My first stop was a post office right down the street from me. It was listed as having an ATM that allows you to use international cards. I tried it out and it worked without any problems. I've also since found out that you can exchange currency at Post Offices and that they often give better rates than the banks. I've also found a place in Akihabara that will exchange dollars to yen at a rate that is very close to the current value listed. I get a report on currency rates every day and the place in Akiba is maybe two and a half yen under the rate, something I've yet to find in Japan. I took out a small amount of cash to test and see what kind of charge I'll incur to my account for my withdrawl, both in terms of exchange rate and fee.
When I got to Itabashi station I wasn't certain where I wanted to go. All I knew was that I was feeling better due to my nice night of sleep and wanted to wander to some new place. My choice was Shinagawa station, another large station on the Yamanote line on the other side of town. When I finally got there I tried to wander around but found that the place wasn't really interesting. There is a very neat and interesting structure that houses all kinds of shops and such but nothing special. The buildings were more interesting than anything else. I first tried the East exit and found nothing there so I headed towards the West exit. It had a few more things but again, not much. If you wandered more than a few hundred meters from the station you find nothing of interest at all. On the Western exit there was this indoor shopping area with different resturants and stores. There was even a Nathan's Hot Dog resturant. That struck me as very intersting and funny at the time.
After killing some time there I decided to head back towards Shibuya to have some sushi and at least go where I knew there was entertainment. After I got to Shibuya I went to my favorite rotating sushi bar to eat my fill. After I had filled up I went to the nearby arcade and watched some people playing the Gundam Pod game and the Card game. I've been looking at the card game and been more and more interesting in trying it out. Finally decided to by a starter pack that comes with enough cards for two avatars, plastic holders and a card that will store my information. The latter was a suprise since I was thinking that I might have to get it seperately, making the game even more expensive. I got my cards and took a few minutes to look at them before heading towards Shibuya crossing.
This will sound very touristy but I had decided to get something from the Starbucks that overlooks the crossing, have a seat and watch people crossing. Got a cup of hot chocolate that was extremely bitter and headed up to the second floor. Took a few minutes but someone finally left and I was able to get a seat at the window. There had been this tourist couple that spoke Spanish and they had evidently been waiting for someone to leave so they could have a seat. However, they didn't have anything from Starbucks and didn't look like they'd bought anything so I felt they didn't have any real claim to a seat and just took it instead. They seemed a little pissed off but like most people they weren't willing to make anything of it. I suspect that they knew they didn't have a leg to stand on. Probably would have suprised them if I had started yelling at them in Spanish if they'd made a problem.
Anyways, I sat there, watching people crossing the street and reading my new Gundam cards. It's very intersting to watch people going across the street. For those of you who have never seen Shibuya crossing, the entire street becomes a pedestrian crossing every two or three minutes and everyone crosses all at once. After that, traffic starts up again and everyone has to wait a while. The most interesting phenomenon I spotted was the tendancy for people to start walking across the street just as or after they light had gone to red. Some of them would even start late and just walk across as if they knew traffic would halt for them. The horrific suprise was that traffic would start driving anyways and while cars would stop for people the whole flow of traffic wouldn't. People always seemed to realize this and would start running towards the sidewalk. I saw this happen again and again. People would start walking across slowly just before the light was to change and seemingly acted like they were above running or would bend traffic to their will, only to see the cars start to drive towards them, freak them out and make them run for the other side. How strange.
My butt started to hurt after a while due to the lack of padding and hard wood style seats that I suspect Starbucks uses to ensure no one stays for too long (unless you've got buns of STEEL). Finally got up and headed out to go walking for a while. It was only 8pm but I was already starting to feel very tired. Perhaps my sleep wasn't as restful as I thought or maybe my body had finally gotten some real rest and wasn't operating in deprivation mode. Anyways, I was able to wander around for about 45 minutes before it became too much and I headed back home. Naturally, after I got home and laid down in bed I found myself unable to get to sleep for a while, at least until a little while after midnight. Will see if using the eye cover really works or if last night was really just a fluke.
Photos for January 30th, 2007