Concerning a few days off the blog

by Samm Bennett
So I'm going to admit - not much has happened the past few days worth blogging about. I've been exploring some of the regions within Tokyo, while also meeting up with a few friends. On the 21st I visited Shinjuku, Harajuku, and Shibuya (in that order). I was quite disappointed at Shinjuku, surprised at how little was mentioned of Harajuku's awesomeness, and shocked by the traffic occurring around the Shibuya train station. And who the hell knew that so many arcades existed in this town? UFO catchers are everywhere!

I had read that Shinjuku was the best region to experience Tokyo culture in, and I didn't really see too much going on there. I had heard very little of Harajuku, and was surprised to find out that it is like 1990s South Street, complete with punkers and visual kei fans (equivalent to the goth culture). I saw lots of teenage Japanese here - it really is like South Street :P If only I had more time to explore.

Now, Shibuya seemed like the place to experience Tokyo. Immediately after stepping out of the train station, you're assaulted with three large television monitors on buildings. Neon lights are everywhere. And in all my visits to New York, I've never seen half as many people. I suppose that's why it's one of the busiest intersections of the world. A ridiculous amounts of shops here, but difficult to find food. I still forget that multiple stores will be housed in the same building, and, as a result, I frequently forget to look up to investigate everything in the region. I had more delicious kontatsu at the train station, this time in a soup form.

On the 22nd I visited Akihabara, electric town - mecca of geeks everywhere. On the 22nd, I spent a lot of yen :) Lots of video game arcades, used game shops, comic shops, computer stores, various electronic equipment - all to be had for cheap. I ended up buying 2 GBA games, 1 Wii game, 1 XBox 360 game, and 2 Nintendo DS games. Of course, I also checked out the capsule machines scattered around.

At around 6 pm I found out that Na, a friend from Drexel, just got into Tokyo from Sendai! After getting on the wrong train and backtracking a bit, I finally met up with Na and her friend John (also from the US) in Shibuya. The plan was for Na to buy some clothes, but I think she got a bit too distracted by UFO catchers. Anyway, we chatted for a bit, had some tasty and cheap curry, and then headed back to Ueno station before departing.

On the 23rd I went shopping for gifts for my family. Along the way I managed to stumble into a store selling copies of the just released Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass for the DS. Sold! I also picked up a yukata for myself before meeting Laura, post GREs (she did great, despite what she'd tell you) at Tamarachi station. Somehow she picked the same car as me, so meeting up was ridiculously easy for us gaijin. Wandered around Shibuya for a bit, then Shinjuku, where I bought a pair of Japanese style boots (pointy and post-apocalyptic looking). Had some unagi (eel) over rice for dinner - kind of expensive. It was the first time I've ever had cooked eel!

After dinner we had planned to have a drink at the Park Hyatt Hotel. One problem that we noticed shortly after arriving - we were way underdressed. Since I was wearing shorts, they wouldn't let us in, which might not have been so bad really, since I'm sure drinks were very expensive. They were kind enough to allow us to check out the view outside of the bar, which was still pretty nice from 52 stories up.