Tiger, Hidden Tourist..
( 5.0 ) ( 3 votes
Feb 16, 2004 22:47
many things to do and see
While most of Tokyo drank Asahi and tended to Monday Morning's clothing
ensemble, two poorly dressed Americans arrived under the cover of
a cold japanese night....
but wow...what a great city...Hip, Cool and so crowded! Normally,
this is a big turnoff for me but the people here are just so Cool!!!
Without a doubt the most hip and best dressed that I have ever seen.
As we explored some of the most eccentric parts of the city, we
encountered looks that were more thought out than a State of the
It all started with an early morning wakeup which did not do justice
to the full dose of melatonin that I ingested upon arrival in Tokyo.
At 3AM, as I stared at the Ceiling, I thought, "Isn't this
about the time that Bill Murray hits the bar in 'Lost in Translation'?"
Considering our quarters at the enormous Keio Hotel, I had plenty
to keep me occupied all night long...TV, Radio, Computer.... and
the ever popular Japanese electronic toilet (it's like a sanitary
video game), But alas, I wisely chose to do the old toss and turn.
So after some hours of negotiating shut eye with the Californian
managing my REM cycle, I was finally saved as Nina stirred and we
arose to the sweet ambrosia of dry Granola that we lugged from Whole
Foods in San Francisco. Hippies.
Descending from our super sized tourist digs has become somewhat
of an event as we are so high up that the ear popping is enough
to warrant Trident. So we packed the gum, pushed the button and
pinched our noses. Outside, it was a windy winter.... Colder than
a Jewish Mother at a Catholic wedding. But we brave explorers moved
head-on into the frigid Asian air, and followed our highly sensitive
instincts towards a most unique spot in Shinjuku...Starbucks. As
much as it is a cheesy way to start a day in a foreign country,
I will say that a visit here is very important when traveling with
a closet caffeine addict. Walk in with a shivering zombie, walk
out with a glowing girlfriend. Say no to drugs Kids!
Refueling accomplished, we explored our new home in Shinjuku, the
most internationally recognized part of Tokyo. Here we found hundreds
of electronics stores, lots of shopping centers and TONS OF PEOPLE....a
reoccuring theme in Tokyo. For lunch we studied The Lonely Planet
guide like a college Freshman and learned that while in the states
most Japanese restaurants serve a variety of culinary options, most
establishments in Japan actually specialize in one offering ie:
Sushi or Tempura. After some negotiation...ie...walking around in
circles... we picked a notable Tempura Restaurant in Shinjuku called
Tsunahachi. Here, as the only English speakers, we were treated
to a special course of Tempura that is no doubt rolled out for the
occasional honkey who wanders into this very local spot. Regardless,
we somehow managed to figure out what was going down the hatch and
happily consumed that which was (continually) placed before us.
It kind of felt like dinner with my grandmother...."here try
this. oh try this now. oh did you have this yet. oh how about some
more of this." (Reader: please note that none of the prior
statements are actually questions, rather commands constructed as
questions to which you really don't have a choice)
After another dose of Shinjuku, Nina and I decided to avoid the
Shinjuku Railway Station, which sees more than 2 million commuters
every day, and walked towards Harajaku, a hip and trendy neighborhood
to the South of Shinjuku. Here we (read: Nina) stopped in many trendy
shops and boutiques and experienced all that the natives of Harajaku
had to offer. The people here were definitely the most hip in the
city. While it would be impossible to generalize a group of amazingly
unique people, there were some interesting trends that we saw which
all seemed to revolve around multiple layers of clothing for every
body part. For girls, it was fashionable to compliment white 80's
style short boots with skirts or shorts over jeans. Shirts were
off the shoulder and Hair styles mostly resembled Pat Benetar. Somehow,
they pulled it off.
The guys had interesting things to display as well...but most amusing
were the Austin Powers style slim pants and jeans with multiple
shirts packed under a blazer or jean jacket. For some reason, the
prevaling hairstyle amongst most hip young dudes recalls Rod Stewart
circa "If you want My Body." Not quite a "Business
in the front, Party in the back" style 'do, but you get the
In the evening we kept walking down to Shibuya where we were almost
swallowed by throngs of people leaving work. It was crazy, like
Times Square on speed. The cool thing was being able to see over
everyone's head. You see, in Asia, I'm a power forward.
Fascinated with the masses of Tokyo-ittes, we spent many moments
standing on the corner marveling at the sight. No doubt, we were
cursed by many a walker as we blocked precious walking lanes. But
no matter, we can't speak the language, and they can't speak ours...so
we have a sort of symbiosis. One thing we still can't get over is
how long it takes people to say hello or goodbye...or anything really.
It's almost as though the words really never end. With greeters
at the door of every shop in Shibuya, by the time they had finished
pronouncing the infinitecimal number of syllables which translate
into, "Hello and welcome to our store", we had already
walked in, scanned the store and tried on two shirts. I don't even
know if they've finished saying goodbye to us yet. We only left
there 2 hours ago.
Dinner in an udon house and a trip on a crowded subway car back
to Shinjuku capped off what was a great day and 12 straight hours
of sensory overload. After a trip back up the Mt Everest Elevators
I am comfortably relaxing in our room...and Nina is dead asleep.
So I guess I will leave you with a much shorter goodbye than my
new friends in Shibuya could possibly muster and make my way back
to the Melatonin.