A Travellerspoint blog

2nd day in Tokyo, expensive lunch, lottery winners and sex

Yesterday I went to a different part of Tokyo again-for another walking tour. This was an expensive part of town called Harajuku-which had lots of expensive stores and restaurants. Although I had breakfast at the hostel, it was afternoon by the time i reached the tour location, which is near all sorts of expenisve stores, and I was early, so I looked for a place to eat.

I found a cheap noodle place, but i would have had to wait for a spot to eat, and pay first, which I didn't feel comfortable with, so I kept walking down the street, and found a small shopping mall with some restaurants near the top floor. On the top floor, I saw what must have been at least 20 people waiting in line-for Starbucks. I asked people on line if Starbucks was giving away something for free. The one non-Japanese person said "no-we're just thirsty".

There was one other place to eat. I waited on line here as well-but only about 15 minutes. I was talking with the folks in front of me on line, an African-American couple and their young daughter. The man, who was in his 20's or 30's, said he has been in Tokyo since December, travels all the time, and when i asked what he did for a living, he replied something like - "I won the lottery. I aint workin no more". I guess he was telling the truth-it didn't seem like he was joking.

After the short wait, I had lunch at the counter. It was a typical place for tourists (1) Small artsy-fartsy lunch of smoked salmon, grapefruit on a piece of fancy bread, and (2) Stupidly expensive-around $15.00. But I was hungry and couldn't find a place without a look wait.

Then came the walking tour, run by Dai, same tour guide as the day before. I didn't seem to learn as much. It started at a place called Meiji-Jingu. Meiji was a ruler who came into power at age 14. Under his leadership, the capital of Japan was moved from Kyoto to Tokyo, and the government became more westernized, and more democratic. The Shinto shrine was dedicated to him. The shrine was large and impressive. A couple of weddings we're going on there as well, with long processions. The shrine also had many Saki barrels in front, as a lot of the saki brewers sponsor the shrines/temples. We had to wash our hands the traditional way-with left hand first, than right, than washing our mouth with water from the left hand,


After the shrine, we took a walk down some other streets.including Takeshita-dori, which is a street crowded with teens. The tour guide who was in his 30's mentioned that when he was young-there we're lots of small locally owned boutiques and restaurants, and it was a place to hang out. Now the local places have been driven out by high rents, and big chains like Mcdonalds we're occupying the street. But crowds of teens from all over the country still walked over the streets, hoping to be discovered by agents to become actors and actresses.
Dai also talked about the Olympics come to Toyko in 2020, how he and lots of young people didn't think it would have any economic impact.

Then the tour ended in park-where I watched some Elvis impersonators dancing, and I took a nap.

After a little while, I took the train to a place where the night free walking tour was due to start, a few stations away-Shinujku. First of all, there was a
parade going on. The folks seemed to carry around a large chariot or something. i'm not sure. Nobody would tell me. The tour started at 7:00 at the Shinjuku train station-which is a busy station. Actually the busiest station in the world, with millions of people using the station, to exit but also to transfer to connect to other trains every day. We took a look at Tokyo nightlife.
I learned-
There are many bars around

- which are just small enough for 10 people to sidle up to each other, namely friends.
- Couples generally meet each other by special parties, where 3 girls will hang with 3 guys, set up by two of the people.
- There are lots of bars around, again only 10 folks can sidle up, that cater to special interests, such as Godzilla enthusiasts, American Jazz enthusiasts, etc. There are alleys and alleys of these bars.
- There are 5 types of illicit services in Japan, although prostitution is strictly illegal. These range from message parlors, where everything but intercourse is ok-places which will wash you up and down to escort services (or escort service look alikes). There are "information counters", which are clearly marked In Japanese, which will direct you to the service you would like.
- There are host/hostess rooms, where people will go to be with cute boys are girls. These boys and girls won't have sex, but treat you like their boyfriend and girlfriend. They will go out with you for drinks and dinner, and charge you thousands of dollars for the privilege. Hiroshi, the tour guide, mentioned that people have gone broke being led on-because folk fall madly in love and think the next step is definitely coming up. There were billboards all over Shinjuku advertising these host/hostess rooms.
- Finally, there we're love hotels-hotels where folks rent a room for as little as 2 hours. Because of the high housing prices of central Toyko, taking someone home which could be an hour away was out of the question. The love hotels we're there. Contrary to perception, these places actually looked quite nice, and almost like regular hotels-but didn't have windows. Hiroshi mentioned that many rent costumes, and have hundreds of movies to watch.


After the tour-it was about 9:00 pm. I went back to the hostel-which took about 1 1/2 hours on the confusing,convoluted metro system. I was planning on going to bed early-but upon walking into the hostel-one of the woman i met at the meet and greet the other day was-one who was Japanese, and she insisted I sit with her and others and have a drink (we got some type of grapefruit alcoholic drink and seaweed from the supermarket. She went home, and I played a card game with some others. Then I got to bed around 12:30 or so.

Posted by DavidPearlman 17:04 Archived in Japan

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