Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Tokyo - After Story 3

Continued from Tokyo - After Story. [ read first ]
And Tokyo - After Story 2. [ read second ]

Monday morning dawned bright and crisp, which eventually denigrated into blustering winds and rain by the evening. I thought I had learned my umbrella lesson, but choosing to leave my umbrella in Kochi, with the intent to buy one in Tokyo, proved to be foolish in the end.

The three of us -- me, Mikey and Joe -- went downtown to have breakfast at an American-style cafe. Mmm, bagels. We took the subway* to Akihabara, the electronic and gaming capital of Tokyo. Electronics, gaming and porn. Lots of porn. :x More on that later.

We spent most of the day in Tokyo's renowned electronics central, gaping at the abundance of technology, dodging pornography (and not just hentai: cartoon porn -- my subconsciously-filtered peripheral vision registered various degrees of this incessant swill) and pumping 100-yen pieces into arcade game machines. Street Fighter IV is pretty darn awesome. Joe got his butt handed to him by a Japanese businessman, but it was all part of the fun. These Japanese are born with control sticks in their hands and kung-fu-like reflexes at their fingertips.

I bought a Nintendo DSi, along with some dictionary software, an English version of Final Fantasy III (yes!) and a carry case. Joe and Mikey made their own videogame-type purchases throughout this oh-so-nerdy day.

There was one store that we entered that had one floor of videogames -- and six floors of R18 content. Suffice to say after looking at the floor plan outside the shop, we were astonished. There was even a basement level labelled R18, which meant that the games floor was sandwiched between all this lurid content. We continued on our way, no (or at least, very little) harm done.

Yes, Akihabara has a reputation for its amount of videogames and technological goodness. But it also has its dangers in the form of seductive temptation, best avoided where possible. You have been warned.

We went to Asakusa around mid-afternoon -- when the temperature had dropped even more and we were all wishing we had brought at least our jackets. The temple that we eventually found (after one wrong stop, exit and re-entry at the subway) was very cool -- especially with its abundance of various stalls leading to the temple proper. Lots of merchandise, different foods and many people wandering up and down. The market atmosphere was both palatable and a refreshing change from the buzzing and whirring that comprised the greater part of our adventurous day.

Dumping our procured goods at the hotel, we took off for downtown Ginza** in the cold precipitation. Our goal: Freshness Burger. My friend Yuichi had recommended it to me. And now, I am recommending that you avoid it. Freshness Burger -- nay, all Japanese burgers, are terrible. I haven't dared try McDonalds here, but from what I can tell, the Japanese have embraced something Western that they just don't understand. That people go to these places to eat amazes me, but then, maybe when it comes to Western food they are content to settle for mediocre, tasteless crap.

Matt, please send me Burger Fuel. Thanks. :p

So, after imbibing the average mush that was Freshness Burger (ok, so the onion rings were better than a slap to the face with a wet salmon, but even those could have been improved in multiple ways), we leapt back out into the cold, wet night and limped back to the hotel. Ya, t'was a long, footsore day of sights, sounds and dodging-of-porn that will be remembered, and cherished, for many years to come.

It might be cold back here in Kochi but I have a heater, I'm in a familiar environment, and I have our Kyoto trip this coming weekend to look forward to. I would go into detail about our return trip from Tokyo, but it would be extra words -- and who wants to read those? o.O

Palace Hotel > Taxi > Monorail > Haneda airport > Kochi airport > ATM outside Hirome Ichiba (Obiyamachi) > Masala Indian restaurant > Yamada Denki > Starbucks > driiiivin' hoooome. XD

Christmas is in two days. In the meantime, I need to recover from our Tokyo ordeal. And I'm not just talking about the dance that was ducking and diving between rows of porn amidst retro Nintendo systems. We are all weary and would appreciate our respective beauty sleeps.

Tomorrow, I can do anything I like -- and that includes sleeping until lunch-time. Tonight, I just need to find enough warmth to keep me alive until tomorrow. >.<



* Cultural Note: Don't enter the carriage that has a large pink sign reading "Women only". Two large Americans and a scruffy-haired Kiwi boy don't fit in well. At least we weren't hissed, or woman-handled, off the train. >.> So yeah, apparently Japan has such a problem with sexual harassment on the subway that there are special, women-only carriages reserved on some trains. Why does Japan have this problem? Go to Akihabara. See the porn. Understand.

** Observation Note: Tokyo boasts an abundance of gorgeous Japanese girls. Perhaps my unavoidable secludedness will change next year and I will eventually find a girlfriend around these parts. One can always hope -- and ask his readers if they know anyone who knows someone who knows a cute, single girl in the Shimanto-cho area -- and if that cute, single girl could then be passed this handsome, witty, humble writer's contact details.

One can only try, ne. A Japanese girlfriend is just what I need for friendly language exchange. ;)

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