On the prowl

Yesterday, our group randomly decided to split up and go our own separate ways after lunch, which left me a new situation: alone in Tokyo. Which was awesome. There are few things I enjoy as much as having a few hours to myself in a large, mostly unfamiliar city. A pair of headphones, a juiced-up subway pass and a rough idea of where I want to go — few things in life are better for a social misanthrope. I can be around people, but don’t have to interact with anyone. And I get a feel for a new place as a bonus.

So, I headed to Nakano to buy myself a birthday gift at the secret awesome inexpensive retro game shop Kohler showed me last time we were here. (Speaking of which — thanks, mom and dad! You bought me a copy of Harmful Park. This probably means nothing to you, but I’m pleased… especially since I found it for about 2/3 of what it cost last time I saw it in Akihabara.)

However, unlike Kohler, I decided to take the public Tokyo Metro instead of the privately-owned JR lines — for some reason, everyone I know and work with is seriously averse to using the Metro. I’m not really sure why, though. The trains are just as nice as the JR trains, the stations are as convenient, the schedules as frequent and efficient, and the lines are much more direct. Getting to areas like Nakano and Akihabara via JR from our 1UP base of operations in Shibuya requires transfers and planning, but you can reach both without switching trains via Metro. So, this job was a success: I know my way around a bit better.

And now I bid farewell to the Tokyo portion of the trip, where we’ve been traveling to places familiar to me as staging points for ranging further afield. Today we catch the shinkansen and venture into the completely unfamiliar sights of Kyoto (and Osaka and Nara) — a very welcome chance to do entirely new things. As we’ll be staying at a traditional ryokan the next few nights, there’s no guarantee I’ll have Internet access. But while I’m away, know that I love you all.

Except the annoying jerk-asses. I hate you guys.

18 thoughts on “On the prowl

  1. I always wondered what thread tied Parish and I together.

    Now I know – it’s wandering through cities alone.

  2. I really don’t think I’d do well in Japan. All these trains and things, it seems like you travel a pretty long way just to get there, then to get back. I’d be obsessing over what would happen if I got sick or injured on the way, then had to wait for the train to get there so that I can head back, while STILL sick and injured. Then I’d have to walk/struggle back to the hotel or whatever.

    Actually, that kind of happens any time I leave the house.

  3. Jeremy, have you ever been to Kyoto or Osaka on a Nintendo or Capcom trip, or just for fun? I’d probably like to visit those cities as well. At least Kyoto.

  4. Through a huge amount of bad luck back in 2005, I found myself wandering Bucharest, Romania alone. I actually had a pretty good time. I didn’t know the city or the language. Each day as I explored the area around the apartment where I was staying my comfort zone grew; spiraling outward from my base.

    One thing that I’m sure was different, is I had no headphones, and I resembled the natives enough that sometimes people would approach me and attempt to ask or tell me things.

  5. I did the headphone wandering Tokyo alone thing when I was in Japan last year. In Akiba, of course. I thought it was only appropriate to listen to “Alone in Kyoto” by Air from the Lost in Translation soundtrack.

    Shivam is right…the Daibutsu is amazing. Actually, there are a lot of amazing temples and old structures around Kyoto and Nara (Kinkakuji and Kyomizudera come to mind). I don’t even like religion, and I was blown away again and again by the temples there.

  6. If I told you my plans were similar, you’d call me a stalker.

    I’m just waiting on my girlfriend to arrive, Wednesday, then we’ll be off to places unknown; Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, Minamisoma, Fuji-san…. and so on. She actually has an interview with prospective clients in Ueno on Thursday. If she gets it, we’ll be staying in Japan indefinitely. If not; well, I’m sure the long trip we will have will be worth our time.

    Good luck at the ryokans.

  7. When you get to Kyoto, if you fancy a bizarre drinking experience there’s an excellent little place called Club Metro (exit 5 of Marutamachi station leads directly into the venue).

    You’ll either thank me or berate me, but you’ll have some interesting photos to show for it!

  8. Oh you’re making me jealous while bringing back really great memories of my few weeks in Japan in January this year. My stay at a ryokan was my favourite of the trip. Hope it works out for you too.

  9. Kyoto is the most amazing place I’ve ever been in my life. Make sure to check out Nijo-jo, it was Tokugawa’s palace, and it’s fucking gorgeous.

  10. So glad you were able to get Harmful Park. The description reads a bit like a video version of the book Utopia By L. Child. Sounds like your week has been much more fun than mine. Just a little jealous back in the frigid north.

  11. Oh, Jeremy. Of course you CAN get from Aki to Nakano on the Metro, but the Metro makes every stop whereas the Chuo JR line skips over most of them, getting you across town in like eleven minutes tops.

  12. Yeah, but the difference is like five minutes. Factor in transfer time and the need to wait for a Chuo Rapid and it’s a pretty negligible advantage. If you’re not traveling at rush hour, why not just sit and enjoy the extra couple of minutes of the ride? Just because you’re in Tokyo doesn’t mean you have to be as manic as everyone who lives there!

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