, Sensō-ji continues to be an important place of worship for Buddhists and is also a major tourist destination, attracting millions of visitors each year.

Pro Tip

There is a pretty decent free observation deck at Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center across the street from Sensouji that doesn’t get much traffic. It’s open from 9:00 to 22:00 as of writing. Here is the view from the top.

View of Sensoji Temple from Asakusa Tourist Information Center
View of Tokyo Sky Tree and the Asahi building from Asakusa Tourist Information Center

The viewing deck is on the 8th floor, offering panoramic views of the city. From the deck you can see the city skyline and landmarks such as Tokyo Skytree and the Asahi Beer building. You can also get food there, but to be honest, I wouldn’t recommended it as there are much more delicious options down on street level.

Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center Viewing Deck 8F 9am to 10pm


To access Asakusa and Sensouji Temple, you can take the Ginza Subway line and get off at Asakusa station.

The journey takes about 15 minutes from Tokyo Station and costs around 170 yen. From Asakusa Station, Sensouji Temple is a 10-minute walk and is extremely easy to spot due to the flow of the tourist traffic and signage. If you can just get to Asakusa Station you can’t miss it.

Also Nearby:

Don’t forget to also check out Hoppy Street if you get hungry after visiting the temple! It’s a short 10-15 minute walk away, and is lined with Japanese izakaya’s with seating spilling out into the street. It’s a fun environment and somewhat kid friendly. Kid friendly as in, some shops won’t care if you bring kids — that’s about as far as it goes.

Don’t miss a visit to Asakusa Sensouji Temple if you’re in Tokyo! Might be fun!


Visiting the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo

Another item for your Tokyo visit bucket list, the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka! Might be fun? I’m sure this will be fun. Ghibli! You know. Totoro, Nausica, Howl’s Moving Castle, Ponyo. Need I go on?

There are no photos allowed inside of the building, but it is OK to take photos of the building from the outside. So, those are the photos you will see in this post.

The most obvious and largest attraction at the museum is this giant replica of one of the robots from Castle in the Sky Laputa. It really is huge, impressive, and all-around great. I want one in my backyard. There was an orderly line to get photos with the robot, with guests helping each other hit the shutter so folks could get their photos together. It’s too big for a selfie stick.

Photo includes humans for scale.

The robot is on the roof, and you can just barely see him peeking his head out from the outside of the building.

See if you can find the giant robot in the photo below!

Hello Mr. Robot.

Aside from the main event the museum has little Ghibli easter eggs everywhere. From tiny details in the stained glass windows, to more obvious characters in unlikely places, like in the image below.

Here are some soot creatures hanging out in a random window at the Ghibli Museum.

These little guys are the soot creatures from the 1988 film “My Neighbor Totoro.” In Japanese they are called makkuro kurosuke and are are small, black, furry creatures that live in the attic of the house where Satsuki and Mei, live with their father. They are a central part of the movie’s atmosphere — a really great minor major bunch of critters. I don’t even remember seeing them named in the museum, but here they are! They also appear in another area inside of the building that your kids will love if you’re traveling with them.

There is also a mini theater inside of the museum that runs a short exclusive Ghibli film throughout the day. We saw one about a lump of bread dough that comes to life, obviously, and it really was a treat watching it with all the other fans.

The entire complex is not that large, in a three-story building that covers an area of approximately 3,300 square meters / 35,520 sq. ft., but since the inside is so packed with goodness you can easily spend three hours on site. There are also a couple of places to get food and eat outdoors.

If you you are visiting with small children, there is a park just a short distance from the museum, so you can go there to relax while your kids get dangerous on the park equipment. Perfect!

Exit Through the Gift Shop

The museum’s gift shop, called the MAMMA AIUTO! shop, offers a variety of merch. Some of the items that are typically available for sale at the gift shop include:

  • Toys and figurines of Ghibli characters
  • Posters, prints, and other wall art featuring Ghibli characters and artwork
  • Clothing and accessories featuring Ghibli characters and designs
  • Books and comics
  • Stationery
  • Home goods, such as cups, mugs, and other kitchen items

They even had high-quality figures that cost more than $150 USD when we were there. They even had a replica of the blue pendant that appears in the movie Castle in the Sky that was made by Swarovski. I didn’t buy it.

The selection of merchandise at the gift shop may change depending on timing. They do have a web shop. You can be pretty sure that they’ll have some amazing stuff, so I wouldn’t worry too much about inventory.

OK, But How do I get there?

Here is how to get to the Ghibli Museum from Shibuya.

  1. Take the JR Yamanote Line from Shibuya Station to Mitaka Station [20 min].
  2. From Mitaka Station, you can walk to the museum. [15 min], or you can take a bus [10 min].
  3. Alternatively, you can take the Keio Inokashira Line from Shibuya Station to Kichijoji Station, which is also located near the museum. From Kichijoji Station, you can walk to the museum [15 min], or you can take a bus.

Get your tickets early

The Ghibli Museum is popular, and not very large. You must purchase tickets in advance. In December 2022, tickets went on sale monthly, and the month completely sold out in one to two days. Tickets can be purchased online or at select locations in Japan, including the Studio Ghibli store in Shibuya.

Visit Tips

  • It is OK and a good idea to bring kids, even if they are under 4. They’ll have a great time.
  • Try to leave large backpacks in your hotel as it can get crowded, and there are even some pathways designed so that adults have to hunch over to get through. There is a locker cluster on site.
  • You can have lunch on site, feel free to plan your visit to span lunch hour.
  • The gift shop is modern and accepts most credit cards.
  • There is no “route” laid out, so feel free to backtrack and visit sites more than once. You’ll discover something new each time you run through.
  • Watch as many Ghibli movies as you can before your visit! It will help you recognize things and have more fun.

Check it out! Let me know if there are any questions you have about the museum that I haven’t answered here!