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.

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.

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.

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. :):)

    1. Weather in New York reminded me of weather in Tokyo but I think NY’s subway is hotter than the Tokyo equivalent. I can remember signs in Tokyo showing how a child’s eye could be burnt by a cigarette being carried between the fingers in the street.

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      1. Getting ready for stinky weather in NYC. Have pretty much forgotten winter!

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    2. I love that the tourist info guide is a cartoon! ( I really want to say anime, but I think that relates to film only).

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      1. Very clear, easy to understand :)

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      2. It’s amazing. You see heaps of people reading comics or whatever the term should be on the metro.

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