Sunday, February 19, 2012

Day 3 - Roppongi and Harajuku

Phew, so I was a little hungover on this morning, and we had onigiris from the konbini for a snacky breakfast. I'll go into detail about konbinis and onigiris tomorrow; we bought some from Lawson downstairs tonight for another snacky breaky, so I'll take pics and explain a little bit. But yeah, quick snack and sandowichi and then out the door around noon. I thought I would share a pic of what their payphones look like.

Why do they even have these around? I assume that the Japanese are born with their cellphones in their hand.

We zipped off in the subway again, this time to Roppongi. I was better at the subways today, learning to see the signs, buying the tickets, and understanding how the JR trains work vs. the other ones. Roppongi seems like a more upscale part of town, and for some reason, the two streets we went down were completely empty. It was actually nice and welcome to be around an empty street, after the last two crazy days.

Still feeling a little bit rundown and needing refueling, we ducked into an Italian resto on one of the streets in Roppongi. I thought pasta would be good idea: something with lots of starch for the walking around today, and something familiar for my shakey stomach. No fish allowed today! So I got the carbonara , and Carey got the Bolognaise. The restaurant, while looking very Western-style in terms of decor, was very Japanese in terms of clientele. The waiter didn't speak English and we were the only foreigners in the whole place, so I guess Roppongi isn't like most of the other touristy neighbourhoods we've been frequently. I don't mind so much about the touristy part... It's my first time here, so I want to do the normal boring stuff, I don't need to see the "real" Japan... I'm quite happy with tourist Japan for now.

Mine came with a half-cooked egg to mix in - mmm, perfect for hangover!

From there, we headed to Roppongi Tower. It's a tall tower that gives an amazing 360-degree view of the Tokyo skyline.

We ended up on the 54th floor, wheeeee!

It was a perfect day for it, because it was sunny and clear. I tried to make a panoramic collage of pictures, but my camera isn't very good and the pictures didn't turn out great. Instead, I'll show you a picture that Carey took from her camera.

It's of Tokyo Tower, a replica of the Eiffel Tower... which we learned is actually a few meters taller than the real Eiffel Tower! Crazy Japanese, always trying to improve or upgrade reappropriated culture.

Now take the above picture, and imagine the same kind of urban sprawl in a 360 view. Aside from the coastline on the east-side, it's literally urban city as far as you can see, until it fades into the horizon. It's really amazing... and it's all towers, not like certain areas don't have towers and some do - it's all towers and tall buildings. It's as if they ran out of room on the ground and just started building UP instead. It helps you fathom just how the impossible scale of the city. Here's a link to a professionally-done panoramic skyline shot, from the interwebs. The picture linked is only a 130-degree view, I couldn't find one for the whole 360... so multiply this shot by 3 in your head to get an idea of the scale.

In the same tower was the real reason we headed over here... there's an art museum that had an exhibition for Lee Bul, a South Korean modern artist. It was really great, and I don't even like modern art. She's mostly sculpture and model-building type stuff, and it was so detailed, so intricate. Some of the shimmery glasswork gossamer stuff was amazingly beautiful. We weren't allowed to take pics while in the exhibition, so here's a pic of the entrance to the museum.

It's safe to assume that any well-composed and good-looking pic was taken by Carey. Like this one.

Her stuff was very futuristic and cybertechy, with themes of cybernetics, as well as futuristic architechture and machinery. It really appealed to the scifi nerd in me. Carey loved it even more, it was exactly the type of asthetic she's into. Hehe, when it comes to certain areas - like Japanese futurism and robots - she's a bigger nerd than I am. Hehehe, shhh, don't tell anyone. :P

After that, we headed to Yoyogi Park and Harajuku. Every Sunday, these guys and girls in leather jackets, poodle skirts, crazy high pompadours and greaser haircuts, go to Yoyogi park, blast 50's pop rock songs and do the twist and just hang out looking cool. When we got there, it was late afternoon, so I think we missed them. But, as we walked around the rest of Harajuku, we caught some of them at a stoplight and I pretended to take a pic of Carey while she was in front of them.

Hehehe, sneaky pic taking of the cool old greasers.

This neighbourhood is between Shibuya and Shinjuku, and is very teen-oriented. It's where all the fashion-forward kids go to hang out and shop, and basically just be weird Japanese teens into the weirdest styles.

Takeshita Dori was a street filled with cool shops aimed at tacky Japanese teen type fashion and accessories... tons of cool stuff, but Carey said there's stuff like this in Fukuoka as well, so we held back from buying much.

There were goths, lolita girls, fashionista girly-boys (who are completely straight but look more primped and done up than most Western girls), and heck, stuff that's completely I can't even begin to label. As soon as we got out of the station, there were weirdly dressed teens everywhere. The average age of the entire crowd was about 17. It's so weird that these kids have an entire neighbourhood where they hang out - it's like being in Peter Pan's Neverland. Or it was like being at an outdoor anime convention festival and being surrounded by cosplayers - only they're all actually Japanese and they're pulling it off so much better.

This neighbourhood definitely made me feel very old and out of touch. Get off my lawn!

So we walked around some more and felt old and boring-looking, but by now our feet were hurting and we were tired. It's weird, I'm not used to being the frumpiest-looking guy in a crowd, but Japan totally has kicked it up a notch. Everyone here seems to make a bit more of an effort in terms of putting themselves together. Not even in this neighbourhood, but everywhere... even the old guys (especially the old guys) all look very primp and dapper. No jogging pants, grubby hoodies and sneakers in this town. As I said before, the Japanese care a lot about outward appearances.

Oh yeah, and on the way home I took a picture just to show Mike-Nub and make him jealous.

Hehehe, we're totally going here tomorrow when we go shopping in Shibuya. More pics to make Mike jealous, woo!

So that was it. We ended the day early, went home and had some fast food for dinner - we were tired and didn't want to think about food or have to stumble through a menu and worry about ordering the wrong thing... just wanted to get something in there and not have to worry if it agrees with us or not... so no pics of my Whopper, but I'm sure you can imagine what it looked/tasted like. Hehehe, yes, I feel a little guilty about breaking down and getting a burger on the third day in, but once we're in Fukoaka next week, we'll be less rush-rush-rush and it'll be more authentic Japanese and less Tourist Tokyo.

Tomorrow, shopping in Shibuya, and then (dun dun dunnnnn) we're going to have fugu for dinner! Potentially fatal poison blowfish! Woo! :D Also, today's vendo pic is of a digital machine... it was touch pad and very futuristic and shiny, the most modern I had seen so far, all electronic! And yet it had creamed corn in a soda can!

Mmmm, I know sometimes I have a craving for creamed corn, and I can't wait to get home to have it! The Japanese think of everything!

Okay, time to wake up Carey and start Day 4 with onigiri breakfast! Ohayou gozaimasu!