Pictures from my trip to Japan, April 2005 (final days in Tokyo)

 

I was staying in Takadanobaba, which is a rather multi-ethnic (for Tokyo) neighborhood, next to Waseda University and north of Shinjuku. Its the home of comix artist and pacifist Osamu Tezuaka, creator of Astro Boy. And between here and the famous Kabuki-cho 'pink zone' lies Shin-Okubo, shunned by some Japanese as crime ridden but mostly because it's full of Koreans and Thais and other Asian foreigners. Last night I walked down that way, doing reconaissance for today's shopping expeditions. I found a non-sexual, competant Thai massage, then went across the street for a fine Korean meal. Then home to my dank little ryokan, which has location, location, and location for forty bucks a night. There's good plumbing but no phone and nowhere to sit, just a tiny tatami room.
It looks better from across the street:
On my last day, I performed my requisite kaimono, bustling through the depato near Shinjuku station. I'd promised myself one opportunity to plan my time poorly and hope for the best. After some quick sushi, and too many suburban trains, I arrived at the Bandai Museum:
Inside said "Museum", I found a succession of retail shops thinly disguised as themed exhibits of Bandai cartoon characters and model kits. They are a toy company after all, and I'm not the kind of otaku they are after. . The top floor was labelled For Girls Only, so I levitated there in search of perhaps more kaimono, for my daughter. The entire floor conissted of photo booths. It was not difficult to persuade these kids to be photograhped.

On my final Friday night, I LiveJournalled this from a foreigner-friendly cafe

"I am ready to go home, I did enough shopping and enough touring. There is a now-familiar sense of so much undone, so much more I couldhaveshouldhave. But much of the last two days has been spent on various trains, much of it standing up to boot. My Japanese is no better no worse than last time, but my reading is a tad better. I have not pursued my slight contacts with other foreigners, my business contacts have been sufficient. My contact with locals are polite and distant. As I understand it, one can live here for years and get no closer ... I feel a certain spurious frenzy kaimono kaimono kaimono (shopping). and I resolve before all you witnesses out there that during my final hours beofre going to Narita airport tomorrow that I will go to Shinjuku national gardens which are but a mile from here on foot, and spend time in CONTEMPLATION goddamnit no more trains until the last one ...Shinjuku Gyoen (said garden) has English French and Japanese themed areas and is bloody gorgeous as are the family picnickers and the sunbathers for that matter. "

Keeping this promise to myself, I spent a couple glorious hours in Shinjuku park. the pix below look better at full density, but, well, this is a Web page: