I took the bullet train to Tokyo. It was an interesting trip and i enjoyed two japanese lunch boxes while i relaxed in a comfortable chair. My lunch boxes consited of osaka style sushi which is sushi that is formed into rectangles. When i arrived in Tokyo i jumped on the orange train and rode it to the Ebisu station. It was pretty painless and i had no trouble finding the station thanks to the english/japanese digital displays on the top of each door. Once i arrived at Ebisu i called my contact Irma. She said to look for a short hispanic girl dressed in brown. i told her to look for the biggest gaijin she could find and that would be me. I saw her walking between the moving sidewalks and i bowed and handed her a gift of mochi and bean candies.
Irma turned out to be a very interesting person as well as a gracious host. I had planned to pay for a hotel during my stay in tokyo but irma refused to let me and instead offered me her guest room in her traditional japanese home. I was very gracious to recieve such good hospitality. Her house is very beautiful, especially the garden in her back yard. Irma told my about how she moved to japan six years prior after visiting on vacation. It made me realized that what i wanted to do would be not only possible but economically viable. Irma is an editor for a local english news paper. She had quit her job three months before i met her in order to go on a sabattical to america, where she hadn't been in over ten years.
Her trip to america reaffirmed her reasoning behind living in japan. America was once a place of great opportunity and freedom and it has become something completely different. Especially with Bush in power. Bush is ....ok i'm not going to get all political but let's just say he is the main reason i am considereing moving to Tokyo. After serving me a hot cup of tea we decided to head to the bar.
Irma led the way and we walked about two blocks to the bar. We were greeted politely when we entered and we quickly ordered tall glasses of shochu. This time they were cold and flavored with a cirtus fruit native to japan who's name currently escapes me. We ordered sashimi and some tofu. Soon we were joined by her friend, Mark, from work who has been at the paper for over 10 years. We talked about technology and music in america and i flirted more with the idea of leaving america for good and working in japan.
Mark had an idea about a blog that would be more like an international zine with contributors who are actually good writers. I told him i thought it was a great idea and offered my web programming skills and server space for the site. I think we will be starting on it in the next couple of days. He has writers in Hong Kong, Taipei, Chicago, LA, NY and of course Tokyo. I think it will turn out to be something really cool.
After the bar i installed windows XP (english edition!) on my shiny new mebius... which i saw today in akihabara for twice what i paid for it. it installed without a hitch and even recognized my usb cd burner that i picked up in osaka. It was a good experience and i was happy that it all went so smoothly.
The next day i awoke and folded up my bedding, eager to visit the technology district of Tokyo, Akihabra. I went to find the train station and instead got lost. I walked for about half an hour until i finally found a station... i was only one station away from where i wanted to be. I paid my 230 yen and jumped on the subway. It was pretty mellow and i wrote a couple of pages about my trip on my tiny little mebius laptop... it only weighs 2 pounds!!!
The train arrived at the akihabara station on perfect schedule...like always and i walked up to the street. I was intrigued buy the throngs of quickly moving japanese and i opted to take a secluded route through them alleyways. I finally ended up in the technology district which as far as i can tell is about 3 blocks wide an 6 blocks long. I snaked through the alleys which were filled with stands selling all types of electronic components: lights, switches, integrated circuits, cell phone jammers, cameras, radios, bug detectors and anything you can imagine that runs on electricity. I set out on my quest to find a cd player that plays the mini cds (80 mm) and understood mp3s... i wanted to transfer all my music to mini cds each one will hold about 6 hours of mp3s.... after a couple of hours i finally found one. made by aiwa and it cost 19,800 yen... about $150. I bought it and then of course i saw it for 17,800 yen... oh well. i also bought a backpack for my laptop, actually for both of of my laptops. When i got back to Irma's house i found that they both did fit.
I unwrapped my new mp3 player with much excitement and proceeded to connect the portable cd burner that i scored in osaka to my g4 titanium and burn all the mp3s that i had on my laptop onto the mini cds that i bought in akihabara. after four or five unsuccessful burns i leafed through the japanese manual that came with my mini cd player. i was able to pick out the only english phrase in the whole thing... it said ISO9660. ISO9660 is a standard cd format. i adjusted my toast settings and then burned the correct type of cd for my player. it worked wonderfully and i'm now banging the streets as i type this.
after burning a cd full of mp3s irma and i headed to shibuya to meet up with mark and have some dinner/drinks. we started out at tokyo's skinniest building which was about 12 feet wide and 6 stories tall. i think the food was called roboyaki. we removed our shoes and sat down at the table on woven straw mats. the server brought us a plate of cabbage and some salted oil, then took our drink orders. i tried shochu and jasmine which was basically spiked jasmine tea. we then had some chiken sashmi, which despite my western preconecptions and stigmas against raw chicked was quite tasty.
the waiter then brought out a clay pot filled with burning coals and set it on the table. we ordered zuchinni, purple potatoes, salted beef, free range fighting cock, duck, mushrooms and kimchee. we grilled everything but the kimchee over the hot coals and painted them with a seasame oil baste. the food was delicate and delicious and we topped it all off with a spicy bowl of miso based ramen.
after filling our stomachs we headed to mark's favorite bar in what is known as drunkards alley. drunkard's alley is a 8 foot wide street in shibuya that is famous for it's mamma-san barmaids who have owned their bars for 20 years despite the high value of the property in their area.
the bar was packed with about 6 patrons and we headed upstairs to the top level where we drank beer and shochu. mamma-san brought us some delicious tuna shashimi and we talked about hash brownied and alan ginsberg as well as blogs and thailand. mamma-san liked me... i was told she dislikes many of her new patrons. i guess i lucked out. we paid out bill and stumbled to the train station... here i am. listening to the streets and lying on my futon.
too be continued.