Report SPAM. Please help.

Spam blogs are a big problem on the internet. They steal others' posts to drive traffic to their sites, and then they add advertisements or phony links to earn money.

There's a spam blog out there stealing posts from one of my blogs, This Card Is Cool. Literally stealing. If you want proof, go to Google, and search for "Baseball Card Stores in Japan" (use the quotes). You'll see their (stolen) posts first, then mine. There are a couple other spam blogs ripping off my site, but the one at the top of the search lists is the worst - they don't even attribute the posts to me. And it's not just my blog; they're stealing at least one other person's posts.

You can help. Report the site to Google as spam by following this link. It should auto-fill in the URL of the offending site. Then click submit. That's all you need to do. By the way, I'm not mentioning the name of the site or driving traffic to it. If you follow the search above, you can discover the site and see for yourself.

I'm cross-posting this on my three blogs to hopefully help get this site removed quickly. I reported it about a week ago, when I was alerted to its presence, but the site remains.

Thank you for your help!

Location: Old Shimbashi Station

 Just a short walk from the current Shinbashi Station is a rebuilt version of the old Shinbashi Station.
 The building was torn down and built over, but recent repurposing of the surrounding area uncovered the original foundations. The building was rebuilt over the old foundations and turned into a museum.
 The "addition" you see here covers some of the original foundation.
 A "sample" platform shows where the tracks ran.
 The tracks ran right up to the building here, which means this must have been the end of the line.
 Again, the original foundations are preserved and visible. The area sits just a bit higher than it used to.
 In front of the station, the original curb is protected but visible too.
 Inside, there's a large museum space upstairs that has a collection of train memorabilia. It's a large space but it's somewhat empty. I think it's used for meetings and parties too. But downstairs, the station's history is preserved and explained with some good English signage.
 The signs on the wall detail the history of the station and the work done to preserve what's left. Under the glass floor, you can see the original foundation blocks.
Display cases have artifacts such as glass bottles and more train memorabilia.

Entry is free, and for train buffs or history fans in the area (visiting ADMT or Ginza, for example) it's convenient - it is right next to the current Shimbashi Station after all. Not much is available online about the museum, but it was open on Sunday in the early afternoon when I visited. My TimeOut Tokyo guide lists it as being open Tuesday-Sunday 12-6. It's a pleasant way to spend half an hour or so learning about Tokyo's rail history.

Location: ADMT (Ad Museum Tokyo)

I have an affinity for advertising materials. I haven't spent any time going to design school and I don't think I've ever had ambitions to be in advertising, but I admire those who put effort into creating beautiful works of corporate art.

Located just south of the Ginza area, ADMT (The Museum of Advertising and Marketing, or just Ad Museum Tokyo) collects some of the best examples of advertising in Japan and the world, and provides a good history of advertising in Japan.
 The museum isn't easy to find, and it's located in a shopping mall over two floors. When you've found this sign, follow that arrow to the left and you're in. You won't find a lot of English signage, but you're mostly here to look at ads, right?
The museum has a collection of woodblock prints, historic prints, and some of the latest product-placement techniques. You'll find signs from the 18th century and the latest commercials featuring AKB48 or some other spokesman. When I was there, Tommy Lee Jones was in a couple of the featured ads.

I spent about 45 minutes here, browsing through all the displays and watching some of the commercials. There are also interactive displays allowing you to look at additional material.

The museum is open Tuesday to Friday 11-6:30, and Saturday and Sunday 11-4:30. Last admission is 30 minutes before closing, and when Monday is a holiday surrounding days could be closed. Check the schedule on their website for a calendar. The closest station is Shimbashi Station, served by JR, and the Ginza, Oedo, and Asakusa subway lines. From there, head to the Caretta Shiodome mall (part of, or attached to, the Dentsu Building). The museum entrance is on B1F, and if you enter from the fountain (B2F) level (Gate A), you'll take the elevator up one level and see the entrance on the right. A fairly good interactive map with photos is here to get you from the station.

Destination: Ginza - a Stroll Down Main Street

On a beautiful Sunday afternoon, I made my way down to Ginza to take a look around. This is the home of excessive spending, where one square meter of land costs about 10 million yen and the coffee can run $10 a cup.
 Chuo Dori, the main street going from end to end, is closed to vehicles. The area overflows with shoppers, tourists, and people-watchers who want to see and be seen.
 On either side of the street, uniquely-designed buildings are jam-packed with expensive top labels.
 Occasional resting spots can be found for weary shoppers, or those suffering from heart attacks after seeing the price of a meal. In all honesty, moderately-priced food isn't too difficult to find.
 The building facades are quite fancy. Swarvoski's entrance looks like a chandelier.
 I'm not sure what's going on here.
 A clothing store.
 Prada. There were a bunch of fir trees lined along the road.
 Tiffany & Co.
 I'm not sure what's in here, though I suppose it's the Seiko Building.
 The Ricoh building looks like a camera lens?
 Sapporo has a presence at a major interesection, though I think Asahi has the upper hand (you'll see why later).
 No idea. Coach is on the first floor.
 The Sony building has a lot of great technology on display and is reasonably priced. But you'll probably get better deals in Akihabara or online.
 Lee? Marugen?
 The back streets running parallel to Chuo Dori are where you'll find clubs, bars, and restaurants.
 And you'll also find this super-narrow building. It's about 10 feet wide, I believe. With three stories, I could probably live in this kind of a footprint. It's certainly larger than my current place!
 You have to look up at the signs to find all the restaurants and clubs tucked away in the skyscrapers.
 The Apple Store is here too, and is always quite busy. One of my students told me that she just reserved an iPad Mini - and it'll be here in two months.
 Remember I mentioned Asahi? They have a fairly-new restaurant/bar right on Chuo Dori selling ice-cold Super Dry. There's a better beer hall down the street named Lion, though. I'll have another post on that soon.
 The shop windows are worth looking in as well. It's hard to photograph them on a sunny day, but they have interesting displays with unique mannequins.
 This boy was sure interested in me, so I snapped a pic of him too. He's too cool for pre-school!

As I said earlier, Ginza is a place to see and be seen. This includes pets as well.
 Dogs in Japan are accessories, like purses and jewelry. I've seen pet strollers in use here, and plenty of dogs get dressed up for their day out. These two friends were enjoying the attention of onlookers and gropers.
This little chihuahua is absolutely adorable in his little costume. I wonder if he likes it. He didn't seem to shy away from the crowds.

For shoppers, Ginza is probably high on the destination list. But as a tourist with some free time on Sunday, it's worth coming by to walk down Chuo Dori, look at the people, and maybe do a little window shopping. In fact, it's close enough to Akihabara that you could do both in one day if you had the energy.

Ginza is big enough that you can get there via several stations on several lines. You can take JR lines or the Yurakucho subway line to Yurakacho Station for the easiest access, or walk from Shinbashi or Tokyo stations. The Ginza subway station (Ginza, Hibiya, and Marunouchi lines) is closer, for those riding the Metro. Chuo Dori is best visited on Saturday (after 2 pm) or Sunday (after 12 pm), when the road is closed and people are out walking. But visit any day to see high-class locals with free time heading to or from lunch.

Akihabara: My Favorite Place to Explore

Where can you see a bit of recent history, buy almost anything, have a unique dining experience, and see a unique side of Tokyo's millions, all in one place?
 Hop a train and spend a Sunday in Akihabara!
 Akihabara became what it is today soon after World War Two. A fairly large hub on the east side of Tokyo, a market of electronics components quickly developed under the tracks as Tokyoites tried to build or rebuild radios, televisions, and other electronic devices. The arched elevated railways still exist from decades ago.
 Near the river, a statue looks down the waterway, a lost lady in a field of shrubbery.
 This river defines the boundary between Akihabara and Kanda, as far as tourists go. Crossing this river is like going from one world to another.
 If you do venture towards Kanda (where the fantastic DevilCraft Chicago-style pizza place is) you might walk under the tracks.
 A small part of old Tokyo left visible among the modern buildings.
 Okay, so what about the Akihabara tourists want to see? The buildings are colorful, covered with advertisements.
 Take a stroll down the main street, closed to vehicular traffic Sunday afternoons. The place is so crowded that the extra road space helps to handle the foot traffic!
 Near the station, you can see one of several arcades (Sega, across the tracks).  There are also several electronics stores in the area - the business that originally made Akihabara famous. And that white building is an adult superstore. It might be worth exploring to get an idea how Japanese folks behave behind closed doors (there's another, better - cleaner feeling - store closer to the station called M's Pop Life).
 I'm in the building across from the adult store in the prior picture, which has several floors of otaku goods - toys, gaming cards, figurines, and dolls. A whole floor is devoted to dolls. Not the sex dolls Japan is famous for (see those in the adult stores), mind you, but I don't think many girls come here to dress their Betty Wettys. I visit this store often because there's a trading card store on one of the upper floors.
 Over the years, electronics stores have been replaced by stores such as that - gadgets made way for figurines and games. Giant models sometimes show up in random places, like that flute-playing goddess above (she was for sale when I took the photo) and whatever this is, displayed inside Akihabara's train station.
 Geeky things in the geek capital of the world attracts geeks. And Japanese geeks carry cameras. So you end up with dozens of people surrounding the model taking photos.
 Okay, let's go shopping. Take the escarator (gotta love Engrish) up through the electronics stores. The biggest store is Yodobashi Camera, my preferred shopping destination (found on the east side of the station). Several much-smaller stores are found on the west side, with major retailers along the main road and smaller shops found in the surrounding alleys and walkways.
 If it's adult goods you want, you're probably in the right place. Akihabara has become a neighborhood that seems to accept any taste. There are three obvious adult superstores in Akihabara, and dozens more found up stairs. I've walked into what seems to be a video game, figurine or collectible store, traveled upstairs or toward the back of the store, and suddenly found myself surrounded by adult toys or videos.
 There's plenty to eat here, too. Good luck finding the piggy. But you can get almost anything here. I found a kebab pita location recently, plus there are plenty of curry, gyudon (beef bowl), and American fast food locations. On Sunday, most places will have a wait so it might be better to plan your meals elsewhere.
 But go any other day of the week, and you have freedom of choice. Just read the signs, and you never know what you'll find. I'm not sure what happens in that Dining Bar, because nobody's talking about it. (HA HA HA.) Actually, many tourists come to Japan for the maid cafes.
 There are a ton of them, with different tastes. Some focus on the "maid" service aspect, some work the cosplay angle by changing costumes often, and others have themes like a German beer house or a vampire cafe.
 The food has been decent at the few I've tried, though it's usually expensive. And expect a cover charge (it's best to do research or ask questions to be sure of what you're getting). The most foreigner-friendly (though not the cheapest) are the highly-visible MaiDreamin', Pinafore, and @Home. I enjoyed my trip to Pinafore the most, though the photo above was taken at CosCha (I think?!), where they dress up in their own cosplay outfits and it's more of a themed bar than a maid cafe. By the way, pictures usually cost extra.
Speaking of pictures, you can occasionally catch girls in cosplay on the street. The first photo in this post was taken of a random girl who enjoys cosplay. The above photo was taken at a promotional event. Frequently, major comic or video game releases have some sort of event with tables set up to sell the product quickly. You might just see a beautiful lady like the one above.
While taking photos of cosplay girls is perfectly fine after asking for permission, the maids handing out fliers on the street usually don't like having their photos taken. As I mentioned above, the photos taken in the store are a source of income for the cafe and sometimes the girl, and they make no money just posing on the street. So be sure to ask!

There's a lot more to see in Akihabara - I've shown you a bunch already over the past year. But I'll be bringing you even more in the future. Until then...