Finally made it to Tokyo. A brief synopsis of the day: First, a jar of KitKats. Yep, a glass jar full of KitKats. Never seen one of those! I got up early to make my 10 a.m. checkout, went to the station, and made some calls overseas to the family. (Hi family!) I took some photos of the area around JR Sendai: I headed into the station (JR Sendai): A little closer in: Here’s my ride to Tokyo, another Max Yamabiko: Then I hopped on my last Shinkansen, the Hayate 10. It only took an hour and a half to get to Tokyo from Sendai. Nice. I’m a little bummed that I can’t ride anymore for a while. Riding super-fast express trains is really nice. I love the idea of getting somewhere without having to mess around with airport security. I can just grab my bag, grab a train, and get somewhere fast without the body cavity search.
Arriving in Tokyo
When I got to Tokyo, before I left the platform, I took some photos of the shinkansen engines in the vicinity. These were taken with my cell phone camera, so they’re kind of grainy: One last shot of the platform: Tokyo station is big, full of shops, and it can be a little overwhelming. The info desk was my first target, and it turned out to be a miss. No English language info I could find. Oh well. I went to the map and figured out how to get to Shinjuku by myself. I grabbed a Rapid train on the Chuo line, and got to Shinjuku in about 15 minutes. I’m glad I picked the Chuo line instead of the Yamanote line, because there was an accident on the Yamanote line, and it was delayed. The Yamanote line is a very useful train line in Tokyo. It goes in a huge loop around the “center” of the city. I use quotes because the city is so huge… and really center-less. But the Yamanote will save you, usually. The Chuo line is useful because it cuts across the middle of the Yamanote doughnut, and it has rapid and express trains that skip the custard in the middle. Anyway, I made it to Shinjuku.
Shinjuku is a bit chaotic. For starters, the station is big, and it’s got a lot of people trying to go in 800 different directions all at once. This can make things confusing. Since I already knew where I wanted to go, it wasn’t such a big deal. I just chose to move a little slowly to get there without getting crushed. Finding the hotel wasn’t too bad, either. I just used my powers of deduction, and found a map. (With North pointing down again, of course.) This is where having the Tokyo City Atlas by Kodansha, or Time Out Tokyo can be a real lifesaver, because both have good maps, and you will need good maps. Now, the hotel. It’s the Hotel Sunroute Shinjuku. Granted, I’m paying a little bit extra for this room. It’s running me $120 a night. But oh my god is it awesome. Right now, I’m staring at the best room view I’ve had in a loooong time, and the best one in Japan so far. (Sorry Hiroshima.) I’m looking out over the skyscrapers in Shinjuku. It’s an impressive view. (Photos were taken on a few different days.) The chair is comfy, the room has A/C or heating, whichever I want, a full range of soaps/shampoos, even shaving cream, an HDTV that doesn’t suck, ethernet (although the connection is a little sucky), a fridge, a humidifier, pants press, you name it. 10/10 so far. Even the keys are cool. They use RFIDs instead of swipe keys, so you just touch the key to the door, and it unlocks. My hotel room is really nice (taken the day I left Japan, actually, but it fits in this post): The only freaky thing is the glass door to the bathroom, and the window in the bathroom. That’s kind of… weird. In a sort of cool but not altogether uncreepy sort of way, if you get my drift. Oh! And before I forget– I found out why rooms are so scarce– the Tokyo Motor Show is still going on. At least I think that’s the reason… Either way, as soon as I can translate the flyer, I’ll go find it and check it out. I think. Maybe? There’s so much I want to do here, I’m suffering from overload. Ugh. (time jump of a few hours)
I just got back from wandering around a bit. I went to the big Kinokuniya (a book store), the one by Takashimaya (a huge dept. store), and just wandered for an hour or so, totally lost. There are so many books I want to get, but I honestly don’t know where to start. Add to that 6 floors of books, and, well… I have a feeling that when I go to Akihabara, I’m going to be a mess. I know one thing I really want to buy, but I can’t afford… a laptop with a JP keyboard on it. I used a JP keyboard in Okazaki, and it makes switching over from EN to JP soooo much easier. But yeah… Kinokuniya is totally overwhelming to me. I guess I’ll just have to go once a day until I get comfortable or something. After that, it was Takashimaya’s basement for dinner. So much good food… but so expensive compared to the other department stores I’ve been to. Yikes. I had some tonkatsu chunks (yum), some more yakitori with negi, a sandwich, and some salad. One bummer- the person I was going to meet to talk about working here… had to go back to the US for an emergency. Shoot.
After Dinner Stroll
After dinner, I headed out to the electronics stores in Shinjuku. There’s a huge Bic Camera there, as well as a monstrously huge Yodobashi Camera. I think that one spans eight buildings. After checking out Bic, I headed over to the Tokyo Metropolitan Building for the free observation deck on the 45th floor. Heading to the Tokyo Metropolitan Building: What’s the best thing you can say about the 45th floor observation level? Well… it’s free. The views are nice, but forget about getting a really good picture. Too much glare on the windows. And yes, there are some horrendous souvenir shops there, too. And evil toy machines from hell. Views from the top of the Tokyo Metropolitan Building: After that, I started to head back “home.” I stopped at Yodobashi Camera, and they were still open. They only closed at 10:00 p.m. Wow, Tokyo sure is different from the rest of Japan. If this was Nagano, all we’d see are tumbleweeds at 10 p.m. Nice store, but it was too close to closing time to check it out. I stopped by the conbini across the street from my hotel. No decent food there. I need to find a 7-11 or a Lawson or something. I did some research, and the Tokyo Motor Show is in Chiba, so I’m not going. Chiba is way out by Narita, and that would just kill a day I can’t afford to kill. Tomorrow will be a shopping day, I think. I’ll do some of that to clear my head and then settle on some touristy stops later. That way I can make sure to bring home what I want to bring home, ya know?