Month 2 of Tokyo – starto!

Originally uploaded by apes_abroad.

We’re staying at the Shrek Watta House in Musashi-Seki for one more month, because we’ve had a hard time finding monthly-rate places to stay in other cities, and travelling is damn expensive (the 2 hour round trip train to Kyoto cost $250 each). We’ve got more roommates now but things are still relatively peaceful and we’re happy to stay.

Tokyo isn’t really a city anyway, it’s more like thirty little ones strung together by train lines. I’ve gone on about “Electric Town” Akihabara and mentioned Shinjuku (the nexus, whose train station services 2-3 million people a day), but there are so many happy little places that feel more like downtown Victoria or Qualicum Beach. We visited a beautiful park in Kichijoji yesterday and saw the Ghibli museum there (well worth if not enhanced by the unbelievably complex ticket purchasing system). Two days ago we went to a Sumo match in Ryogoku Kokugikan, had beers at Popeye’s again and were gifted with a member’s card and cheers from all the staff. We’ve visited the Ueno Zoo twice (they have everything! gorillas! lions! pandas! monkeeees!). We’ve been to (or at least through) the Starbucks at the crazy pedestrian intersection at Shibuya Station.

Last weekend we visited Asakusa for the Shinto festival at Sensoji temple. Tens of thousands of people filled the streets and uncomfortable looking laborers lurched around with huge golden shrines. This is one of the few times Yakuza are allowed to show their body tattoos in public – totally the highlight of the day was the shrine with two almost naked tattoo covered guys riding on top of it, chanting and drumming and cheering the bearers on as it swayed back and forth.

Despite the sights, I guess we haven’t quite regained our enthusiasm from our first three weeks before the Kyoto trip. The crowded train trips do seem to take longer every time, and the language and culture barriers are starting to get frustrating. Today we tried to make a deposit to our next guesthouse via bank transfer (like most places, they don’t accept online payments or credit cards) and were rejected for not having a phone number we could be reached at (we would, if tourists could own cellphones here). There was a familiar moment where the bank teller looked as though her head might explode from the paradox, and even after she understood we didn’t have one, she just kept smiling and repeating “telephone number”. Wish I’d been more on the ball and just made something up; next time.

So, Osaka is next if we can find some way to make the payment.


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