55 Days in Tokyo

February 11th, 2007

Got a decent night's sleep but still woke up feeling tired. It feels like every time I get a decent night of sleeping I still feel sleepy and want to go back to sleep. I was suprised when my girlfriend came online. I wasn't expecting her to be online today and it was a nice suprise to get to talk to her. Couldn't talk for too long since I wanted to get out and about early to see the sights.

My plan was to revisit Yoyogi park to see the Rockabillies and whatever else was around. Took the train to Harajuku this time and got over to the park. Sure enough, they were out there but there were many more than last week. They had their music blasting out of a poor speaker and were rocking out. Evidently there is a club called Tokyo Rockabilly Club and they're the ones who put on this event. I have this wonderful mental image of these guys working normal salaryman jobs during the week, but on the weekend they gel their hair up, put on leather and go strut their stuff. Freaking awesome. I also noticed the large amount of alcohol they had setup next to their music equipment.

Wandering through Yoyogi park lets you see all kinds of wonderful and strange things. There were drum groups but like most drum groups they lacked any kind of real meaning or sound, everyone just banging any way they want to with only a vague notion of a beat. Sadly, they are usually too hippy for my tastes and the music shows for it. Lots of people playing sports like Frisbee Football, flag football and soccer. Many people were flying kites due to the strong winds. The strangest sight I saw was a group of men (and one woman) wearing hakama and various shirts fighting with bokken. They weren't practicing Kendo or anything mind you. It seemed like they were almost practicing scenes from a movie, complete with one hero fighting many men and cutting them down one by one, with defeated enemies slowly slumping over. Very amusing. Also found an artist who was painting something but throughout the entire performance he was rocking out to his music, jumping up and down in time with the music. He also controlled the music with a large mix box that he had slung over his shoulder. Good artwork too.

Also went walking back down the musician walkway towards Shibuya. Again, most of the groups were poor and hard to listen to. I noticed that every band that plays on the street almost always has a CD for sale but they all want like 2000 yen for it. I know that the music industry here almost rapes the hell out of consumers and musicians by charging insane amounts for a CD and giving almost none of it to the performers but come on, at least the CD is generally made with quality. Most of these guys and gals burn the CD on their home computer and expect almost $20 for their crappy performance? Jeez.

Got through the musical area and found the Tobacco and Salt museum. It was only 100 yen so I figured what the hell. Had all kinds of salt crystals and even a 1.5 ton block of salt that was mined out of someplace nearby. Talked about how most salt plants work and how the process has evolved over time. The tobacco area talked about the history of tobacco in Japan and the industry that exists today. Most people don't know that here in Japan, tobacco is regulated and sold by a government agency. That's part of the reason why they aren't required to put health warnings on the box. The Japanese government doesn't recognize the link between smoking and cancer. It's a big business for the government and it isn't suprising that they'd try to keep the money coming in. Overall the place was pretty boring but that can you expect from a salt and tobacco museum?

Just as I was getting ready to leave I heard what sounded like an annoucement on a speaker. It was coming from a van driving along. I've seen these before and they're almost always a political statement. This kind of speech is protected here in Japan whereas in the USA it isn't due to noise and city codes. What was odd about this was that there was a long line of people walking along behind, mostly dressed in green fatigues and carrying Japanese flags. They had policemen marching alongside with flashing sticks to keep people away and a police van leading the way, clearing the walk. I followed them all the way down to Hachiko crossing. They didn't go through the crossing but made a turn at it, going away from the main area. Not suprising since most of the people who saw it were indifferent and many were annoyed by the stopping of traffic. Some people just walked through them, annoying the police to no end.

Once the excitement died down I headed towards an arcade to watch some gaming before going to my favorite sushi kaiten. Ate a fair amount before leaving and heading towards Mandarake. I was really happy that Athena had shown me this place. Found a neat Steamboy keychain along with another gundam and bought them. When I was getting ready to leave I saw the line that was forming for the elevator and was tempted to just take the stairs, but I saw that one elevator arrived and just after everyone moved towards it another one appeared. As the people exited the elevator suddenly a familiar voice called my name. Sure enough, it was Athena. That was damned funny. We commented on the odds and chatted for a little bit about the Rockabillies. She asked if I was interested in going to TGI Friday's since she was going to eat there soon, but I was tired and had to decline since I was going to head home. I left the store and headed towards the station.

Got back to Itabashi and returned to my house. Since it was still early (like 8pm) I decided to finally give the nearby bathhouse a try. Hadn't visited it yet and figured it would help put me to sleep. Went in and got into the shower scrub area to clean myself off before going into the water. Man alive it was hot. Like 45 celcius. Really made my feet tingle. Hopped out after about five minutes to cool down, then went back in for a little while. Dried off before heading back home feeling partially cooked. Relaxed with some toast before laying down to relax and watch some more Planetes. Damned good series. Unfortunately, around 10pm my energy came back but I wasn't going to travel or walk anywhere, especially after taking my bath. Instead I just laid down and watched anime and played poker until 3am when I finally went to sleep.

Photos for February 11th, 2007