Tuesday, August 29, 2006
The Definitive Tokyo Blog
So finally the time has come for me to leave Tokyo. Let me tell you about a few of the things I have seen, Done and had done to me. You May have noticed that the previous entries seem to be incoherant at times. While you can probably bet that I have been incoherant ｍyself for much of them, the blog wierdness i have to blame on these computers. The space bar is about the side of the ctrl key and any key around it immediately changes everything to japanese and causes weird formatting stuff to happen.
So I've nailed down just about every tourist trap/sacred shrine in Tokyo now. I had at night out partying in the entertainment district called roponngi. Its full of ex-pat bars and tourists from around the world (its also the only time/place in Japan where you see any black people). The subway stops running at midnight so if you want to stay out past that, you have to wait until the trains start running again at 5;00am or take a cab that costs about as much as 5 nights stay in my hostel. The club we were in had a cover of about $35 canadian and was full of models and NCAA basketball players. The VIP section has a sign that said "You must be this high (on cocaine) to Enter. The Imperial Palace is beutiful, the Meiji Shrine is Beautiful and blah blah blah. Neon signs here dominate skyline and leave you with sun-spots in your eyes if you stare too long. You know that massive pedestrian crossing you see in movies and stock footage and demonstration DVDs they play on all the TVs in Future Shop? I went there and the experience i can best liken it to is being in a mosh-pit at a hardcore punk concert full of business men on cell phones and trophy wives with shopping bags and I was there at a quiet time of the day.
Getting by with English here is easier than you think though most people do not speak it. Most people speak a little bit so if all you want is a little information, you will probably get it. Getting into a cab and just saying "love hotel" does nothing though. It helps knowing Japanese words as well.
Aragato Gosaimas = Thank you very much
Gomenesai, Bacca Gaigin = I'm sorry, Forgive me, I am a stupid forigner
Both get used a lot and usually draw laughter. The people here are very friendly and are usually very eager to help. The city is the cleanest and safest ive ever been in too.
Two nights ago I climbed Mt Fuji. Its about 2 hrs away by bus. I started climbing with an American and a couple Koreans around 8:45 at night. We arrived at the summit around 4:00 am. The temperature at the top was about -1c and I had sweat through all of my clothes. The air up there is pretty thin and i saw a lot of people with altitude sickness (puking, headaches, gasping for air). There are huts you can rest in and buy noodles or tea for about the cost of a monthly lease on a Mini Cooper but they are the only places you can go to get warm. The sky started to change colour slightly around 4:45 and people were getting excited. around 5:05 the sun was about to appear on the horizon though it was particularly cloudy. by this time there were probably 200 people at the summit with more on their way. The climb itself wasn't that bad. some parts are really steep while other parts consist of countless long switchbacks of loose rockey terrain. The climb up was well worth it though when I saw the sun breach the horizon. The clouds parted just as the massive orange ball appeared. A Japanese man that sounded just like Mr Miyagi somewhere on the summit began yelling very epically "Ohi-yo Fugisan! BANZAIII!!!" (good morning Fuji, Banzaii (a Japanese expression of glee)). The crowd echoed the Banzai. I just got a tingle down my spine while writing that. Hundreds of meters below there were other clouds the sun was rising above. I met a stereotypical jolly german guy with immaculate enlglish but sounded hilarious that was willing to take lots of photos of me. After the sun was up the temperature became a little more livable but I noticed my lungs were very sore from the thin air. The crater in the centre of the volcano is almost as impressive as the view of the lakes, forests and mountains surrounding the area. After a few photos i decided it was time to head back down. It took about 3 hrs and was easily the most physically strenuous thing ive ever done in my life. There is a seperate path for people going back down that consists of probably 80 switchbacks covered in loose dirt and rocks. My knees hurt so much when i got back, i considered buying a cane to help me around. Plus the complete lack of sleep, nutrion and total phsical exhaustion from the climb up and alititude. The only thing that keeps you moving down is knowledge of the fact that no one is there to help you if you give up and resting will probably make your legs tense up even more.
When I got back to the base I slept on the concrete for a bit and my Korean friends were able to get me on a bus back to Tokyo (which i did not have a ticket for). I celebrated with a beer and shower and 3 hr nap before going out again last night for dinner and some more sight seeing. Today my legs and knees are still sore but not nearly as bad as i was expecting. I have, however seem to have lost all feeling in my big right toe.
I am leaving Tokyo tonight for Kyoto (assuming i can book a hostel there (everything seems to be full)