Dateline Tokyo, Part Deux
As you can guess, I didn't do much this day. Mostly sleeping. But my man Shingo was feeling better, so we met up in Yokohama. Most everything was closed, so we mostly checked out the local game arcades. Also we went to Chinatown and had the most ridiculously spicy food, it was crazy. I couldn't get my nose to stop running, but that's part of the fun, right?
This was one of the days I had all to myself, so I had a lot planned. One thing I had to get out of the way was going to Hama Rikyu Gardens- I was really disappointed that it was closed before. So I went, and there was a special demonstatration some falconers. Well, the birds didn't always want to cooperate, but there were some interesting parts in there, like when I bird swooped in from a local skyscraper (I'm serious) to grab some prey. As for the park, it is an interesting Japanese-style place right in the middle of the city. Unfortantely, it was cloudy that day, but what can you do. Then I went to Ueno, where it was insanely crowded. I grabbed some McDonald's to eat in the park, where I was chatted up by a local homeless (I assume) with some pretty good english skills. Only in Japan I guess. My plan was to go to a Dali exhibit there, but the line was just insane so I checked out some other places instead. Then I went to Akihabara, the famous electronics district, where I spent just about every yen remaining on some retro games- Saturn, Famicom, even some Game Boy Advance stuff. After that I was pretty tired so went back.
I met Akane and another Charlotte friend, Ayumi, to go to yet a shrine for Hatsumode, which is the special first visit of the New Year where you can get your fortune for the upcoming year, pray, get good luck charms, etc. Then McDonalds (again, but it was close), and we walked around Nagatacho, which is kind of the nerve center of the Japanese Government- the Diet Building, PM's residence (lots of security there), etc. Next to Omotesando, where all the insanely expensive stores are, to walk around and people watch. We stopped at a restaurant for some coffee, then everyone went home while I walked up the road a bit to check out Harajuku.
My last whole day in Tokyo. I went to Asukasa to check out Sensoji, yet another big temple in Tokyo where New Year's activities were underway. I grabbed a quick chicken steak from a foodstall and took some pictures. Next to Kappabashi-dori, which is your one-stop shopping place if you own a restaraunt- plates, signs, giant knives, plastic display food, it's all there. Many of the places were still closed for New Year's however. Then I went to Ryogoku, where the big Sumo tournaments are held, and went to Edo Tokyo Museum, which shows the history of Tokyo inside of this absolutely crazy building. I ran out of time there, so I will have to check it out again some other time. Finally, I had one last thing to do. In Roppongi Hills Toho Cinema, they hda Japan's only English-subtitled showing of Clint Eastwood's latest, "Letters from Iwo Jima". For the privelige of watching a movie on some of Tokyo's most chic real estate, I forked over 1800 yen (around $16.50). However, the movie was outstanding and it was worth every penny.
After the end of the movie, time to get back to the hotel and pack all my crap up for the following morning. I met Shingo at Kawasaki and we went to Haneda airport, said our goodbyes. When I got on the plane, I promptly fell asleep. I guess it was that kind of trip. Lots of walking, not lots of sleep.
At the time it didn't seem like I was doing much, and I was wondering if I was getting my money's worth so to speak out of the trip. But while typing this, it sure seems like I did a crap load of stuff while I was there. Going to Zojoji (temple) for New Year's was a particularly cool experience. Some of the museums I went to were kind of a waste though (no names here). On the whole I had plenty of fun times though; there is always something interesting going on in Tokyo. I sure spent enough money on travel and shopping though. Gonna have to save that yen from here on out.