Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Random observations of Tokyo...

I was going to call this "Random Observations of Japan," but it struck me that while Tokyo is part of Japan, it's a completely different animal from the rest of the country...kinda like New York or LA isn't necessarily representative of the rest of the US. Anyway, just a few things I've seen that I thought would be interesting or of note (click on the links to see accompanying pictures):

Plastic food is a national art form. No, the food you eat isn't plastic itself--but almost all the restaurants have replicas of their dishes in the display cases at the entrance of the restaurant. This is a Godsend if you don't speak just grab the proprietor, pull them out front, and point to something you want. Believe me--they're used to this.

The kids are super, ultra, mega cute (here and here). Like you want to squish them and eat them up, they're so cute. And they smile almost all the time. 'Nuff said.

The pace of life is unbelieveable. People are rushing everywhere, all the time. 8AM Sunday, 11PM Thursday, doesn't matter--the crush of people can get overwhelming at times.

Vending machines are everywhere, selling darned near everything. Interesting factoid--40% of all the cigarettes sold in Japan are sold through vending machines.

8AM is a baaaaad time to try to get on a train if you don't know what you're doing. There are about a bajillion people standing in line, and God help you if you're in anyone's way. Interesting factoid--the Yamanote line (a line that goes in a circle around Tokyo) alone serves 3.08 million people a day, as compared to just over 5 million people for the entire New York City transit system.

Tokyo police get pretty cranky if you try to take their picture or a picture of a koban (police box). This guy yelled at me--I just gave him one of those patented American "Whaddaya gonna do???" looks and walked on.

I could write, and write, and write, and you'd never get it...unless you came here. This is the strangest, most fascinating, most frustrating, most rewarding place I've ever been. It's both very different and very much like the US. It's foreign, but it also feels like a second home to me.

Anyway...I'm on my way home tomorrow with good memories, good results from the business meetings, and maybe a few more good pictures before I leave. Talk to y'all when I'm back home.

More later...