We started the day by getting up at 7, left the hostel at 8, planning to train to the Tsukiji fish market. Upon reaching the subway we found it was absolutely packed, and after standing at the platform and watching one train go by without us, Swang decided to leave me cause I didn’t want to inconvenience people in an already full train. Fortunately they come every few minutes, so I took the next one. Another change of lines and lots of awkward touching- one woman was pretty much resting her head on my chest. You know how much I love strangers touching me.
At the fish market there were.. Well, lots of people. The traffic was chaotic, I genuinely thought someone was going to die in front of me, and I can’t afford therapy now that I’m spending all my money on trains. I bought a single piece of strawberry and chocolate mochi, but there was a lot of other souvenir-type merchandise there which I managed to ignore. Also amazing fish. Once we had taken photos of every kind of sea animal, we ate at a small place where the server kindly gave us an English menu with rules for foreigners on the front.
Next we got on the train to the museum of emerging science and innovation,l – however it turned out that there was a line change which involved a bus. Excellent communication with a policeman in in the station on my part (flashing my year of Japanese in Swang’s face) we took a bus to the museum – tapped our cards on the way in, and then fretted for about half an hour about whether you need to tap off the bus or not. Well I did. Swang fell asleep. I googled it and messaged a mate who has been here before, and watched almost everyone who tapped on the bus to see what they did when getting off. We just left and the driver didn’t yell at us so I guess we did the right thing.
The museum was a bit of alright. Lots of futuristic stuff, robots and computer technology. Points of note included a giant globe made of small screens that played a little video every now and then, Asimo the humanoid robot giving a demonstration, and an interactive exhibit.
You would step onto the door and your avatar (your ‘Me’) would appear under you and follow you around as you answered questions and he computers collected more and more info. At later stations you could have the computer use that info to play songs or show people dancing the way your footsteps walked around the exhibit, for all to see. From there we made a plan on how to travel to the Studio Ghibli museum, and would find accommodation for the night on the train. That seemed easy enough……
Well. We sat on a train that was supposed to link us to a new line, while Swang called to arrange a place to stay. Time pressure got the best of me and I began to panic as the train took us back the way we had just gone and Swang was still on the phone – we left and asked a friendly policeman in the station it took us to, who set us right.
We then stressed about which bus to take from the station to get to museum, and finally made it.. but with only an hour to look around. It was still worth it, and it finished with a cute little short about a lost puppy.
We left, took a bus at random which fortunately made its way to the station, and a friendly local spotted us wandering through the station with our maps and pointed us in the direction of the next lines to take, which would get us to our new accommodation.. In a district right next to our old backpackers. So much for moving around Tokyo.
We finally got to the backpackers where we checked in and got a very long introduction, followed by a commercial-sized induction of all the rules. We had to bring he pillow cases to reception upon checking out but not the sheets, Swang found out, after asking in a tone suggesting he would be willing to take the sheets if they needn’t be brought to reception.
The receptionist also recommended some places to go and eat, but not until after he gave us the map and he following exchange occurred:
Swang: Can you recommend any close food stor-
*spots McDonald’s on map*
As nah never mind there’s a maccas we’re sorted.
I’m fairly certain he didn’t understand what Swang said AND perhaps upon his sudden understands of our heavy New Zealand colloquialisms, he thought we were joking and decided to recommend a number of good ramen and other Japanese food stores adjacent to McDonald’s. Needless to say we had Big Macs, iced tea and grape Fanta for dinner.
I ended the night by washing myself on a stool and then filling and soaking in a bath, which seemed very Japanese to captain gaijin here. Especially when I could only fit half of myself in the bath at any one time. Then I ate my strawberry and chocolate mochi because it was a tough day.
I’ve found that some people in Tokyo can become harsh/rude when you don’t understand, or when they have to switch into English with haste, like if you go down the wrong side of an escalator or stairway. It’s quite interesting to be on the other side of the cultural barrier ( being the traveller, not the… travellee..? Local. The word is local.)
Among the final utterances of that night was this little beauty:
Swang: I HATE checkered pillowcases. It’s the LAST thing I wanna sleep on.