Tokyo 2.0, my first full day

Ok, I can only put a few photos in this post. Yesterday was huge, and I took a lot of pictures. There are over 260 in this album, and it was closer to 400 to start. Each one adds something new to Tokyo, so check it out if you have time.

It was an early start. Something happens to you when you change 14 time zones. 9PM seems very late, and 6 AM is sleeping in. I still haven’t caught up, but each day is better than the last. 6AM in Austin is 8PM in Tokyo, so my brian hater my riht nwo. I was on the search for an ATM that would accept my card. The search was almost successful. I did find one that would take my card, but without thinking I tried to withdraw more than the limit, and received no cash. I was so used to this that I didn’t even check the receipt to see why it wasn’t giving me cash.

The walk was nice at first. A river runs through Tokyo near Asakusa, where I’m staying, towards the bay that leads to the Pacific. I say at first because it my calves are worse than sore. Throughout the day I walked more than 7 hours without meaning to. What a day. Now pictures

It turns out crazy cat ladies are ubiquitous. Every culture has them, whether you have a place to put the cats or not. At least she has a view!

In Tokyo there is not much space. You find ways to plant a garden, sort your recycle on the street, or even pump gas.

By the way, that is a gas station on a corner not much bigger than a big car.

Parking your car becomes an art.

Forget about washing it.

People in Tokyo like to wait around. It happens everywhere. Only once did it make sense what they were doing

These were actual buildings. Only the last one makes sense. They call that Electric City, and it is where all of Japan’s newest electronic devices are displayed.

Wanna get married on the street?

You see a lot of posing like this. They’ll block streets off for a good shot.

They caught on for Halloween, but somehow only the jackolanterns made it across the ocean. People here find excuse to party, so this seems like a good one.

I’ll throw in a Christmas wreath-tunnel for fun. Did I mention that Japanese are Buddhist? More on that later.

I want to add that Japanese people watch the dumbest television. I’m in a hostel writing a blog post. 4 Japanese youths are watching a game show that is trying to decide if a cantaloupe is real or not. I have no idea the prize. The last two shows were about make overs. Girls here really want to change their image. Many change their hair color to a brown. Lots wear enough makeup to make me look like a woman. I think in a country where every person fits the same description, it is advantageous to stand out.

My hostel is trying to save electricity by walking instead of taking the elevator.

What’s weird is that there are sometimes 4 or 5 vending machines on a corner, the toilet seats are heated, and there are flashing signs/advertizements everywhere. Superfluous is an understatement – you think we waste electricity in the US?

I’m skipping a lot here. If you’re interested, make sure to check out the photo album for more.

After getting an ATM to work for me it was more tourism. Tokyo tower is one of the highest places you can get in the city, and I wanted to see as far as I could.

The cemeteries and parks were of special interest from above

After 2 days in Tokyo, I hadn’t expected to see grass. This was the first and last time I saw it in the city. Later I would walk down the and lay down (remember the jetlag). People here live within feet of others and get along nicely. I’m pretty sure that would last only a few minutes in the US before a fight broke out. Did I mention that everyone here is super polite and law-abiding? They don’t even cross a street without a light to tell them (and every 2 way intersection has one.)

The view from above was spectacular. Make sure to check it out.

Being above made me want to see the cemetery and big temple. The cemetery was very cool. People are buried up down to save space, so the tomb stones are close together. Here are a few of my favorites. You can see the personality in the person making the sticks, putting flowers, or even jackolanterns.

More here

My buddy AJ loves public transportation, and with him in mind, in the couple of hours of remaining daylight (the sun is setting about 5PM right now) I went to Shinjuku station, the largest metro station in the world.

I’d estimate that several tens of thousands of people were there at the same time as me. And all of them would be out in 20 minutes making room for tens of thousands more. In all that I only saw one white person. Tokyo has over 12 million people, 11,999,990 of them are Japanese.

Finally the sun was setting, and I was whooped. On the way back to the hostel I snapped these and several others at the green bridge.

I hope you enjoyed the photos. I have tons more from today and the remaining from yesterday. Don’t forget to check those out.

Tokyo! It’s pretty amazing.

I don’t understand an single thing. Everything is close and small.  I’m finally not a short person!   There are lots of lights and colors – so much to distract.  ATMs don’t take my card.  Addresses are unrecognizable since street names are in Japanese, and the numbers don’t increase linearly.  This is about as foreign as I can imagine.

I’ve been a lot of places, but this one takes the cake for being strange.  The people are very friendly, and Tokyo is super clean, but no one speaks English (or only the fewest words).  The two Portuguese roommates at a hostel are the closest looking people to me that I’ve seen.  I basically hand people money in hopes for change. So far it’s been on the up and up.

Flying here took 14 hours from Dallas to Tokyo.  That was as long as I ever want to sit in one place. I’m 14 hours ahead, which suggests it will take 14 days (in the 1 day to 1 hour rule) to get over jetlag, but I think with strategic naps and beer I’ll be ready to go in 2 to 3 days.

Excitement is only one word to describe what I feel. Total disorientation is another. Having traveled plenty I thought I’d be ready for this. WOW!

The flight was uneventful. Boeing 777 with a selection of looping movies. That plane is much smoother in the air than it is on the ground. We saw some pretty sights from the air.

On the landing, which was the first time I had seen land since Alaska, we flew over at least 6 golf courses. I’m surprised that a country so hard up for land can afford that much wasted space. There were lots of rice fields and “towns” that are probably more like farming neighborhoods.

The airport exterior was as big as I’ve ever seen. The inside wasn’t sensational, pretty standard. Customs and Immigration was exactly like in the US with foreigners having to give fingerprints. I didn’t understand a word but kept thrusting my passport at people with hats on.

Here’s a metro car for AJ

And me, the almost tallest person around at the local market, temple, and famous Gate.

At this point I stood out like a neon light in rural Alabama. I was one of three non-Japanese people walking around, and my blue jeans with red-white-and-blue pearl snaps didn’t fit in. Tomorrow I’ll wear slacks and a button up. At least they won’t know I’m a first time tourist before I open my mouth.

The market was fascinating. I found a place that sold only chop sticks and another that sold only swords. Of course there were the obligatory fish restaurants with fish hats.

I found a McDonalds, a Dennys, and a Starbucks. Needless to stay I didn’t go in any of them. The McDonalds has only a few things on the menu. Not sure what they are.

The Temple was crowded, and people were praying. I don’t know what it honors, but it stands out as very distinct from the rest of the buildings.

And a few more to end this post

Here is a link to all of the, stupidly, unedited photos.   Oh, and don’t forget to take your shoes off when you come in. Slippers are in a basket by the door.