55 Days in Tokyo

January 13th, 2007

Managed to not wake up until 7am, giving me a fair amount of rest. This little place is quite cozy once you get used to it. Took my time waking up and opened up my laptop to write about the previous day (yes, I usually write the day after). During my writing I heard my roommate from above come downstairs and use the kitchen. I was nearing the end of my writing and was ready to upload everything so I went out into the kitchen. No one was there but the TV was still on so I knew whoever it was would be back soon. Shortly after I sat down she entered the room, saw me and was spooked by having someone there who was not there before. Her name is Isabella (at least I think so, I am horrible with names) and she is indeed from Italy. Interestingly enough, her boyfriend is half Italian half American and also has my name. We spoke for a bit before she left to go do whatever it is she does. Uploaded everything online, responded to emails and cruised around online for a while. Finally got myself up to speed, got dressed and headed out around 11am.

Took the train towards Shinjuku and headed off to see the Tokyo Metropolitan Government's building. Supposed to be the tallest building in Japan and has two free observation decks, one in each tower. Getting to the building from Shinjuku station can be done by walking through this long underground tunnel called One Day Way (Or is it Street? I forget). The walk is long and the tunnel is cold and uninviting. I imagine this would be the kind of tunnel that a condemned man would be taken down before being executed. The only hint of civilization are a few pieces of art hung up in a small set of alcoves. One of the alcoves was in the process of having new artwork hung. The level of amusement from watching an overly critical Japanese artist constantly having the peon who is supposed to be leveling it move it back and forth is too much to be free. Shortly after the artwork I took an exit topside to get some food. My stomach was unwilling to wait any longer and I had to backtrack until I found a small resturant and got some Tempura udon. Delicious, but not very filling. Walking back to the underground route to the building I stopped in 7-11 and got a little chocolate snack. Made my way back into the cold tunnel and continued walking until I finally came to the underside of the building. Before me was this massive, half-circle plaza that was completely devoid of people. From here I had a great view of the building. The entrance to the structure was cold, dark and make it appear that it was closed. It was not until a group of people came out that I knew it was open.

I got inside and after offering my backpack to a search I was put into an elevator that sent us to the 45th floor in less than a minute. As soon as I stepped off the elevator I got the feeling of being up way too high. My fear of heights manifests as a sick feeling in the put of my stomach. It was not helped by the fact that the first thing I saw was a bunch of balloons soaring up not too far from the building. I looked down and could see what looked like a wedding party. Looking down was a bad thing to do as my heart started racing. Mind you, it is not that I do not like heights, I simple have a hard time with them. Once I calmed down a little I went back to the windows and proceeded to walk around the tower, taking in the sights. Man alive what a view. On a clear day you can see all the way to Mount Fuji, but today was not a clear day and the mountain was obscured by the haze. After being in the first tower (south I think) I went back down and went up into the other tower. The view was just as good, but I spent a good part of my time up there sitting on a bench, resting my feet. By this point they were really starting to give me grief. Once I finished resting I went back down the elevator and exited the building. Maybe it was just because the place was closed down, but the whole place gave me the creeps and felt like it was cold and lifeless, an empty shell of a building.

After I exited I headed towards a park that I saw from the tower. You could see the setups that the homeless had, all neatly tucked up and stored neatly so as to not disturb the paths. Only in Japan would the homeless go out of their way to ensure that they do not get in the way. Walking through the park I came to the playground area. I saw this young couple playing with what seemed like their daughter. She was on a rope attached to a steel wire that you could slide up and down. The girl absolutely loved it. A few minutes later a man came along and thanked the couple. He must have asked them to watch his daughter, as she then left with him. Again, only likely in Japan. I watched as the couple left. No doubt there was a discussion that night about having kids at their house, if they had one together that is.

Left the park after consulting my atlas and headed back towards Shinjuku after realizing that there was not much else to see in any other direction. Wandered around Shinjuku for a while. Even got a crepe. Damned good stuff. At this point my feet were really hurting to headed back for home. I believe I have pushed my feet too hard these last two days and I am beginning to reap the consequences. Got home and met my other roommate, an oriental girl whose name I do not know. Went into my room and, in a stroke of inspiration, figured out how to connect to our wireless network. Managed to get online and talked to my friends in IRC and felt somewhat reconnected with the world. Messed around online and relaxed for many hours until I finally left the house at 7pm for Shibuya.

Aside from yet another train mishap I made it to Shibuya without incident. This was intended to be a brief foray into new territory as I will be returning tomorrow. Walked around, soaking in the lights and seeing all the wonderful shops. One place was a tiny basement filled with clothes and had three sales people. The only thing I was interested in was a sweater with a picture of Mike Tyson from the NES game on it. No price tag was visible so I quickly exited since I did not want to be hassled by three sales people in a place not much larger than my room. Made a few mental notes about a few bars that I would like to try and walked until I found another rotating sushi bar to have dinner in. Their Saba was delicious and it cost me maybe 10 dollars. Found a few more arcades but at this point my right foot was so bad off I was walking with a limp so I headed home. Getting back was a pain since the Saikyo line seemed to have no trains coming through Shibuya for at least another 30 minutes, so I limped back to the Yamanote line and took it to Shinjuku, where I could transfer to the Saikyo line. It seems more trains for Saikyo come through Shinjuku than Shibuya.

As I limped my way back down the streets towards home, I stopped off in the 7-11 just down the street from my house and discovered that it carried melon Fanta soda. No other place I have check so far has had this wonder tonic and this place has plenty of it. Surely this is a good day. Got two bottles, limped my way back home and promptly passed out without taking a shower. My feet were so sore I do not think I could have even taken a shower. Tomorrow will be spent mostly close to home so my feet can rest.

Photos for January 13th, 2007