Took a ten hour trip to Tokyo.
Visited Akihabara first. The famous electronics quarter did not disappoint. Filled with both big flashy shops all hawking similar wares as well as hole-in-the-wall shops that sell the weirdest things. Bought a couple of CDs (Final Fantasy soundtracks), a very collectible Radiant Silvergun for Lemmy, a single DVD (Innocence, it’s very hard to decipher whether disks have english subtitles). The place’s not crowded, it’s before noon on a weekday – so shops are very easily browseable. The Star Wars trilogy is released today, so most shops have a very familiar soundtrack playing at top volume.
Visited Ueno park, just a hop away from the concrete jungle of Akihabara. Stretches out quite a bit, walked around and visited a temple (no-shoe-zone, once again), an overgrown lake with weird buildings around it, and a governmental culture-related building whose function I didn’t understand. Local zoo was closed, unfortunately (always on tuesdays, it appears) – was looking forward to seeing my first panda, but not this time.
The semi-underground Yamanote-line is convenient – it circles the whole of Tokyo, and the JR-pass means that travel is free.
Walked a bit in Shinjuku – not especially thirsty, hungry, in need of a pachinko experience or anything like, there just isn’t enough to keep me here.
Visited Harajuku – no schoolgirls in funky clothes. Guess the dress parade only happens on sundays, or later in the day. Walked to the huge adjoining Meiji Shinto shrine (really big gates are imposing on gaijin visitors), visited a pretty much abandoned garden (only one other visitor) and was unable to find anything substantial to eat.
Final stop was Shibuya – revisited Tower Records (this time not bumping into unexpected friends there) to buy a couple of records and some books: my first Murakami-novel ever as well as prominently displayed Barry Ellis’ techno-thriller (with a glowing endorsement from James Ellroy, just had to buy it).
Train rides to Tokyo Central and Makuhari do not differ much – crowded trains, no seats available. Tokyo’s Disneyland is visible from the train to Makuhari – in a country with the most expensive land, such a big site in such close proximity to the capital cannot have been cheap.