The Diet is the seat of government for all of Japan. They have a system similar to that of England. When I found out that I could go on a tour of the building I knew I had to go. Getting there wasn't too difficult but changing subway lines was a bit of a pain. Finally got to the area and started walking towards the Diet. This area of Japan is easily the most heavily policed area I've seen in this country. Along the streets it seemed as if every 50-100 meters there was another policeman. They were all armed too, but only with a six shot revolver. I realized that pretty much every policeman that I had been up to this point had also been armed, something that was different from my previous visits. Mind you, they can only get off six shots before having to reload but I doubt that they often are forced to use deadly force.
Got to the Diet tour building and they showed me inside after filling out a small information sheet. About 10 minutes before the tour was supposed to start the started letting us into this large room that had various items of historical note, like the old anonymous voting machine and the lottery that decided which panels people joined. Also had a replica of one of the seats that the members of the diet sit at, complete with the current electronic voting setup. When the time came for the tour to start everyone was called over to one area and they did a roll call to ensure that everyone was still there. Once the tour guide was satisfied he led us out of the building and towards the Diet.
Our first leg of the tour was all the way up four or five flights of stairs to the top of the building to one of the public seating areas for the main room. The Diet wasn't in session today obviously, otherwise we wouldn't have been allowed inside. we sat down and the tour guide explained various things but it was all in Japanese so I could only understand small pieces of it. The area was very interesting but didn't really have the same impressive spirit as I've felt in the DC Capital building. This was the longest part of our tour and we remained there until almost 4:30pm before finally leaving to walk around other parts of the building. We saw the Emperor's room that he uses whenever he's there and appointing someone to some role. I got yelled at for taking photos of the room. Like that'll stop me. We took a long winding walk around and saw a few other things before going back down the stairs.
We were then led outside into the courtyard and down the streets. Passed several buildings before going through a small garden. We then found ourselves at the other side of the entire Diet complex with a great view of the buildings and we were told that the tour was over. We were free to take photos and then leave through the gate. Took a few shots before taking off. There was another park nearby so I went walking through it. Had this nice vista of the Imperial Palace and it's moat nearby. Some of it's Sakura were in blossom so I walked around where I could, but much of the area was closed off due to construction. I'm fairly certain I ended up in some areas that I wasn't supposed to be in. When I had entered the park at 5pm I had seen signs that said the park closed at 5:30pm but that turned out to be a lie. I went back to the gates with 10 minutes left and they were all closed. So for the first time on this trip, I had to hop a fence.
Exiting the park put me right next to the Imperial Palace. I decided to take the long way around it and see the other side of the moat while I still had some daylight left. Very pretty walk but also much longer than I had anticipated. Saw some interesting views and buildings along the way. Finally found the street that went through the divide between the Palace and the East Gardens. Stopped a few times to rest my feet. Finally got to the "front" side of the Palace (closest to Tokyo station) and decided to head towards Akihabara to spend my last Friday night there. Took about another 30 minutes to make it there but I got there without problem. Passed by the Nikkei Stock Exchange along the way, something my father and I had done on one of our trips (first or second, I cannot remember).
Finally got to Akihabara and stopped into a resturant under the tracks to have some Yakitori. Ordered the sampler plate, some Saba sashimi and their take on fried cheese sticks. The Saba was glorious. The cheese sticks were interesting but not really worth ordering again. The cheese was nice and molten but a little hard to cool down and they kept burning my mouth even though I let them cool down. The Yakitori sampler was alright but I didn't like all of the skewers. One of them was nothing but the cooked skin of a chicken. That wasn't very tasty. The rest weren't that bad though. I'll have to give this place another try.
Left the resturant and went wandering through a few of the electronics stores to see about a specific item for one of my friends and to see what was available. Once that was done I headed towards HEY and spent most of my time playing there. It was nice a relaxing. Even played some Gundam Card Builder, something I hadn't done recently. My enjoyment of the game is going down. Close to 10pm I headed up the street up towards Skylark to get some snacks and the drink bar. It took the waiter a few tries but he explained to me that since it was a friday night, you only get the drink bar for 30 minutes and so I couldn't just hang out all night. Got a mini pizza and drank a fair amount of Melon soda and hot chocolate before leaving.
Went back to HEY and remained there until I realized it was 11:40pm. They closed at midnight and I left shortly after they announced that people shouldn't start playing any more games. Got across the street and suddenly started suffering from painful stomach cramps. Went over to Gigo to use their restroom, only to find one of the few traditional style toilets left in Akihabara. That was real fun to use. Felt better afterwards and took the train towards Otsuka. It's funny, the later you stay out in Tokyo, the more likely you are to see people vomiting or the aftermath of such an event. When you walk around Tokyo at night, take care where you step. Walked home and finally got home at almost a quater to 1am. Latest I've ever stayed out. Didn't take me long to fall asleep after my shower.
Photos for March 2nd, 2007