Stefan's Japan trip 2003

Wow, going to Japan is always such overwhelming experience (even the 4th time).  I could talk forever because there's SO much I wanna tell all of you.  What I ended up doing is breaking down my trip into lots of little reports on different experiences and topics.  There's a little bit of everything, so I'm sure you'll learn something, and I hope I can share some of my fun with you.  If you haven't been to Japan yet, I hope you'll get to go someday and have as much fun as I had! 
I guess I'll start with the details of my trip.  I was in Japan from April 27 until May 8.  I chose to go at that time because it was good for me to escape work, and it also happens to be "Golden Week" in Japan.  There are a couple of national holidays very close to one another, so it's when most people in Japan take vacations.  That meant that I could see my friends, and that there would be a ton of game/cosplay/toy/comic shows (10 shows in 4 days while I was in Japan!).
I spent the whole time in the Tokyo area, and I still didn't have enough time to see and do everything I wanted.  I spent my first three days up in Saitama prefecture (north of Tokyo) with my friend, and then I stayed in my old 'hometown' of Matsudo in Chiba prefecture (east of Tokyo).  From both places it's only about a 25 minute train ride to get into the city.  My hotel in Matsudo was really cool... it was actually an apartment/hotel that I rented for 8 days at under $50 a night!  I had a kitchen, bath, washing machine, TV with VCR, etc.  And it was only about 2 blocks away from the train station, 4 blocks from my favorite arcade, and 2 blocks from my favorite place to eat (Curry House CoCo Ichibanya).  Matsudo is in a good location to just about everything... my best friend in Saitama, the airport, the city of Tokyo, Tokyo Disneyland, and the Tokyo Big Sight (where all the comic/cosplay/game/toy shows are), and much more.  Here's a link to the place I stayed at in case you're interested: Gates Inn of Matsudo.  I can't think of a better deal.  And by the way, now is a great time to go to Japan because so many airlines are desperate for business (war, terrorism, disease, and bankruptcy) so you can get really good prices.  On top of that, Japan's economy is in a bad state of deflation, so things are very cheap there (cheap by Japanese standards).
Keep checking back because I should be adding new stuff ever few days for a very, very long time!
June 2, 2003 - "Big Sight 5/5" and "Souvenirs" links added.
May 23, 2003 - "Game Centers" link added.  It's all about Japanese arcades!
May 19, 2003 - "Coolest Stuff" link added.  It's all about the most impressive new games, movies, toys, characters, and other things for people outside of Japan to look forward to.
May 16, 2003 - "S. Comic City" link added.  It's all about the HUGE doujin show I went to.
May 12, 2003 - "Big Sight 4/29" link added.  Added a report about all the events at the Tokyo Big Sight on April 29th (cosplay, toys, models, comics, etc.)