Thing to do in Tokyo when you’re dead tired

Oh, jetlag, what baffling powers you have over me. I swear, every time I come to Japan I wake up a little earlier the first day. Five a.m., the 4:30, and today it was 4 a.m. And the event I’m covering doesn’t start until 1 p.m.! That’s four hours from now, and I’mma try and liveblog it, if they’ll let me. I know there some FFXIII and Advent Children-related news in the making, but I’m told they’ll have some other announcements. Hopefully they are not talking about that new Snoopy game. Unless it’s a Nomura-led leather-and-buckles revision of the Peanuts gang. That would be, uh, super great. Yeah.

And speaking of emo (or, rather, not emo), I had a lot of time to kill this morning. And since I’m here to look at Nomura games and I’m staying in Shibuya, The World Ends With You obviously sprang to mind. So I thought, hey, why not see just how accurately the best game so far this year depicts its subject? And I loaded up my iPhone with screenshots (since it’s the old non-3G model, it’s not worth much else here) and tried to recreate those screens in real life.

Yeah, it’s nerdy, but what else are you gonna do at 6:30 a.m. in Tokyo?

Scene one: The Moai-like head by the bus shelters.

This was easy to find based on in-game orienteering — it’s just around the corner from the statue of Hachiko, beneath a rail bridge. I knew where the buses were, but I’d never noticed the sculpture. Turns out that’s because it’s hidden in a corner by a bunch of coin lockers and surly, dazed-looking teens smoking cigarettes (I assume they’re cigarettes). Already, the game’s verisimilitude is staggering!

Unfortunately, the screenshot is impossible to replicate, and not just because I couldn’t convince the buses to line up neatly. The problem is that the sculpture faces into the corner. I took this photo while backed into said corner, my back to two walls. And the buses actually stop a bit to the right of here.

Also, no wolves. Still, it’s easy to see where the composite imagery came from!

Scene two: The gambling area.

I couldn’t find this exact image, but I didn’t go too far. Still, there’s a huge alley full of casinos, pachinko arcades and naughty massage parlors right by my hotel, and the image on the left captures the gestalt if not the specifics. Meh, close enough.

Scene three: “Outback Cafe” and the giant video screen.

Well, easy enough — this is the Starbucks at the foot of the Scramble Crossing across from the station’s Hachiko exit. Unfortunately, the in-game image is impossible to replicate without a super-expensive high-end camera lens. And I tried taking a shot up the length of the building, but then I realized the second floor of Starbucks has a bar lining its wall so people can sit and look out over the crossing. And there were lots of girls in skirts up there drinking, and I probably looked like some disgusting pervert trying to photograph their underwear. So! I went for the distance shot instead.

You may notice this building does not have a massive video wall. That is actually on the adjacent building across the street to the right. But you get the idea, and that’s what counts.

Edit: I just looked out the window and realized the Starbucks building DOES have a video wall, but it’s inside, behind the windows. And it’s only on during hours when people are actually walking around the streets, i.e. after 10 a.m. So, bump up a point for accuracy.

Scene the fourth: Hachiko looming in front of “Shibuykyu.”

“Shibukyu” is actually “Tokyu,” which I believe is a company that owns a ridiculous amount of property around here. I’m staying near the Tokyu Mark City, there’s a hotel across the way called the Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel, and half the stores are Tokyu something (Tokyu Hands, etc., which actually inspired a different location in the game, but I couldn’t find a screenshot for it). The logo’s about the same, though. It’s clear homage.

But, you can’t quite reproduce this shot, either. Hachiko, the famous statue of the dog who loyally waited for his master at the station every day (even after his master died), faces the Tokyu building. If you try to shoot it from the angle in the screenshot, you’ll get a big load of ugly metro station instead. But as you can see in the photo, the shot is still impossible because of all the advertising that’s been built up between Hachiko and the Tokyu building. Poor puppy.

But you know, the great thing is that I’m pretty sure you could navigate your way through Shibuya’s landmarks without ever having been here based strictly on the game. It’s not unlike navigating NYC based on Grand Theft Auto IV, except that TWEWY doesn’t penalize you for not slavishly following the plotline. I’m all in favor of real-world locations in games — even if they are somewhat idealized.

I’d have shot more, but when I sat down to photograph Hachiko it was 7 a.m. and already I was sweating profusely in the broiling humidity. I figured I should save up my energy for the liveblog, ya know?

17 thoughts on “Thing to do in Tokyo when you’re dead tired

  1. Any more of these early morning jaunts and you could turn this blog into your own makeshift version of “F everything.” Which I guess would make you the Ambassador of Ennui.

  2. Did the dog’s master actually die, or was he just cryogenically frozen for a thousand years?

  3. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but I think you’ve hit a frightening new level of obsession and you should seriously consider getting that checked out when you come back home.

    I kid. Jetlag’s a bitch. I hope you recover soon…

    just in time for you to leave.

  4. Sweating at 7am!? Good lord man, please wear some shorts! A t-shirt, sandals, and slightly rolled up pants will suffice. I used to be like you, until I embraced the godsend that shorts are during the summer. Instead of being the most reviled season of the year, it’s now my favorite.

    Exploring Tokyo sounds soooo much more fun than exploring the central valley… I’m so jealous!

  5. So, since impressions don’t seem to be allowed, Someone wants to sell me a ticket to the event tomorrow for 4000 yen, could it in any way be considered worth it?

  6. 1. That’s pretty awesome, especially since I just started playing that game. Love you too, Parish.

    2. I flew all the way to India, stayed there for a month, and then flew all the way back, and miraculously had ZERO jet lag. It was a goddamned miracle. (Note: it sucks almost as much to have no jet lag when everyone around you does.)

  7. I remember when my friend gave me a tour of where he lived, worked, and went to school in New York using a kiosk for Spider Man 2. His school was presented as a clustering of nondescript shops, but whatever.

  8. Wow, you actually went with my suggestion! I hope you had fun doing it, I really liked the shots.

  9. Jetlag? Really? I live in Oregon (so, still Pacific time), and heading over to Japan was always super-super easy; I’d get in some point early evening, stay awake for a few hours, crash, wake up the next day at 8am no problem (I don’t sleep on planes either). Now, going EAST, back to the states (or from states > europe) I wind up off-schedule for a couple of damned weeks.

  10. For the record the other side of the statue has the face of the Moai head that can be seen in TWEWY. It really does look exactly like the scene from the game.

  11. Yeah, I realized that last night after approaching the station from the other direction. Oh well!

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