Archive for September 11th, 2007

9/11/07: In Tokyo

Took the shinkansen (bullet train – basically a long, very-low-flying airplane with wheels) from Takayama to Tokyo today. Spent much of the trip studying kanji, and determined that shinkansen means “new trunk line,” nothing to do with bullets at all. Didn’t figure out the kanji for “passenger car,” though, which was more important because it would have helped us ask which car of the train we were supposed to be in.

Arrived in the Tokyo neighborhood of Shibuya, found our hotel, checked in, found dinner. Shibuya is exactly the 2019 Los Angeles of Blade Runner, complete with light drizzle. All it needed was umbrellas with neon shafts to complete the picture. Imagine taking about four blocks of downtown Portland, clearing away all the buildings, and dropping them down at random on the surrounding blocks. Pave the area where they used to be, then cover every vertical surface with neon and video screens (each with its own blaring J-Pop soundtrack). Now take the entire population of Portland and dump them all in those same blocks. Have about half of them stand at the edge of the paved area, and every five minutes have them all scramble to a randomly-selected point on the opposite side of it. That’s Shibuya.

(By the way, does anyone know why the Shibuya branch of Mandarake might be closed at 6pm on a Tuesday night?)

Having obtained dinner (tuna sushimi to die for, plus two salt-grilled things-with-eyes in garlic and olive oil, yum) we returned to our hotel to do laundry and plan the next day. Tokyo is overwhelming, but we have made a decision. Because Shibuya is not stimulating enough for jaded travelers like us, tomorrow it’s… Ginza!