Thursday, November 22, 2007

Welcome to the Jungle

As the Shinkansen speeds its way toward Tokyo, you start seeing skyscrapers, huge apartment blocks, and sign-covered buildings as far as the horizon. You gather your belongings, getting ready to disembark, and then you look at your watch and realize - SHIT - you're still 35 minutes from arrival.

The sprawl is huge. And populous. So what does that mean about the actual city center?

Packed. Although we arrived mid-afternoon and didn't see the 2-million person crush of the station, what I saw was enough. It's crowded. It's hurried. It's dog-eat-dog, all Manhattan style. Only everyone's so much more polite, for the most part. And anyone who's not - well, you can make 'em polite. People don't fuck with you when you're twice their mass. Oceans of people part for you and your huge duffel bag. Bikes swerve out of your way.

Yes, I'm using the rough-and-tumble reputation of the gaijin to my advantage. I know that makes me a horrible ambassador, but I've also got the pronunciation of "sumimasen" (I'm sorry) and the batting of my eyelashes down so well that I can't help but be loved.

Alright, that might not be true, but damn, people are so freakin' nice here. We lugged ourselves over from Ginza and didn't run across one rude person along the way. A few clueless cyclists on the sidewalk, but a mean look here and there resulted in slamming on the brakes and profuse apology. I like this place.

Anyway, we've settled into our digs at the Ban Business Hotel, and I've got my internet up and running. I had to set it up, quite literally. I asked the front desk about internet access and the gentleman handed me a DSL modem, told me he's not quite sure how it works, but he thinks the wires go in here. Yeah, in the jacks. Gotcha, Einstein. Ok, he's old and very kind - I shouldn't be mean. And somehow this jury-rigged DSL connection works and is very fast.

As for the other aspects of the accommodations... you'll just have to watch!

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