Thursday, January 20, 2011

On Tokyo

Konnichiwa! Tokyo e yokoso!

Carpeted floors. Polite people. Hyper-efficient public transportation. Anthill buildings. Endless suburbs turning into endless city. Or so it feels.

It's the strangest feeling, suddenly being effectively illiterate. Absolutely nothing makes sense - you have no idea if the bottle you pick up in the shop is shampoo or cooking oil. The label portrays cartoon children bathing - in a peach. You hope it's not cooking oil, and decide to take the chance.

What..? Coffee Jello?!? And.. Why would anyone want to put caviar on pizza?

In Tokyo everything is small, with three exceptions: dogs, buildings and fruit. Cars, people, clothes, portions, and gardens are tiny. But they seem to love big, fluffy dogs.

You can't see any garbage cans anywhere, and yet there is no garbage on the street. Where does it all go?

A considerable portion of the population are wearing masks on a daily basis, and yet no one seems worried about robbers. Ah. The cold rates are higher than the crime rates in this city.

The metro. Nowhere does that name fit better. Metro. Met-o-ro. The various exits for just one station seems miles apart. It's a labyrinth designed to capture you, but those who know how to navigate it slip past anyone slowing down with ease. The Tokyo metro surely must be the model for Nintendo's classic Donkey Kong games.

Eventually you remember to look up, and discover an entire city on top of the first. Tokyo isn't a ground floor city. Bars, restaurants, shops - upstairs! At the roof of a 56 floor building you finally stop to take a breath. You turn to every direction, but there is no end in sight. The lights from the city reaches the horizon in 360 degrees.

For the first time you have a vague idea how big Tokyo really is.

City of blinding lights?


Liz Pezzuto said...

Ah, Tokyo, how I miss thee. It's such an amazing place.

So glad that you made it there safely! I'm looking forward to hearing all about your experiences. :)

Michelle Gregory said...

i'm moving to Montana. even Phoenix is too big. Tokyo would drive me insane. glad you still have your sanity.

Not Hannah said...

Wow. This totally made me want to go to Tokyo. What a bizarre, interesting place you've described for us.

Also, the cooking oil/shampoo thing? Hysterical. Children bathing IN A PEACH??

LTM said...

you are having the coolest experience. I'm soooo jealous~ :o) <3

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm sure it's a culture shock.
And London boasts no trashcans - and no trash either.

Kelly said...

Very interesting! I'm surprised about the big dogs, too! I would have pictured little toy breeds.
:) Let's see, though....Akitas are Japanese, are they not? Not exactly small dogs, either.

Hannah Kincade said...

Aw, you've just made my want to go there, a massive NEED!! Next trip, TOKYO!!

Angela Felsted said...

Wow, it's huge!

The Golden Eagle said...

You've made me want to go to Tokyo! :)

Jan Morrison said...

wonderful descriptions - you are a good writer, my tokyo friend!

Jules said...

From what I've heard I be careful around the toilets. They seem to do everything but sing :)

BTW, at first I thought this was a fiction story. It sure could be :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

sue said...

Pleased you've arrived safely with your camera in hand. Hope the start in your new job goes smoothly.

Cruella Collett said...

Liz - it seems to me like no one every wants to leave, and when they have to, they always try to come back!

Michelle - I'm usually most comfortable in a smaller environment too, but Tokyo is different, somehow.

Heather - if you ever get the chance, you should go. It's all you ever imagined, and more. (And it turns out it was shower gel. I think.)

Leigh - so far it is pretty cool, yes. I'm sure I'll eventually feel homesick, though...

Alex - I have no idea how they do it. But as long as it works, why not, eh?

Kelly - Akitas are not only Japanese, they are from Akita, the Japanese prefecture I used to live in. It is MUCH smaller than Tokyo, though. And I've seen some small dogs too, but mostly big, for some reason.

Hannah - you won't be sorry!

Angela - incredibly so. Far larger than I cam capable of wrapping my mind around, actually.

TGE - another convert! ;)

Jan - aw, thank you! That means extra much, coming from you :)

Jules - oh, they even sing... Or at least make flush sounds so that you won't have to be embarrassed to make other kinds of sounds... (And yes, fiction, non-fiction - it's all a blur here...)

Sue - the job is amazing!!! I'll have to write about that sometime too, though of course it takes a more careful weighing of words.

Hart Johnson said...

Cruella-what a FABULOUS vivid description you've given us! I love it! (and I want to see it, too! You keeping that journal? You know you COULD keep it on your blog... then maybe sell it as a book deal when you get home... (this would be perfect for that)

Cold As Heaven said...

I would prefer olive oil in the hair rather that shampoo on my salad >:)

Cold As Heaven

K A B L O O E Y said...

I'm with Hart Johnson. And please take pictures. I want to see the cartoon children in a peach. Some more, please? (Not that you're busy or anything... )

Lazarus Lupin said...

Tokyo swallows
I am in a neon belly
warmed by strangeness

You give a very good feel for one of the hardest places in the world to describe. Good on ya.

Lazarus Lupin
art and review

Chary Johnson said...

Great description, it's like we're all there!

So it was peach jello?

Lovely photo!

*random thoughts are causing inefficient commenting*

*shut down*

Pat Tillett said...

You've made me homesick for my home away from home. You know I love the place and I'll never lose my awe about how, with all those people, in that huge city, that it simply runs like a fine swiss watch. ALWAYS...
LOVE the photo. Tokyo makes Los Angeles look like a small town...

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