Tokyo, Japan #3

Our second day in Tokyo began the same way as our first. We were back to trying to figure out subway maps and how to get around the city. Sogee had a very particular plan about how she wanted to attack the city. That's right. I said "attack." Typically, when I hit a new city, I'll just wander for a good long while. When I get hungry, I eat. I don't have destinations along the way. That's not how Sogee works though. She loves to mark off what she visits like a video game marker from one level to the next. I felt like Super Mario going down the flag pole more than once after we accomplished each task she set before us. The worst, of course, was the fact that she wanted to visit all these hot spots that neither of us knew how to get to.

That made us both short with one another. We would take turns looking at the maps, getting frustrated, scowl at one another, and then kiss each other on the cheek and try again. It was a difficult experience for me. I really disliked looking for subway destinations. It made me feel like I was seven years old in the lingerie section of Macy's, waiting for my mother to walk out of the pits of doom.

We made it though. After a few mis-steps, we did manage to get to Ochinamizu. This stop was supposed to be for me, as it was explained to me by Sogee. "Now you can get your guitar."

I didn't argue with her. It was like being given an opportunity to go to the toy store after a very long stint at the WPOE (Worst Place on Earth, or Pathmark as it is known on the East Coast). I devoured both the guitar stores and seasonal political rallies (see above) that lined the streets of Ochinamizu. It was a thrill not to see a subway map in front of me.

The guitars in Japan were pretty much the same. You didn't have anything too unusual. It took me about seven guitar shops before I found some strange guitars. I think it was a used/trade shop because everything seemed vintage there. I asked this one sales kid which guitar he thought was the best. He pointed to a 60's Vox Spitfire. I asked about a Hagstorm II that was twice the price, and he again pointed to the Vox. So I tried it out. It was nice. It was easy to play and unusual enough to record a record with. I offered him a nice price and he agreed.

Sogee said he was totally laid back before this photo was taken, but just before she said "cheese" or whatever, the guy busts out this rock pose and scowl. I thought that was pretty cool. I shall dub this move the "sudden shift." I may even try it out before the end of the trip.

After Ochinamizu, it was back to the maps.

I wasn't happy. I think I had five maps I was cross-referencing by now. Some were entirely in Japanese, and I think that's what was causing the most difficulty. Still, we managed to get to where Sogee wanted to go. This place that was known for being the old district of Japan. I don't even know what it was called, but we got there.

As soon as we got there, Sogee was all about getting her grub on. I didn't complain. I had been meaning to try sushi in Japan, so I was game when she asked some folks for good sushi. We headed to this place up the street and got some sashimi. I would've liked a california roll, or things of that nature, but, believe it or not, Japan does not rock the rolls like the U.S. does. It's predominantly sashimi or fish eggs wrapped in seaweed.

I was happy. I like to eat fish. I even ate a bunch of things I had no idea about. I wouldn't touch the big, orange fish eggs though. They looked too scary.

This shopping district had way too many people. That was one of the surprising things about Tokyo for me. The people. It was unbelievable. You could barely move most of the time. The subways were filled, the markets were filled, fucking everything was filled. Add to that the fact that no one really pushes each other and everyone's polite, and you've got slow moving swarms, prodding onwards down one corridor after the next. I truly believe Tokyo is the inspiration for ants everywhere.

In the middle of this swarm, we did manage to find a beautiful Buddhist temple. As were to find out on visits to other temples throughout our stay in Tokyo, there were a couple interesting staples to be found. The first was the idea that you had to wash your hands and mouth before entering the temple for prayer. I thought that was fairly interesting. The second was that you could burn these ten cent prayers written on paper in a big fire pit, and that if you let the smoke come upon you, you would be given good luck. I don't believe in these sorts of things, but Sogee was all up in that smoke. She was like an old Buick by the time we made it into the temple.

Once we got in the temple, you were supposed to throw money into these slotted boards and say a prayer. I don't know why money was involved. It seemed like a gip to me. I don't throw money at home. I did what I was told to do though. I knew this element was probably added to make money off of tourists. I liked hearing all the tourists throw the money against the boards though. It sounded like what I imagined a hundred cash registers being emptied at once would sound like, and I've always wanted to be a part of something like that, so I tossed a couple hundred yen against the ching of a couple hundred more.

More to come when the smoke clears...

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