Thursday, July 19, 2007

Tokyo - "It would be so nice if something made sense for a change." - Alice

We woke up bright and early (okay, not that early - only 6:00) to go to the Tsukiji Fish Market. For some reason, the French people that were up the night before at 2 AM were still awake at 6:00, all of them on the internet. I guess the French have no need for sleep.

When we got to the fish market, the majority of the really crazy stuff was finished, but we still some some cool octopi, eels, huge tunas, and the like. We picked a sushi shop for breakfast and watched the chef prepare our meal right in front of us from fish that were alive only a couple hours prior. Of course, it was the best sushi I've ever had.

After the fish market, we kind of strolled around the downtown area of Tokyo, which was a bit mindblowing. We were absolutely exhausted, so our schedule consisted of finding comfortable places to sit down. First we stopped at a cafe that overlooked the busy intersection, where I ate an entire second breakfast, to Pearl's disbelief. Then we went to a bookstore so I could stock up for when I surely get stuck in airports (more on that in a couple days), where we sat in the really comfy chairs and Pearl actually napped.

Although still exhausted, Pearl called her two friends from her English camp - Kaz and Ixchell, who have lived here for more or less five years. The first thing we told them to meet us at - the giant Sony Building in central Tokyo - they were unable to find. Then Kaz suggested we meet at Shinjuku Station, one of the busiest stations in Tokyo. When I asked where specifically, he said, "Uh... the exit." So far, not so good. Then he called me half an hour later, saying they had gotten off at the wrong station. And they were supposed to show us around?

Eventually they found us, and they turned out to be really cool. Kaz speaks fluent Japanese, so he was a huge help, and Ixchell is hilarious. They took us to Harajuku, this crazy shopping area for teenagers. And I mean crazy. These kids have decided to completely avoid any sort of real fashion and have invented their own. The only way I can describe it is if an acid-crazed clown raped Alice in Wonderland. Some of the girls wear Alice-type dresses, complete with awful shoes and huge, floppy bonnets or bows. Others tan themselves until they look like dark chocolate, and then dye their dreadlocks different neon shades. It was horrifying. We entered a few of the frightening stores, which unfortunately don't let you take pictures (but I did sneak one of a gay pirate outfit for sale), which was a shame. I was dying to take pictures of the girl in the baby doll dress standing in front of a huge mirror, trying to decide which giant bonnet worked best with her outfit.

After that, we went to the famous Shibuya, which many of you will remember as that busy intersection in Lost in Translation. It wasn't as packed as usual, but it was still very chaotic.

First the automobiles rule the intersection...

Until the chaos begins.

Then the shopping started. The girls dragged Kaz and I to an unbelievable amount of stores. It was brutal. But I did find some good gifts. Hours later, we returned to the teen area, which was much more filled than it was at noon. Strangely enough, the girls started going into the stores we were making fun of earlier and actually started to buy things! By this point, my feet had already gone numb.

After a lot more people-watching and shopping, we went to a photo booth. I don't mean a normal one where you take four pictures in a little booth outside of a store. In Japan, entire buildings are filled with these little booths. You take about six or eight pictures, and then you run to the back side and throw all these tacky graphics and words and effects on the pictures until you can barely see your faces, and then you finally print them out, hours later. Against my will, it was actually a lot of fun. And these girls take their photos seriously. It seems some girls could make a whole day of photo booth-going.

We went to get some tempura, where Kaz was kind enough to order for all of us. After a long time filled with excellent food and great conversation, we all split up, since Pearl and I were exhausted. Pearl literally fell asleep the second she sat on her bed.

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