March 21, 2012

Tokyo - Flu & Fashion

I spent Thursday morning wandering the streets of Shinjuku, gazing at the skyscrapers and the infinite flow of people, until Noora and Heini arrived. We took the train to Harajuku and following the crowd we strayed into the depths of Yoyogi Park to visit Meiji Shrine.  As Finns we did not succumb to the slow pace of the other visitors and swiftly made our way through the park to emerge again in Harajuku. Harajuku is an enormous shopping district, so naturally the girls and I went our own ways. Since I had no money to spend on clothes, I window-shopped and contemplated the abundance of different styles visible in the streets. I really like the multitude of styles and colors that are present in everyday life and nothing seems to be out of the norm in Japan, nothing.

Senso-ji in Asakusa.
Small shops around the temples in Asakusa.
Asakusa and the newly build Tokyo Sky Tree in the background.

To celebrate the girls' last night in Tokyo we went for a few drinks. We felt compelled to try some quite awful drinks with Calpis, a local "milky" beverage that tastes (and probably is) merely like water mixed with sweeteners (coined by some as "cow piss"), just for the fun of it. After the girls left, I adventured into the nearby Kabukicho district, notorious for its red-light district and the many evident yakuza connections. I expected something murkier and more perilous, but apart from all the friends money can buy, only a few scrawny young men dressed in suits and one of them clacking his heels together actually looked like real yakuzas. What a disappointment!

Somewhere in Ueno.
More Ginza.

Having spent the whole day outside and indulging into a few drinks certainly did not make my flu any better, which I could feel in the lack of air in my lungs in the morning. Anyway, since I had come all the way to Tokyo, I was not going to let a mere flu prevent me from experiencing more of the metropolis. I wandered all the way to Asakusa to visit the temple and shrine there, again crowded with New Year's visitors. I walked a little further to reach Ueno station and took the train to Ginza, where I strolled amid the huge department stores in the afternoon sun. Before calling it a day, I wanted to marvel at the sunset from Tokyo Tower (passing by Roppongi Hills to make sure the day wouldn't, by any means, be too light for a flu-ridden traveller).

Sunset from Tokyo Tower. Mt. Fuji visible on the right.

The last day I mostly spent in Shinjuku, again gazing at the landscape from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building and then spending my last hours at an izakaya with Hiroshi and his friend enjoying a few beers (and flu medication) to make sure that I would be numb and doped during the overnight bus trip back to Nagoya.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku.


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