Tokyo and all it entails

Tokyo is crazy.

Since I came to Japan, I have  been told that Tokyo is quite different from Osaka. I thought it might be a true fact albeit wrapped in exaggerations, so I kinda undermined it.

But it’s true. Tokyo is different. Tokyo is colder (literally and figuratively). Tokyo is bigger, busier, more austere and definitely with a lot more people.

During my five days in Tokyo, I have seen more gaijins than I have seen since I arrived to Japan (excluding Kansai Gaidai international students, of course!). Some of them were obviously Tokyo residents. I could deduce that whenever I saw them waiting for a train with a small Samsonite, or whenever they took their Japanese phones with their dangling phone charms out of their pockets. I could also deduce it if they are walking with Japanese women and pushing strollers. But, of course, some of them were tourists… You know, the clueless, most of the time American (sorry!) variety? The ones that stare at you as you’re walking on a random street just because you’re “like them” (ie not Japanese).

In Tokyo I have seen Japanese people dressed in an attempt to look Western, and I have seen Western people dressed in an attempt to look Japanese. The number of Japanese girls with “blonde” hair was way off the charts, just like the number of non-Japanese girls with boots on shorts.

In Tokyo people on the train stare at you, in the eye, and they don’t turn away when you look at them. More hostile? “Hostile” is  a bad word choice, I think. They just don’t…really..care…

In Tokyo, if you’re too slow crossing the street, it would be perfectly normal for other pedestrians behind you to run over you and turn you into a kofta under their boots.

The transportation system in Tokyo is <insert adjective equivalent to “super to the power of gazillion>. How such thing is possible is just beyond me. Looking at the subway map for ONE minor district in Tokyo is enough for my brain to go into seizures.”Punctual” is also too weak of an adjective when it comes to describing how timely these trains are.

Tokyo is beautiful. You can stand in the midst of the 7.41 square kilometre Imperial Palace Gardens, look on your right hand side to find lotus moats and Meji-era structures, look on your left side to find the Nissan headquarters among other metallic, futuristically looking skyscrapers.

Tokyo is NOT as expensive as it is rumored to be. Not by Japanese standards anyway. Then again, when I pay $350 for a freaking roundtrip train ticket, what is “expensive”?

My conclusion after five days was that I would never choose to live in Tokyo. Maybe I can stay there for a weekend, a week, or maybe a month. But to actually live there, that would require monumental mastery in the field of stress management, and that is something I cannot afford.

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Shinkansen

 

I come from a third world country. This implies that I am entitled to get fascinated by anything without feeling ignorant or ashamed.

For someone whose experience with trains has been limited to the Cairo Metro and the infamous Egyptian Railways, riding the Shinkansen is a little bit more than a dream-like experience. I love it so much, that on my last trip to Tokyo, I paid 500 Yen more from my wallet (which had been emptied thanks to Shinkansen tickets, with student discount) just to ensure myself a window seat.

Childish, but fun.

My trip from Shin-Osaka to Tokyo Station lasted for exactly 2 ours and 36 minutes. For 2 hours and 36 minutes I stuck my nose to the window, watching rooftops, rice fields and formerly-green-currently-red mountains whip by, as if I am in the midst of some virtual reality game. The only thing that woke me up from my extended Shinkansen day-dream sessions was the recorded stop announcements, in which a woman’s voice, through the speakers, announces in Japanese as well as in English the following events:

a. The train will soon stop at <Insert station>.

b. The train has stopped at <insert stations> and will next stop at <insert stations>.

c. Smoking is not allowed on this train, except in <insert cart number>.

d. Food and beverages will be available at your seat.

These announcements, of course, are accompanied by cartoonish music that, along with the 300km/h train, makes you feel you’re taking part in Planes, Trains and Automobiles The Polar Express (or the French Connection, for that matter) and that at some point the train might actually start flying, taking you to the fifth dimension.


Weird shit.

I also wasted some time worrying whether my camera was capturing things outside or if the window was so clean that it would only take videos of its very own reflection…


Long Overdue

If a bad blogger is one who ignores their blog and prefers writing in a personal journal, then I am bad. If a bad blogger is one who is not committed to his/her blog enough to frequently post their impressions of their Japan exploits and experiences, then I am terrible. If a bad blogger is one who does not update his/her blog whenever new things come up, then I am the worst.

That said, I would like to apologize for making my blog a very stagnant one even though my hat of Japan-related stories is bottomless. It’s busy over here. So busy that I have become a creature who gets no more than four hours of nocturnal sleep. And it’s my choice… Excuse the logic (or the lack thereof), but why waste time sleeping when there is always something to be done?

Not to mention that I am, by the way, a student who has to go to school five days a week, has assignments, midterms, presentations and some of that good old university torture.

Japan is crazy. So crazy that if I were to document my daily going-ons, I’d lose all of my readership because this will turn into something more or less like Ulysses, albeit less crafted and more Japanese.

I had to get this out of the way. New post soon, I promise.

November 2010
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