Tokyo, Monday 8th February 1999

The Shibuya Crossing with People, Tokyo, Japan


I am feeling tired and drained of energy after walking around all day. I planned the first details of the day at the usual breakfast near the station, this time full of office workers and smoke. I found out that one of the places was closed on Monday so changed my plan to visit Asakusa and Shibuya. I could not find the Ginza line at Ueno and ended up taking another line, which looked about right going in the right direction and ended up at Asakusabashi which required a walk north, before arriving at the Senso-ji Temple. I walked past savoury rice crackers. Lots of older Japanese people were wafting smoke on the part of the body they wanted cured. I walked through the old entertainment district, past plastic food shops. I then made a jump to Shibuya at the other end of the Ginza line – a real train hub with many lines crossing and a diagonal pedestrian crossing with large crowds and giant video screens. My boots were still very dirty and the shoeshine bloke refused to clean them (he cleaned others). I went past the tall cylindrical 109 building and investigated the food hall with elegant cakes at the Tokyo department store. I wandered around posh shops. The future seems to be combining a shop with a gallery/museum to attract customers, in addition to audio and flashing lights. There is far more electronic audio in this city. The shop Parco arranged its good like exhibits in an art gallery or museum. Lots of young people were walking about. I went up to the NHK Broadcasting centre but it is closed one Monday a month, today! I then visited the Tepco electric museum: Hands on electrical principles and modern house gadgets and games; a 4×4 TV grid maze, where one must not step on the randomly bad coloured balloon. There was a shape recognition machine that cuts your facial profile in a business card and a serious display about safety of nuclear power. Various navigational games involved pedalling. One can waste at least five minutes if one joins a queue like a sheep without first checking what the queue is for. A steel ball on a rail track was propelled forward by two coils. I had no luck phoning Mayumi. I felt low on energy so had a hot coffee in a can from one of the many machines dotted around the streets. I stopped for a quick sushi at a Genroku chain, this time with slices of gingery cabbage similar to the Korean Kim Chi. I returned to base via a Bic souvenir shop. I am not sure I could get used to this bowing. I am eating more great tangerines and the remainder of the nice biscuits to gain energy. I took a back street route for variation and interest. I am walking so much my upper leg itches from the trousers. Tokyo is warm in the bright sunshine. I was expecting to see more westerners in the streets. I noticed my tallness on the tube train. Is Tokyo the future of London? Everything looks grey outside my hotel room window. I need to voraciously assemble a revised plan for tomorrow and Wednesday’s sightseeing. Dyed hair seems to be a trend, more among blokes – all sorts of colour, including green, but usually light brown/black.

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