Monday, March 2, 2009

Japan 3: Busy Tokyo

We've only been in Tokyo since Thursday, so five days, but things already blur into each other quite a lot. Just as a memory aid, I'll try to write down a few things we did and saw...

Arrived Thu midday, went for a walk around the area but went the wrong way, landing us in a fairly grim area full of random wholesale shops (bubble wrap? fake flowers?), although we did see two sumo fighters on one bicycle, going to an outsize clothes shop. Worked our way back to Akihabara, the 'Electric Town', got dazzled by the sheer quantity of electronics on offer, had sushi at a conveyor belt restaurant accompanied by a lot of friendly excitable shouting, went into a games arcade and found a percussion game to play, marvelled at Pachinko parlours, got more dazzled by more bright lights and lots of girls in French Maid outfits.

Friday it snowed, so we thought we'd hit a museum, but decided not to scrap the plan of seeing the Imperial Palace Garden on the way - slightly bad idea because it was closed and we had no umbrella. Got pretty damp but dried off looking at Japanese modern art, which corresponded almost directly to particular European painters of the same period, at least up to the 50s. Checked out a new shopping centre in Roppongi, very posh, strangely empty. At night went to an indie gig in Koenji, met some cool expats and saw some cool Japanese bands.

Saturday got up at half 4 to go to the fish market, saw fish between 3 metres and 3 centimetres in size, live, dead and frozen, penis-shaped shellfish and crabs that started moving when I didn't expect them to, making me jump and scream like a girl. Had a little nap, went out again to Asakusa Temple, which was highly touristy but pretty, managed to fend off rikshaw people and resisted the temptation to buy plenty of colourful tat. Solved the mystery of the Golden Turd.
Golden Turd
In the evening, explored Shibuya, a bar and clubbing area with more bright lights and the famous 'scramble junction', had some noodles, found the club we'd been recommended by the promoter of fridays gig, saw another Japanese band, then went to a bar called Mod Club (?) and had a few beers.

Sunday, tried to see some buskers in Akihabara that weren't there, tried to see some Cosplay girls in Harajuku that there were only a few of, looked around Tokyos answer to Camden market and bought some bunny shaped socks
Miffy toe sox, but also found a very relaxing shrine on the way.

Monday was an altogether calmer affair, but we did go to the 45th floor of the Government building in the evening for the most incredible, awe-inspiring view I have ever seen - the glittering lights of Tokyo stretching as far as the eye can see.

So, in summary, it's been busy. Our conclusion is that Tokyo is magical by night, but quite grim and grey during the day.

No comments: