I'm still kinda drunk. I got only a little bit of sleep. But I have to be up because I have to hit the Tsukiji Market. More on that later when I'm back.
As for yesterday, damn - quite a full day, even though we didn't cover all that much ground.
We got up fairly early and had breakfast at the hotel before scouting out Tsukiji a day ahead, so we'd know exactly where to go this morning. It's odd to see the biggest, busiest fish market in the world abandoned and at a complete standstill. While there were masses of tourists outside (yesterday was a national holiday, and people have converged upon Tokyo from all over Japan), the only creature stirring at Tsukiji was this cat, on the lookout for fish scraps.
We then headed over to Asakusa, where my friend Keith is staying. He's from San Francisco and is temporarily living in Yamagata as an English teacher, and he took advantage of the holiday weekend to come down to Tokyo and hang out. He had a bit of trouble finding us, so in the meantime I went to sample another local delicacy...
We met up and did the main things to do in Asakusa - like everyone else. Joining about a million holidaymaking Japanese, we checked out the Kaminarimon. Yet another big ol' temple. *yawn* Then we went and shopped for uniquely Japanese housewares on Kappabashi-dori, because I really needed a push-button soy sauce server. Seriously. But the real reason for anyone to hit Asakusa is to see all of Tokyo - through a glass of Asahi. The Sky Room at the top of the Asahi building is free to visit, you can stay as long as you like, and the beers don't cost any more than they do elsewhere. And they look like this:
My mom split to go meet up with some of her own friends, so Keith and I geeked out in Akihabara.
Known as "Electric Town" and a mainstay of discount electronics, we were more interested in the over-the-top manga culture, where geeks get their jollies looking at comics of school girls being sodomized by demons, build models of big-breasted girls in shibari rope bondage, and fantasize about giant robots. The girls, of course, have their own version, with guy-on-guy spoofs of popular comics. And yes, I bought some of this stuff. For posterity, of course. We even went all girly and had coffee and croissants at the Heidi Cafe, a cafe dedicated exclusively to the anime character Heidi, Girl From the Alps. If there are three words to describe such an experience, they're "cute," "cute," and "CUTE."
Keith said as we walked through the Heidi Cafe, "I think I'm going to die of diabetic shock."
Which summed things up nicely - if Akihabara is anything, it's extreme. The extreme cuteness of the more kiddie comics. The extremely graphic nature of some of the adult comics. The extreme sound and lights and flash coming from each store. It's total sensory overload, and after a while, I'd had enough. I was about to have a seizure.
So we hopped on the JR Yamanote Line train and got back to my current hood of Ginza, where I showed Keith around my neck of the woods (so to speak), retreading much of the previous night's jaunts. And that was just fine by me. Because this included the ¥300 Bar, where I'm always happy to return. In fact, it may be my new favorite bar in the world.
After many, many $2.80 beers, cocktails, and shots, we made friends with a Japanese guy named Rich, with whom we may meet up tonight in Shinjuku. Apparently, he and his really-trying-hard-to-speak-English friends want to kick it at an Irish pub. That should be interesting...
As for last night, the most interesting part was after the fact. Being short, I'm used to people taking pictures of me from a top-down perspective. Here's how it comes out when I'm being photographed by someone even shorter than me.
(If you can't figure it out, I'm the shorter, darker guy on the right...)