Saturday, May 18, 2019

Tokyo is an anagram of Kyoto

The bullet train was fast and uneventful (though I finished reading The Color Purple). I arrived in the afternoon and checked into a hostel that had the most hoops I’ve ever had to jump through - talk to the front desk person to get the WiFi password to download an app to take a photo of my passport to get a QR code to scan at a kiosk to get a printout ticket for my room number and keycard which then the front desk person checked and directed me to my room. Also, this hostel was so afraid of shoe goblins that one was not allowed to leave the front mat until shoes were off and ill-fitting slippers were on. On that last point, once I realized the workers popped out of their hole infrequently, I just started going barefoot.

In the Philippines I remembered that Couchsurfing existed and had been putting up “public trips” ever since. As a result of this, I was invited to have a drink and join a foreign language exchange at a bar relatively close to my hostel. It was just me and the bartender so, after a bit, he closed up the bar and we went out and explored around the area, making new friends in the process.

Over the next few days I saw sights, made friends, and drank a lot - I don’t know if it’s because of the drug laws or expensive real estate, but drinking and smoking cigarettes seem to be the major form of recreation in Japan. Where, in other countries, I would go to a cafe, go to the library, or whatever, it seemed like Japan was built around lunch beer specials, dinner beer specials, happy hour, and late night karaoke beer specials. It didn’t help that the company I kept - the Canadian bartender, the Australian doctor, and the American “budtender” - got a kick out of my quaint desire to go write a bit instead of more drinking (“but you’re on vacation!”).

I did get some writing done, eventually. Myself and the other American went and say the Tokyo-Edo museum, which was absolutely fantastic. While we didn’t go to a proper “maid cafe”, the American and I also went to AKB48 Cafe and we were joined by the Australian who somewhat led us as we wandered around Akihabara and Shinjuku. Finally, I had lots and lots of ramen.

The pricetag in Japan was spooking me and it was moving toward summer in the northern hemisphere, which meant I became concerned about my ability to hit Australia while I still had money in my budget (I didn’t know if I could wait out the colder temperatures somewhere cheap). Figuring I’d made a bunch of friends who promised me couches “down under”, I pulled the trigger and booked a flight to Melbourne, figuring I’d move my way north toward the equator as the winter set in.

After a pancake breakfast I bid my friends adieu and hopped on an overnight flight to change continents.

Again, my pictures from all of Japan can be found via this link.

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