John and I got schooled in Tokyo. We were only there for four days but sheesh, downtown felt like the densest place on Earth and after walking around endlessly for hours, both of us were completely “jia le fu‘d” (a term we coined after Carrefour, the hypermart in Shanghai, where we ALWAYS leave with migraines).
Tokyo’s definitely a different place. No pushing and shoving, no spitting, no trash strewn all over the streets, AND get this, potable tap water. Yes, life in an industrialized country is good. Still, I’m actually getting the swing of being a rude, bad-ass, beotch in China. Outta my way, damnit!
Tokyo was surprisingly difficult to navigate. And I don’t think it was just because we didn’t speak Japanese. Whenever I asked people for directions, they too seemed to have a difficult time. For one thing, the “You are here” maps scattered near all the metro entrances are not oriented with north pointing up. Instead, they’re rotated so left on the map is left from where you are. Sound practical, but it totally confused us, because we just assumed up was north? But that’s not even the worst of it: the streets aren’t named, much less labeled. Blow up maps show a bunch of smaller streets but no frickin’ names!! Totally chaotic. John and I entered the danger zone (onset of hunger pangs) far too often because we couldn’t A) determine our exact location B) get ourselves to the food place whose biz card we had and C) get enough to eat when we finally did settle on a food place.
Still, Tokyo has its pluses. In a land where people are even more obsessed than the Americans with shopping, you gain access to a lot of specialty stores and products. As expected, John stocked up on notebooks and pens. We also ogled all the new gadgets in the tech stores. Like SH and big cities in the US, Tokyo also had all the big-name fashion boutiques, but unlike Shanghai or DC, there were actually swarms of people inside BUYING stuff. I saw so many LV bags swinging on the arms of hot ladies in Tokyo, that I asked my friend Kelly (who used to live in Tokyo and is fluent in Mandarin, Japanese, AND English) whether the bags were real. Yesiree, it’s the real McCoy in Tokyo. I thought the economy was in a recession? Guess there’s still plenty of dough to be had.
John has added Tokyo to his list of potential places to live. He says it’s because of the stationery and gadgets. More likely though, it’s because the women are hot. I don’t know what it is– a different gene pool, plastic surgery, makeup… no idea. But very attractive and fashionable beyond reason. Stiletto boots and mini, mini skirts everywhere… in the frickin’ dead of winter!! Was a bit bizarre. I know I’m no fashion maven, but I was armed with long johns, earmuffs, gloves, and a scarf. Go figure.