Apr 15, 2006

Lost in Transit

shibuya gridlock
Originally uploaded by 416style.
Lost in Transit. --- Susanne Jespersen in Toyko, Japan (02-Nov-04).

Tokyo can be immensely overwhelming and underwhelming at the same time. Everything is always in motion, people have little time to spare and are often running to make the last train, last bus or, in the case of some well-dressed but drunk business men, the alternative is to pass out on the spot wherever that may be. Forget the ride home on the vomit comet. Especially after all you can drink Karaoke at 6 in the morn.

I was lucky to have several Japanese friends from Toronto along to take me to the right spots for people watching: Roppongi (though I wasn't impressed with all the tourists), Shibuya (good times), Ginza and the Tokyo fish market (best sushi ever!!!) I kept up with the best of them, drinking Soju all night and meandering through lounge after bar after restaurant. The sheer volume of people and places is what one imagines before coming to Tokyo, and one would be right. There is always noise and motion. What left me unimpressed was the city skyline. For some riduculous reason I pictured a city littered with manhattan-like skyscrapers in a futuristic Bladerunner sense, and many people I spoke to had shared the same idea. But it was quickly apparent this was not the case. Tokyo is earthquake central. I missed one Tsunami the day I landed and three major earthquakes the month after I had left.

Unless you're a top executive, being catered to while on an all expenses paid trip, Tokyo is better left for the hardcore traveller. English is not common, the food is strange (and I eat Japanese at home in Toronto all the time), and it's not the easiest to navigate. But if you've a sense of adventure, take your chances and get yourself lost in transit.