Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Fast and the Furious - Tokyo Drift

We finally visited Tokyo! It was our first visit since we arrived in Japan. Ever since we've moved here many people emphasize the differences between Kansai (Osaka area, where we live) and Kanto (Tokyo area). Japanese people often comment on the difference between language-dialect, food, attitudes, etc. It's kind of like the ongoing fight between Los Angeles and San Francisco or the West coast versus the East coast or the South versus the North. The picture on the right is from wikipedia.

This is a picture our friend Dain took when he was in Tokyo. His digital camera can take awesome panoramic shots. Even though I never saw the movie, I think it matches the title of my blog.

As most of you know, I grew up in Tokyo. I lived in Tokyo from age 3-8 and so I was really excited to show Julian the big city and for him to see my house and meet my friends and neighbors.

The first weekend we were there we stayed in the Star Hotel in Shinjuku. Shinjuku is in the heart of Tokyo. Everyday, at least 2 million people walk through the Shinjuku train station, which has over 60 exits. The station is a messy and confusing maze of three train lines that sprawl every which way. It's a mad house.

Our first afternoon, we wandered around Shinjuku. Shinjuku has so much, many large department stores, lots of little bars, restaurants and nightlife, including the red light district of northern Kabukicho and the interesting little road of Shomben Yokocho (piss alley) with little, dilapidated bars and small restaurants just off the main drag near the station. I read that the eastern part of Shinjuku was the inspiration for the movie, Blade Runner.

At all hours of the day there are thousands of people walking around. Three am in Shinjuku has the same amount of people as rush hour on a workday. It feels like Shinjuku is screaming at you with music, and people yelling from the fronts of stores, lights blinking and people, traffic and trains moving around you. It was really thrilling and energizing and crazy! The fun of any big city is wandering around and people watching and that's mostly what we did with our week. I don't have any good pictures, so here's a link to a photo of Shinjuku.

That evening, we met up with my friend, Yukiko. Yukiko was my best friend in preschool and is still a close friend. We went out to a delicious izakaya restaurant and then to the top floor of the Keio Plaza Hotel to see a jazz band and look at the city lights.