|Dec 13, 2006
Yesterday, after a mere 18 hours of travel time, I arrived at the roomy, luxurious, 100-square-foot apartment of my friend James in downtown Tokyo. After a sleepy dinner of pork cutlet and soba noodles, I had a semi-restful night in the gesu-to bedoroom, which is Japanese for "the tiny bit of empty floor space." Thus restored, I was ready to venture out into harsh, unforgiving light of a rather nice day.
We began by heading on the subway to a huge outdoors Japanese fish market, which would have been an amazing and unforgettable experience if the entire thing had not been closed due to a mysterious Japanese holiday. A breakfast of fresh sushi (1) helped us recover from the disappointment. Afterwards we wandered around and did find a few fish stalls open (2), including one that had the biggest live crabs I have ever seen. There was also a really interesting looking ancient garden and temple, but it was closed due to a mysterious Japanese holiday.
And so Lo! we got on the subway again and went somewhere else. We found ourselves at the Tokyo-Edo Museum and poked around it for a while. The best part was actually a photography exhibit which featured a lot of black-and-white photos of Japanese peeps in natural poses (3), as well as some color photos of girls in not-so-natural poses (4). Three thumbs up!
Next we went to 'Electric Town', one of the many geek havens in this glorious place on Earth. Highlights include: long, busy, (low) corridors selling an endless variety of electronics (5); video games parlors with some really amazing new games (America is about 15 years behind); a retro video game store with every nostalgia-inducing old system you can imagine (6); I had some awesome ramen; internet cafes where you can pay to have hot girls in maid outfits hang on your sleeve and gush over your computer skills; and a pachinko parlor that has my $10 and won't give it back. PS: don't play pachinko.
We went to the train station and got on the Other End of the Spectrum line, which dropped us off at Yoyougi Koen, a large park in the center of town. It contained a large Shinto shrine (7), a wall made out of sake jars (8), and a tiny human female in a kimono (9). Nearby was a trendy shopping area, but unfortunately it had recently been overtaken by twelve thousand Japanese schoolgirls in a bloodless coup. We tried in vain to discover an area not infested by them, but gave up after a few hours and went home.
(Note: updated 12/30 with full-sized picture links.)