Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Tokyo and the Longest Day EVER

The trip started in a way that was screaming for me to stay out of it. I had hoped to have everyone meet before we left in order to discuss what everyone wanted to do, and maybe look at some maps and make some timing decisions. If we wanted to stay the night then I thought that it would also be a wise measure to reserve some lodging somewhere ahead of time so that we wouldn't have to worry about it later. We opted to worry about it later.

So we all packed up a couple days worth of clothes and then just hopped on the train to Tokyo. Between the four of us, the only information about this place amounted to a guidebook or two that points out all of the major sites and hip neighborhoods. We were able to get to the city without incident, miraculously. We proceeded to hit plenty of the important areas all over the city, which was pretty cool. Each of the neighborhoods really deserve their own day to truly experience, so this trip really just served as a sampling of everything.

Here are a few random shots of the city lights. We walked to so many areas that I don't even remember which picture is which place, but they look pretty cool anyhow.

Here I am standing in front of Takeshita-dori, which is the main street in a well known area in Tokyo called Harajuku. My best friend Gwen Stefani is also a fan, as her Japanese dance-team minions are named the "Harajuku Girls" in a nod to the often outlandish fashion sense displayed there.

This was supposed to show how crowded the subway was. Unfortunately the only thing crowding this shot is my face.

After several hours of zipping back and forth on the subway, we thought we should chill out and have a drink someplace. We must have picked the wrong block, because maybe three bars in a row wouldn't even let us sit down, and were really rude about it. Normally restaurant workers and the like are annoyingly polite, so I was really weirded out by how curt the bar workers were being. Anyway, we were not real happy with the city by this point, and decided it was time to go home. Unfortunately we decided this five minutes too late. We had missed the last train out of town. After wandering a bit and trying to decide what to do next, we happened upon a bus station. They didn't have any buses going to our town, but they had one in Sano. I knew Sano was near Ashikaga just because I've heard people talk about going there. We didn't know what we would do after the bus ride, but we decided to take it anyway.

Once in Sano, we did a bit of wandering of the city streets. For a moment I seriously considered sleeping on a bench at the indoor bus stop until morning when all of the modes of transportation would once again be available. We all trudged along, weary and aimless, for some time. Someone mentioned hitchhiking, but it seemed unlikely that anyone would be brave enough to pick up four foreigners, let alone have room in their miniature car. Eventually we found a supermarket that was open 24 hours. Just out of curiosity I asked one of the security guards how much a taxi home would cost. It ended up not being that bad, especially divided by four. So we all rode a cab back to safety. The end.

The journey back probably ended up taking twice as long and costing three times as much, but it was definitely a bonding experience. I marked the three cities in question on a map here. Kinda reminded me of an episode of The Amazing Race.

This is unrelated, but awesome nonetheless. It is an advertisement, not for a church, but for a wedding stage. Apparently, some Japanese people want to have their wedding pictures look like they do in the West. However, the lack of Christianity in this country means there are few churches anywhere. Enter fake churches. I hear they also dress up random white guys as priests to preside over the photo shoots. Excellent.

Would it be immoral to dress up as a priest for money? Hmm...

Note: I was playing around with new things I could put on the left. There's a very important poll that you should take part in.

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