I check myself out of the plastic pod and throw my bag in a locker at the train station. With the camera broke, my during-the-day gear consists of:
-Wallet, or at least my minimalistic version of one: paper clip thing with credit cards, cash, driver’s license, student ID that people never check the expiration date on, and not much else.
-Passport; an ounce of paranoia’s fine with me.
-Favorite pen: Pilot G-2 7mm, either black or blue.
-Badass Moleskine reporter’s notebook Amanda got me.
-Let’s Go Japan travel guide.
-The clothes on my back, including slightly-too-thin jacket and a groovy hat, also from the groovy Amanda
-$10 Wal-Mart fishing sunglasses
-Glasses (for when contacts sketch out)
And that about does it. What else does one need, really?:)
You don’t need large men in diapers, but it is interesting to see sumo. I imperialistically label the short matches with large announcements as silly, and then I remember how people would ridicule the U.S.-style wrestling I participated in. I suppose I could complain about the low ratio of action to pomp/circumstance, but Ironman triathletes can do that to all sports… Maybe I should just enjoy what I consider the goofy show:)
Analogous situation with the Imperial Palace and Meiji shrine: they’re not stunning at first glance like the Eiffel Tower or Grand Canyon. But, putting the comparisons aside and focusing on the positive result in a long moment contemplating the waterfall instead of bemoaning the unimpressive castle remnants, marveling at the drum so deep and loud that you feel it as much as you hear it instead of thinking about the stupidity/wastefulness/conformity of the corporate suits’ field trip to the shrine.
Wandering around Harajuku, amused at the differences even between a 100-yen (~$.90) store and U.S. dollar stores, the biggest city in the world feels quiet when you’re by yourself and missing loved ones. Some camaraderie comes with a friend from an old job and his new wife, kind enough to treat me to tempura that upwardly defines fried foods and a 100+-year-old Japanese beer hall. It’s good to see them; she calls me the “nicest barbarian” and is amazed that I eat the shells of edamame. Let’s just say I have “different” ideas about refinement than most Japanese. I wonder how many would agree with me that it’s more important to be capable of making a logical argument than to remember not to speak with food in your mouth...
But anyways, back to Tokyo. I thank them and head to Roppongi Hills Mori Tower, 52nd-story view of the lights of Tokyo’s seemingly endless towers that makes my feet tingle when I’m near the edge.
My skin then crawls in the streets of Roppongi. I think the drunk, obnoxious, ubiquitous white people were most annoying, but the “masseuses” soliciting business and th bar promoters trying to steer me their way both offered tough competition. Fortunately, virtual reality entertainment is slowly but surely conquering its flesh-and-bones counterpart: I visit two different 24/7 internet cafes, each with free coffee/tea/etc. not-alcohol drinks, large collections of manga (Japanese comic books), and plenty of computers. A strong sign that I’m ready for a few months of work is that I wile away most of 3 to 5 in the morning marveling at Steve Jobs’ Macweek keynote introducing the Iphone.