Tokyo was something extraordinary. It’s a city that never seems to end or sleep, at least where I stayed in Shinjuku. There are only a few notes on paper about this part of my trip. The main reason is that you find another person on the road and you tend to hang out a bit. After all, the ability to have long conversations in English are far and few between in a country that doesn’t speak a lot of it.
We spent a couple of days checking out a few places, namely Akihabara, which completed most of the toy shopping I wanted. The quality and range is amazing, especially the secondhand goods. I bought several figures and books, which would have cost me a pound of flesh if I tried to search for them online. So with that out of the way, I was set to explore the city, or small parts with Gonçalo. He is an architect from Lisbon, who was over in Japan as part of a conference. His university sent him over and would probably pay to ship him back. While over here he was constantly distracted by the shape, texture, colour and depth of the buildings. Most of the photos that he took, would consist of buildings. One time, I was going through his photos, and found them to be devoid of people. Ginza, which is about as full on Sunday afternoon as everywhere else, appeared practically vacant in Gonçalo’s pictures.
So I asked him, “So that place was empty?”
“No. That’s just my skill”
At that time, I had a pretty miserable experience at Harajuku. Takeshi-dori was packed with people, and eventually the entire crowd got to my head a bit and I left. And this was basically my entire experience with Tokyo. People always just seemed to be in my way. In Osaka, which I would say might be just as populous, was nowhere nearly as crowded as Tokyo, nor did as many people bother you.
As I mentioned before, I staying in Shinjuku. This was a mistake for a couple of reasons. I’m not a kind of guy that hangs out at strip clubs or nightclubs in general. It’s not my thing. Except that touts don’t care for that. They need you in the nightclub to get paid. The touts range from earnest, middle-aged, native businessmen who have a by-the-fingernails-grasp of English, and showing you a pink guide with their page of tits and pussy. They say stuff like, “Tourist? You come to club! See Pussy!” Meanwhile the majority of touts are from Africa, ranging from Ghana and Senegal, their English is impeccable and they pretend they are your buddy, side-winding up with a smile and a shake of the hand, they practically yell out: “Good evening my friend. How are you? Come into my club, you will meet the most beautiful girls.”
To some those places are ideal. To me, they are a trap designed to bleed me dry of my cash and cast me out on the street when I’m tapped dry. I politely decline their invitation and move along. I’m kind of glad I left Tokyo as the last thing on my trip. It contained some of the best and worst parts of my entire trip and frankly I have only seen a small speck of the city in the six days that I spent there. There is so many things on at any one time, it all overwhelms the senses. There are massive screens with booming sound, like some Cyclops watching over the citizens as they go about their day under its glow. Salesman and retailers shout from the doorways, attempting to hawk their wares to the passersby. Hundreds of people move from and onto the trains, so many that at times you think there might be a crush, but it’s almost always done with an unspoken protocol. When the sun sets, the city lights up with a multude of signs advertising restaurants, bars, izakayas and nightclubs. A week is paradoxically not enough time and too long to stay in Tokyo. You need something to break it up. I didn’t do this and this is probably why I have mixed feelings about that place.
However, when the opportunity comes around, I will give Tokyo another go. I have to. I missed so much after all.