Thursday, October 28, 2004

Last day in Tokyo

Well, we're on the bus back to Narita airport. Walked around Shinjuku a little this morning to get a breath of fresh air and do some last-minute shopping. Took a picture of some businessmen enjoying bowls of udon. It's a bummer that this is our last day. Saw a guy sending a text message from his phone while riding his bike through the busy streets. Crazy. Reminds me of a talk show we saw where these women were taking questions by text message. They didn't give a phone number, just the email addresses of the 3 ladies hosting the show. Messages would pop up on the bottom right of the screen and they would answer them on the air. I wonder how much the Japanese watch TV with all the shopping and night life there is to do.

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The other is a picture from our room during the day. It's amazing how sprawling Tokyo is. At night what's striking is that the horizon is almost a solid line of those red lights that warn low-flying aircraft of tall buildings. I can see one of them on our building glowing about 6 stories up.

Since I've got a couple hours on the bus I think I'll write a little bit about Kyoto and some other miscellaneous things I've been thinking about.

Note I rearranged some posts so that they don't jump around so much.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004


Haven't posted any pictures of Shinjuku yet. After we checked into the Park Hyatt we headed off to experience the nightlife. If you've ever seen pictures of rows and rows of neon lights and signs, chances are it was taken in Shinjuku. What's amazing about Tokyo is how much happens above street level. You have to be looking not just at what's on the street, but at the signs that list all the stuff happening at each floor above the street. Now I understand why we spent so much time in class practicing how to say floor numbers. Since the buildings are so narrow, each floor of a building may consist of a separate shop or restaurant. So you might say that you are meeting at such and such bookstore in building X on the 5th floor. From the street you see these huge vertical signs with names of shops and 1F, 2F, 3F, etc all the way up the building.

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Shinjuku station is also the busiest station in Tokyo. It's where you hear about people pushers that gently cram folks onto the train. I didn't see this, but we weren't hanging around the station at 7 in the morning. Much of Shinjuku station is below ground, and there are entrances into the station from all around Shinjuku. We headed down at around 7pm so we were mainly surrounded by businessmen heading home, and there is some thrill of walking into one of the passages and getting swept up in the sea of people all going the same way. "Go with the flow" takes on a whole new meaning here.

Just outside Shinjuku station is a building with a huge Hi-Def display that is super bright and unbelievably sharp. Complete with sound. This is better than the movies! I could watch TV on that thing all day.

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Pam bought some clothes at Isetan, a big department store, and the cashier fitted a special plastic cover over the bag with a slot so the handle could stick out. How cute! Shopping bags are like accessories; girls don't want to be seen without one. So it makes sense that there would be a way to protect your bags from getting soggy and still be able to tout them around town. Shopping for even the smallest item is fun if just to watch how carefully the cashiers wrap and bag your package.