Sunday, March 4, 2001
When we got up this morning, it was raining cats, dogs, and Pokemon. It was also cold. Those heated seats they have on the subways here sure will feel good! We were going to go see a bunch of stuff in Tokyo, but since it was raining, we just saw a little stuff in Tokyo. Mark, Tom, and I rode the subway to the Akihabara electronics district. That place is freaking crazy. Our senses were overloaded with neon and with people rushing about. We wandered around one store for a bit while Mark bought a watch, and we saw every electronic device you could ever imagine. The TV and stereo section was our favorite. They were showing off a home theater system and had it tuned to a station playing Japanese rap videos. That was strange.
Sensory overload in Akihabara
We went outside and decided to duck out of the rain into a McDonald's and get some lunch. You may wonder if Japanese McDonald's food is the same as ours. No. It is like ours is supposed to be. The burgers looked like they were out of an ad. They were perfectly symmetrical. There was no cheese hanging out one side, meat hanging out the other, and all the pickles stacked in one spot like we were used to. In addition, it was service not just with a smile, but with an actual bow.
Ubiquitous vending - beer or sake?
We decided to go back to Yokohama since it wasn't too pleasant sightseeing in the rain, and we ended up wandering around the largest department store in the world, Sogo, for a few hours. It was unrelenting shopping. We ended up in the toy department for a while. Japa-kids are so cute! We wanted to take one home.
Keeping Japan Clean
Mark had told us of the big production the Japanese make of wrapping gifts, so when we made a little $5 purchase, he told them it was a gift. A team of people then descending upon the counter, each with a specialized function. One guy had me choose the paper and ribbon; another guy was in charge of removing the price tag from the item with a special tool just for this purpose; the lady who rang up the purchase did the actual wrapping of the gift; and there was one or two people there I guess either supervising or just in case of emergency. It was quite a spectacle!
For dinner we went to Yokohama's Chinatown. Chinatowns are always fun, with their over-the-top decor, and besides, it was walking distance from Mark and Traci's. We ate dinner at Yoshu-Hanten, wandered around and souvenir shopped a little, and wound up at a British pub, the Dog & Duck. What a contrast to be four Americans at a British pub in Chinatown in Japan. It boggles the mind.
Sensory overload in Chinatown