Tokyo Monday

“You can never have enough shoes, hats and gloves”, Patsy once said on “Absolutely Fabulous”. I don’t know about that, but I did have to make a couple of additional purchases today. When I travel, I like to travel light, just the basics. Half a dozen pairs of socks and jocks (which you can wash) combined with enough shirts and pants for a good rotation, and there’s nothing much more you need for a summer holiday, in my view. For this trip, I even splurged on a luxury item – I brought a suit with me for those moments when I might need or want to “glam it up”. I don’t know what my luggage weighed in the end, but I was able to take it as “carry on” which is a mighty fine thing.

But the one thing I didn’t bring on this trip was enough pairs of shorts (I only brought one pair, thinking I wouldn’t need another pair until Stockholm), and I forget to pack a hat. I packed a beanie, but not a hat. And today I realised pretty early I really needed a hat and I really needed another pair of shorts.

Once again, today, the temperature is 30+, and I’m not the only one on Tokyo feeling the heat. As you walk along the streets there’s a definite sluggishness in the way people are walking around. You’ll often see an older person stop, rest, and then pull out a cloth to wipe their brows. On the metro, you’ll see young people closing their eyes, and taking deep breaths, as they, too confront the heat. There was a moment today on metro station where close to a dozen people (myself included) were huddled around one of the big fans blowing cold air. I spent an unexpected amount of time today in shopping centres. As I walked past an air-conditioning display in a department store, I thought for a moment, I might ask for a demonstration :)

I spent the morning travelling to Tsukiji as a reccy for tomorrow morning’s visit to the fishmarket. While in the area I also visited the shops of Ginza which were interesting enough. Shopping is not really my thing, but it was still interesting to take a look at places like the Sony Store where you can see the latest products (I was momentarily tempted by a small speaker) as well as a couple of floors of photography which was really interesting. I also had my first “non-Japanese” meal at Ginza today, an Italian sandwich.

Women Only on Tokyo Subway
Women Only on Tokyo Subway

But I hit the temperature/humidity wall at about 3pm, when I decided it was fool-hardy to walk all the way to the Tokyo Tower, and instead headed back to the hotel, grabbing a kiwi-fruit ice-block at the 7-Eleven downstairs.

Later in the afternoon (around five, when the temperature had cooled), I went for a wander around the neighbourhood, taking in some interesting and exotic sights. I had dinner at a Chinese restaurant (yummy liver dish) and hoped the words for please, thankyou and “the bill” were the same in Hong Kong Chinese as they are in Beijing Chinese.

Dancing Bears

And then I had my first “proper” conversation with a real live Japanese person, a conversation that extended beyond please, thankyou, and where are the toilets. That said, it was the owner of a bar, Mitsuo who runs “Leo’s Lounge”, a bar that advertises itself as welcoming of both the “bear community” and others. He was a lovely, friendly bloke, and clearly a long-term (and presumably prominent) member of Tokyo’s gay community. Although his current bar is only a year old (celebrations will be held this coming weekend), he told me he previously ran a bar (in the same location) for seventeen years. For most of the time I was there, I was his only customer, though there was a trans-woman who only spoke Japanese who joined us for a while. He also offered some terrific tourist advice. A lovely bloke, and a lovely small bar.

Later, at the suggestion of an old-school friend who lived in Tokyo for a number of years, I paid a visit to a bar called “Arty Farty” which was fun enough. Though considerably busier than Leo’s, I was also the oldest person in the place, and so after a couple of beers I headed home.

Arty Farty Bar in Tokyo
Arty Farty Bar in Tokyo

I need to be up reasonably early tomorrow for the fish market tour, after all.

Meanwhile, here are some of the odd, interesting or unusual things I spotted today in Tokyo including:

  • The world’s most expensive cup of coffee. I’m sure I could have found cheaper, but I was desperate.

    The women’s only carriage on the metro. I think this is a good idea.

    My first experience of a non-western toilet. I’ve been avoiding them for years, but today I had no choice.

    A comic guide to tourism and art galleries.

    The release of a DVD with a life-sized character which attracted a lot of attention in the subway.

    An eel in the shop window of a restaurant.

    A hotel called “Nuts”.

    A “smoking spot”. Oddly enough you can smoke in bars and restaurants but not on the street.

    A bunch of bearish blokes being video-taped lip-synching to a pop song: I think of them of as “Japanese Dancing Bears”.

    A bar called “Arty Farty”, which I quite liked, though I was easily the oldest person there by several decades. :):)

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