If I had to sum up Tokyo in a few words, I would have to say crowded and expensive. But none-the-less, it is still a fun place. I only spent 2 days there on this trip. I guess it is more of a quick stop over on my way back to Seoul from the States than a real trip here. I didn't get to do much besides work because I was still fighting jet lag.
I was quickly reminded about how expensive everything is in Japan. The train from the airport to downtown is about $30. You sit down in a taxi and it costs you $6 before he pulls from the curve. A Coke at the hotel is $4. Everything is pricey. Even though the company is paying, I still cringe at paying rates like this.
The crowds were also interesting. Seoul is a big city, but it doesn't feel as crowded as Tokyo. I got off the train at Shinjuku, which is one of the downtowns in Tokyo. The train station was packed with thousands of people. Leave the station and go out to the street and it was no less crowded. Added to the crowded feeling of all the people are stores packed into every available space, both inside and outside. Definitely a much more packed feel than anywhere else I had been in Asia. I have been to Tokyo before (last March), and I don't recall feeling that it was this crowded then - I guess it is because I am staying in a different area now.
I got to take a quick walk through the Emperor's Palace Gardens (I didn't bring my camera - sorry, no pictures). Definitely impressive. Not quite to the grandeur of the Forbidden City in Beijing, but still quite a marvel.
The Japanese are a model of efficiency and technology. The trains arrive and leave almost too the minute that they are scheduled - you literally could set your watch to them. A coworker has a cell phone where the flip part is a PCMCIA card. He sticks the phone into his laptop and connects to the web at 128k baud (twice as fast as I can connect to the web over wire in the US).
Now, there are definitely areas where this ingenuity and efficiency has gone awry. For example, at the United Airlines lounge, they have a beer filling machine. Pouring a beer is an art, and the objective to me should be to fill the glass with as little head as possible. I want to drink the beer, not breath the foam. In the lounge, there is a beer machine which has nearly perfected the beer pouring. You place your glass into the holder and hit the button. The machine then tilts the glass and fills it with beer in such a way that you get little or no head. This is worth watching even if you didn't want the beer.
But the Japanese couldn't leave perfection alone (IMHO) - after it has filled the glass about 2/3rds full, the machine straightens the glass out and a separate nozzle squirts a thick head onto the beer. Oh, the horror!
I should be back in Japan in 2 weeks. Perhaps I will have some more to write then.Previous Post - Back to Menu - Next Post