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Tokyo Day 9 (Thursday)


Catch the Light
Originally uploaded by Katherine Donaldson
I realized last night that I was really missing something by not having turned on the TV in our room yet. So tonight Rebecca and I are watching three men compete against a monkey for, well, I have no idea. The monkey lost the rope-swinging-to-grab-banana contest, but won the balancing on a bar contest, then laughed and jumped up and down on the bar when the other guys fell off. Ha ha ha! The monkey just did the final obstacle course, including, naturally, a long set of monkey bars, and he was really impressive. I think the monkey is clearly the best monkey of the four contestants. :-) Ah, well, it looks like in the end the Chimpanzee came in second, and the cute guy won. I guess I'm watching Saruke. Maybe that means something to someone.

Today was pretty good, although it started out by walking to the Moomin Cafe, and finding it closed, and then realizing that I had to go back to the hotel after breakfast because I had forgotten my cell phone.

I briefly considered going down to Kamakura with Rebecca, but in the end decided to make a loop of Akihabara + Robots, Nippori Textile Town (which I found with Google Magic), and Shinjuku. It worked out pretty well, although to continue my run of missfortune from the morning, I bought a Tokyo Metro ticket before realizing I needed a Toei ticket. I shoulda just gotten a Suica pass a week ago, but whatever. And then the elevator down to the platform was broken, or at least closed with three or four uniformed people climbing all over the mechanism, so I had to carry the stroller down the stairs. But my new cargo method, cramming everything into a backpack, and carrying the empty stroller by the straps, works pretty well, so going down stairs really isn't so bad anymore, just inconvenient. And really all that mattered was I was in a pretty good mood, things were beautiful and interesting (as opposed to the days when national treasures look dull and everything is listless,) and Rebecca wasn't screaming.

So we went to Akihabara, looking for Tsukumo Robot Kingdom, which wasn't hard to find given a proper Google map and the direction that it was on the third floor. And on the way there I found the other half of AsoBitCity, the good half as opposed to the lame boring half we'd gone through before. The good half is the one with all the plastic figures and cosplay stuff. So AsoBitCity has been re-elevated to awesome store status. Still no longer my favorite though, after our discovery of Kotobukiya last Saturday.

Tsukumo was fun too, they had at least 12 humanoid robots of various levels of awesome, all the way up to totally cute and ~$1500. I was tempted to buy it despite the price, it was that Kawaii and awesome looking. If I thought I had any hope of using it without reading Kanji and owning a PC I might have gotten it. Oh, hey, it had a URL on the brochure: www.kyosho.com, but hey, it's useless. Here: Manoi PFO1 Kawaii ne?

Anyway, I don't think Rebecca was that impressed because none of them were moving, and we didn't end up buying any of them. They were showing some videos which captured her attention briefly.

Then we took the JR Yamanote line to Nippori Station, rather than Nishi-Nippori Station, having looked up Tomato's location with Google Maps. And Nippori Textile Town was pretty fun. I appreciated how everything was spilling out into the streets, so it was easy to stroller shop, and lots of it was cut up into small to 2m pieces that you could just buy without having it cut up. Much better for small impulse shopping when you don't know how much you want anyway. Rebecca was a monkey for the first half, and then I really had to get her to go to sleep. Her nap had been put off by Akihabara, and she was going bonkers. Rough, but finally managed. This whole reclining stroller thing is totally worth the money even though I felt silly buying a stroller that was almost identical to one I already had at the time.

By the time we got to Tomato Rebecca was asleep, and it was just about the only crowded store, and quite large. I suppose if you are looking for something particular it would be best to go there, but it was impractical for me with a sleeping stroller baby to do more than stick my head in the door. And I'd found plenty of great stuff other places. Although, I think the place two doors down that I bought some cute ribbons from was also part of Tomato. They had these neat fabric stamping kits, with ink pads that looked just like regular ink pads, but were presumably fabric dyes. I thought that was a pretty interesting idea, but it wasn't the kind of thing I could dive into without English instructions. But tempting, I could go and buy some of the Totoro and other cute stamps that are at all the stores that carry stationary, and stamp fabric... fun! Probably more practical to get into silk painting though. Oh, and yesterday at Loft I saw a bag made out of Ed Emberly (stick figure instruction books of fame) fabric! I almost bought it, but I didn't need it and it didn't look that well made.

The worst part of Nippori Textile Town was that I ran out of cash! OH NOES! I really wanted to spend my last 1000yen, but I didn't want to walk home or need to feed Rebecca and be completely broke. I looked at my map and there weren't any convenient post offices, it looked like the best bet was to continue on to our next planned stop of Shinjuku and go to the post office there, which we did. The light was really beautiful there for a while too, as the sun was going down. Sometimes I wonder if I was on Prozac if things would always be that beautiful, or if they would always be blah, or if they would always be in-between. Presumably the latter, which is why I've always wanted to stay drug-free.

Rebecca and I found ourselves at one of our hoped for destinations purely by happenstance, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, which has a free observation deck. Two actually, one in each tower. We went up the North tower, and walked around, and then sat down in the bar, which had the best view, and ate some spaghetti. It wasn't even outrageous at 1300Yen. Of course the ginger ale was 800Yen, which was outrageous. I think the obviously romantic dating couple we were seated next to were offended that I would bring a baby to such a romantic spot, but whatever, Rebecca was actually really well behaved after the first 30 seconds, because we played with our new plastic dolls, who came with interchangeable standing and sitting legs, and little chairs. So we pulled them to bits and put them together, and stacked them up and generally happily played until our spaghetti arrived, and the sun set. Or maybe the other couple was offended by my totally cute and useful Japanese housewife's apron. These things are great. I'm going to start wearing them every day when I get home. :-) I love clothes that make me feel happy, which often seems to be something a little conventionally ugly.

Then we went back to the hotel, although the Toei Shinjuku line wasn't nearly as easy to get to as the JR Yamanote line had been to get out of. It doesn't help that the Toei Shinjuku line seems like the deepest in Tokyo, we just kept going down and down and down. It takes 4 elevators to get out of at our home stop of Kudanshita. And on the way down Rebecca emptied the rest of a sippy box of fruit smoothing all over herself, on top of the mess she'd already made with a leaky bottle I hadn't noticed. I had to wipe down the stroller tonight. Also, I never did manage to find diapers, so tomorrow that situation gets upgraded to first priority. "Saiyu sen jiko yo!"

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
tshuma
Oct. 11th, 2007 05:30 pm (UTC)
I'm really enjoying these travelogues: even though I skip past them at work, I tend to look you up again at home.
katharos
Oct. 14th, 2007 10:18 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I figured they were too long for anyone to read. :-)
(Anonymous)
Oct. 11th, 2007 11:00 pm (UTC)
Keep it coming!!
You're giving us a full travel tour of Tokyo, full of sights and impressions, thoughts and surprises. Your photos are incredibly beautiful, though of course my favorites are still of Rebecca, you & Jesse! The architecture photos are composed with beautiful and startling creativity.

For someone that doesn't particularly like shopping, you're having Wayyyy too much Fun!! :)

Oh go ahead, please get a robot...do they have whole stores of them?? Can't wait to see your happy housewife apon! love, mom
katharos
Oct. 14th, 2007 10:20 pm (UTC)
Re: Keep it coming!!
I may get a robot, but it isn't the kind of thing I need to get in Akihabara, I'll do a little research, and maybe get one to play with Rebecca with when we get back. Sorry I didn't get a picture of me in my apron.
eub
Oct. 12th, 2007 05:58 am (UTC)
Wow. Nice shot.
katharos
Oct. 14th, 2007 10:30 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Yah, I got really lucky with light that day, this shot easily makes it into my top ten for the year. With the sunset and the glass foyer and the columns, we were in the right place at the right time.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )