Thursday, 19 June 2014

Bright lights, big city…..

Tokyo is a big city. There is something like 13.5m people calling it home but like everywhere else here it doesn’t feel that busy. Sure there are pockets of intensity (sounds like my trousers), but walk down most streets and it’s less crowded than Colchester. We spent 5 days tramping around the place and only covered a small amount of what there is to see because, well, there’s a lot to see. It’s not all about high rise buildings either, although there are many wonderful architecturally interesting edifices of glass, steel and concrete soaring up to the skies, one of our favourite being the golden sperm building.

Cleaners wait in preparation to clean to next incoming
dollop of sperm off of their already covered building
There are areas of quaint shops and alleyways, never ending malls both over and underground, huge parks with little, quiet temples nestling in them and man-made islands to extend the already substantial footprint of the city. Japan is pretty much a mono culture. Although there are identifiably foreign faces here they are not high in numbers and are usually around the more obvious tourist attractions. Consequently, we still enjoy being somewhat singular in the crowds. This might be because, comparatively, we look like tramps as the style of these people continues to enthral us as high fashion is positively vertiginous here! We have seen hundreds of girls following the Harajuku fashion which I can best describe as Goth meets Victorian school ma’am.

Harajuku Girls
It’s an interesting look but even to a man who grew up in the punk era it takes some getting used to. This is extreme but there are also a multitude of other dress styles to captivate you and people watching for hours we were unable to spot duplicates in clothes.

The city has a real sense of energy about it and this increases vastly when the sun goes down and the lights go up. Then, and only then, do you see the slight easing of the Japanese regimented and placid nature. Girly bars, karaoke bars, clubs, love hotels et al suddenly seem to be everywhere and once you hit the more liberal areas the senses are overwhelmed with the neon, the flashing, the music and vibrancy all around and above you.

By far one of the best things we did in the evening here was to visit the Robot Restaurant. An acid trip with Robots is probably the closest my imagination can get…Scantily clad women cavorting about with real and dressed up robots. So many mirrors and flashing lights that a strobe sensitive epileptic would fit in seconds. The music thumps through your head, the kinetic energy of motorbikes, skaters, flying props etc is dizzying and being as there are only 120 people in the audience it feels like you are right in the middle of the madness. Which, effectively you are since you have to duck occasionally to avoid being struck by a passing foot or glitter covered propeller as the performers do their thing in the limited space available.

Another night we got invited to eat free sushi and drink beer in a hotel that was filming for a tv show about travellers and I prepared a sushi dish I called ‘Road crash’ in front of the cameras. Luckily, I didn’t shit myself and have to run out of the restaurant like our last filmed appearance in India (see Varkala blog).

Day time was a mixed bag for weather so our plans of clambering up Fuji were scuppered and will have to be realised if and when we manage to get a job here – something we both feel strongly about and will work hard to make come true. Even so we did other interesting things but to keep this concise will mention only our visit to the man-made Obaido Island. Here, is the Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation where we saw one of the most advanced robots – Asimo – perform various tasks; The Mega Web Toyota showroom with kids car rides and adult driving circuit running through the middle; Divers City Mall with a 12 metre robotic statue at the entrance and the lovely walkways through the gardens that give great views across the harbour and include a small Statue of Liberty.

Although we wouldn’t want to live there. Tokyo is still a city to visit. As, indeed, is Japan. We had no plans to visit here but now would want to live here for a while. The quality of life, social responsibility and the people make it seem quite utopian. Who knows until you try though heh? Here, however,  are just a few reasons why IFLJ.

The bus drivers all sound like they are talking your knickers off as they pull up to and away from bus stops.

We watched a Japanese man watch his dog piss then he took out a water bottle to sloosh down the area.

There are men whose job is to stand with a mesh guard to protect passers by from flying debris from other men strimming.

The bowing…. Lovely!

They are non-confrontational so no shouting.

People queue in an orderly fashion to both cross roads and get on trains.

I left my wallet on a counter at the dance festival and a few minutes later I was found and had it returned.

They have seasons

You can drink the water from the taps

And they all smell nice

They make funny noises.... iiieeeeeeeeeee(a surpised noise) , okeeokeeokee (agreement), hai (yes, good, uh huh, yeah, i see).

Three cheers for Japan UNLESS you are travelling to another country without forward tickets to get out of said country. Will explain that in the next blog.

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