And you know, the jet lag has kinda been kicking my ass. It would have been fine if the cats didn't start fucking around at midnight, waking me up. We then have to split up, Bourdain and D in the spare and Mouche and I in the main. But then I'm AWAKE so I piddle around and stay up wicked late, then try to sleep til D's alarm goes off and wakes me up again. It's annoying, but I'm getting there.
And while I was up last night I was playing catch-up on some blogs and got terrified I was just programming myself for nightmares. I mean, damn, from Heather's blog about the before/after death photos (which I had zero problem with but some woman was calling her chicken shit for closing comments, wtf), Harlan's humiliation of being jailed for shoplifting and Skyler's Dad's post about the fuckwits programming flashing animation on an epilepsy site...it was terrible! My dad recently sent me a horrifying photography slideshow with narration on Chernobyl I was pretty much ready to watch at that point. (It's really great, I do recommend clicking on it, but it is...well, obviously it can be hard to watch).
But anyhoo, on to the next day in Tokyo...
JAPAN '08 PART II
We started out with breakfast at the hotel. The breakfast is quite odd, to say the least. Lots of bready things, but beware. Then there was a tub of little, cold anemic sausages, some boiled eggs and a tureen of soup that varied by the day.
(Technically, these shots are from Saturday, but we won't tell anyone). Those pretzel rolls were great, the soup was great (if not really a breakfast item, but whatever). We didn't attempt the boiled eggs til our very last morning. And we tried the sausages the very first morning, which were just as ick as you might imagine. But see that pastry guy in the back?
You gotta watch out for Japanese pastries. They'll put whatever in 'em. We automatically assumed it was some sort of cherry filling, even though I should know better, so I bite into it, horrified to taste meat. It was really just tomato filling, like a pizza type flavor, but when you're unsuspecting, you suddenly realize what strong meat qualities tomato can have...
Anyhoo. Since we had gotten up pretty early, and most shopping/eating doesn't get going til around 11am, we set off for Aoyama Cemetery, easily accessible from Roppongi Station, after taking a peek at Almond...
...where we did stop later to pick up a few gifts...they have yummy chocolates and desserts.
Trotted down to the cemetery, which is huge and lined with tons of cherry blossoms. I cannot imagine what it must cost to get buried here, it's a very shi-shi neighborhood.
The main entry...
The trees here are really something...
I assume this is a child's grave. It was remarkable how well-kept nearly each and every grave was. Each had cleaning materials nearby as well as very fresh flowers.
These are some of the simpler graves (for Aoyama), and beyond are some apartments, which must have an incredible view...
Then it was back down to Roppongi, but as it was not quite shopping time, it was time for frozen caffeine with a giant orange straw.
Roppongi is a neighborhood I had not frequented in years, as it had a really sleazy reputation. Mostly due to the fact that all the worst gaijin would congregate there to booze it up and fuck. Gas Panic is the hornet's nest, which I have never set foot in.
But it has really become much classier in the past few years, starting with Roppongi Hills in 2003. My dad sent me an article on the guy who has built and designed these new ventures, Minoru Mori, and on the one hand I don't think Tokyo needs all these shopping meccas, but it did do wonders for Roppongi, so it's hard to complain. This place had 26 million visitors pass through its doors in the first four months it was open.
The meeting area outside the buildings is full of pansies and two giant sculptures.
A spider for you! It is huge. I wish more places had GIANT WEIRD SCULPTURE--they make great landmarks for people with zero sense of direction. Like me.
We assume this is the egg sac? Those Japanese are great with details.
This isn't the best perspective shot on this rose, but it's quite tall.
Another angle...(I still can't believe how fast all this stuff went up, even if the actual planning took years).
Did some shopping there, which was kind of hit or miss. Pricey area, but some real finds, regardless. Then off to lunch, just down the street, a little Indian place called Moti's. All the embassies are right here, so my Lonely Planet book warned it got crazy at lunch (but it was fine).
Pretty damn tasty for a decent price, even if the woman working kept ignoring me and was a total cold bitch. But whatever.
After this we shopped at Almond and found a Don Quixote, the biggest tatty shop in Tokyo. Something like nine floors of stuff, just tons of stuff. Mostly good prices, I was well behaved and did not get a dress I had my eye on. (And I'm glad since I found so many shoooooes later). Just across the street was the coolest cyber cafe I'd ever been in. You could have stayed all night. But we took a few minutes to write and let everyone know yes, we had made it.
Needing to give our legs a rest, we grabbed some munchies and beer and headed to Yoyogi Park, my favorite park in Harajuku just past the Meiji Shrine.
This was my favorite spot for so many Sundays.
And it was quite sparse and peaceful that day, Thursday. We went back on Saturday and oh my holy jesus. But that's another post.