We're crazying up at work. Our prime minister is visiting next week (did I already mention that? I think not. It's been a lid on/lid off thing [that's an expression, right? In some language? Not Norwegian I think. English? Maybe I made it up... But y'all understand what it means, though - right?] for a while, because there were some protocol restrictions on who were inviting whom and such. Anyway..), and this is causing a lot of extra work for everyone - including the trainees. Thus, it was nice to work only one hour overtime on Friday, and then go home - collapse in bed hours before my bedtime, and concentrate on nothing than a missed episode of Raising Hope (because Big Bang Theory and Community both skipped a week. What's up with that?!)
On Saturday I took a personal day. Okay, so I wasn't working anyway, but most Saturdays and Sundays thus far in Tokyo have been spent sightseeing or some form of touristing. It gets exhausting. Instead, I brought my laptop and snuck out of the house early in the morning (or, you know, noon, which is still pretty early for most of the people living in my building), headed for the nearest (or actually, not the nearest at all. More like the 5th nearest. I wouldn't want anyone to find me...) Starbucks.
My laptop and I had some quality time there. First of all I cleaned up my "My Documents" folder, which was a total mess. I once had a system, but after various laptop changes and backups, it had crashed and burned. Now, it's all neat and folderized, and some of the duplicate documents have been deleted. Never mind that I still have another laptop at home plus an extended hard drive that needs a make-over... Happiness looks like a neatly organized hard drive. In the process I also discovered several writing projects I had not quite forgotten, but at least filed in the very back of my mind. Interestingly, several of them made me want to pick them back up, none of them made me delete them (except the one-sentence one. No, I cannot read your mind, Cruella2004. You'll have to be slightly more specific than "like that movie, but the other way around"..), and one or two had me chuckling when re-reading (and yes, in the good way). Thus, the idea bank is safe (and now organized, yay!).
What I also noticed at Starbucks was that this apparently is the place many Japanese go to sleep off their Friday night escapades. In general, sleeping in public places is a bit of a thing here... Weird.
After Starbucks the Norwegian in me awoken and I decided that it was horrible to spend a sunny Saturday indoors, no matter how happy it made me. So I started walking.
What I love about Tokyo (or indeed any large - and reasonably safe - city with a good public transportation system; London and Washington D.C. come to mind) is that if you are not going anywhere specific, you can just randomly walk without a map (an added bonus for a mapilliterate, like myself) and still know you'll find your way home since there are metro stations everywhere.
So I picked a direction, and walked. After about ten minutes, I had a choice between right and (not wrong, but) left, and I picked left on the grounds that it looked slightly more appealing than right. I was right. After about ten more minutes, I got into a more official looking area, with guards and walls and fences. A sign informed me that I was passing the office building for the House of Representatives to the National Diet. (On a side note - the word "Diet" to describe your parliament, is confusing. If you google "Japanese Diet", only about half of the hits are about the parliament, while the rest concern rice & raw fish.)
"Poor politicians," I thought. "I must be very frustrating to have their offices so far away from the actual Diet building." And then I passed a corner, and there it was - the Diet.
See, I know that Tokyo is big. Thus it always surprises me so when I discover that it isn't as big everywhere. Or rather, even in huge Tokyo, some distances are small. Like the one from "my" Starbucks (only five away from where I live) to the Diet building. It's only a short Sunday walk, really.
Once you get to the Diet, it is also just a short walk to the government district (Kasumigaseki), the Imperial Palace, and Hibiya (where I've spent some time, so the area is familiar to me). Thus my guilt walk turned into an epiphany of sorts, making this large city slightly smaller to me.
All this time I kept wishing I had brought my camera. See, as much as I love my camera, it is also too big to bring along "just in case". Unless I know I will actually use it, I will leave it at home (and I made a mistaken last minute decision before leaving Norway regarding bringing my compact camera. Meaning I didn't, in case that was unclear). Yesterday, though, was a beautiful day. Lovely light, and a ton of great motifs my darling Buck (that's my non-compact camera...) would have done justice. Such as the single blossoming cherry/plum tree I passed (the blossom is a BIG deal here. Will post on that some other time. Regarding the cherry/plum distinction I am no expert, but I have been told that the plum goes first, so I am guessing the cherries are the ones that haven't started yet). Or the skyscrapers in Kasumigaseki bathed in sunlight. Eventually what made me cave in and pull out my (inferior) cell phone camera was the lovely view of the Imperial Palace in the sunlight. Thus, one picture from yesterday to share:
I swear, Buck would have done a better job, but at least you get an idea what lovely weather it was, and how pretty the palace (or rather, one of the entrances) looked, reflected in the water.
This post is getting long. Sorry - digressionist at work...
I got back home (by metro - it was a relatively short walk, but it seemed much longer to attempt to walk both ways..), stopped by my new favourite store (Don Quixote - it has everything. Everything, I say), went home, made dinner, crashed in bed early again.
Sunday - today - I got up, got out, and spent all day with two friends up in the Harajuku area. Harajuku is probably one of the craziest, weirdest, funniest, most interesting places in Tokyo. It's where all the cool kids (and let me emphasize the word kids. Many of them are no older than 12-15, and even the ones that are, frequently try to look around that age. It's a little creepy, actually...) hang. It's where much of the cosplay take place. It's where you'll find rockabilly Japanese, dancing rock&roll to the delight of passing tourists. But it also has a nice park (Yoyogi) and a beautiful temple and shrine area (which I visited a few weeks ago). We had a great time walking around in the (still) lovely weather. It feels a lot like spring in Tokyo these days (but I am convinced I will regret saying that tomorrow, when it will supposedly rain).
All in all a pretty nice weekend. Definitely a nice break from work. Muchly needed mental and physical rest, and I'm sure the exercise and fresh air can't hurt either. Though I sort of wish I had one more day off before going back to the crazy tomorrow...
Finally, one extra picture (since I just transferred a batch from my mediocre cell phone cam to the laptop). This is a follow-up to a request from the very first post I wrote from Tokyo. Kids bathing in a peach. I say no more...