The year is 2007. My friend Erwin is stopping in Tokyo for the auto show before heading to Shanghai to visit friends. I am living in Osaka at the time; homeless, jobless, and only knowing but a handful of people in this busy city. My spirits are down and I need relief. Erwin calls, "Come to Tokyo. I gotchu covered." Click. Boots pounding on the pavement. Bullet train screech. Elapsed time 3 hrs. There I am standing in the Prince Park Tower Tokyo. The place exuded luxury and extravagance. Needless to say, I felt out of place in my thrifted clothes and scuffed up boots. I didn't care too much though and I quickly made myself comfortable.
Erwin came ill-prepared. His only place of interest was the auto show and now that he got that out of the way the rest was up to me. I planned an extensive itinerary for us mainly with things I thought he'd enjoy. Hmm, what would a guy that likes sports, food, alcohol and "kawaii" girls want to do? Aha! First up on the agenda, Roppongi! Oh Roppongi..the only place in Japan where you will find very little Japanese people. Sure, they're speaking in Japanese but once you get up close you'll see..dude is Nigerian. Roppongi doesn't warrant a summary of that nights events. I left Erwin at a horrible pub called Gas Panic (Sorry, Erwin), avoid this place at all costs unless you like bad hip hop and trashy, drunk girls. If this sort of thing tickles your fancy then by all means check it out and once you're done you should jump off the Reinbo burijji (Rainbow Bridge) because you suck.
I planned to get up early so we could check out the Tsukiji Fish Market and have breakfast. Unfortunately Erwin's liver had other plans and these plans consisted of recovering in the bathtub for numerous hours. No problem, we skipped brekkie and ate at one of the bougie restaurants in the hotel. Poor moi. We ate at a robatayaki-ya- Japanese grilled meat candy and while the meal was delicious it was also bittersweet because poor Erwin was lookin nauseous and about to keel over. We quickly headed to Ueno park for some strolling around and to check out the Tokyo National Museum. Good. He needed some fresh air.
or wet air..
On our way to the museum we saw a crowd of people. What's all the commotion? Apparently free meals were being given away to the less fortunate.
Homeless people in Japan - they do exist.
The Tokyo National Museum
We made our way to Ameyoko short for "Ameya Yokocho" meaning candy alley. Which you will see from the following photos had everything but. They should call it crappy rasta souvenir alley or stinky dried seafood alley.
Erwin tried his hand at pachinko for a bit. It's a vertical pinball looking game where you enter yen and then it magically disappears. The more yen you insert, the more you lose. Make sense?
I refused to play. Instead, I bought this delicious and refreshing beverage. Getcha sum.
Part deux: Osaka and Kyoto coming soon.
Photos by Erwin.